Rango (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

There are certain duos in Hollywood that just seem to work. This doesn’t always have to be between two actors and, more often than not, it’s an actor/director relationship. Such is the case with Johnny Depp and director Gore Verbinski. As most everyone knows, these two have collaborated on the highly-successful “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise and the chemistry is most certainly there. Now the question must be asked is “would this translate to an animated movie?” I remember seeing the previews for “Rango” and seeing Johnny Depp and company literally acting out the film as it was being animated. This sounds strange, of course, but it’s that kind of outside the box thinking that’s made Depp one of the most sought after actors of his generation. Then again, this movie is computer animated and there is a bit of a difference. How would “Rango” fare?

Rango (voiced by Johnny Depp) is a fast-talking chameleon who is more of a dreamer than a doer. He’s “misplaced” from his confines and finds himself in the middle of the desert. Lost and confused, Rango finds his way to an aptly-named town of “Dirt.” Rango masquerades as a lightning fast gunslinger and after a series of events the townsfolk are convinced that he’s the real deal. He’s appointed sheriff by the Mayor (voiced by Ned Beatty) and his first task is to stop the theft of water (which is running at disastrously low levels). There is, of course, a master villain behind it all by the name of Rattlesnake Jake (voiced by Bill Nighy) that we all know Rango will eventually need to stand up to. The question is…will he?

“Rango” is a not-so lighthearted film that’s entertaining as they come. This is due to Depp who has tremendous vocal skills and the material is custom made for him. Fans of classic cinema will get all of the film references from “High Noon” to “Chinatown” and there’s even an appearance by the “Man with No Name.” The plot is a bit familiar, but we’ve never had lizards and chameleons as the main stars of a film, so it somehow works. While the success of “Rango” isn’t quite comparable to the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films, “Rango” wasn’t exactly a flop. Yes, it didn’t recoup the original $135 million budget, but I’m sure this will be on many shelves throughout the world. There are some truly clever moments in the film and while I don’t think it quite compares to the Pixar films, it’s awful close.

Video: How does it look?

“Rango” is yet another in the seemingly endless computer animated line of films. These films really show how good a Blu-ray film can look and “Rango” seems to take it up a notch. The cast of characters are all reptile in nature and, as such, we can see every indentation on their dry skin. There’s such a depth here that it’s hard to put into words. I felt like I could reach out and touch the characters on screen. The 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer is in no small part responsible for this. Colors are bold and vivid, detail is amazing and this embodies nearly everything that a HD movie should. It’s visual perfection.

Audio: How does it sound?

Nearly as impressive as the video is the DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack. As we might imagine, the vocals are at the center of the soundtrack and they sound very strong. What really impressed me were the surround effects, it seemed like every time I turned around to see what was coming out of my speakers, something was going on in another one. That sounds awkward, but I assure you that this is a very engaging soundtrack. The LFE were very involved as well, particularly between the showdown between Rango and Rattlesnake Jake. There won’t be any disappointment in the audio mix, that’s for sure.

Supplements: What are the extras?

“Rango” comes to Blu-ray with a variety of supplements so let’s dig in and get started. First up is the audio commentary with director Gore Verbinski and some of the technical staff. As we might expect, this is more technical-focused in nature, though it does contain some good tidbits here and there. I’d have liked to hear Depp in there, but alas it wasn’t meant to be. “Real Creatures of ‘Dirt'” gives us some background on the critters featured in the movie. There are a selection of deleted scenes as well. Moving onto the Blu-ray exclusives we find “A Field Trip to ‘Dirt'” is an interactive map of the town of dirt. We get some bonus footage and even a bit of trivia as well. There’s also a picture-in-picture commentary track that’s interesting and informative. The main draw on the Blu-ray features is “Breaking the Rules: Making Animation History.” This two part documentary gives us a look at the behind the scenes of the movie and the lifespan of the project. We then delve into the more technical aspect of the production with features on camera angles and animation. This is a very interesting feature. We get some storyboards as well, though they’re the same ones that appeared in the picture-in-picture commentary track. Lastly we get a trailer as well as a digital copy of the film and a standard DVD of the movie to boot.

Disc Scores