Rango is a pleasingly oddball return to form for Johnny Depp
Animated ode to the western from Pirates Of The Caribbean director Gore Verbinski
Rango (Johnny Depp) is a domesticated chameleon who, through extreme mishap, finds himself alone in the harsh Mojave Desert. He soon stumbles across the town of Dirt, which just so happens to be in need of a new sheriff to help it through a period of lawlessness that has been further exacerbated by water shortage. The role of a tough guy appeals to Rango’s theatrical side. When we first meet him, he’s staging an amateur production of Twelfth Night. However, this macho posturing lands him in trouble when Dirt’s inhabitants – made up of a cracking vocal cast including Abigail Breslin, Alfred Molina and love interest Isla Fisher – are placed in real peril.
Those remarking at the re-teaming of Depp with Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski may wince at the recollection of that franchise’s later instalments, but fear not – Rango is a horse of a different colour. The film is an ode to the western: the music is pure Morricone, the characterisation ticks all the right boxes (hillbillies, feisty femmes, a paternal but vaguely sinister mayor), and Deadwood star Timothy Olyphant crops up impersonating another cowboy legend. This homage to the genre will please Sergio Leone fans, but may leave younger viewers fidgeting. Like Leone, Verbinski is often happy to let the plot amble along while we soak in the beautifully-rendered environment. There’s also a reference point that Verbinski might not be so proud of – the plot wants some originality, bearing a distinct similarity to John Landis’ 1986 comedy Three Amigos!. Forgive it that, though, and it’s a pleasingly oddball return to form for Depp. Just tone down the rum-soaked Keith Richards swagger for the next Pirates, okay Johnny?
General release, out now. Thanks to Omni Vue, Edinburgh.