Rango Blu-Ray + DVD+ Digital Copy Combo PackStudio: Paramount Pictures Year: 2011 US Rating: PG for Rude Humor, Language, Action and Smoking Film Length: Theatrical Version: 107 Mins – Extended Version: 111 Mins Video: MPEG4-AVC 1080P High Definition 16X9 – 2.40:1 Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French, Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese Release Date: July 15, 2011 Review Date: July 11, 2011
Oh he's talking about Rattlesnake Jake, Mr. Rango. He usually doesn't come to town because of that hawk, but he might come now. Can I have your boots when you're dead?
IntroductionIf Clint Eastwood, long before he was the cool, calm and collected gunsling legend, had been a reptile –strange, lacking in confidence and awkward at times – he might very well have been named Rango. Pixar may be the benchmark for storytelling in animated films and the undeniable champs of the box office, but films like Rango are precisely the sort of competing animated tale other studios should be spinning. Much like last year’s entertaining Despicable Me, which found success focusing on an interesting tale, a lot of heart, and the skills of the primary voice talents, Rango sets about to produce a film of such rich visual imagination within the parameters of the classic Western genre, and succeeds so completely with its technical mastery and astonishing array of near-photorealistic characters (each unique and fascinating to watch), that it is no surprise it connected with audiences
The Film: 4.5 out of 5A lonely chameleon house pet, softened by the comfort and isolation of his sparse terrarium, finds himself marooned along the sun-baked unforgiving highway in the middle of the desert. His dreams of being the hero have the chance to come true when, following the cryptic guidance of an elderly possum, wanders into the water-starved town of Dirt. In Dirt, water is the main commodity – the townsfolk store there reserves in the town bank, goods and services are bartered for the liquid currency, and the drought is driving townsfolk away every day. The simple folk of the desperate town are in need of a sheriff (but in greater need of a hero), and are quickly regaled by the fanciful tales of the chameleon stranger – calling himself Rango. Sensing that all is not quite as it seems in the parched and dusty town, Rango begins to unearth the truth behind the town’s dry spell, while believing evermore his own outlandish and entirely made-up stories of bravery and heroism. Director Gore Verbinski, having poured himself into directing three enormous, complex and visual effects laden films – Pirates of the Caribbean 1, 2 and 3 – decided to tackle what he thought would be a much smaller picture. But the stunning visual complexity, brilliant crafting of sequences and incredibly rich assortment of unique characters are indication that Verbinski did not get what he sought. Instead, we have one of the most visually sumptuous computer generated films ever made. This ode to the western genre is never a slave to the conventions of the uniquely American style of film (Spaghetti Westerns aside), but it so completely embraces the traits as to deliver them with both freshness and faithfulness, and the Mexican singing quartet semi-narrating the tale help to set the literate and sneaky tone. The archetype townsfolk of Dirt are neighborly but individualistic, the town mayor is beloved but shady, the farmers simple, the bartender shaky under pressure, and the spirited farm girl a force to be reckoned with; all these characters would comfortably dress a classic Western, but as rodents and other desert-dwelling creatures, these familiar characters become a rewarding experience to watch. The voice cast is uniformly excellent, with Johnny Depp continuing to demonstrate his charming adaptability to almost any type of character. His drawl isn’t pretentious or pushed, but rather fitting of a character happy to ‘play the part’; deriving courage from his acting the part, his fleeting cowardly tendencies peak through with funny results, and all the while Depp makes endearing and likeable this façade of a hero. Ned Beatty’s confident and baritone pomposity fit the town mayor exceedingly well, Bill Nighy as Rattlesnake Jake – a nasty and malicious snake – is perfectly menacing, Isla Fisher as Beans (the confident farm girl) is spot-on. The rest of the wonderfully impressive voice cast is perfect, with the vocal talents of Alfred Molina, Harry Dean Stanton, Ray Winstone, Abigail Breslin, and Timothy Olyphant adding to the high quality of the film. The animation (courtesy of ILM) is simply beautiful – rich with detail, nuance, and uniqueness for each character that this ode to the Western genre comes alive. There are wickedly inventive moments in Rango – moments that are daring for this style of film and, harkening back to Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End – where Jack Sparrow is lost in the peculiar afterlife – at ease with surrealism. There are uncommon dark shadows in the plot, breaths of melancholy, and a delightful vision quest sequence, all brought to the screen with some of the finest animation I have seen and glued intelligently together by a delightful story written by John Logan (Gladiator). And to have such animation quality attached to a film of such fun and energy, where the hero’s journey is genuinely earned and not always as expected, is a real treat.
The Video: 5 out of 5Paramount Pictures provides Rango on Blu-ray with a sparking 1080p High Definition. I could not see a thing wrong with this image. The level of detail is deliriously good, the colors are perfectly rich when they need to be and a sun-washed when they aren’t. I have always been a fan of how Gore Verbinski shoots his films – a man able to balance the dark and grimy with the pristine and perfect to produce images with depth and fantastic beauty. Using the unlimited possibility of animation, each frame is a perfect example of that skill. Perfect!
The Sound: 5 out of 5The audio that comes with Rango is a glorious as the video. Hans Zimmer’s playful western-themed score lives throughout the surround experience while the sound design, with dusty wind-blown plains, squawks of menacing hawks, the threatening rattle of snakes, and the echoing sounds of subterranean tunnels are produced so perfectly with the lossless DTS-HD Master Audio that you will be quickly impressed. Bravo!
The Extras: 3.5 out of 5Disc 1: Commentary by Director, Co-Writer and Producer Gore Verbinski, Head of Story James Ward Byrkit, Production Designer Mark “Crash” McCreery, Animation Director Hal Hickel and Visual Effects Supervisor Tim Alexander Breaking the Rules: Making Animation History (48:52): Split into two chapters (The Stage is Set and Now We Ride), Verbinski and others talk of the beginnings of Rango (and the six-year wait from idea to creation for Verbinski) and we even see early artwork, story-break session, and other revealing origins. The second chapter delves into the creating process – working and pushing the legendary Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) – and is equally interesting. This is quite meaty an extra. Deleted Scenes (8:27): 10 deleted scenes, including a (very slightly) alternate ending, many of which will feel familiar (containing much of what made it into the final product) Real Creatures of Dirt: Animal experts talk about the real creatures from which the characters in Rango were born. Storyboard Reel Picture-in-Picture: Available on the theatrical cut only, you can watch the entire film with the corresponding storyboards in picture. A Field Trip to Dirt: An interesting special feature that allows viewers to take a virtual tour of Dirt, choosing which streets to go down and interacting with characters and answering trivia. Theatrical Trailer
Disc 2:DVD and Digital Copy version of the film
Final ThoughtsRango is a success on almost every front. Although not every comedic moment fully connects, the entertaining story, superb animation, impressive voice cast, and imagination on display throughout the very funny running time are well-worth adding to your collection. The disc includes both the theatrical and an extended which runs approximately 4 minutes longer. This family film is a delight for adults as much as for kids. Highly Recommended.
Overall 4.5 out of 5Neil Middlemiss Kernersville, NC