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Leverage

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Quick reviews- Rango and I Am Number Four

Rango is the story of a pet chameleon who is accidentally dropped out of a back window of a car over a trip through the desert who finds his way to a small desert town and becomes their sheriff and does his best to become who the townspeople see him to be.
‘Rango’ is, technically, a marvel.
The voice cast does their job very well. Johnny Depp adds the slight “off-ness” that Depp adds to every role. Isla Fisher’s voice is unrecognizable as Beans, the main female character in the film (unless you count beheaded Barbie). Stephen Root has several different roles and he plays them all slightly differently so that voice is familiar, but definitely different than the other characters. Bill Nighy, however, is the standout. He hisses menacingly as Rattlesnake Jake, an evil rattlesnake brought in to get rid of Depp’s new town sheriff, Rango.
Rattlesnake Jake is also a wonder of animation and sound. The glistening of his scales, the “flames” in his eyes, his fangs popping out then locking back into their “down” position, and his rustling as he glides over the ground.
The animation is very fluid with startlingly realistic environments and fur, scales which make the characters seem amazingly lifelike.
There are all sorts of movie references- most of them to films that are at least 35 years old! (The main evil plot is directly from ‘Chinatown’ minus the ‘ick’ factor. Other references are made to ‘Fistful of Dollars’, ‘For a Few Dollars More’ and, even ‘Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas’.)
My biggest complaint is the film as a whole. After the credits rolled, I had a large feeling of ‘Meh’ surround me. The film was definitely not a waste of time, but, it also didn’t transport me to another world- I was always fully aware that I was watching a computer animated film. It didn’t touch me in anyway- there were moments in ‘Toy Story 3’ (okay, the whole last half hour) where I was in tears fearing that my friends were not going to come to a final happy resting place. While watching ‘How to Train Your Dragon’, I was whisked away in the sky while Hiccup and Toothless learned to fly together and trust each other. In ‘Rango’, I came, I saw, I watched. It is entertainment- nothing more.
While this is certainly not a bad thing, I also can’t say that I was entertained either. I appreciate Rango much more than I like it.

Film Rating- 8
Movie Rating- 5


I Am Number Four

‘I Am Number Four’ is two-thirds of a good film.
The film begins by setting up that certain people are being hunted by vicious creatures. When the operson in the opening scene is killed, the hunters state that Number 3 is dead- time to find Number 4.
The film then flashes to a teenage boy having fun with classmates in the ocean when a symbol is seared into his leg with no apparent method of doing the scalding. When his parental figure tells him they must move immediately due to being the next on the list, the intrigue is set.
The boy and his ‘dad’ move to a small town where the boy is told that he must stay out of sight so he must stay home and in ‘dad’s’ protection. The boy takes the name of John Smith and gets into the local high school. While there, he meets the pretty young outcast of the school (she’s the outcast because she takes pictures), befriends the nerdy kid who all the jocks pick on (who might have a connection to John Smith and his father), gets on the wrong side of the high school bullies who are also the football quarterback (who, dum-dum-duuuum- is the exboyfriend of photographer girl) and his cronies.
For the next 45 minutes, ‘I am Number Four’ slowly doles out its intriguing story and instead focuses on the boring, same-old high school teenage angst story that can be seen verbatim on many TV shows and films, and done better in most of them. Interspersed throughout, we see the hunters who killed Number 3 in the opening scenes tracking Number 4, as well as a female who is only steps ahead of the other hunters.
The final half hour brings even more of the intriguing story to the forefront and actually builds to a very satisfying, action filled climax.
The acting is all across the board as Alex Pettyfur and Dianna Agron are prettily bland as Number 4 and his love interest, Timothy Olyphant very strong as his protector, and Teresa Palmer (who is first shown walking away from an explosion in slow motion) showing us her action chops. Most of the other kids in the school are nothing more than stereotypes who act that way because the script tells them to.
While not a groundbreaking film by any means, it creates a very intriguing main storyline which is severely hampered by its grinding to a halt middle section. The action is very fun with a few nice surprises, but again, the maudlin hoary high school angst storyline drops the action quotient much lower than it should be for those seeking an action film.
For teenage kids who feel as if they are outcasts (and who haven’t seen many films) this will probably jump to the top of their best films ever list. For anyone else, the amount of time and patience you are willing to put into it will decide how much you like it.
I, for one, hope there is a sequel so that more of the main plotline will be revealed and the derivative high school plot will be left behind.

Film Rating- 5
Movie Rating- 6