Rango

Today kicks off the Oscar week here at Thinking Cinematic! We will be dedicating this week to talk about Oscar nominated movies. The movie I want to talk about today is not only a fantastic film on all levels, but probably one of my top 3 favorite movies from 2011. This movie completely blew me out of the water and still continues to capture my attention with each subsequent viewing. The movie is none other than Rango, and here is why I feel that it deserves the Oscar Nomination for best-animated picture.

The strongest point of Rango is hands down the animation. In terms of aesthetics this movie is unbelievably gorgeous. Although Rango might not be the most realistic looking movie, it definitely has a style that is worth noting. The character design alone for each character is so painstakingly detailed. It’s a crime that some of these characters were allotted only so much screen time. The movie itself pays homage to the western theme and this shows through remarkably well in the characters, from their hole ridden overcoats, their sun dried sun dresses, and their faded brown cowboy hats. Rango gives birth to not only an amazing character design, but also my favorite villain in recent memory. Rattle Snake Jake is so cleverly designed and so evilly depicted that you can’t help but love to hate him. Although behind the scenes features doesn’t come into consideration when it comes to the Oscars, it is definitely worth noting that there is about an hour long behind the scenes special on the Blu-ray that gives you a detailed look on just how much thought and care went into each character within the fictional town of Dirt.

Before straying too far from the animation aspect of Rango, I wanted to note that the animators do an amazing job of painting gorgeous vistas that fill the screen during the movie. Whether it is the sun dried rustic browns of the dilapidated town of Dirt, the blood soaked sky when the villains make their way to town, or the long cool blue nights and the waves of sand, this movie definitely paints us a master piece that will persuade you to pause and admire the screen. There’s a scene in particular around the hour and twenty-one minute mark that gets me every-time. This is the scene I would show someone if I wanted to show off just how gorgeous this movie is.

At its core this movie is an identity movie. Early on the main character, Rango, finds himself asking, “Who am I?” He struggles with life in a ‘square box’ where he does his best to mask the fact that he is trapped in captivity. Of course, and the movie does a humorous job of breaking the fourth wall and points this out, the hero needs an ironic and catastrophic event that catapults him into his own story. Over the course of the movie we see Rango deal with these life-changing events as he does his best to adapt to his new surroundings. What makes it tough is that Rango sticks out like a sore thumb in this rustic down of dirt. In order to fit in he creates this elaborate story about someone he’s not. The rest of the movie follows his ever-growing lie as he deals with real problems with his fake persona. You can argue that this story has been done before but the thing with Rango is the way that it was executed. These main characters, such as Rango, Beans, The Mayer, and Rattle Snake Jake, are so rich and strong that they create heroes worth rooting for and villains worth fearing. An amazing performance from the voice actors mixed with the masterful animation from the animators breath life into these characters. That’s what makes Rango special.

Back when the movie first hit the theaters, the main concern I heard was that this movie was inappropriate for kids.  Although I personally disagree with this I have a hard time saying that it is appropriate for all ages, which could be considered a draw back seeing how it is marketed towards kids. However, this movie is produced by Nickelodeon which in my own experience has always danced along the line between innuendos and appropriate humor. I understand the approach is there to keep the adults interested, but I can’t help but feel that some of the humor ends up being too far on the spectrum from each other. You have minor sexual innuendos for the adults, and you have potty humor for the kids. It didn’t mix well for me and at times left me with a feeling of disbelief.

Another thing that separates Rango from its completion in animation is the way they captured the voice actors’ voices. Traditionally when capturing voice for animated movies, they’re in a studio reading lines off a script. With Rango, they took the trouble to act out the scenes from the movie to get more authentic reactions from the actors. They were given make shift costumes and sets to work with and they filmed each scene out. Though most of that footage will never see the light of day despite my wishful thinking, it’s definitely something special and spotlights the extra mile they put into making this movie.

Summary:

Rango creates a beautiful stylized world filled with rich lovable heroes and wretched villainous enemies. The strongest point for Rango is the masterful animation that sets it apart and makes it easily recognizable. Although it’s not the most realistic looking animated film, it definitely creates a style of its own. Voice acting and detailed characters hold down a familiar plot. The movie’s premise, “Who am I?” creates a question for the audience that is easy to relate to. Rango is a shining example of the culmination of effort from all aspects of making an animated film while at the same time bringing together some of the best work in all fields.

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