Mr. Beaks Meets Gore Verbinski's RANGO! New Teaser Trailer Embedded For Your Viewing Pleasure!
"Do you know anything about this project?"
Gore Verbinski is standing in the middle of a room wallpapered with production art for his forthcoming RANGO, trying to figure out how to sell twenty-or-so jaded entertainment journalists on the uniqueness of an animated film that is not a game-changing, performance-captured, IMAX 3-D extravaganza. This is a crucial moment in the life of RANGO. What distinguishes it from the numerous computer-animated movies that vie for four-quadrant box-office dominance every year?
Verbinski continues. "RANGO is the story of a chameleon with an identity crisis played by Johnny Depp."
Star power of this magnitude helps, as does the idea of Verbinski re-teaming with the actor who powered the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN franchise to $1 billion domestically, but there's got to be more to this thing. Looking around the room, I see an impressive collection of character sketches and concept art (all extracted from the fertile mind of design legend Crash McCreery), but nothing is really popping. It all just looks like above-average family entertainment with a touch more visual pizazz than we're used to.
But then Verbinski, in his thoughtful, soft-spoken way, starts teasing out the particulars of the story. "[Rango's] a thespian in search of an audience," explains Verbinski. "He's made 'friends' with the inanimate objects in his terrarium; he calls them all by name. When we meet him, he's in the process of putting on a play with the various objects in his terrarium. Things get out of hand, and the production goes down... literally."
It's at this point that Rango is thrust from his insular existence into another world. Not just a world, actually, but a genre. A western. One superficially derived from the films of Sam Peckinpah and Sergio Leone, but tonally informed by the spoofy quality of Elliot Silverstein's CAT BALLOU. Rango becomes the sheriff of a frontier town called "Dirt" - an attractive position until you note that his recent predecessors are presently resting comfortably, side-by-side, in the local graveyard. Basically, though he's always been a hero in his own world, Rango quickly learns that it's difficult - and, in this world, potentially treacherous - to hold sway over creatures emboldened by their own free will. Furthering the CAT BALLOU connection, there's a mariachi band of owls who serve as a Greek chorus, frequently breaking the fourth wall to energetically sing of Rango's "ultimate demise". "They're incredibly unsupportive," says RANGO co-writer James Byrkit.
The more detailed Verbinski gets in describing this world, the more convinced I become that he's concocted something special. Though the director claims this was his opportunity to "get small" after the runaway success of the PIRATES films, he certainly didn't scale back his imagination. In fact, I'd say this is a return to the narrative inventiveness of underrated movies like THE MEXICAN and THE WEATHER MAN. It looks like Verbinski has, with writers Byrkit and John Logan, concocted a narrative that flatters viewers' intelligence by imbuing the tried-and-true Hero's Journey formula with heady ideas pertaining to identity and purpose. Verbinski's looking to connect, not cash in.
This becomes apparent after Verbinski screens an early-third-act sequence which finds Rango at the end of his tether, ready to end it all by forlornly walking across a perilously busy highway. There's ample opportunity to die, but Rango somehow avoids every tire that whizzes his way. When he reaches the other side of the road, he collapses into the desert dust. Perhaps now he'll perish of dehydration. But then, in a moment of peculiar beauty, he's carried off by a legion of just-awakened pill bugs. I don't mean to get too worked up over a single out-of-context sequence, but there's a spiritual quality to this that's worthy of Pixar at its best. It's a lovely moment of natural rebirth.
Early footage presentations are always unreliable barometers of eventual quality, but I'm willing to buy what Verbinski's selling - especially after watching the live-action story reel which informed a good deal of the animation. Once they were able to lock down Depp for twenty days of recording, they gathered a talented group of actors to come in and record a casually-staged performance of the screenplay (all funded by producer Graham King). To be clear, this was nothing like a table read; it was Depp and folks like Bill Nighy, Abigail Breslin, Alfred Molina, Stephen Root (who evidently plays a power tool salesman doubling as a proctologist - two boring professions that should be conflated more often), Harry Dean Stanton and Isla Fisher up on their feet doing a loosely-blocked run-through of the script that would serve as a reference for the animators. The exuberance and chaos of this footage is downright Gilliam-esque.
Verbinski's always been a talent - even after his voice got lost in the tumult of the PIRATES sequel. Look at THE MEXICAN again (seriously): the man loves a story uncommonly told. This is what he's after with RANGO. Just take a look at this trailer (which is a little different from the one currently hosted by Apple.com)...
There's a FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS callback, for cryin' out loud! What's not to love about Hunter S. Thompson and his Chevrolet Caprice Classic straying into a family film?
RANGO is a long way from finished (it won't hit theaters until March 2011), but there's reason to be excited. Hopefully, Paramount will share some of this footage at Comic Con in a few weeks.
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June 29, 2010, 5:26 p.m. CST
and their site is cool, too.
June 29, 2010, 5:28 p.m. CST
June 29, 2010, 5:29 p.m. CST
was posted on slashfilm earlier today. I like this one better.
June 29, 2010, 5:32 p.m. CST
But I'm looking forward to The Rum Diary more. The animation is awesome and Johnny Depp is always great though.
June 29, 2010, 5:33 p.m. CST
hopefully it's a test run for an ILM Star Wars animated something
June 29, 2010, 5:44 p.m. CST
Sounds like Jettl1993.
June 29, 2010, 5:47 p.m. CST
by I Max U Mini
... Gore Verbinski is going to also give us his take on "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty". Although I can't think of a single actor today that could give us a Danny Kaye caliber performance in such a flick.
June 29, 2010, 5:47 p.m. CST
June 29, 2010, 5:54 p.m. CST
what's the difference?
June 29, 2010, 6:01 p.m. CST
And the story it's interesting.
June 29, 2010, 6:09 p.m. CST
Did you see the lizard crashing into the windshield of Hunter S. Thompson's Cadilla?
June 29, 2010, 6:13 p.m. CST
This is BAT COUNTRY!
June 29, 2010, 6:28 p.m. CST
pleasantly surprised here. Johnny Depp will own this shit. Also love the Hunter S. Thompson lookalike driving into the lizard.
June 29, 2010, 6:29 p.m. CST
Gore Verbinski's films up to this point have been AT LEAST interesting and ALWAYS visually compelling. And Hunter S. Thompson drives through? That's the kind of shtuff I can get behind.
June 29, 2010, 6:49 p.m. CST
...is ridiculously underrated.
June 29, 2010, 6:57 p.m. CST
It seems too mexican not to be from him
June 29, 2010, 7:14 p.m. CST
June 29, 2010, 8:18 p.m. CST
in Depp's performance
June 29, 2010, 8:36 p.m. CST
looks like fun :)
June 29, 2010, 8:37 p.m. CST
June 29, 2010, 8:46 p.m. CST
June 29, 2010, 8:47 p.m. CST
That's all movies are these days. Cartoons.
June 29, 2010, 9:28 p.m. CST
June 29, 2010, 9:30 p.m. CST
June 29, 2010, 9:31 p.m. CST
I'll see it.
June 29, 2010, 9:34 p.m. CST
Another fucking "talking animal" movie. This looks terrible. So badly designed and unappealing. The acting is piss poor. Whatever happened to good CHARACTER animation?
June 29, 2010, 9:43 p.m. CST
by Semen Stains
June 29, 2010, 11:49 p.m. CST
I wish Pixar movies looked this good.
June 30, 2010, 12:51 a.m. CST
seriously, I love it.
June 30, 2010, 1:25 a.m. CST
..are now apparently hoping there's a previously untapped market for "stomach-flippingly ugly". Okay, now the animation in that trailer was excellent. But the characters were horrible-looking, and not in a funny way, just...horrible. Who'd want to look at that wonk-eyed twist-necked lizard for more than 10 minutes? It looks like its designer studied Wile E. Coyote, but flunked the final exam. Wile E. was hardly elegant, but he was still appealing. That lizard critter is plum ugly, as is everything else in that trailer, and I felt the need to call an exterminator just looking at the thing. Usually Johnny Depp can get me to look at anything he's a part of, but I'm gonna pass on this. Bleah.
June 30, 2010, 3:47 a.m. CST
I hate cgi movies but this looks awesome, finally a fucking cartoon with some fucking DETAIL in it. So sick of looking at that square jawed big headed one color background shit Fox/Dreamworks/Pixar puts out.
June 30, 2010, 4:28 a.m. CST
The animation here looks top drawer. Watch it again and check out the scene as he walks into the bar. The detail of just the skin on those lizards backs is awesome. Looking forward to it.
June 30, 2010, 4:57 a.m. CST
by Carl XVI Gustaf
Exactly! Finally some fucking detail! From this trailer alone I'd say I will like this a lot more than the normal cutesy 3d stuff. And I like the normal cutesy 3d stuff too...
June 30, 2010, 6:40 a.m. CST
I dare it to be good...I double dare it. Even pixar made stinkers...Cars and the shite fish movie. This tells the tale of a fish out of water (they even hit us idiots over the head with a visual clue), hmmm...not had one of those before, erm...Happy feet anyone, How to Train Your Dragon? The list is endless... But you never know, it might be decent...and monkeys might fly out of my ass. (now there's a storyline!)
June 30, 2010, 6:56 a.m. CST
AICN fast to the news!
June 30, 2010, 7:59 a.m. CST
by Elston Gunn
June 30, 2010, 8:29 a.m. CST
Really. 'Nuff said.
June 30, 2010, 9:32 a.m. CST
Which is definitely what it looks like. It seems pretty crazy and funny...I'll check it out.
June 30, 2010, 11:13 a.m. CST
Really? Not 5inal Destination? Which would still be shitty but not... Well... You know...
June 30, 2010, 11:56 a.m. CST
Anything's better than those POTC shitfests. Depp's performances were their only grace.
June 30, 2010, 12:04 p.m. CST
by Flea Circus
but I don't think I'll be giving the Mexican another look
June 30, 2010, 1:29 p.m. CST
by David Assholehoff
This makes me wanna see a Gon flick.
June 30, 2010, 1:29 p.m. CST
by David Assholehoff
June 30, 2010, 10:10 p.m. CST
July 1, 2010, 3:12 a.m. CST
"Or a Mexi-can't?"
July 2, 2010, 9:29 p.m. CST
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July 5, 2010, 11:16 a.m. CST
What's not to love about a movie that could teach kids that doing drugs is not cool, it's awesome! See the 1:47 mark of the trailer for the lizard hitting Raouls car window!
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