Rango (Blu-ray Review)

I was very curious about Rango when it hit theaters, but for whatever reason, I was not able to catch it on the big screen.  People kept telling me that since I’m a big western film buff that I would love it, because it in fact IS a western.  So far, so good!  The theatrical poster would tell you otherwise, because it’s just a chameleon holding a big orange fish.  Buzzkill.  I don’t care about that.  Then I started to read who was involved in the project.  Johnny Depp, Bill Nighy, Harry Dean Stanton, Alfred Molina, Ray Winstone, Timothy Olyphant, etc… Hey, these are all people I like!  My curiosity got the best of me and so the Blu-ray Gods gifted me with reviewing Rango on Blu-ray.  This is an early review, so let’s go! 


Rango is the tale of a pet chameleon (Johnny Depp) who gets lost out in the middle of nowhere.  As he wanders the rugged terrain he meets Beans (Isla Fisher), a desert iguana, and she takes him to the town of Dirt.  Yes, Dirt.   They even have a sign that says Dirt on it.  Little nuances like that make Rango a treat to watch, because it’s not silly and contrived humor.  As the chameleon, who we’ll now call Rango, because by this point he has already taken that particular name, starts to get to know the town folk a bit his character is put into scrutiny.  He walks into a saloon and starts telling folks what’s what.  He’s done killed a gang of seven brothers with ONE bullet!  Of course he’s just making it all up as he goes along, but the town of Dirt is easily impressed.

After dealing with a few nuisances Rango is made Sheriff of Dirt by the Mayor (Ned Beatty).  It’s under Rango’s watch that he unwittingly helps some vermin steal the town’s water supply (which acts as the town’s currency), and is branded an inept Sheriff and driven into a self appointed exile.  While watching Rango I could not help notice at least half a dozen western films that it borrows from.  Not in a plagiarist way, but more in an homage way.  It was like coming home.

Once Rango figures out what has to be done he comes back to make the wrong things right.  The theatrical version of Rango is rated PG, but I watched the extended cut which is NOT RATED.  I don’t know how the two differ, but will say that the unrated version is extremely scaryand intense especially when Rattlesnake Jake (Bill Nighy) makes his appearance.  If you have young ones I would recommend some discretion on your part.  Rattlesnake Jake is very scary.  Personally, I loved him, but I’m also not a toddler.

If you’re grown folk then Rango will be right up your alley in terms of story, wit, charm, and humor.  There are many scenes that will pull you in and make you completely forget that you’re watching a computer animated film.  Speaking of computer animation, ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) has done the animation for Rango. This is a first for them and they did not come up short.  Here’s hoping that they stay in the animated film business, because the quality is top notch; they brought their A-game to the world of Rango.

In closing out this film review, you may have noticed that I refrained from talking about each individual character as an animal with the exception of a couple characters.  This is kind of intentional, because while watching Rango I felt as though I was watching one of my favorite western films again.  There is so much humanity inside these characters one can easily forget that they’re all reptiles and amphibians.  That’s the top notch story at work, I reckon.

Rango is a great film, albeit not perfect, (the opening could have been shortened just a tad to get us to Dirt faster), but will do well with the rest of my western collection on Blu-ray.  Loved it!



Rango is presented in 1080p 2.35:1 widescreen.  I may get some heat for this one, but I can take it.  Rango looks spectacular on Blu-ray, but it’s not perfect like all of Pixar’s stuff.  I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that stylistic choices were employed on the digital file.  The first choice: Grain was added.  Not a lot, but there is a layer throughout the whole film.  I take it that this was done, because Rango is rooted in the western genre.  I have no problems with that, because it adds to the authenticity of the film.  The film is great.  The second choice: Contrast boosting.  I noticed many scenes with added contrast that should not have been there, but considering that all of the animals are dying of thirst I’m sure everything would be a bit on the bright, hazy, and hallucinatory side of things.  With those two things out of the way, Rango does look great!  Colors are bold and beautiful, free from dirt and debris.  ILM did a fantastic job animating the creatures and Paramount did a great job transferring the file over to this shiny Blu-ray. 


Rango is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.  Here’s an audio track that should have also been of reference caliber, but falls a smidgeon short.  The first part of the film is all talk, so dialogue does come through clean and crisp without any hints of distortion.  Once the action starts, there were certain scenes that I was expecting to get blown out of my seat with, but didn’t quite come through.  The LFE (subwoofer) did its job, and added a bit more menace to characters that have bass in their voices like Rattlesnake Jake.  Gunshots ring out a plenty and do whizz by the surround channels at a fast pace.  Again, there was just something a tiny bit lacking.  Regardless, Rango is a damned fine sounding Blu-ray. 

Special Features 

Rango has a lean bit of extras, but why such a high score you ask?  Well, I’m usually not so generous with special feature scores, because they tend to be fluff.  Well, this Rango Blu-ray contains ZERO fluff.  There is a very cool commentary with director Gore Verbinski and his core crew of collaborators that blow most commentaries out of the water.  In addition to the commentary there is a great featurette that runs just under one hour with Gore and crew as they spend sixteen months up in the Hollywood Hills (you’d think they were up North in Marin County) creating Rango and its world. Its one of the best “making-of” featurettes I’ve ever scenes.  I appreciate special features with extras that add value to my viewing experience and this Blu-ray does just that!  Everything is presented in HD, as well. 

  • Rango Theatrical Cut (107 min)
  • Rango Extended Cut (111)
  • Audio Commentary by director, story co-writer and producer Gore Verbinski, head of story James Ward Byrkit, production designer Mark “Crash” McCreery, animation director Hal Hickel and visual effects supervisor Tim Alexander on “Extended Version” only.
  • “Breaking the Rules: Making Animation History”
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Storyboard Reel Picture-in-Picture
  • Meet the Real Creatures of Dirt
  • Take an Interactive Trip to Dirt
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • DVD
  • Digital Copy

Final Thoughts 

I wouldn’t go by what the traditional critics have said in terms of being funny and cool per se.  Rango is an animated feature film, but PLEASE keep in mind that there are several instances of intense violence and peril that may not be suitable for young children.  Now if you’re a grown up and a western fan then by all means stop reading this review and click the link to order your Blu-ray copy today!  It is the bomb, yo!   Rango will probably go on both of my top ten movie and Blu-ray lists of 2011.


Order Rango on Blu-ray!


Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

10 Responses to “Rango (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    Still my favorite film of the year, so far.

  2. Matt Goodman

    How do you guys receive these films before they are released on Blu-ray?

  3. Gerard Iribe

    We’re cool like that, Matt. 😉

  4. Aaron Neuwirth

    We’re a site that reviews Blu-rays. It’s kinda how we roll here.

  5. Matt Goodman

    How I envy you.

  6. Matt Goodman

    “Rattlesnake Jake is very scary. Personally, I loved him, but I’m also not a toddler.” – That made me laugh 🙂
    I still have yet to see this, I’ve heard very good things.

  7. Jiminy Critic

    Really liked this. Great looking and fun.

  8. Jordan Grout

    This is tied with Hanna and Priest as my three favorite films of the year thus far.

  9. Aaron Neuwirth

    I don’t saying “Priest” registered enough as sarcasm 😉

  10. burberry バーバリー バッグ

    burberry バーバリー バッグ

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