x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Rango

The beauty of Rango lies in the story and a dialogue that manages to tip its stetson to all ages without kicking the saloon doors in.

Rango Director: Gore Verbinski
Starring: Johnny Depp
**** 

A mariachi band of owls sing the opening title track and lay down the silliness levels for what has to be one of the most imaginative and captivating animated films made since Toy Story blew the industry apart.

The title character is a Hawaiian shirt-wearing pet chameleon, voiced by Johnny Depp, whose life is turned upside down after he's accidentally flung from the back of his owner's car and into a dusty plain in the middle of nowhere.

The plot quickly becomes an epic modern-day Western, with Rango finding himself the centre of attention in a grubby, ramshackle town of furry gunslingers under threat of extinction.

While the animation and imagery are extraordinary, with the level of detail on Rango's face as impressive as anything from Pixar's studios, the beauty lies in the story and a dialogue that manages to tip its stetson to all ages without kicking the saloon doors in.

There are references to Blazing Saddles, Hunter S Thompson, Apocalypse Now and a whole host of Westerns, plus hallucinations, the indulgence of "bad habits" and countless other jokes that steer this firmly away from the flurry of family-friendly animations. "Is this heaven?" asks Rango, after making the daring odyssey to the other side of the motorway, to which he's told: "If it were, we'd be eating Poptarts with Kim Novak." Gore Verbinski may be famous for launching Depp's pirating crusades, but with Rango he's arguably given the actor one of his most memorable characters, and stories, to date