Friday, October 21, 2011
A Very Short Rango Review
I frequently use the word "last" when referring to films. By this, I mean productions that become part of one's own narrative. Seeing the film nestles into one's mind, and the experience, the film, the emotions, the initial reactions, all of the elements of witnessing the film become frequently accessed memories.
Films that do not last are those without daring aspects. They hew closely to formula and desperately avoid insulting people. For example, The Fifth Element. It has lasted. It gets shown on TV at least once per week, variations on the movie are released on disc at least once per year, and the movie is famous enough to have been the first movie Sony released on Blu-Ray.
Compare this to another Bruce Willis movie from the same time: Mercury Rising. NO ONE remembers this movie. I only remember it because I wanted to write this paragraph.
Or perhaps more apt for this writing, look back on the animated films of yore that are remembered. They are dark, daring, and exciting. The Secret of NIMH, The Last Unicorn, or The Plague Dogs. compare these truly great works to a work that is masquerading as daring, but is actually just Disney formula wrapped up in darker paper, The Black Cauldron. Why do you think anime absolutely conquered the young male market in the United States? Because anime was dark and exciting. It wasn't stupid musicals filled with cute side kicks and happy endings.
Rango, more than any animated movie out of the US that I have seen in decades, captures that darkness. It captures a sense of danger, juxtaposed with comedy and color. There are moments of beautifully abstract, philosophical ideas combined with near-grotesque images. Rattlesnake Jake, a late-in-the-film bad guy, apparently had young children crying in theaters. Great! That's what you want! If the movie does not have an emotional impact on children, it will never be remembered. It will never become part of a child's personal narrative. They will take no lessons into adulthood. It is as though the movie never existed.
Rango exists and will exist for some time. It is that good.