March 4 -- the slot typically reserved for historical action films and Zack Snyder movies -- sees the release of Nickelodeon's animated adventure Rango. But don't let the Nickelodeon in the title fool you into thinking this is an oversaturated, Technicolor kiddie movie. Quite the contrary: this looks like a family film with potential to become a modern classic. Need convincing? Here are five reasons we think Rango will rock.
He doesn't just direct movies; he directs the HELL out of them. Verbinski is his generation's Spielberg, though most of the critical mass has yet to realize it. When he set out to remake the Japanese horror film Ringu (The Ring), he not only tipped off an entire movement in modern horror, but rewrote the rules of how a horror film could be made (showing how profitable a PG-13 horror film could be while still being good). When he set out to adapt a movie from a Disneyland theme park ride, he ended up with an entire trilogy that created an iconic character that will no doubt endure for decades. And now that he's set his sights on 3-D animated entertainment, is there any doubt he'll get it right -- especially after how well he's already entertained families with Mouse Hunt?
He has a track record with Verbinski and does great voice work. He's also probably the main reason you already plan on seeing this.
It's based upon a classic story
While you can't tell it from the trailers, the film is a loose adaptation of the classic Grimm fairy tale The Valiant Little Tailor, which many of you may know best as The Brave Little Tailor -- or Seven With One Blow -- the classic Mickey Mouse version of the story. The original is the story of a tailor who kills seven flies with one smack, but the story mutates as it gets told and retold until everyone believes the tailor slew seven giants with one blow. Here, Rango is a stranger who happens into town, tells a lie to protect himself, and ends up convincing everyone that he killed seven dangerous banditos with one bullet. Like the original, he then gets tasked with protecting the town from another menace, which should be easy work for someone who has already performed such legendary feats. It's a great story, and no doubt one Verbinski, with the aid of Gladiator scribe John Logan, will tell well.
Westerns are hot right now
Let's face it, we love Westerns and haven't gotten enough of them lately. But with True Grit burning up the box office and Cowboys and Aliens set to destroy summer competition, one gets the feeling that this will fit in quite well ... just before folks start getting tired of Westerns again.
It doesn't pull its punches
As you can see in the trailers, and perhaps the eight minutes of footage they showed us at Butt-Numb-a-Thon this year, this movie up and kills a dangerous creature in the first act of the film. Establishing that death is very real -- and hinting that Rango himself is destined to die -- creates a genuine sense of tension that most animated films never achieve. This doesn't feel like a kids' film; it feels like a family film. There are real distinctions between the two types of movies and it looks like Nickelodeon is quite interested in the latter. A gritty, family Western based on The Valiant Little Tailor, starring Johnny Depp and directed by Gore Verbinski? Yes, please. Twice.