Tuesday 8 March 2011


As the first full-length animated feature made by Industrial Light & Magic, arguably the greatest special effects company that ever existed, Rango is an unbelievably stunning film to look at. Every frame is so packed with painstaking detail that even the four years it took to make the film seems like a tight schedule. There are moments of such aching beauty that, if someone were to pick random frames at, say, 30-minute intervals (though why anyone would do that is beyond me), each one would be worthy of hanging over the fireplace.
The voice cast do a terrific job too, with Ned Beatty and Bill Nighy in particular bringing as much nuance to their performances as the animation deserves.

It's a shame, then, that Rango is such a load of incoherent, boring drivel. It's a long time since I've wanted to walk out of a film (Hello and goodbye, Johnny English), but when the final act rolled round and it was painfully obvious exactly what was going to happen and that it was going to take about half an hour to do it, I couldn't help but think that my time would be better spent at home watching Take Me Out. And that's not something I generally think.

It's hard to believe that such an uncomplicated plot could get so lost finding its way through a film. Overlong scenes of aimless tramping through deserts or laborious fireside waffle provide handy metaphors for the film as a whole, while central characters go about their business with little to no motivation. Rango is literally thrown into his own story and sets about rescuing a town from its corrupt mayor for no apparent reason except that he's a frustrated actor, which makes even less sense than it sounds.
There are moments of set-piece genius that set the film apart from the usual CGI animation fare - a shot involving a chameleon, a hawk and a bottle is breathtaking - but when they're smothered by such a rambling, shambolic script it's hard to care. And when the jokes have punchlines you can see coming from the cinema car park, it's not even funny enough to bother with just for a LOL or two, because there are none.

It's a fantastic argument against 3D - Rango leaps out of the screen even in two dimensions, with more texture and depth than anything I've seen through uncomfortable goggles recently - but it also puts me in the unexpected position of looking forward to martial arts-practising, farting pandas and anthropomorphic cars saving the world. And I'm reasonably sure that wasn't its intention.


  1. The only film I've ever walked out on was She's the One. Not even sure why I paid to go and fall asleep in the cinema!

  2. I think most time would be better spent sat at home watching Take Me Out.

  3. Long before Rango came along I thought of Johnny Depp as a chameleon for his ability to change his appearance and become, for example, The Mad Hatter, Jack Sparrow, John Dillinger, Sweeney Todd, Willy Wonka, Rochester, Roux, Commander Spencer Armacost and Donnie Brasco.

    Bill Nighy based his Rattlesnake Jake on Lee Van Cleef.

    Have any of you visited the Roadkill Cafe in Arizona? "You kill it, we grill it"

    Meryl Streep is the female chameleon I admire. She is soon to be Mrs. Thatcher in 'The Iron Lady'.

  4. You could replace the word Rango in the above review with the name of any of the interminable Lord Of The Rings films and the review would still make perfect sense, in my opinion.

  5. Oh, I forgot. Thank you for the review Mr. Suit. Reviews are the most useful part of your blog. They can save people money too by warning of turkeys.

    I will put Rango in the 'See it when it comes on TV' category.

  6. Lucy got picked. You missed a really good one

  7. I enjoyed it well enough. Not as much as many others but I giggled all the way through. During Johnny English I stood and started yelling at people. "WHY ARE YOU LAUGHING?" was the cry.

  8. I should have listened to you and not believed IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes. Who wrote that atrocious dialogue? There wasn't one funny line in the whole film. And I hate hate hate these nonsensical references to other films. Why Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, why Apocalypse Now? Oh we have an air assault, why not put Wagner on it, it's so ORIGINAL. CGI was amazing, all the rest utter rubbish.