Rating: 4 out of 5
Why on earth would anyone watch a movie about a lizard/gecko (to-may-to, to-mah-to) stuck in a desert?
It turns out, well, for many reasons. Good ones in fact.
The story starts off with a lizard, voiced by the one and only Johnny Depp, who sees himself as bona fide actor extraordinaire, dressed in a tacky red Hawaiian floral shirt. He lives in a fish tank (in the back of a truck) with his headless mannequin of a girlfriend and a windup fish toy. An unfortunate bump in the road left him alone and stranded in the middle of the desert.
Enter philosophising armadillo (the great Alfred Molina), inconveniently stuck in a optimum roadkill position, who calls out for said lizard to rescue him. Once that was out of the way, he waxes lyrical to said lizard about the promised land of a town called Dirt, who begins on his journey.
Minus a couple of minor mishaps, and a run-in with the lovely (if you could call a bug-eyed lizard that) reptile love interest Beans, voiced by Isla Fisher, he arrives in Dirt town, where by a stroke of ingenuity and some luck, he takes down a turtle, a hawk and a whole barrage of unattractive creatures and emerges as the town’s swashbuckling hero, Rango.
Gore Verbinski , director of the Pirates of Carribean trilogy, takes on his first animated feature with the same gusto and fanfare as he did with the trilogy. Even though it’s one of the few animated movies not done in 3D in this day and age, the intricacies of the old western town jump out at you almost immediately.
And he sure is a big fan of the adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
The film was littered with long-drawn action scenes that were reminiscent of the POC series, leaving us on the edge of our seats and the same has to be said with the ugly (and I mean, really ugly) scaly characters who look almost too similar to dirty pirates, Captain Barbossa and Davy Jones of POC fame all rolled into one.
He also kept true to the soul of Westerns, a genre that is quickly gaining popularity, with recent fare like No Country for Old Men and True Grit, achieving critical acclaim with the Academy. Although some may agree that certain references to the classic Westerns like Chinatown, A Fistful of Dollars and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, would just have flown over the heads of those not well-versed with guns, deserts and saloons.
Props definitely go to the hilarious quartet of mariachi owls who served as the narrators of the film to keep the little ones up to speed with the plot. This may just prove one thing, that an animated feature does not have to rely on cutesy, lovable, colourful characters to duly entertain and keep one enraptured.