Saturday, March 19, 2011
Two Recent Movies: Rango and The Adjustment Bureau
Rango is a delightful psychedelic comic western that plays with genre tropes creatively and successfully. Johnny Depp somehow comes to embody his digital alter ego completely, creating one of the most distinctive vocal performances from identifiable star since Robin Williams in Aladdin. The movie manages to reference dozens of other film classics--from Sergio Leone's Dollars Trilogy to High Noon to The Searchers to Star Wars to Apocalypse Now to Chinatown--yet it remains its own distinct beast. Its references and parodies are more classic and creative than the pop culture jokes of the average Dreamworks movie, so it feels less bound to one time and place and more timeless--like Blazing Saddles rather than Scary Movie. (A scene involving gophers flying on bats through a desert canyon to the heric strains of Ride of the Valkyries played on banjos is a highlight.) The colors and textures and details are all beautifully done, and the action scenes are absurdly complicated and exciting, reminiscent of director Gore Verbinski's Pirates of the Caribbean movies. In fact, the whole film clearly displays the same sensibility that made that trilogy so off-the-wall hilarious and exhilarating, but without the overly long and convoluted plots that started to make those go stale. Rango may lack a little bit itself in the pacing/structure departments--it could use a bit more logic and character development in order to increase our emotional connection with it all--but it makes up for it by doing so many things we haven't seen before. An excellent film for the whole family.