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Category Archives: Movie of the Day Blog

Movie of the Day: Catwoman (2004)

Catwoman is mounted on one incontrovertible truth: Halle Berry looks great in black leather.  This is a fact displayed all through this laborious hemorrhoid of a movie.  It is virtually unwatchable, yet you can’t deny the fact that she is a natural wonder to behold.  Great pains have been taken to properly photograph her eyes, her lips, her legs, her shoulders, her bare back, and at one point even her tongue.  Yet, the producers of Catwoman have overlooked another unavoidable fact: All that organic lovliness is meaningless if you have no movie to build around it.  Might as well buy a calendar and get it over with.

What is here isn’t really a movie, it’s a perfume ad that’s permitted to go on for two hours.  At its center is a script that even photogenic black leather and ruby lips can’t fix.  Ms. Berry is a talented actress but you have to wonder at the thought process that went into this property.  The poster is the movie.  The rest is more or less innocuous.

Berry plays Patience Phillips, who begins as a frumpy insecure graphic artist working for George Hedare (Lambert Wilson), a megalomaniac cosmetics magnate who is secretly selling a toxic skin cream that will keep women looking young so long as they keep using his lousy product. Patience finds out about this little scheme and is killed and dumped in the river for her troubles. Emerging later, apparently having been brought back to life by cats (groan) she re-imagines herself as Catwoman. A trip to the leather shop, a new hairdo and – VOILA! – she’s a superhero. She can leap from building to building like a badly rendered CGI jungle cat and she’s crazy with a whip. Other than that, she ain’t much in the way of functionality. Somewhere in her transformation, she gets Yoda-like advice from a mysterious woman called Ophelia (Frances Conroy) whose role is more or less superfluous.

On her mission to destroy the Hedare and his evil toxic cosmetics factory (read that sentence again), Patience falls in love with a cop played by Benjamin Bratt who is really reeeeeeeally slow to catch on. Patience is not only his love interest, but also apparently the only black woman in town. He is working the case to bring Catwoman to justice, but he doesn’t even recognize her through the mask when they’re face to face. How did he get to be a cop?

The director, who calls himself Pitof, has graduated from television commercials but hasn’t left them behind. He’s great with the photography but as a dramatist he’s got a long, LONG way to go. His scenes are set pieces in which Berry twists and kicks and snaps her whip and throws out stupid double-entendres (“Cats come when they feel like it. Not when they’re told.”) They’re probably pretty pictures by themselves, but look just plain stupid when strung together.

He’s also made a movie that’s a bit confusing. Who is this character? The opening credits tell us that the movie is “Based on the characters by Bob Kane,” but as far as I know, there has never been a Catwoman named Patience Phillips. The movie doesn’t take place in Gotham City, there’s no mention of Batman and this Catwoman isn’t Salina Kyle. Who is she? Is she an imposter? A clone? A wannabe? Based on the evidence, she seems to fit all three.

During this terrible movie, I had a lot of time to think. How would a movie about a cat woman really play out? She’s be sullen, ignore you when you call her and sleep all day. Occasionally she’d find a corner to get at a bad itch, and she’s spend most of her day sleeping in whatever window is getting the best sunlight. Maybe Catwoman should have been played by a teenager.

 
 

Movie of the Day: Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)

Something happened to me during Transformers: Age of Extinction that I found rather curious.  Somewhere around the third hour, the movie was filled with 700 ton robots were falling from the sky on a rural highway backed up by a soundtrack louder than a B-52.  At that moment, I caught myself daydreaming.  Not voluntarily, mind you.  My mind drifted off to a project I was working on for my website.  This is not good.  Here is a two-hundred million dollar movie that can’t hold my attention.  That’s serious.

Still this is one of the most obnoxious tentpole movies that I have ever seen.  It’s loud, dumb, incoherent and endless. And yet, while it’s nearly identical to its predecessors it’s not nearly as bad. That is to say, while it still numbs your mind with explosions your mind comes to expect it. This fourth go-around, the cacophony isn’t as damaging because it’s isn’t fresh or new anymore. Is that a compliment? Hard to say.

Bay has the unmitigated gall to call his third sequel a “reboot.” Not quite. The cast is different and that’s about it. Gone are Megan Fox, John Turturro, Josh Duhamel, and most blatantly Shia LeBouf whose sudden abundance of free time isn’t any more wisely spent then when he was bilking the public with this unending stream of cinematic indifference.

What’s different this time is that Bay seems to have abandoned the palette by which he created the other three films – that is to say this is the first Transformers movie that isn’t totally an ugly and unhappy experience. That doesn’t make it good, necessarily, what he created previously as dark and grimy has been replaced by a visual look that is aggressive, colorful and seems more childish than off-putting. That’s a nice way of saying he’s traded an ointment for a suppository. It still the stupidest film of the summer, but you don’t feel filthy when the movie is over.

Despite the recasting, the story isn’t any better. The planet Earth is still reeling from the destruction of Chicago which has forced the government to set in motion the reasonable plan of eliminating all remaining Transformers in order to get them off the planet. In charge of the plan is Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer) whose dialogue seems completely made up of apocalyptic statements. He has a bloodhound at his side, an angry little man named Savoy whose private army travels around in those ominous black vans that always signal that the government is hunting for something in the movies.

Savoy heads out to “Texas, U.S.A.” where a particularly pesky piece of metal is in the possession of an inventor named Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg). While looking for spare parts in an old movie theater, he runs across a truck whose cab is littered with bullet holes. He takes it home, tinkers a bit and – bim bam boom! – up pops Optimus Prime. Savoy arrives on the scene to destroy the robot; Cade grabs his daughter and her boyfriend and the rest of the movie has them running from giant, hulking hunks of metal.

That, in essence is all there is. There’s a running gag about Wahlberg’s paranoia over his teenage daughter’s budding sexuality, but it’s a joke that it repeated over and over and wasn’t all that funny to begin with. Most of the movie has the pair running from giant monsters with her new boyfriend in tow.

The characters are all bland caracatures save for the one played by Stanley Tucci. He plays Joshua Joyce, a robotics expert whose personality ebbs somewhere between Steve Jobs and Eckhart Tolle – at least in his first few scenes. His company has been studying Megatron’s head and come up with a pretty cool new technology that can allow his robots to transform without all the bending and contorting. They transform by breaking up into thousands of tiny pieces of metal and twisting around like a swarm of bees before reforming into something else. It’s a neat effect. There’s a lot of personality to Joshua initially that unfortunately blows away as soon as he leaves his lab. For most of the movie, Tucci is just part of the foreground, ducking and dodging and buildings and giant robots come crashing down.

The robots themselves haven’t changed. They are the selling point of this enterprise but they are ugly, ungainly and no fun to look at. They are 50-foot scraps of metal that punch each other when they aren’t shooting things or knocking over buildings. They have shiny faces that can’t be recognized as faces, so we feel no connection to them at all. They are nearly impossible to tell them apart.

Not to mention, if you have a quizzical mind, you can’t help but ask logical questions. The robots are on this planet to fight one another, but what are they fighting about? What makes a robot good or evil? Who decided which side they would be on? What makes them intelligent? What makes them able to think and talk? What do they do when they aren’t fighting? Who sent them here? Who built them? Why were they built? Why do they transform into a automobiles? The robots are all male, but are their fem-bots? Is this trip really necessary?

 
 

Movie of the Day: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)

I had a conversation once with a former associate who argued that the best way to enjoy the films of director Michael Bay was to simply sit back, turn off my brain and enjoy them. What he was saying essentially is that I needed to simply lower my standards and ask for less. Note that I said this was a former associate.

Michael Bay makes blockbusters. He makes them loud, crude, violent and profitable. He made ‘Armageddon’, about rocks that threaten to destroy earth. He made The Rock, about a terrorist that threatens to destroy San Francisco. He made Pearl Harbor about how the Japanese destroyed a navel base. Are you seeing a pattern here? He makes profitable films in which things get blow’d up real good. His excuse is that he makes films for audiences, not critics. Well, so did Hitchcock, but at least Hitch wanted to play us like a piano, not like a set of drums.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a loud, crude, dumbbell action picture that has the appeal of throwing a set of cookware down a long staircase. The heroes and villains are robots from another world who can disguise themselves as mobile objects like cars, jets, tanks etc. They can even take the form of household objects like toasters or blenders. The reason they are here on earth is laid out in incomprehensible dialogue that is difficult to follow. It really doesn’t matter anyway. The final scenes are an assault of noisy special effects and whip-cut editing that never allow you to get your bearings. It plays like a two-and-a-half-hour commercial for itself.

The robots are seen early and often. There is no build-up or mystery about them at all. They are built of a convoluted mess of shiny metal pieces formed into something 40-feet tall with arms and legs. They have faces that aren’t expressive but rather hidden by all the metal – it takes you a second or two to decipher where the eyes or the mouth are or if they even have them (why do they need them?). When they speak, they having nothing interesting to say. Their speech comes in three forms: Formal comic book boilerplate (“Die, like your brothers”) and pop culture buzzwords (“Punk-ass Decepticon!”).

They make no logical sense in that you shouldn’t ask how a 50-foot robot can contain enough metal to transform into a half-sized pick-up truck.Worse then trying to figure them out is watching them. All they do is fight, smash things and shoot lasers. A lot of things get smashed and a lot of lasers get fired. There are a lot of things that get blown up, a lot of things that get destroyed. The robot’s bodies are made of metal, wires and gears. They look like moving scrap-heaps and when you get a bunch together to fight, you can’t tell one from another.

You have to ask why creatures from another planet would be metal robots anyway? Why is their speech such a mess of stale mechanical blandness? What do they have to offer besides weapons that can destroy stuff? What is their planet like? Where do they come from? Are there other organic beings out there? Do they know about us? Who built you guys? What’s your technology like? How were you able to convincingly create a robot who was a human look-a-like? See, they wouldn’t want to visit me because I would never shut up with the questions.

The human characters in the movie aren’t smart enough to ask those questions. The males in the movie are either college slobs or military archetype. The female are all gorgeous, smoldering in heat, and dress like Playmates. Shia LeBouf, the hero, runs through this movie looking dazed and confused while shouting at special effects. Megan Fox doesn’t fare much better but at least I can give her credit for tiring of this material and bowing out of Transformers 3. The only romantic conflict between LeBeouf and Fox is the idea that he won’t tell her that he loves her. Trust me, if a guy has the heart of a girl who looks like Megan Fox, the problem would be getting him to STOP saying it.

Movies like this anger me. They are a determent to this art form that I love. They seem to have been made by people who don’t know what movies are suppose to be about. Made by committee, they are filmed deals, made for box office, merchandise and beverage tie-ins. I like movies that ask something of me, they engage me and have a narrative that plays with my senses and my expectations and my sense of wonder. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is, I’m told, a movie that I am suppose to simply sit back and enjoy but, for me, that would be asking me to enjoy getting smacked repeatedly upside the head with a frying pan.

 
 

Movie of the Day: Transformers (2007)

Michael Bay has a style that I like to call “yutz charm.” He makes movies presumably for an audience that doesn’t ask for much beyond having their movies be loud and pretty to look at. That’s not to say that the audiences for his movies fit the term “yutz” but Bay likes to treat them as if they are. He’s the brainchild behind such box office hemorrhoids as “Pearl Harbor”, “The Rock”, “Armageddon” and “Bad Boys.” His movies are loud, crude and colorful; they move fast and stuff gets blow’d up real good.  What do you expect?  Quality?

Bay makes movies at two speeds: Pathetic and passable. Most of the time his work falls into the former, but “Transformers” falls into the latter. There are good things in it, moments that could almost be mistaken for being “inspired.” Yet, for every effective scene there are two that aren’t. You get a funny line of dialogue and then a robot that urinates on a man sitting in his car. Scene like that kind of make you lose faith.

“Transformers”, of course, are based on a line of toys first introduced in the 1980s. It was clever, you could bend and twist these toys and turn them from robots into cars and other things – sort of like what Bay is doing to his audience. It wasn’t exactly food for the mind, but it was a clever idea. Added to that was a TV show, then a rather superfluous 1986 animated movie and now a $150,000,000 retro exercise that is entertaining while you’re watching it but means nothing when it’s over.

The story isn’t much, but here goes: Two cults of ancient robots have arrived on Earth having battles one another for centuries across the galaxy. In this corner are The Autobots led by Optimus Prime who fight for right and might and want to spare the human race their war. In this corner are the Decepticons, who could give a rip about the human race and want to turn all of our technology against us. They’re in a battle to retrieve something called The All Spark, which sounds like a set of spark plugs but is actually device that can turn a mundane object into a transformer. Why they need it is somewhat unclear. Actually, it would have made more sense if they were looking for a set of spark plugs.

The robots themselves are 50-feet tall and have an arsenal of weapons. They can contort themselves into vehicles – trucks, cars, planes, you name it. Bay’s spirit of “yutz charm” assumes that you will overlook the question of how a robot the size of a small office building could contain enough metal to transform itself into a half-ton pickup truck. On the bright side, several of the robots do have personalities. Their dialogue is more or less perfunctory but there was, at least, an attempt to give them something more than big weapons. More might have been done, however, to make the robots more appealing. The Autobots and the Decepticons are incomprehensible when you look at them. Their faces aren’t expressive, but hidden within all the metal. They have mouths but why do they need them?

The All Spark is in the possession of a teenager named Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBouf), a kid so nervous that he runs the risk of developing hypertension before he gets into college – maybe it has something to do with the fact the his name is WitWicky. His parents are no help. His mother is a jabbering idiot and his father takes pride in making his son’s life a living nightmare. As the movie opens, Sam is about to receive his first car. No points for guessing that the car is More Than Meets the Eye – see I went there. Also into his life falls Mikaela (Megan Fox), a rapturous beauty who falls for Sam because – gasp – she cares about him. They briefly have a relationship that in another movie might have been interesting. Ms. Fox, it should be said, is the most appealing special effect in the whole movie.

This is a strange movie. Every action, every moment is ramped up beyond the ordinary. Even moments of calm between the human characters have the urgency of a cartoon. Most of it is given over to the clatter and bang of the visual effects department namely the fights between the robots. When they fight and their bodies are pressed against one another, you can’t tell one from the other. They’re metal; therefore they can’t get hurt, so why do we care? If they get destroyed, they can be rebuilt. Right? Maybe that’s what the All Spark was for? It’s hard to ask questions, just be mesmerized by the Yutz Charm and don’t ask too many questions.

 
 

Movie of the Day: The Gallows (2015)

There is a tiny moment late into The Gallows that is so restrained and so steadily terrifying that I felt a great lurch in my stomach.  Cassidy, the buxom cheerleader is trying to pull herself together after her boyfriend goes missing.  She sits at the top the of stairs trying to pull herself together.  The camera holds one shot for a what seems like an eternity.  A figure emerges from the darkness behind her and to her left.  It emerges so slowly that it takes our eyes a moment to register that something is there.  It’s the kind of terrifying moment that horror movies are made for.

I wish I could say the same about the rest of the movie!

The Gallows a heap of towering vapidness wrapped in a gimmick that doesn’t work, juggling a handful of characters who are pawns not people.  It’s a colossal miscalculation of character and tension built on a flimsy idea and padded out by a shopworn gimmick that doesn’t build tension so much as get on your nerves – this is, you guessed it, another found-footage movie.

The movie doesn’t have a plot so much as the meager beginnings of a concept.  Back in 1993, at Bernice High School in Nebraska, the senior class is putting on a production of a play called “The Gallows” starring one Charlie Grimille – the climax of which is a hanging.  For whatever reason, the prop people apparently built the gallows to be fully functioning so Charlie is actually hanged onstage in front of a live audience.  A generation later the students still talk about Charlie and the infamous mishap.  Despite the infamy, the school has decided to allow another performance of the same play.  Why?  Because we wouldn’t have a movie, that’s why.

What follows is a found-footage train wreck following four kids as they break into the school at night to trash the stage so that the lead actor will be spared the indignity of humiliating himself in front of the entire school.  The kids are nothing special.  There’s Ryan, an over-caffeinated jock who is filming the whole thing for . . . reasons.  There’s Reese, the clueless hunky guy who is the lead actor in the play.  There’s Pfieffer, the pretty lead actress on whom Reese is crushing hard, and there’s Cassidy, Reese’s cheerleader girlfriend.  These people don’t have personalities, they are placeholders.

Seen through the advent of shaky-cam, the kids sneak into the school in the middle of the night to trash the stage and, upon making their exit, find that all the doors are locked.  Worse, they find that the stage has been untrashed.  Throughout the night, the camera passes between each of the kids in a fit of panic (who wouldn’t?) as they very slowly begin to discover that the ghost of Charlie Gimille is hunting them down.  The kids run through the bowels of this school which seems to go on and on and on and seems to have no floor plan.  Admittedly some of the set-decoration could be scary as you might feel the disorientation of being in a dark school in the middle of the night.

The basic problem is, there are no rules here.  Charlie can appear out of thin air, but he can move objects and even kill someone.  There’s no real reason why he should be killing these kids other than the fact that they happen to be in the school.  So why does Charlie only attack intruders?  Has he never attacked anyone in the 20 years since his death?  Does no one go missing?  Why did he wait until this exact night to strike?  And again why is this found footage?  Why is the camera still running after it should have run out of battery power?  Why is Reese still running around after he breaks his leg?  I have a headache.  I’m going to go lay down.

 

Movie of the Day: The Man Who Saw Tomorrow (1981)

I guess my view of the prophecies of Michel de Nostradamus – the 16th century French prophet who is said to have written down accurate predictions of at least 2000 years of forthcoming human events – holds about as much weight for me as The Da Vinci Code.  There are a lot of holes in the Nostradamus’ predictions so I tend to chalk it up as nothing more than an interesting curiosity.

The people behind the documentary The Man Who Saw Tomorrow don’t see it that way.  Here is a movie that offers a tiny bit of biography about the supposed prophet, and then cobbles together footage from every source under the sun in an effort to prove his accuracy.  Did he have fore-knowledge of the future?  Did he, while sitting in his secluded attic room in the 16th century accurately predict The French Revolution? Napoleon? The American Revolution? The Civil War? Hitler? World War II? The Atomic Bomb? The Kennedy Assassination? The Moon Landing?  Is he also right in his prediction about World War III and the end of the world?  Well, I don’t happen to think so, but I am confused about whether the movie does.  It spends 90 minutes reiterating that Nostradamus wrote down 2000 years worth of prophecies that came true and then adds a tag at the end to tell us that the producers of this film are actually less convinced of his accuracy than I am. At least they’re honest.

Hosted by Orson Welles, who sits in his stuffy office behind a desk smoking a cigar, The Man Who Saw Tomorrow attempts to lay out all of the major turning points of history by way of Nostradamus’ writing.  Before diving head-long into his predictions, we learn that Nostradamus was a hard-working student who had ambitions to be a doctor, but after losing his family in the plague, turned his ambitions toward writing down his predictions in something called “quatrains’, and hid his verses in anagrams and secret code in an effort to avoid being prosecuted for witchcraft.  Early on, we learn, he kissed the robes of a young Franciscan friar who would someday be Pope Sixtus V. He predicted that a king would die in a jousting tournament by having his eye poked out.  Later he was invited to the home of a dignitary where he accurately predicted which pig they would be eating for dinner. Yeah . . . okay.

The historical predictions put forth by Nostradamus are interesting, but the methods in which the movie presents them are, in a word, baffling.  Nothing is off limits here.  There is footage of the Kennedy assassination, the holocaust, The Moon Landing, the revolution in Iran.  Then, for events where there is no footage, sometimes actors are used in recreations and other times we get footage from old movies like War and Peace.  Sprinkled into the mix also are old newsreels, short films, documentary footage, color illustrations and cheap special effects shots from old science fiction movies.

The only center of logic in this chaotic mess is a very brief interview with former astronaut Edgar Mitchell who argues that the future is nothing more than our summation of present events. I would have liked to have heard more from him and less from Jean Dixon, who appears absurdly satisfied that she predicted the deaths of both Jack and Bobby Kennedy.  That’s before Welles informs us that we can see Nostradamus’ accuracy if we simply keep one eye on the quatrains and the other on our daily newspaper. For me, that’s just too much work. I think I’ll just let the future surprise me.

The movie also insists over and over that Nostradamus laid out a historical time line that revealed three men who would try to take over the world – Anti-Christs he called them. The first was Napoleon, the second was Hitler and the third is said to be a future tyrant who will come from the Middle East. This man, it is said, will plunge the world into a catastrophic war that will last 4 and 20 years, whatever that means.

That prediction lays out the film’s final act in which Nostradamus apparently predicted that a Middle Eastern Warrior in a blue turban would start World War III at or about May of 1988.  That leads to an embarrassingly silly scene with cheap sets right out of “Battlestar Galactica”, with the governments of both The Middle East and The United States firing nukes at each other until civilization is obliterated.  After that, the movie helpfully reminds us that Nostradamus predicted a thousand years of peace before the world ends in the year 3797.  Yet, even with all of his predictions, Nostradamus forgot to mention exactly how the world would come to an end.  I guess he wanted to save that spoiler for us to discover.

The Man Who Saw Tomorrow is nothing more than a curiosity. Any attempt to take it seriously requires the kinds of fruitless insights than are often attached to things like The Da Vinci Code, Roswell or Bigfoot. I’m no skeptic but I had to smile at most of this. It is a professionally made film that probably takes its subject more seriously than it deserves. I find the predictions of Nostradamus to be a curious but not essential element to human history. He seemed to have a good track record even if he did predict that Ted Kennedy would become President of the United States in 1984. Hey, nobody’s perfect.

 
 

Movie of the Day: Rango (2011)

Rango is a brilliant, insane act of genius. Here is an animated comedy that is outrageously funny, but also endearing, smart and strikingly original. It expands the art of animation by creating an entirely new world populated by well-defined characters and presents both with depth and detail and imagination. Its story lovingly borrows elements from great movies of the past, everything from Apocalypse Now to Chinatown to Stagecoach and A Fistful of Dollars, yet it has the crazy, madcap pace of a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

The story is wonderfully inspired. It involves the titular hero, a skinny, bug-eyed lizard who has spent most of his life alone playing in an aquarium until one day it falls out of a family car and crashes on the highway and he finds himself lost in the Nevada desert. He is Rango (with the voice of Johnny Depp), and through the winds of fate, he is blown into the tiny town of Dirt, a filthy burg populated by every western movie stereotype you can imagine, but played by a host of western varmints: turtles, ravens, prairie dogs, moles, rats, you name it. They are running out of water, which is kept stored in a 5 gallon water cooler jug. They need it for their very livelihood. Rango knows that Dirt has a problem and wants to be the guy that the townsfolk look up to even though their problems are much bigger than he initially realizes. His love interest, a rancher’s daughter named Beans (with the voice of Isla Fisher) is a little more intuitive than Rango and suspects that the water is being diverted and dumped into the desert.

The immediate threat to the town of dirt is the presence of a menacing hawk that flies overhead and threatens to eat the townsfolk for lunch. Rango – sort of by accident – kills the hawk and is degreed the town’s sheriff by Dirt’s Mayor, an aging turtle voiced by Ned Beatty. Excising the hawk, however, creates a larger problem. That comes in the (very impressive) form of a new villain named Big Snake Jake, voiced by Bill Nighy, who was afraid of the hawk but now has nothing to fear. He intimidates the population of Dirt with an underlying purpose that only gradually becomes clear. There is a lot going on in Rango, the plot is much larger and far more compelling than we are led to believe. In fact, the story, once it gets underway, is borrowed very wonderfully from Roman Polanski’s Chinatown (the water part, not the incest). It took me a moment to realize that the character of The Mayor is actually designed to look and sound like John Huston’s Noah Cross and I smiled with great delight when he informs Rango about “The future, Mr. Rango. The future.”

The whole movie is like that. The more you know about movies and American myth, the deeper the movie’s roots go, and even if you don’t, the movie it still very entertaining. The story is full and generous It doesn’t telegraph it’s story in advance but reveals it gradually. At once it is a slapstick comedy, the next a wild western adventure and then a bizarre murder mystery. It creates an entire world based on western mythology and pays homage to great movies of the past without using pop culture references as a crutch.

The film is dazzling to look at. The texture of the western town has such depth and presence that you forget that all of this was manufactured by animators. There’s a great action sequence in the middle of the film in which the heroes are engaged in a gun battle int he middle of a canyon and you stop to remind yourself that this isn’t Monument Valley of all those John Wayne pictures.

The character designs are wonderful too, especially Rango, played with a sort-of Don Knotts flare right down to the Hawaiian shirt hanging from his bony frame. Johnny Depp provides the voice and it is really a good performance. Through his voice, he gives Rango as much personality and dimension as he did to Jack Sparrow or The Mad Hatter or Sweeney Todd. In fact all of the characters have a particular depth, they are all western movie types of all shapes and sizes, they are fun to watch and fun to listen to. I especially liked the presence and depth of Big Snake Jake, a rattlesnake who seems to have been inspired by Lee Van Cleef with his narrow eyes, his pencil-thin mustache and that bandolier strap wrapped around his limbless middle.

There is so much to Rango that I haven’t even touched on, I could go on and on about it. Here is a movie that has so many wonderful things in it, and such wonderful humor (There are many very big laughs here) just in the way the characters are presented and the way they talk to each other that you find yourself feeling that you feel that your second or third viewing will reveal things that you missed the first time around. I wish more animated films were this ambitious. Here is a movie so generous with its story, its visual texture and its characters that it is an example of what great animation can be.