Rango starts when a pet chameleon (Johnny Depp), after trying to orchestrate a very fancy looking play with a plastic fish and beheaded doll, gets stranded in the Mojave desert after he falls from his owner’s car. There, the chameleon (who is still nameless at this point), dazed and confused narrowly avoids getting killed by a hawk. Then, the chameleon meets an iguana named Beans (Isla Fisher) who takes him to the desert town: Dirt.
In Dirt, the chameleon finds the opportunity to be whatever he wants. He chooses to be Rango, a westerner marksman, and moments later, when the hawk comes back to terrorize the town, Rango kills him by firing a lucky shot that gets an empty water tower to squash the hawk.
However, soon after their arrival to Dirt, Beans discovers that the water reserves are dangerously low, which prompts her to ask Rango, who gets appointed sheriff, to investigate the matter. Rango undertakes her request and as the movie progresses, you find out the water issue is more complex and twisted than any of them first imagined: control the water and you control everything.
Rango is not your typical animated movie. It is definitely not something for the kids. After all, how many times do you hear the words “prostate exam”, “I’m ready to mate” and so on in a cartoon? The movie is a celebration of everything that is Western. There’s even a Clint Eastwood sort of appearance, just to top it all.
Johnny Depp is brilliant as the voice of Rango. The chameleon who embodies many personalities, depending on how he sees fit, needed an actor as versatile to give him life. And Johnny Depp does not fail at this. He plays well on screen with Isla Fisher, who has come a long way from being a shopaholic, with her impeccable western accent.
Director Gore Verbinski, known mostly for the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, strings this movie together as an overall tribute to the western genre. There are hints from many famous western movies in Rango that anyone who’s a fan of the genre would pick up. Add to that the brilliant work of Hans Zimmer on the score, as well as screenwriter John Logan, and the movie becomes a very strong movie overall.
Rango is not a very pretty movie in the sense that animated movies are almost always aimed at providing audiences with a cute looking hero/heroin before anything else. Here, even the good people are cringe-worthy when it comes to the cuteness element, which goes to show how much the creators of Rango did not waver in them wanting to make an animated movie that’s not addressed to a particular audience, but one that fit their vision. Rango is a movie with many firsts. This the animators’ first animated movie and the director’s first animated movie as well. But you don’t feel that it’s a movie of firsts when you watch it because everyone involved gives it their all to make it as good as it could be. And yes, it is good.