Directed by: Gore Verbinski

Written by: John Logan

Starring: Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Ned Beatty, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy

Rating: [4/5]

Those who control the essential resources for a populace hold the power, something we know in our own world but also displayed in many stories with no other resource having more importance than water. Something occupying the majority of the world but only so much of it has the ability to serve humanity for hydration and a tool to create our food. This carries the most importance in Rango amongst a bevy of other themes within this wonderfully animated feature. 

A domesticated chameleon, Rango (Johnny Depp), falls out of the family vehicle and lands in the desert of Nevada. There he finds a town of other animals who struggle with their everyday lives because of the scarcity of water in the area. Rango, ever the eccentric performer, manages to convince the townsfolk of him being a true gunslinger, which impresses but also puts him in a precarious circumstance. 

Animation, for many discussable reasons, has found itself in a lower tier than other types of films because of the perception of them existing for children. An asinine argument continually disproven when you get a feature with as many cogent themes and ideas as Rango in discussing elements about the control of resources but also the phasing out of a way of life, with the West being one of them. It provides so much to savor and enjoy before even getting into the majestic animation on display to bring us into this world. 

Watching this feature back since its premiere really demonstrates how it serves as an excellent double feature with Mad Max: Fury Road not only with its perspective on the importance of water as a natural resource but also with riveting vehicular set pieces. My goodness, when it came to the carriage chase, it demonstrates some impeccably crafted moments highlighting these characters in a jaw-dropping manner. The entire chase sequence carries so much weight to the film on a plot level and exemplifies the dangerous world these animals inhabit. These two films work in tandem together, which undoubtedly serves as a compliment to Rango and the quality on display throughout the feature. 

Water serving as a needed resource allows for the movie to relish in showing the dryness of the surroundings. It did such an excellent job it made me feel thirsty while watching. Seeing how the sunlight and temperature can immediately dry up these droplets that would make a distinguishable difference in the hydration of these creatures. The Nevada sun never felt so destructive as it does in this feature, which continually adds to the severity of the work it takes in acquiring water for the community. 

As a character, the little chameleon we follow comes with tons of personality, which from the start makes him very endearing. From his weirdly shaped neck and thespian qualities, his entrance into this salt-of-the-earth town adds some flavor and color to shake things up. His initial entry into the town shows individuals who do not care for strangers and outsiders and the way he immediately ingratiates himself through his performative skills builds up this legend around him. He accumulated a bill that would eventually come due. 

Thematically this feature embarks on the changing of the guard in a way of living from the good old days to a more modern existence where classic cowboys no longer walked amongst us. Something very much in the balance in the motivations of these characters and the titular character stands at the center of it even if fraudulently in his initial portrayal as some cowboy. In a sense, the move away from this lifestyle makes sense considering it mostly existed as a group of people doing whatever they wanted for the most part, which usually means disenfranchised groups get marginalized without fail. However, this feature advocates for the good it brings and does so fairly well. 

In line with other features focusing on animals in relation to a normal world, the film does so well in displaying the vast size discrepancy as small creatures. This, of course, becomes apparent on the highway but also the predators existing for these creatures. The sequences of the hawks contrasting with Rango and the other characters show these winged creatures as stone-cold killers rather than a pretty birds we humans see in the sky. It further demonstrates why these animals develop these defense mechanisms along with the unending fear of their lives being cut short at a moment’s notice whenever these predators develop an appetite. 

Utilizing stunning animation baking the characters in the scorching hot sun, Rango represents a goodbye to the classic Western while also displaying the genre’s very best attributes. However, instead of a stoic cowboy, we get the affable chameleon who got into more than he asked for in his involvement with this town. Every moment carries entertainment value as well as exploring some rich themes not to forget how we impact the wildlife around us and just how important something as taken for granted as water is for every living thing on this planet.

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