It turns out that Gore Verbniski's latest film, Rango, is a wonderful movie to be surprised by.
It's surprising that a guy with a string of successful blockbusters (Pirates of the Caribbean) would make such a quirky and offbeat film. It's surprising that it would be made by Industrial Light and Magic, and not Disney, who made the Pirates movies. It's surprising that Johnny Depp, more than modestly in demand currently, would agree and be available to voice it. It's surprising how well it blends a family adventure-western-comedy with a deeper adult story. It's surprising how effortlessly it mixes slapstick humour with references to things like Don Quixote, Chinatown, and Hunter S. Thompson. Given all that, mostly it's surprising that the film got made at all.
Frankly, the less I tell you about the film the more likely you are to enjoy it, and there are a lot of reasons to see it. Good story, great laughs, very good voice acting and probably the best character design and animation I have ever seen in a family feature, especially in the eye department. Like a proper western, there are a couple of languid patches in order to let things percolate, make you feel dry, or just to force you to appreciate the vistas, but it keeps a pretty good pace overall.
Massawyrm at Ain't It Cool News liked it even more than I did, calling Verbinski 'this generation's Steven Spielberg' in his review. I'm not quite there yet, but I can what he's pointing at. As it is, I'm glad we went to see Rango this opening weekend, and I heartily encourage you to do the same, if you are able. With so little original fare coming out of Hollywood these days, as opposed to remakes, sequels and adaptations, here is your opportunity to back something that is actually unique.