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Massawyrm loves the weird, wonderful world of RANGO

Hola all. Massawyrm here.

Few directors in the industry have the clout and juice of gargantuan successes to be able to bully past the brain trust that often has a hard time wrapping itself around truly inspired efforts. When Christopher Nolan set out to make INCEPTION, many of the suits didn’t get it, but they gave Nolan carte blanche in hopes that he would return to make back any losses - and then some - with a third Batman film. The result was one of the most original big budget films in years. After the PIRATES trilogy and THE RING, Gore Verbinski managed a similar amount of pull to make the single most original, striking and fascinatingly bizarre animated family film in years. RANGO is its own thing, a mature, brilliant, wildly entertaining masterpiece of modern animation that is both a 4th wall breaking pop culture medley and a perfectly executed family western at the same time.

And best of all? It’s just plain weird.

RANGO isn’t afraid to be its own movie. While it is riffing at several points on a number of classics – all through visual cues rather than the typical “doyougetitdoyougetitdoyougetit?” comedy prevalent in most modern animated films – it spends as much time possible creating its own, delicious little wild west world populated with classic western tropes ported beautifully into anthropomorphic wildlife. Taking this film to the next level is that it isn’t a mere cartoon. It is a western. And that means characters die. Good guys, bad guys – everyone is up for grabs. And once you realize that in the movies early action/comedy sequence, it becomes something you’ve never quite seen before.

Johnny Depp is RANGO, the titular stranger who wanders into a small, western town only to find himself in the middle of mutant crossbreed of the classic fairy tale THE BRAVE LITTLE TAILOR (which you might know best as SEVEN WITH ONE BLOW) and the cinematic masterpiece CHINATOWN. Depp once again creates something really special, his voice and speech pattern almost entirely unrecognizable as he crafts a truly memorable character out of this tiny, little lizard. And Depp isn’t alone – most of the cast is hard to pick out from their characters. While Verbinski certainly went out of his way to populate the film with name talents, he did so to get talented voice actors, not just animated versions of staple stock characters these actors play – as is often the case. The result is a rich tapestry of characters that you’ll fall in love with – both good and bad.

We in the adverb loving review press have a fondness for the word Unique – so much so, that we feel the need to modify it with truly, very, wildly or even remarkably…often when we mean to call something simply different. This? This is unique. It is a film that will send you out of the theater wondering how it ever managed to get made. You’ve never seen anything like it, and no matter how well it does, you are unlikely to see anything ever quite like it again. It is its own beast, a strange brew of comedy, action, heart and the occasional irreverent shattering of the 4th wall. It’s almost as if Quentin Tarantino made a family film and managed to curtail his use of F-bombs. Despite being a CG family film, it is the spiritual cousin of KILL BILL more than it is anything else – a collection of influences that gel together into a perfect example of what it is trying to emulate rather than a simple imitation of it.

I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it: Gore Verbinski is this generation’s Spielberg. He understands family filmmaking in a way that can only be compared to theworks of Amblin; while simultaneously able to conquer any and every other genre he sets his mind to. Every time he sets out to enter a new genre, he redefines it for its era. And this very well may be his best film yet.

Oh, and his decision to fight the studio on up-converting to 3D was a masterstroke. The film is lush, gorgeous and would have been destroyed by trying to squeeze an extra few dollars out of families. Keeping it 2D was a boss move.

I cannot stress enough how badly you need to see this film as soon as possible. If you have kids, take them twice. This delighted me in ways no animated film has of late and is the very best thing you’ll see this season. Weird, wonderful and the very best thing in theaters right now, this comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Until next time friends, Massawyrm

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Readers Talkback
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  • March 4, 2011, 6:05 a.m. CST

    sounds good..

    by The_Cliffster


  • March 4, 2011, 6:08 a.m. CST

    post 0

    by darth_hideous

    Massawyrm loves RANGO! Yippee!

  • March 4, 2011, 7:47 a.m. CST

    This does look great, but...

    by TheIceJ

    ...this generation's Spielberg? Really? REALLY? I don't remember Spielberg making bloated, unnecessary sequels that nobody really wanted.. But the trailers for this look wonderfull and indeed unique. I'm in.

  • Like auto-fucking-matically. I want to see a study done. All those movies which the suits "got" because they'd been noted to death, versus all those movies the suits "didn't get" but which were green-lit anyway. Choose any metric of success you like. Box office, profit margin, awards, audience numbers, weekends in the top ten, whatever. I highly suspect the "suits didn't get it" movies would win in every category. Who was it that said "Some people see the glass as half full. Some people see the glass as half-empty. Only an executive can look at it and say 'Does it have to be a glass?'"

  • March 4, 2011, 8 a.m. CST

    No bloated sequels theicej by Spieldberg?...

    by hitchhiker42

    Guess you didn't see kingdom of the crystal skull....or Jurassic park 2 or 3 or Men in Black 2 or 3.....

  • March 4, 2011, 8:14 a.m. CST

    I love Gore Verbinski

    by D.Vader

    Between "The Ring" and the "Pirates" trilogy, I'm willing to believe he is closer to Spielberg's spiritual cousin than Shyamalan proved to be (though his first 3 big hits are close to Spiels than Verbinski), especially with his diverse genre work. Most excellent.

  • March 4, 2011, 8:40 a.m. CST

    Time to bang out 7 gram rocks like an F-18

    by PeanutButterSlut

    Anyone else got a lot of work to do today? I got a fucking shitload and "it's my time to Sheen". F-18 out! Time to Win!

  • March 4, 2011, 8:42 a.m. CST


    by Bobo_Vision

  • March 4, 2011, 8:52 a.m. CST

    Uh Verbinski is not this generation's Spielberg. Sorry.

    by Elgyn6655321

    Seriously? "Pirates"? "The Ring" remake? These make him this generation's Spielberg?

  • March 4, 2011, 9:08 a.m. CST


    by Wookie_1995

    just looks...meh...guess it doesn't help that I hate movies that have animals with people problems

  • March 4, 2011, 10:01 a.m. CST

    Saw some behind the scenes footage of this....

    by darthderp

    The actors were acting out the scenes at the same time they were reciting their lines; I think they also had those "dots" for the motion capture on their clothing, to help the animators out on their end. Looked pretty cool; wonder if that will be the new way of doing computer animated films...the actors won't just be able to sit in a booth any more.

  • March 4, 2011, 1:07 p.m. CST


    by Shaner Jedi

    The actors did act out the entire film before they animated the movie true. But there was no motion capture used in this film. zero.zilch.nada. All keyframe animation.

  • March 4, 2011, 1:31 p.m. CST

    Post converting a CGI movie into 3d after the fact makes no sense

    by awepittance

    why would they ever do it this way except to cut corners and possibly save bucks? If you design something in 3d all you have to do is render each frame twice for each eye, by today's standards the rendering time is not huge, but i guess its all about squeezing pennies

  • March 4, 2011, 1:54 p.m. CST

    damn dirty ape

    by D.Vader

    The Ring was a success both commercially and as a finished product. And it redefined the horror genre for awhile, spawning countless remakes of Japanese ghost stories.

  • March 4, 2011, 2:14 p.m. CST

    Why must someone be deemed the next Spielberg?

    by openthepodbaydoorshal

    M Night was crowned that, and it went to his pointy little head (When will Aziz Ansari be cast in the comedy TWIST!! The Shyamalan Story..?). When Verbinski clicks, he's able to combine the clever visual with the emotional, something Spielberg can do in his sleep.

  • March 4, 2011, 2:35 p.m. CST

    Really glad to hear all this good stuff.

    by WriteForTheEdit

    The TV commercials sure make it look a lot more like typical animated fare (no surprise, of course). Very excited for this. Also, Spielberg? That really is pushing it a bit. The first and second Pirates are fun, but...

  • March 4, 2011, 2:43 p.m. CST

    Braindrain, you do know this is Nickelodeon/Paramount, right?

    by Terrence

    As TVTropes says, all animation is Disney. =P

  • March 4, 2011, 2:58 p.m. CST

    Even when i agree with Massawyrm I think he's kind of dumb

    by IndustryKiller!

    This generations spielberg? He's got the first Pirates and this film, both of which are great, the Pirates sequels range wildly from pretty to look at to absolutely terrible, thats not a Spielberg track record.

  • March 4, 2011, 3:18 p.m. CST

    his POTC sequels

    by Orion

    Made more money in an hour than most of you haters will make in 100 lifetimes.

  • Own up, boys. You're too close to the studio hacks.

  • March 4, 2011, 5:51 p.m. CST

    mediocre reviews?

    by zooch

    Roger Ebert ****(four stars)

  • March 4, 2011, 5:54 p.m. CST

    I thought Peter Jackson was this generation's Spielberg?

    by zooch

    He's the only one that has made anything close to as good as what Spielberg did.

  • March 4, 2011, 9:56 p.m. CST

    I thought Jon Chu was this generation's Spielberg?

    by Andrew Coleman

    By this generation I mean fucking retards that think Justin Bieber is talented. Rango ftw though. Better than most shit Dreamworks pops out yearly. Even though I felt like the movie was straight up for adults who remember westerns fondly. Or enjoyed recent Westerns like True Grit and Open Range.

  • March 4, 2011, 11:16 p.m. CST

    Damn Dirt Ape, I totally disagree

    by D.Vader

    The Ring is a success no matter how you look at it. Its an extremely creepy movie that delivers shocks and scares (and manages to be PG-13 too!) and has characters the audience cares about while still being a very engaging film with an interesting plot that isn't paint by numbers. Sure, you can chalk that up to the original's credit, but its been argued that its one of the rare horror remakes that is better than the source, and in lesser hands, it would have sucked. So much of that film relies on the direction- of the actors and especially of the camera.

  • March 5, 2011, 12:34 a.m. CST

    reflecto is an idiot.

    by hatemphd

    rotten tomatoes has this at a 88%. "It's getting mediocre reviews." The AP has given it a bad review, which means you see the same negative review everywhere you look cause, you know, its the AP. So yeah, idiot.

  • March 5, 2011, 2:16 a.m. CST

    Fuck this movie for not being 3D!!! You cunts are supposed

    by UltraTron

    to be selling me 3D tvs with content you gypsy fly-by-night fucks. I haven't bought a 3D set and I need incentive. And FUCK YOU if you have ever seen a dim 3D presentation. Move to California where every theater seems to play flawless, uncompressed 3D glory with perfect light levels. Also there's no incentive to see Sanctum without 3D for example. So you're telling me talking animals arn't gonna be better in 3D? Just fuck right the fuck off. Everything is better in 3D. You want to watch the hubble doc in 2D? How about that morgan Freeman narrated one that's coming out that looks holo-fucking-graphic? You want that Africa doc in 2D? Ok sure. But the preview had everyone gasping because it looked like you were actually in a river in Africa. Anyways did you guys get the memo? The one that told you to fuck off? Yeah? Well read it again.

  • March 5, 2011, 5:55 a.m. CST

    We want Bioshock!

    by BiggusDickus

    We want it hard 'R', we want it here and we want it now!

  • March 5, 2011, 8:23 a.m. CST

    Damn Dirty Ape

    by D.Vader

    Sure, I agree with that (he hasn't really influenced anything with Mouse Hunt- despite it being a very fun movie- or The Weather Man). Being called this generation's Spielberg is a bit of a stretch. BUT, I would agree that he is probably the closest director there is right now who fits that description. What do you think? Peter Jackson maybe.

  • March 5, 2011, 11:52 a.m. CST

    reflecto youre a dumbass

    by Shaner Jedi


  • March 5, 2011, 4:16 p.m. CST


    by Sicuv Uyall

    Then you haven't seen The Lost World and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

  • March 5, 2011, 4:41 p.m. CST

    Reflecto... 88% on Rotten Tomatoes

    by Sicuv Uyall

    Mediocre would best describe your evaluation skills, you friggin dumbass bitch. Same goes for most everyone here in the talkback.

  • March 5, 2011, 4:41 p.m. CST

    Same goes double for braindrain

    by Sicuv Uyall

  • March 5, 2011, 11:39 p.m. CST


    by redkamel

    Im sorry, i just saw this film. It is really cool, and is its own thing. Will kids like it? I dont know. Is it made for adults? I don't know. The characters and their design alone are awesome and worth the ticket price alone. Rattlesnake Jake stole the show. Favorite character.

  • March 6, 2011, 9:21 a.m. CST

    Old Man Logan

    by vitruvius

    Saw Rango last night w/ the fam, and all I could think was that this creative and visual effects team would be perfect for the Old Man Logan graphic novel. Not for a kids' movie, but a hard R rated take on the material. The visual style and atmosphere of Rango blew me away. Perfect.

  • March 6, 2011, 3:59 p.m. CST


    by Zombiana_Jones

    Animated. Family. Existential. Western. Awesome. Not to mention it comes from ILM. I shit you not, I even heard a couple of bars from the totally awesome 'Outlaws' Videogame soundtrack in there. And it was EXACTLY what I needed on this, which could have been a truly crappy day. I think everything's going to be all right...

  • March 6, 2011, 5:18 p.m. CST

    I thought J.J. Abrams was the new Spielberg?

    by bat725


  • March 7, 2011, 11 a.m. CST


    by Wcwlkr

    I have to seriously agree with your review Mass! I took my nieces and nephews to see this, they LOVED it and I did to. Even though it had some moments that was way too dark for kids. But that's because this was truly a Western. It was A GREAT MOVIE!

  • March 14, 2011, 1:38 a.m. CST

    had high hopes

    by wierdo27

    great design, great first half hour, manwithnoname was great- i would LOVE to see a whole movie populated with that guy's peers... rango? pretentious as a self referential actor. i don't want to watch a cartoon who is a professional actor, literally, talking about protagonists and the CRAFT. takes me right out of it. it would have been WAY better if he was actually crazy and believed all the crazy stuff he was spouting, have a more lawrence of arabia arc than a lonely-actor-who-learns-to-believe-in-himself vibe. KUNG FU PANDA did that story waaaaaaaay better, and I actually cared about the panda. jake the snake was a great character. great designs. the action scenes and all else were great, but rango himself was the problem. i just didn't care about his arc. I hoped he actually would die, to give the story some resonance. but this played more like a concept, rather than an actual story, or even a tale. no, sir, i didn't like it.