Ever since I was introduced to animation in high definition with the 2007 Blu-ray release of Ratatouille I have been certainly been hooked. Disney, Pixar, and Dreamworks have had a monopoly on animation for the last four years of Blu-ray, but the other studios like Sony, Universal, and now Paramount are slowly starting to find their niche in the genre. Directed by Gore Verbinski, the man that brought us The Ring, The Mexican, and the Pirates Trilogy, Rango may certainly be his best venture yet.
The story opens on a chameleon named Rango (Johnny Depp) who we discover is a pet in a small terrarium. We soon discover that he is traveling with his owners to an unknown destination. All the reptile really wants is something new in his life and that’s exactly what he’s about to get. When the family’s car swerves to avoid an armadillo, the chameleon’s terrarium is tossed out of the open window in the back of the car and crashes on highway pavement. He soon finds himself isolated in the Mojave Desert without any food or water.
Later the chameleon stumbles upon a woman named Beans (Isla Fisher) who owns a local ranch and discovers that there is a severe drought in the area. All of the local animals reside in or near a town known as Dirt, which is a rather fitting name. When the reptile gets to the town he is greeted with much curiosity as it is obvious he is an outsider. After accidentally becoming the town’s new hero, the mayor (Ned Beatty) decides to make Rango the sheriff of Dirt.
After some settling in, Rango learns that the town is down to about a week’s worth of water and that the situation is beyond dire. When the last bit of water is stolen, it’s up to Rango and a newly formed posse to track it down and get it back before all hope is lost. Will the reptile be able to find the water and save town? Well, you’ll have to watch the movie to find out but let me just say that you won’t be disappointed with how this one turns out.
With an excellent cast, script, and high quality animation there’s not really much I disliked with Rango. The only major problem I had with the movie is that the first 30 to 40 minutes seem to drag as there is little to keep the viewer’s attention. However, once the film picks up, it quickly becomes much more engaging. The movie is also rather predictable as it has obvious elements from several other popular films, but it’s never a huge problem and you’ll still likely find yourself in the dark with regards to how it will all end.
As Paramount’s first animation on Blu-ray Rango looks just as sleek as any of Pixar or Dreamwork’s entries into the genre. Colors are well saturated without any bleeding or other anomalies. The bleak dusty browns and reds of the desert comes across beautifully with Rango’s green scaly skin adding a nice contrast to the aforementioned primaries. Grain is of course absent as this is a purely digital production. There is no EE or DNR to speak of and I am always thankful when that is the case.
Fine detail is undoubtedly some of the best I have seen in an animation on Blu-ray. Everything is clearly visible right down to Rango’s extremely small pupil’s, to all of the textures of the weather worn town, to even the individual hairs on several of the various animals. This is reference material all the way and Paramount should commended on their effort.
Rango saddles up with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that will be sure to impress, but it does fall just slight of perfect. Dialogue is clear and well prioritized in the center channel no matter who is doing the speaking. Surround usage is well done for everything from ambient noise of the desert to the slightly more active segments in town.
The surrounds come alive even more significantly in the movie’s action sequences and in the majority I can’t complain. However, I did have a problem with the movie’s musical score becoming slightly overbearing during these sequences. It’s not really a huge problem, but it was enough to make me bump the receiver volume down a few decibels. Overall I was rather impressed and anyone with a decent sound system should feel the same.
Rango arrives on Blu-ray with a fair helping of extras and most are actually worth taking a look at. First up is a feature length audio commentary with Verbinski and several other crucial makers of the movie, but keep in mind this is only included with the extended version. There is also an interesting Picture-in-Picture storyboard feature that is included with the theatrical version of the movie. Next up are several making-of features that are rather interesting and are as follows:
- Breaking the Rules: Making Animation History (1080p)
- 10 Deleted Scenes (1080p)
- The Real Creatures of Dirt (1080p)
- A Field Trip to Dirt
- Theatrical Trailer (1080p)
- DVD with Digital Copy
I would highly recommend Rango to not just Western or Animation fans, but to anyone that wants to watch an enticing and hilarious film. This is one movie that you shouldn’t have any reservations about adding to your shelf.
A great cast and spectacular animation make this a very enjoyable film. Paramount's transfer is also exceptional and only adds to the already fantastic experience.