Depp tangos with Rango

Center to right, foreground: Rango (Johnny Depp) and Beans (Isla Fisher) in "Rango," from Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies. (Courtesy of Paramount Pictures/MCT)

By Wren Culp

Staff Writer/Webmaster

What do you get when you cross an emotionally confused pet lizard, the vast Mojave desert, slick animation and a adrenaline pumping score from Hans Zimmer? You get Rango.

Rango is the story of a small lizard (Johnny Depp) who is trying to fit in with his surroundings, both literally and figuratively. A wanna-be actor, Rango is always playing with beat up props, trying to find out where he fits in.

One day Rango accidentally gets tossed out of the back of his owners car right in the middle of the Mojave desert and is left to fend for himself. After battling a harsh climate and hungry hawks, he winds up in the small western town of Dirt, which is populated with other small animals trying to survive in the desert.

There, Rango sees an opportunity to be whoever he wants to be and to start over. After making up large tales about his origins and how he ended up in Dirt, he is eventually named the sheriff of the small town. But things start to go wrong for Rango when he must face a corrupt mayor, thieves and a giant rattle snake on the verge of taking over the town.

There is plenty of voice talent in Rango, as some of the stars include Johnny Depp, Timothy Olyphant, Bill Nighty and Abigail Breslin. In most animated films, each actors dialogue is recorded individually in a studio and later matched up with the animations. Rango took all of its talent and recorded the dialogue while the actors acted out the scenes on a soundstage. Once the actors recorded all their lines, the recordings were taken back into the studio and mastered to fit the personality of the characters.

The payoff to that innovative way of recording was great, as the films voices are unique, grand and overall just fun. The voices sucked you into the characters and you usually don’t get that with an animated film.

The film was directed by Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Carribbean, The Weather Man) and he did a superb job. The story is a little bit out there so it would require a lot of creativity and passion to direct this and Verbinski did a fine job.

Verbinski argued that the film not be released in 3D and that it was. I personally think 3D ruins movies and by keeping Rango 2D, I was able to enjoy all the visual elements that it had to offer. Something else that was substantial was the animation itself. Let’s just say Pixar has some competition on its hands, as the animation is breathtaking. There is so much attention to detail and many key elements in place that it is hard to sit there and not pay attention to the animation.

It is hard not to enjoy the music of Hans Zimmer, who has done countless film scores such as Inception, The Dark Knight and he even ventured over into the video game world with Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Hans Zimmer stepped back into the recording studio for Rango and nailed it again. His blend of guitar and Mexican themed strings is unreal. The film features classic string music, smooth guitar melodies and a lot of percussion. Obviously, it has a “stranded in the desert” feel to it but it’s enjoyable to listen to nonetheless.

Overall, Rango turned out to be everything I hoped it would. It was a fun, innovative, 2D roller coaster ride of action, adventure and great storytelling.