The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Paramount - 2011
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 107/111 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French/Spanish/Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, English, Spanish, French, Portuguese
Starring: Voices of: Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Ned Beatty, Bill Nighy, Alfred Molina, Harry Dean Stanton, Stephen Root, Timothy Olyphant, Ray Winstone
Directed by: Gore Verbinski
Music by: Hans Zimmer
Written by: John Logan
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: July 15, 2011
"A new kind of western"
Get ready to tango with Rango, a winner with critics and audiences. Johnny Depp is spectacular as Rango, a kooky pet chameleon who gets tossed into a wild and raucous town in desperate need of a hero.
Rango isn't your garden variety animated family adventure. It doesn't feature the cute and cuddly characters we have come to expect from the animation from studios like Disney, Pixar, and DreamWorks. This is Industrial Light and Magic's first full length animated film and the presentation (see below) is absolutely stunning. The plot revolves around a chameleon, that finds himself suddenly thrown from life as a pet into the live or die rigors of a put upon western town where survival depends on the supply of water and those willing to protect it. The townsfolk are represented by various creatures of the desert that fit the traditional western tale archetypes. The script plays out largely in a sort of ode to the spaghetti western (loved Timothy Olyphant's portrayal of the Spirit of the West!) but with aspects that are more traditional as well. Rango, voiced by Johnny Depp, is drawn as the great pretender caricature much in the same vein as Barney Fife. He stumbles/bumbles his way through and endears himself to a town in need of a hero. Unfortunately the time comes where he must put up or face the discovery of his charade. This is where Rango's true mettle will be tested but not before he goes to extreme lengths to avoid such circumstances.
Paramount has included both the theatrical (which I watched during my evaluation) and 4 minute longer extended versions of the film on this Blu-ray release. My initial reaction to Rango would be best described as lukewarm. The first thirty five minutes or so moves slowly and I was finding interest hard to come by. Luckily it does pick up and by the end had completely drawn me in. I would caution parents that there are elements in the story that could raise questions from young viewers. This comes in the form of mature themed references (nothing outrageous) and the depiction of death (several characters actually die). Otherwise things are kept light, with an intelligently crafted storyline and engaging levels of slapstick that both kids and adults can relate to. The plot features a straightforward and formulaic narrative that focuses on the establishment of identity and being true to oneself. The cleverly infused humor is spot on as is the eclectically voiced cast who lend their vocal talent to the characters. As you might expect Johnny Depp is lots of fun in the title role. Equally entertaining are the performances of Isla Fisher, Ned Beatty, Bill Nighy, Abigail Breslin, and Stephen Root. It would be fair to say that I enjoyed Rango however it didn't resonate as deeply with me as I expected. The reason for this may lie in the pacing and execution of its existential framework which differs slightly from what we as an audience have become accustomed to. On the other hand the latter is probably exactly where its strengths lie. I suspect a second viewing will bear more fruit. Regardless, Rango has enough heart, clever wit, and endearing charm to be equally entertaining for kids and their parents.
The rating is for rude humor, action, language and smoking.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Rango comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount HE featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 22 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.8 Mbps.
This is a reference quality high definition presentation that delivers flawless imagery. The video quality is visually arresting in its depiction of the film's animated elements. Detail and definition is impeccably rendered as images have a luminous and sparkling clarity that is appreciably three dimensional. It never left me wanting for fine degrees of subtle delineation and texture. The attention to detail in the construction of the animated characters physical features as well as objects/backgrounds within each frame is superb. Colors are rich and beautifully crafted as the deep shades of sepia are splashed with golden accents and invigorated by eye catching primaries that look succulent in high definition. Each of the characters has distinctive physical qualities that are attributable to them not only in size and shape color as well. Contrast and brightness is spot on and strike a wonderful balance that highlights the multi-layered grays and gradational whites within the images onscreen. The use of light and shading is incredible and offers visible gradations and detail that exhibits a near infinite level of dimension. Examples of this can be seen in the streams of light/dark shadows in the saloon and deep stages of gray/black in the night desert. Blacks are inky with extended dynamic range and deep highlights. I was blown away by this high definition presentation that rivals the very best animation that I have seen on Blu-ray.
This lossless DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is not an aggressive or action style sound mix but its ability to deliver an engaging home theater experience is not to be underestimated. This animated film uses an intricate sound design that has to maintain a delicate balance so the plethora of sound effects, music and dialogue within the soundtrack can be clearly and easily interpreted by the audience. Dialogue is distinctly perceptible and well articulated so that even subtle changes in the inflection of the voices among the cast was detectable. Sound effects are accurately placed within the sound field and establish a tight correlation between the onscreen information and what is being heard within the listening environment. A great example of this occurs at the introduction of Rattlesnake Jake. As he slithers around Rango and the townspeople the sounds of his scales, bandolier and rattle/gun revolve around the soundstage. This creates an immersive, active and involving soundscape that is abundantly rich in detail. Its wide dynamic range can go from subtle, intricate control to room energizing dynamism. Low frequencies underscore sound effects and reinforce the dynamic impact of the audio. Response is authoritative, and clean as it fills the room with deep, tactile, low level bass energy. Hans Zimmer's wonderfully engaging music score occasionally takes center stage as it is broadcast over the entire system with high level detail with smooth, strident free treble. I found this to be a superlative mix that creates a stable and immersive surround sound experience that achieves excellent balance so that all of the elements inherent in the recording can be realized.
- Theatrical and Extended versions of Rango
- Audio commentary by filmmakers Gore Verbinski, James Ward Byrkit, Mark McCreery, Hal Hickel and Tim Alexander
- (HD) Breaking the rules: Making animation history(2 segments) - A detailed look into the preparation/created aspects behind bringing Rango to the big screen
- The stage is Set - 28 minutes
- Now we ride - 20 minutes
- (HD) The real creatures of Dirt - An education featurette where animal experts discuss the real life creatures that inspired the characters in Rango (22 minutes)
- (HD) Storyboard Reel Picture-in-picture (theatrical version only) - interactive in movie experience
- (HD) A field trip to Dirt - An interactive/virtual tour of Dirt complete with character interaction, trivia and bonus footage
- (HD) 10 deleted scenes
- (HD) Theatrical trailer
- Bonus DVD of Rango
- Digital Copy of Rango
Rango isn't your garden variety family animated film and features throw back style storytelling/cleverly infused humor, some of which may go over the heads of younger viewers, which results in an entertaining adventure that can be enjoyed by the whole family. A few minor quibbles aside, I found it to have enough heart, intelligent wit, and endearing charm to be rewarding and look forward to second viewing. Its debut on Blu-ray Disc from Paramount Home Entertainment delivers mesmerizing high definition video quality that ranks among the best animated imagery that I have seen on the format. Superb lossless surround sound and an apropos set of bonus features round out a wonderful package that has found a home in my Blu-ray collection.
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JVC DLA-RS50 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100 16x9 Screen
Anthem AVM50v THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Samsung BD-C7900 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
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APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
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Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package