All you need to know about Rango can be summarised as follows: it was produced and directed by Gore Verbinski.
Who, you ask? He of Pirates of the Caribbean fame. And The Ring.
Yes, that's right — him. Two things will hit you within the first five minutes of watching the film: the impeccable visuals and the dark undertones.
Rango is a film that is beautifully rendered — never has an animation film had textures this rich, detail so exquisitely crafted, and characters that look so lifelike. It's a film that simply oozes superb production values from every one of its beautifully made pores.
Verbinski's eye for detail is evident everywhere — Rango will leave you breathless at the simple, effortless beauty of it all and you'll often find yourself losing track of the storyline as you wallow in a delightful haze of beauty.
Rango is a quirky tale of a lonesome chameleon (delightfully voiced by Johnny Depp) who finds his true identity in the midst of a survival crisis (you gotta love the irony), set in the animal world's equivalent of the Old West. It's a tale that will no doubt appeal to most people: audiences love stories about a weakling who finds an inner strength that transforms him into a hero.
But it's also not entirely the kind of movie I would feel comfortable showing to my kids: it's bizarre and wacky, with a freaky thread of darkly seriousness weaved throughout the film that is quite unsettling.
Although there are plenty of slapstick moments to capture the attention of the kids — while the adults will marvel at the magnificent visuals and equally impressive voice acting — Rango has some seriously adult moments.
One scene sees Rango facing off against an outlaw gunslinger, which turns out to be a massive gila monster (look that one up). Ray Winstone lends his gravelly voice to a character that is decidedly dangerous — and not in the bumbling harmless animated sort of way.
For all its superb visuals, clever and impressively voiced dialogue, somewhat slapstick humour, and quirky characters, Rango is a serious film that will not offer up light entertainment on a Friday night.
(One word of advice: if you have a Blu-ray player and an HD TV, make sure you get Rango in Blu-ray. The visuals make up a massive part of what there is to like about this film, and the Blu-ray version will make you drool!)
You get the option to watch the theatrical release, or an extended version (just some extra scenes). Then there's the obligatory director's commentary (still can't understand why people enjoy this but hey...), a few deleted scenes, an alternative ending, a storyboard (Blu-ray only), and some behind the scenes features (Blu-ray only).
Quite a mouthful in other words — especially on the Blu-ray version. If you enjoy these extras, Rango will certainly give you plenty to keep you busy when you're done with the movie itself.