It has become easier and easier over the years to stereotype animation films as superficial and predictable, seeing how they play it as safe as possible in order to ensure they appeal to a very broad audience. Even the really good ones like 'Toy Story' and 'The Incredibles' have an obvious gooey centre that make it easy to predict what is likely to happen next. But none of this seems to be the case with the very strange and original Rango, an animation in a leauge of its own.

Rango tells the story of a Chameleon (played by Johnny Depp) that seems to have lost his sense of identity as he embarks on a soul searching (and quite intellectual) journey that brings him to new insights concerning the actual point behind his life. While this might seem like a quite obvious plot for a Hollywood animation, please don't be fooled, as there is very little that can be classified as typical about Rango.

The most prominent and striking difference between Rango and its conventional counterparts is its eerily grown-up animation style that is honestly like nothing I have ever seen onscreen. Much of the animation style's impact is due to the intense sense of realism, that is not limited to just the scenery and backdrops, as all characters are drawn in such a way that they appear quite disturbing in some cases. I fear that if I had to meet some of these characters as a young boy, I might have been left more than just a bit unnerved. Nevertheless, adults should greatly appreciate the film's authentic style, as all the characters (no matter how minor to the story) are imbued with a painstaking sense of detail, making them a joy to behold and experience. Not only does every critter-like townsfolk member of 'Dirt' (the desolate town that becomes the focus of the film) move and act unbelievably realistic (excuse the oxymoron), but they also feel strangely human, due to the brilliant voice acting present in the film overall.

"I fear that if I had to meet some of these characters as a young boy, I might have been left more than just a bit unnerved."

With a bit of a darker plot (not that the plot is very light to begin with), Rango could easily have been a full-out animated horror, but thankfully the plot has a definite silver lining, that balances its highly graphic feel quite well. Still, I must admit, there does exist a definite sense of creepiness, as a few characters are just too 'real' for common comfort – it this is the same director of the very scary 'The Ring', which might help explain the film's surprisingly dark feel. Rango's colourful soundtrack of fitting Mexican and bubblegum Western tracks is another welcome addition, adding to the film's great sense of authenticity and originality.

Even though this weird style does take quite a while to get used to, its hard to deny that Rango is an extremely memorable film experience that you'll find hard to compare to anything from recent film history. Director Gore Vebrinski (The Ring, The Mexican, Pirates of the Caribbean) has accomplished a great thing with Rango and whilst not every aspect of the film is perfect, the sum of its somewhat strange parts are more than enough to keep this partially flawed gem lingering in your mind for quite a while.

Highlight: As Rango's world suddely gets thrown upside down, he meets a very helpful desert armadillo that agrees to part some wisdom in exhange for some urgent support in his current dire situation.

Just one of the many weird and somewhat creepy characters that Rango meets on his journey of self discovery.

Rating: 4-and-a-half Meerkat tails (Subtract half-a-star if a weirdly unique film experiences is not your thing). 


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