REVIEW: Rango (Gore Verbinski, 2011)

Chameleonic actor Johnny Depp returns to “bat country” (sort of), this time as, well, a chameleon fancying himself an actor. This diminutive lil’ fella is satisfied in a world of imagination before fate flings him to the arid unknown on a metaphorical journey of self-discovery. With the odds actualized, a lack-of-personality conflict emerges, testing of the law of attraction amidst more than a couple “Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas” references. Does the law apply with no deeds to back it up?

Straight out of the gate "Rango" is unafraid to be strange, though it does soon cower back to motions of wide appeal. Director Gore Verbinski knows well how to weird out movie-goers by playing with expectation and molding environments on whim, but his practices here are weighted in favor of general audiences. Where we have a modest handful of surreal sequences in line with and often identical to Davy Jones' locker in Verbinski's "Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End", the picture is moreover an underwhelming investment in what should be relegated to sub-plot status. You see, once our lead lizard assumes his title role, he's launched into a ruckus over a drought imposed by any number of unsavory suspects. This thread exists as a path to the overarching internal journey's fulfillment, but just like Rango becoming caught up in his performance as a wild west sheriff, the film gets caught in what is ultimately inconsequence.


  1. Inconsequence?
    What you don't realize is that this story is based upon events that are actually happening. Las Vegas, the pipeline, the dried up desert, and the dying animals are all references to Las Vegas developers attempting to drain Rural Nevada. This is really happening!

  2. You are correct I did not realize that. Interesting... and sad, of course. I might suggest that if tackling the subject were the film's goal it would have done better to focus on it rather than make the overarching story one of self discovery. Well, either that or better mesh the two stories together. As I mention in the full review I appreciate that the chameleon must embark upon this journey to fulfill his discovery, but the stories still seemed worlds apart from one another and it made for a very dissatisfying experience. I went in prepared for kiddie hijinks, the film said right away, "No! Raise your expectations for this will be an existential experiment in the strange!" before falling right in line with said former expectations.

    Thanks for the informative comment - I will look up this Nevada issue to learn more about it :)


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