By Danielle Schmidt / Sports Editor
By Danielle Schmidt / Sports Editor
From the “Pirates of the Caribbean” trilogy to his new fun, animated film “Rango,” Gore Verbinski has an incredible way of connecting with his wide range of audiences.
The story of “Rango” follows the old, western style movies, with a non conventional take on specific films, such as, “There Will Be Blood” and “The Shakiest Gun in the West.”
“Rango” is the first animated film created by Industrial Lights and Magic, who have made countless contributions to visual effects in live-action films, and is distributed by Nickelodeon.
Hal Hickel, the animation director, and Tim Alexander, the visual effects supervisor, bring an entirely new look and style of animation to the big screen with this small chameleon of a hero. “Rango” is the first animated film to have that old, grungy, dirty look to it. Every character, every building and even the sky are completely covered in dirt from head to toe, adding an edge to the old western style.
Hickel stated that their goal when making the film was to, “avoid being as animated as Warner Bros.” He also shared that they made sure they created each and every character so that the audience would walk out of the theater with “a simple love for each one.”
In the beginning, Hickel and Alexander had created over 55 designs for different characters, but narrowed it down to 12 main characters; so that the audience would not get lost or overwhelmed with the amount of different names and faces. The team also ended up deciding on 36 distinct buildings that were strategically placed throughout the town of Dirt.
The filmmakers were able to create this small town to bring in the audience in a strong forceful way. They had a photographic style that included quite a few extreme close-ups. These allow viewers to create a special bond to each of the characters; and also to show how dirty these characters really are.
“Rango” tells the story of a chameleon, voiced by Johnny Depp in a very unique manner, who prides himself as an actor, with the rest of his “troupe” consisting of a headless, one-armed, no-legged Barbie doll torso and a toy fish named Mr. Tims.
A chameleon that aspires to be a swashbuckling hero finds himself in the middle of a Western town plagued by bandits and is forced to play a role in order to protect it.
On the road to somewhere, Rango is tossed out of his owners’ vehicle and is stranded in the middle of the desert. There he meets an armadillo named Roadkill, voice by Alfred Molina, who speaks in metaphors and tells the chameleon to traverse the desert to find what he is truly looking for.
During his desert travels, the chameleon has a couple of run-ins with a vicious hawk, whom he runs into again once he makes it across the desert into the town known as Dirt.
After some big talk and a very fun action sequence with the aforementioned hawk, the people, or animals if you will, of the town Dirt take a liking to the chameleon.
Soon after he makes all of his new found friends, he then proceeds to give himself the name Rango, and the people appoint him sheriff of Dirt.
But all is not well in this small, filthy town. Water, the town’s most valued recourse, their bank contains water as apposed to money, is running dry with the citizens of Dirt being lucky to find even a drop of it. Of course, being the newly appointed sheriff of Dirt, it is Rango’s job to uncover the mystery of the disappearing water and bring it back into town for his people.
Other high-profile stars lend out their voices to this animated film, including, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Harry Dean Stanton, and Bill Nighy.
Depp and Verbinski are no strangers to working on set together; they have worked side by side throughout all of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” thrillers.
Verbinski has very specific reasons for why he enjoys working with the very strange yet popular actor.
“I tend to speak in short, unfinished sentences and he just understands what I mean,” Verbinski said.
Depp’s response seemed to be on the more philosophical side.
“There are no limits to possibilities with Gore, when he arrives some place nobody’s been to and welcomes it,” Depp said.
Depp is commonly known for his wide range of different movie roles, but this one is definitely distinctive. Why play the voice of a small lizard?
“I’ve always had an affinity for lizards and when Gore and I were doing Pirates 1, 2, 3 and Captain Jack had to run, it was a very specific run that I wanted. I saw this footage of a lizard running across the water and it was the strangest thing I’ve ever seen. So I said, ‘Gore it has to be like a lizard running,’ and he said absolutely,” Depp said. “So I feel that Rango was planted in Gore’s brain from that lizard run. When he actually called me and said I want you to play a lizard I said, I’m halfway there.”
And even Depp’s kids were well aware of dad’s lizard love.
“They actually call me the Lizard King. I’ve forced them to address me like that,” he said.
This family man had also joked about how his children act as if their father’s work is nothing but normal to them and as he would drop them off for school he would joke and say, “Now I’m off to be a lizard.”
“Rango” is not Depp’s first animated film. In 2005, he played the voice of a young man whisked away by the underworld and wed to a mysterious, dead wife, in “Corpse Bride” with frequent collaborator Tim Burton.
Depp always has a reason for each of the films he plays a part in and when it comes to animated films, they seem to be his favorite.
“Kids are the way forward and have the purest kind of response,” he said.
In today’s movie world, it is almost impossible to find a movie that is not in 3-D, so when this new and exciting film was released in 2-D, it had people stunned; especially since the movie was animated. Verbinski was very candid when it came to defending his choice of dimension choice.
“There’s not a dimension missing,” he said.
Up next for Depp is “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” and playing Tonto in the new “Lone Ranger” movie.
As far as a possible sequel to “Rango” Verbinski isn’t ruling anything out.
“Let’s see if they like the first one first,” Verbinski said.