¨So you want something to believe in? Believe in that there sign. For as long as it hangs there we've got hope. ¨
2010 was a great year for animated films (I guess that`s the correct term for them now since no one calls them cartoons anymore) with Toy Story 3, How to Train Your Dragon, and Tangled all ranking among my Top 25 Films of last year. Rango is the first film I´ve seen from 2011 since I had a lot of catching up to do with last year`s movies before the Award Season ended; and one thing is for sure: Rango won`t rank among my favorite films for this year. Rango is director Gore Verbinski`s (known for The Ring and the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy) first animated film and he`s receiving a lot of positive reviews so far in his incursion to the animated field. I wasn`t as excited as most critics were however since I was a little disappointed with the story. There is no denying that the visuals were stunning and the CGI animation was breathtaking, but the story really didn`t work for me. I didn`t think the characters had any depth to them and the story really dragged at several points of the film for no apparent reason rather than to evoke the mood of most Westerns. Rango is a parody of Spaghetti Westerns (fans of the genre will find plenty of spoofs from several movies including The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly) and the title of the film is actually inspired on another Western, Django. The visuals truly capture the beautiful scenery we see in most westerns, but the story just seemed to be all over the place and I failed to connect with it. There were also very few funny moments as I didn`t find many of the spoofs that amusing, and I don`t see how kids would find them funny at all.
As for the plot goes we are introduced to Rango (voiced by the great Johnny Depp), a green chameleon wearing a red Hawaiian tee-shirt. He seems to spend most of his time in his cage imagining himself saving a damsel from distress (actually a head-less Barbie doll) from an evil villain (a Nemo-like toy fish). While he is in the midst of this imaginary feat, the vehicle where his cage is at the present time swirls making it fly out of the car and break, so Rango finds himself free in the middle of the desert. He encounters an armadillo (Alfred Molina), who guides him to the town of Dirt, a town in desperate need for a hero since there is a shortage of water. Rango encounters Beans (Isla Fisher) who warns him about the situation in the town of Dirt and the little hospitality the townsfolk have with foreigners, but Rango has no problem making friends by lying and telling stories about his ¨heroic acts.¨ His odds are improved when he accidently kills a hawk, which happened to terrorize everyone in the village. Rango becomes the local hero and the Mayor (Ned Beatty) appoints him as the new Sheriff of Dirt. It`s the opportunity he has been dreaming of: becoming a hero, but there is a lot more to this town than meets the eye. The Mayor seems to be hiding some crucial information about the water supply, and with the hawk out of the picture the locals now fear that Rattlesnake Jake (Bill Nighy) will return to terrorize them.
I tried to simplify the plot as much as I could as there are actually a lot of things going on that aren`t developed really well. The plot does draw heavily from Chinatown (screenwriter John Logan actually claimed he was inspired in that film when he wrote the story) and it spoofs many Westerns (Bill Nighy said he was inspired in the bad character from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly and we see Rango wearing a poncho like the man with no name did in that same film). John Logan has done some interesting work in the past (Sweeny Todd, Aviator, and Gladiator), but I really didn`t enjoy this story that much. Rango simply didn`t live up to the great animated films from last year, and the visuals were just not enough to save this film since that has become a known asset in every animated movie. I do think that the CGI was a bit above average from other animated movies, but it wasn`t enough to save the poor story. I really had high expectations for this film since I enjoy Westerns and thought it was about time for a good animated Western to come out. I just didn`t think this movie had any heart, like say Toy Story 3 or Tangled had. I just didn`t get emotionally attached with Rango and didn`t find it very funny at all. I wouldn’t recommend this.