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This Week's Movie ReviewRango
Four stars

POSTED BY MICHAEL A. SMITH, March 4, 2011    Share

Starring the voices of : Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher and Timothy Olyphant
Directed by: Gore Verbinski
Rated: PG
Running time: 1 hours 47 minutes

"Every story needs a hero."
So we are informed by a quartet of Mariachi Owls who serve as a Greek chorus to tell us the tale of one of the most unsung heroes of the west -- Rango. While heading west in his comfortable aquarium Rango (Depp), a lizard with dreams, soon finds himself stranded in the desert. He soon comes upon an armadillo aptly named Roadkill (Alfred Molina) who puts him on the trail to the town of Dirt. There he learns there is a great water shortage. He spins a few tales and is soon named the new sheriff, the previous one having served, according to his tombstone, from Thursday to Saturday.

When things begin going wrong, Rango finds himself facing down Rattlesnake Jack (Bill Nighy), who, to paraphrase Yosemite Sam, is the roughest, toughest, rootin'est, tootin'est, shootin'est cowpoke that ever lived. Directed with an eye for detail by Gore Verbinski, "Rango" is proof that not all new animated films need to go the gimmicky way of 3-D. Depp leads an all-star cast of actors who are very committed to the story. Roadkill the armadillo is almost like Sancho Panza, giving Rango the strength he needs to fulfill his destiny. As the town's mayor, and hoarder of water, Ned Beatty channels the late John Huston's performance in "Chinatown" while Olyphant makes one remember a certain Man With No Name. The script is full of great homages to films past and if you look close enough you'll also catch a great tribute to Depp's late friend Hunter S. Thompson.

The animation is sharp, with many scenes reminiscent of the work of the great John Ford. Verbinski smartly used nine-time Oscar nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins (his most recent nomination was for this past year's "True Grit") as a consultant and the results are beautiful. Some of the vistas are rendered so well that their beauty rivals the real show provided by nature.

A film both adults and children will enjoy, on a scale of zero to five I give "Rango" ****.

This Week's Movie Review of "Rango" is ©2011 by Mike Smith. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2011 by Nolan B. Canova.

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