Imagine the plot and story board meetings when this movie was created.

Lets make it animated, everyone loves animation. Let’s get Johnny Depp to voice the main part, everyone loves Johnny.

Let’s make Johnny’s character a chameleon who pretends to be a gunslinger in a town that has run out of water. Lets make all the supporting characters very odd animals with weird character traits and deformities, all highlighted with hyper realistic animation. Oh and lets make one of the characters have an arrow through his eye, in place for most of the later scenes.

Somebody at the back might also add, lets remove most of the humour and have some very odd lines – “I found some human spine in my fecal matter” and lets make the theme of the plot something only adults might even begin to comprehend.

Lets get some things straight, the animation, voice work and characterizations are a joy. But and this is a massive but, who is the film aimed at. It would be financial suicide to make an expensive quirky animated film about strange animals just for adults, wouldn’t it?

Lets just accept that the film is not aimed at children and has perhaps been marketed in a way that the filmmakers had not intended.

The film involves a chameleon (Rango) attempting to save a town from assorted bad guys voiced by Bill Nighy and Ned Beatty. This all transpires in the town of “Dirt”, a spaghetti western town with no water, apparently exclusively populated and terrorized by characters straight from “Deliverance”, the animated version.

We have mystical surreal sequences, very long words, high decibel classical music (Ride of the Valkyries), an owl Los Lobos group and plays within plays. All of the above, in Disney fashion, book ended by massive chase sequences, all thrown together in a gigantic mashup on the screen.

There are long periods of boredom, Ray Winstone picks the film up but then promptly disappears again. We gradually drag ourselves to a grand finale but it is a very long time coming and many will not worry or care too much about the outcome.

There are numerous in jokes but it would appear the film makers, director Gore Verbinski of “Pirates of the Caribbean” fame, have way too many ideas. Normally 20% would make it into the movie, here everything is on the screen and it is not always easy to watch.

The young audience in this reviewers screening seemed very confused and remained resolutely quiet, not a good sign. The film is likely to be too scary for young children with some very inappropriate images for a film certainly marketed at youngsters – owl characters in nooses ready to be hanged…. anyone laughing at the back.

This is Industrial Light & Magic’s (of special effects fame) first full feature and is perhaps just too clever for it’s own good. Diverse film references from “Apocalypse Now” to “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” abound throughout the film.

Pixar have little to worry about here apart from the almost photo realistic animation, hang that on a decent story aimed at a particular audience, then maybe the famous Pixar angle poise light might start to tremble, just a bit.


Intermittently interesting but also boring, weird, slow and difficult to watch in places, all descriptions not desirable for an animated film marketed for younger people.

Some may love the film, however it remains difficult to recommend to a wider audience, especially young children, despite stellar animation and great voice acting.