Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Rango--a review


Rango is a great homage to Westerns, and to great films in general, but it is not a movie for kids. If I were a Deadhead I'd say the movie's for people gourd geeked on psilocybin--the hallucinatory agent in magical mushrooms. But as a former/non-stoner the hyper surreal elements playing off the very realistic desert atmosphere are still a mind blizzard to be reckoned with. (Be sure to have a bottle of water on hand.) 

The talking desert creatures for instance: they are not cute; they're horrendously dried-out, jaundice-eyed, dusty and hostile townsfolk critters. The title character's no better; he's a bug-eyed, thin-limbed reptile with a bent neck and slapstick case of the wobble-de-woes. 

During few scenes I couldn't help but think that the childhood version of me would've been terrified with nightmares from the handful of monstrous villains scattered about, bullying propositions of death onto a ghost town's hapless citizens with sharpened fangs dripping venom, miniature firearms at inklings of threat. The vigilante army was anything but reticent. 


Maybe kids are tougher than they used to be. The Santa Barbara matinee where I watched Rango was filled with tiny children brought by their parents to see what the fuss was all about for this Johnny Depp movie about a funny lizard in the desert getting into trouble. The kids were more than vocal throughout the scariest moments, but for the most part they seemed entertained, though most of the laughter came from adults, aimed at the absurdity of fecal humor and pyrogenic bar violence.

What really makes the movie great are its amazing visuals. The animation is crisp and spectacular, a proud marker of CGI advancement in 2011. 

Compared to last year's "Illusionist" which resembled a geriatric flip book Lolita minus the Viagra fantasy, Rango came, conquered and destroyed any pre-assembled techniques even relatively below par--with substance to boot, minus 3D embellishments that most animated films are superimposing these days, as reliant decoys for insubstantial flash and bling bling dollar sign mass marketing hijinks. Overall, it's pure, absurd entertainment.

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