Review: ‘Rango’


♣♣♣♣    out of    ♣♣♣♣♣

Let’s talk 3-D for a minute. Right now 3-D is everywhere. Walk into a Best Buy, what’s the “hype” all about (besides iPad2)? You guessed it… 3-D. I picked up a new game for the PS3 yesterday, and what do you know? It’s 3-D ready (if you have thousands of dollars for a 3-DTV). I haven’t seen this big a push since HDTV… but 3-D is no HD. We all literally JUST upgraded to flatscreens! We just managed to get our wives/girlfriends’ eyes adjusted to high def so that they recoil in horror at the sight of standard definition! Now TV companies are just being GREEDY. I remember seeing 1080p for the first time and it took me back to the 4th grade when I got my first pair of glasses… Thinking how “this is how we’re supposed to see things on TV.” There is no benefit to 3-D like with High Def… When I ponied up the cash to go see Avatar 3-D, I will admit that I was totally impressed. Avatar’s 3-D is amazing, hands down. Being filmed in 3-D with the new technology made it one of the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen, but sadly, no one has recaptured that (until Avatar 2 I’m sure). The past year and half has brought us more 3-D movies than I ever remember from the last time they tried to sell it too us… and all of them have been sub-standard, dark, and make your head hurt.

Rango on the other hand, is presented in beautiful and glorious 2-D. The animation is of the caliber when you can’t tell if it’s stop-motion puppets or CGI. There are moments in Rango where I honestly thought I was looking at a real desert, a real town, the movie’s computer generated world is on par with anything coming out of Pixar… a feat not easy to accomplish. It tells the story of a lonely chameleon named Rango, who’s world is literally shattered one day on the side of a desert highway. He ends up in the small western town of Dirt, and unwittingly becomes the new sheriff.

“Voiced” by Johnny Depp, Rango is a blend of Depps. Take one part Captain Jack Sparrow,  one part Raoul Duke, mix them together with a healthy dose of Mad Hatter and you’ve got one funny little spazoid-chameleon. His mannerisms and dialog alone were enough to have me giggling, but the hairy situations Rango finds himself in were laugh-out-loud funny. We took our 10 year old daughter and our 4 year old son, my daughter was glued to the screen– my 4 year old started to fidget halfway through and had to be talked through it a little… but he loved it in the end. The plot is simple, remember Blazing Saddles? Yeah, except instead of a railroad, it’s water. The town of Dirt has none, and it’s up to the new sheriff to help solve the mystery of the disappearing h2o.

Other actors like Isla Fisher, Bill Nighy, Ned Beatty, Ray Winstone and Timothy Olyphant all lend hands to make this homage to the classic western. While it is mainly aimed at a 5-15 age group, parents will love the old movie references, innuendos, Blazing Saddles jokes, and even a cameo by the two convertible-driving madmen from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (bats included).  The movie certainly pushes the boundaries of PG, with all of the animals in the “old west” touting guns, drinking, and spitting… a lot… but it never takes it’s eye off the kid-friendly prize. Some parents might feel it a tad inappropriate when Rango asks his headless Barbie friend if “they are real?” I heard my 10 year old daughter laugh, but I wonder at what…?

All in all Rango sits comfortably at 8.5 on a scale of 1 (All Dogs Go to Heaven 2) to 10 (Wall-E). If your kids are yanking at your shirt to go see it, do yourself a favor and take them. Rango is rated PG for rude humor, language, action and smoking.

RANGO – ‎1hr 47min‎ – ‎Rated PG‎ – ‎Animation/Action/Adventure‎
Regal Valley River Center Stadium 15 – 500 Valley River Center, Eugene, OR
11:35am 12:05 2:00 2:30 4:35 5:05 7:10 7:40 9:50 10:20pm
Cinemark 17 – Springfield OR – 2900 Gateway Street, Springfield, OR – Map
11:25am 12:45 2:05 3:25 4:45 6:05 7:25 8:45 10:05pm

New Releases for 3/11


Another week has gone by movie fans, and here we are at Friday again. How many movies have you seen this week? Coming to local theaters this weekend we’ve got a couple of pre-spring movies to get through before Hollywood kicks off it’s yearly Pre-Summer-Spring-Movie-Extravaganza sometime in April.

Up this weekend we’ve got Battle:Los Angeles, a movie that I was completely psyched about until I sat down to read the reviews. One sunny day in Los Angeles, meteors start falling from the sky and hitting the water around Santa Monica surfers… then those meteors get up and start attacking. Alien/robot/thingys storm the beach to invade Earth. Aaron Eckheart (Thank You for Smoking) is a great actor who I can tell is going to be lost in a sea of explosions, special effects, gunfire, and a lot of shouting of “fall back!” and “get down!” Michelle Rodriguez also joins in as a grunt who helps repel the alien forces. What looked like a promising alien invasion movie looks to be two hours of “shakey cam” and CGI… reviewers say it’s better than Skyline, which I liked, so we’ll see. Battle: Los Angeles is rated PG-13 for sustained and intense sequences of war violence and destruction, and for language. (PG-13 for a “war” movie? sigh….)

Also for the tween/teen demo out there we’ve got the gorgeous Amanda Seyfried (Big Love, Chloe, that ABBA movie) in Red Riding Hood, from the director of Twilight… surprise! Guess what this movie is about and you win a free trip to the next paragraph. Guess who should go see it and who the movie is aimed at- and you won’t ever have to think about it again after this. Alas, Seyfried plays the title role in this werewolf movie. I don’t know how much Gary Oldman gets per movie these days, but I think it must be shrinking, which is a shame… Gary Oldman is a genius that is often fun to watch no matter what, but Red Riding Hood, no matter how bad my 10 year old daughter wants to see it, is not on my list of “ever.” It’s rated PG-13 for violence and creature terror, and some sensuality.

Last but not least we’ve got the kid-friendly Mars Needs Moms which is hitting the IMAX theater at Valley River as well as playing at Gateway. Disney serves up a quick-witted story about a boy named Milo, who begins to realize he might need his mom after all- AFTER martians kidnap her. It’s your run-of-the-mill Disney 3-D animated spectacular that’s getting positive reviews on the interweb. One kid-friendly animated movie a week is my quota and I filled it yesterday with Rango, a movie far-superior (watch for my review) than anything coming out this weekend. If you’re dying for an IMAX 3-D headache then this is the movie for you! Mars Needs Moms is rated PG for sci-fi action and peril.


Have a great Friday, and we’ll see you at the movies!

New Releases in theaters for Friday 3/4


EUGENE– Oscars hangover anyone? Well if you haven’t seen all of the award winning films from last Sunday, especially The King’s Speech, then you’ve still got another week at local theaters. The Fighter, True Grit, and Black Swan are all excellent movies, and are still playing. Opening this weekend, however, is another wave of bigger movies… ah the oncoming tide of summer.

Rango movieFirst up we’ve got the charmer Rango, voiced by Johnny Depp. Rango is brought to us by the makers of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and looks like all the fun an animated chameleon can have in the wild west. It follows the adventures of Rango, a city-slicker chameleon who winds up in the western town of Dirt… that just so happens to need a sheriff. Rango is NOT in 3D, thank the stars. I’ve seen the preview a few times, and my kids are dying to see it. This is one that I’ll be glad to take them too. Rango is rated PG for rude humor, language, action and smoking.

Second out is the Matt Damon thriller The Adjustment Bureau. Damon plays an up and coming politician who takes on the agents of fate in order to meet Emily Blunt. The two flee across New York City and try to outsmart the Bureau, an FBI-type force that corrects fate when things go wrong. It sounds like an intriguing plot, and it looks like a smartly made movie. For anyone wanting action and romance, The Adjustment Bureau is rated PG-13 for brief strong language, some sexuality and a violent image.

Next up we’ve got the comedy Take Me Home Tonight, yes named after the hit song from the 80s. The movie takes place late in that same decade and follows Topher Grace (from That 70s Show) as he graduates MIT, gets sickened by the greed and materialism of the 1980s, and quits his high-paying job to work in a video store. The movie centers around a Labor Day Weekend party where the sensitive male lead follows his dream girl around… Like a John Cusak movie. Take Me Home Tonight is rated R for language, sexual content and drug use.

Last up is the teen drama Beastly. Think Beauty and the Beast meets Twilight… which is weird because we’re also getting a Little Red Riding Hood meets Twilight… I’ll be glad when this Twilight things is over. Anyway, Beastly is brought to you by CBS Films and is rated PG-13 for language including crude comments, brief violence and some thematic material.