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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
Click poster to enlarge
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
PG
Cast
Johnny Depp
Isla Fisher
Alfred Molina
Ray Winstone
Harry Dean Stanton
Ned Beatty
Abigail Breslin.
Directors
Gore Verbinski.
Screenwriters
John Logan.
Running Time
107 minutes

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Rango
The lizard with no name...


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Plot
A pet lizard (Johnny Depp) falls out of a car in the desert, and earns himself a heroic reputation in the makeshift animal town of Dirt as gunslinger Rango. Dirt’s water-supply is controlled by a turtle mayor (Ned Beatty) and his gang, but Rango rallies the decent folks when it seems the community will be destroyed.


Review
Rango
Browse more images »
Every year, CGI animation gets exponentially better at such a pace critics risk running short of synonyms for ‘amazing’. Rango probably looks as good as it does because Gore Verbinski and an army of processors didn’t get sidetracked and chose to make something ‘flat’ but amazingly textured and detailed. 3D is so obligatory for animation these days it takes a few minutes to adjust to the fact that Rango doesn’t make you wear glasses or throw snakes in your face … though, in every sense other than technical, it’s among the most three-dimensional films of the year.

Bravely, it risks not connecting with the traditional huge audience for toons by appealing more to grown-ups than kids. Johnny Depp delivers weird stoner patter as the voice of the kink-necked, swivel-eyed chameleon hero (the colour-changing gag is underplayed) and Verbinski extends the psychedelic fugue from his last Pirates Of The Caribbean movie as Rango wanders into a wasteland for guidance from the Spirit of the West (Timothy Olyphant). This is stuffed full of wry, knowing homages to the sorts of movies our market research tells us Empire readers love but which the average nine-year-old might be less familiar with. A Wagner-scored Apocalypse Now helicopter attack with bats ridden by Hills Have Eyes-look mutant moles is about as broad as it gets, with plot elements from Chinatown, Django and El Topo plus riffs on Depp’s appearances in Dead Man and Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas.

On top of the freeform movie freakery, this offers ‘funny animal’ denizens of Dirt which include disturbing-looking gila monster whores, rattlesnake hired killers, a spider undertaker and assorted uncomfortable-looking vermin (if the Muppets made Deadwood, this is what you’d get). Rango has more invention to the minute than almost any other movie this year – the lizard heroine’s defence mechanism statue act is an especial highlight – and, if it’s a little too peculiar to be all that funny, it delivers action, strangeness and sheer visual impact to make it a potentially lasting cult movie.


Verdict
Let’s face it, a spaghetti Western with reptiles was never going to be as comfortable a watch as, say, a kung-fu movie with a panda. A certain percentage of the audience will instantly sieze on this as their favourite movie of all time, and a small, but not insignificant demographic will have nightmares. Verbinski and Depp probably like it that way.


Reviewed by Kim Newman


Related Reviews
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Ballad Of Rango: The Art And Making Of An Outlaw Film, The
 

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Rango
Empire Star Rating

A film of three halves.

Rango starts out amazing, loses it in the middle (rodents twanging the Wagner theme from Apocalypse Now while riding backwards on bats??), then recovers somewhat toward the end. I can understand why Mr. Kim Newman gave it 3 stars but overall, it deserved 4. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by eclipsoverseer at 09:44, 27 July 2014 | Report This Post


"I know who I am. I'm the guy, the protagonist, the hero. Every story needs a hero."

Although uncomfortably awkward in places, Rango is a beautifully animated and surprisingly well-made animation. If you didn't like this the first time around, watch it again... it just might grow on you. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by movienut707 at 19:05, 09 November 2013 | Report This Post


"I know who I am. I'm the guy, the protagonist, the hero. Every story needs a hero."

Although uncomfortably awkward in places, Rango is a beautifully animated and surprisingly well-made animation. If you didn't like this the first time around, watch it again... it just might grow on you. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by movienut707 at 19:05, 09 November 2013 | Report This Post


Rango Review

Rango is a smart, giddily creative burst of beautifully animated entertainment, and Johnny Depp gives a colorful vocal performance as a household pet in an unfamiliar world. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 21:29, 17 January 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Rango: Review

Visually sumptuous but one for the adults-too scarey for young kids. A triumph though. ... More

Posted by thetruth at 00:40, 28 August 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Rango: Review

Loved this movie. The animation was spectacular, looks flawless on Blu Ray. ... More

Posted by UTB at 20:35, 27 August 2011 | Report This Post


Rango: Review

Rango is a very good film. It has a great story, the animation is done well and Johnny Depp does an excellent performance as voicing its character in the film. The only problem i had with the film was it wasnt the best animated film ive ever seen. This film is truly enjoyable for both adults & children. I would recommend to go see this film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Edward9630 at 02:51, 08 August 2011 | Report This Post


Kim Newman needs her head examined

To mark this movie as a mediocre 3 star shows a remarkable lack of insight and understanding of the playfulness and humour present in Rango. maybe Kim Newman was recovering from a wretched hangover or just had a bad day but Rango will definitely stand up there with "Blazing Saddles", "Dead Man" and all the Spaghetti Westerns. It plays on multiple levels, fun for kids with more than a few laughs for adults paying homage to all that went before. Depp's voice characterisation ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Obliqueraven at 08:34, 31 July 2011 | Report This Post


RE:

Tangled for one.  Bumping this thread up.  ... More

Posted by theoriginalcynic at 01:00, 28 July 2011 | Report This Post


Three stars is definitely right. It's worth watching once, it's over long and it becomes tiresome in the end. A few good jokes but they're much better animated films out there... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by theoriginalcynic at 00:53, 28 July 2011 | Report This Post


Empire reviews sucks lately... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ARmy2510 at 21:50, 30 June 2011 | Report This Post


On the same sidelines of The fantastic Mr. fox!

Good for a one-time watch. Johnny Depp steals the show just like in Alicein Wonderland. The rest is deja vu- Protagonist pretends to be hero, public finds out and then hero tries to prove a thing or two! Script is oscillating between kids and adults view! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by batbhai at 14:29, 29 June 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Rango is Magnificent. Needs to be REASESSED! WRONG RATING!

I watched this on a plane, so not the best conditions. But it had something special that most cartoons don't these days, originality. A four star movie really and I don't really see how you can mark a cartoon down for not being aimed at the kiddies, who said they have to be? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JagLover at 12:27, 24 June 2011 | Report This Post


Rango is Magnificent. Needs to be REASESSED! WRONG RATING!

I'm sorry, Kim Newman must not be a fan of Westerns, because Rango was not just a great animated film that riffed on Westerns, it was a great Western, period. I was constantly surprised at the sophisticated plotting, great character development, and dark dark humor of this piece. Easily one of Gore Verbinski's best films EVER. This is a classic, make no mistake... and it would easily fit on a shelf right next to the Coen's True Grit and Once Upon a Time in the West. I was dismayed to see... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by teemto at 13:10, 22 May 2011 | Report This Post


Imaginative masterpiece

Rango is creative, clever, beautifully animated and strongly entertaining, with Depp giving a masterful, witty performance. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by djphilips at 10:39, 22 May 2011 | Report This Post


I think the peyote just kicked in...

I enjoyed this film a lot more than I thought I would. I had no idea it was going to be so tripped out. There's a lot of stuff that kids might not quite get, so to pass this off as a kiddie film not for adults would be a mistake. It's got a lot less gags than say a Pixar film, but all in all it felt satisfying, with some nice music thrown in. The texture of the animation is really something to behold as well. Could be one of the sleeper hits of the year. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Rich Empire at 00:20, 05 April 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Rango

This film is a completely unexpected surprise. Fairly standard storyline -- it happens like it says on the tin kinda thing -- but the characters, animation and entire make-up of the film has quirky brilliance written all over it. Loved the small homages to other movies, which didn't overshadow but rather highlighted Rango's originality. Good call, Depp. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Jessica_ca_ca_ca at 09:28, 23 March 2011 | Report This Post


amazing

loved this film, went thinking it would be a dull kids film, was massively suprised, I loved it. in the same vien as fantastic mr fox, wierd and more adult than you think, lots of ace references (sometimes feels like an episode of Spaced!), the animation is stunning and the voice work is fab. anyone who loves Depp in his more indie wierd mode will love this. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by a123matt at 13:23, 21 March 2011 | Report This Post


Weirdly wonderful

This has got to be one of the greatest animated movies of all time! It deserves at least a 4! It's got beautiful animation and clever surreal moments. Highlights include a vision of Clint Eastwood and a group of singing owls. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by typewriter at 22:38, 20 March 2011 | Report This Post


wrong rating

This is at least a 4 star film if ever i saw one. The animation is superb and the story unfolds like a live-action film. It is involving, funny and has a heart. Saying that this is a 3 star film gives parents the wrong idea - and this is clearly a film both for parents and their kids alike, not just the kids. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by claudemg at 13:23, 20 March 2011 | Report This Post


wrong rating

This is at least a 4 star film if ever i saw one. The animation is superb and the story unfolds like a live-action film. It is involving, funny and has a heart. Saying that this is a 3 star film gives parents the wrong idea - and this is clearly a film both for parents and their kids alike, not just the kids. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by claudemg at 13:23, 20 March 2011 | Report This Post


RE: rango review

Many animated films these days try to equally appeal to kids and adults alike, Rango comes with the impression that it’s more for adults than for kids, which makes the kiddie orientated trailers very misleading.  Well, this adult certainly didn’t find it much more adult than normal –sure, The obligatory film references cast their net wider than usual, from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to Chinatown, there’s a bit of pretentious existentialism stuff ere’s some mild swearing, but the... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Lenera at 21:16, 16 March 2011 | Report This Post


rango review

i went into the cinema expecting a mildly entertaining, 3-star children's film. emphasis on the word 'children's'. the themes in this movie are far more serious and less child-friendly than the likes of Gnomeo and Juilet or Tangled. also emphasis on the 3-star, this film deserves 2 more. the animation is amazing, making this film great to look at. the story is a bit weak at points and can be a bit confusing in parts but holds up for most of the film. the characters are extremely strange-looking... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bubbagump9 at 18:49, 16 March 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Rango.

I saw something on the TV showing how the actors were rather than being in little cubicles reading their lines were walking around together acting the script out which makes me wonder if this is why it felt so fresh ? ... More

Posted by Wild about Wilder at 10:49, 12 March 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Rango.

I personally think it is one of the best films of the year so far with the Bat-chasing-wagon sequence one of the standout actions scenes of the last 12 months. 4.5/5 ... More

Posted by Timon at 10:03, 11 March 2011 | Report This Post


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