Film Junk Podcast Episode #310: Rango

0:00 – Intro
3:15 – Headlines: 2011 Oscar Recap, Charlie Sheen has Tiger Blood, Tarantino’s Next Film is a Spaghetti Western, Blade Runner Sequels and Prequels
35:25 – Review: Rango
55:45 – Trailer Trash: Attack the Block
1:01:45 – Other Stuff We Watched: Faster, When You’re Strange, Conviction, Family Plot, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Frenzy, The Cable Guy, Invasion U.S.A., Last Action Hero, Watchmen, Satan’s Blood, Chinatown, The Natural, Rob & Big, Jurassic Park, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Don’t Look Now, The Great Outdoors
2:00:05 – Junk Mail: Pretentious Films, Objectivity When Judging Movies, Superman: The Donner Cut, Sequel Numbers, New Westerns, In-Flight Movie Experiences
2:27:00 – This Week’s DVD Releases
2:28:45 – Outro

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  • Glad to see the unanimous RANGO love. I’ll listen to the show later, for that, and to see what Sean (?) thought of Nicholas Roeg’s DON’T LOOK NOW.

  • Having problems with itunes and filmjunk podcast the last two weeks. Had to download directly from here…

  • A couple of things I was thinking while listening:

    The Oscars were the worst ever. It totally contradicted itself. They wanted to draw young and hip by casting Franco and Hathaway then they start with a design award and bring out Cryptkeeper Kurt Douglas?! On top of that, they make the structure of the show historical throwbacks to each category?! What a joke. And we are seeing the negatives of the twitter effect – Franco became the first host to twitter at expense of his own performance! Did he not talk to Billy Crystal and understand how difficult the hosting duties are alone?!

    Rango is visually amazing but has a lot of problems. I agree with everyone the aesthtic choice is inspiring and perfect for the western. Characters are well thought out. I agree that some of the dreamlike scenes are AMAZING. It should be seen in a state-of-the-art theater.

    I think its interesting how both Frank and Sean had the same problem as me – FALLING A SLEEP!! I also noticed numerous parents having to leave the matinee due to bored kids. You can talk about the ILM step-up in graphics but this film has nothing on Pixar’s pacing, audience recognition, story arch. I’m surprised Jay didn’t notice the bar lighting is a direct Leone lift (as well as countless other lighting concepts).

    The Chinatown influence is overbearing in this film. They seem to drill in to the audience the whole “control the water” thing to the point it bores both kids and adults to sleep. They literally “keep going to the Chinatown well”. Unlike a Pixar story, this story idea doesn’t work – the shot of the animal town being built does not line-up with mythical world the filmmakers created. It is shot the filmmakers felt they needed but it creates confusion in the audiences mind as to what it means, what its ramifications are to the small world and characters we have seen, therefore, dismissing the entire film by undercutting it.

    I was sure you guys would talk about how Gore and Johnny literally re-shot the sequence that got them so much grief in Pirates of Caribbean 3 – the dream sequence in a white desert! They even recreated the hoard of small crawlies carrying things: crabs in PofC III, Beetles in Rango.

    All in all, I think I’m going to predict a disappointing run for this film. I think the overall word of mouth between parents (as well as others) are going to kill this film. It well make money but will more likely be a “rent it” stallion. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

  • Goon

    I agree with rus. Rango is a good, but significantly overrated. let me retype that.

    SIGNIFICANTLY overrated film. It starts out as this wonderful breath of fresh air that I was absolutely in love with, but by the 2nd act, pretty much exactly as he becomes sheriff, it all starts to fall apart and it is only good again in fits and starts.

    The action scenes are terrible and uninvolving, even if a bunch of stuff ‘happens’. The villains are awful and uninteresting, and the snake in particular is unintimidating. When you have a character who looks like that and Bill Nighy and your snake character is neither badass nor scary, you’ve fucked up. The voice cast is amazing but the casting is not, its stacked with great actors who never particularly excel in their roles, including Depp. But I wouldnt blame him…

    Because Rango just isn’t a very good character. They don’t commit to his confused persona, he takes on his fake role all to easily without any frequent reevaluation of what he’s doing.

    It relies on Chinatown so heavily forgetting this energy crisis/hoarding things has already been done in TWO Pixar films – Monsters Inc and A Bugs Life, with better results, better villains, actual surprises/motivations, better pacing.

    Basically to me it shows that people with experience working in animation and directing animation… make better animated films. The film is amazing when it is quiet and weird. When it falls into conventional storytelling it is a sloppy, middling action film with lazy focus, bland characters, misses all its comic beats to the point the audience was laughing more at the fart jokes, which weren’t even well timed either. Even Hans Zimmer’s score was not up to his usual standard.

    The Hunter S. Thompson and MWNN references are so… tacky. The latter one had me eye-rolling.

    A lot of what I’m saying though, I also apply to POTC. Despite this rant I’d say I liked Rango more than I disliked it, however I guess I just don’t appreciate Gore very much as a director, and believe this thing relies on its visuals more than any film I’ve seen in a long time, because the script is just plain mediocre to bad.

    I have to wonder if some (SOME!) people so gung-ho for this film are just so desperate to have a non-Pixar horse to back. I too was kind of in glee as it started knowing the streak was “over” but once it began to betray/suck at what makes it special, the honeymoon was over instead.

  • I actually don’t disagree with some of what you guys are saying and mentioned in our review that the film had problems but got a 4/4 from me simply due to the fact that it’s doing things that are refreshing in the world of CG animated features. Toy Story 3 is definitely the better film.

    I still don’t think the Chinatown element is as big of an issue/influence as everyone seems to think it is.

  • I remember thinking that the middle section of the film wasn’t all that engaging, particularly the part where they get the posse together to try and catch the people who stole the water. However, I think that at its worst, Rango is still 10 times better than the majority of CG animated films out there.

  • To put it into perspective, while I gave this a 4/4 it certainly wouldn’t make my top ten of the year (unless it’s an exceptionally mediocre year).

  • Goon

    “Rango is still 10 times better than the majority of CG animated films out there.”

    I’d agree. It’s not often you can be really disappointed in a film but still like it and recommend it, and it’s because the highs of Rango are that high/progressive.

    I’d watch it again, and get the blu-ray, and perhaps knowing it doesn’t maintain its progressive nature throughout will make those other areas play better (just as the Wall-E second half plays better once you know it leaves behind what made it so progressive too).

    I still think its a bit of a shame though, I could have even have been happy with a lot less visual dazzle if they could have just beefed up that script.

  • bard

    I can’t believe that when asked about recent westerns that are good, nobody mentioned The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

    How is this movie overlooked so often!?

  • “It’s not often you can be really disappointed in a film but still like it and recommend it, and it’s because the highs of xxxx are that high/progressive.”


  • “To put it into perspective, while I gave this a 4/4 it certainly wouldn’t make my top ten of the year (unless it’s an exceptionally mediocre year).”

    Wow, yeah. That didn’t even occur to me. If this is in my year end top ten… ouch!

  • Sam

    Ep 2 of Sheen’s Korner recaptures some of the magic lost in Ep 1, but I wonder if it’s too late to save his Andy Kaufman moment. He let the curtain drop a little too far in Ep 1, and was seriously flailing around. It’s awfully hard to lose control of the message to that extent and manage to get it back. But, for the time being, I remain entertained.

  • berserker01

    Omg, Satan’s Blood! That takes me back. I rented that on VHS when I was 13. I thought it would be just another Hammer Horror type vampire movie. What I got was a spankerific masterpiece. Ahh, nostalgia.

  • Nuno

    Plenty of great discussions on this podcast guys. The Last Action Hero and Jurassic Park stories were particularly nostalgic for me. You see, my parents were rather strict when I was growing up and I was lucky to see one movie a year in theatres. The summer that Jurassic Park came out, I chose not to watch it with two of my buddies so that I could instead watch Last Action Hero with my brother instead. I remember liking it quite a bit but I received a lot of ridicule from these friends because the backlash in the media against LAH was so strong and Jurassic owned that summer.

    It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen it but the moments in LAH that are forever burned into my brain were the stunt on top of the elevator (outside a mall?) and something about how cool it looked when the Ripper throws his axe in slow motion in the rain. Anyway, I finally got to see Jurassic Park an entire summer later as back in the day it was quite common for huge blockbusters to have a year-long theatrical run.

    Greg, if you love British thugs who swear a lot, you should check out the Channel 4 series, Misfits. It is NOT a superhero show (like the gawdawful No Heroics) but it has super powers. I can’t recommend it enough and the first 2 series are buried under Sean’s pile of shows he will never get around to. Misfits has never had a proper DVD release in North America but last summer, Showcase (here in Canada) aired the first series.

    Sean and Jay; you will both enjoy Deadwood and more and more faces will look familiar as virtually every female cast member popped up on the latter seasons of Lost once HBO pulled the plug after Deadwood Season 3.

  • Goon

    I also picked up Last Action Hero on blu-ray this weekend. A trailer for it ran on Friday during Toronto Underground’s “defending the indefensible” kickoff which made me excited to see it again.

  • Napalm

    Does Greg seek out bad movies? :P

  • projectgenesis

    “Do you think it will be on an upcoming volume of Banned from Television?”

    God i laughed so hard at that.

  • Big fan of LAST ACTION HERO. Glad to hear someone giving it some love. Suprised not mention of the awesomeness of TOM NOONAN in that one, really most of the cast is totally fun, even when the film gets a bit silly (The Tar Pit)…

  • Kurt, we did mention Tom Noonan. Specifically when he shows up in the press line for the new Jack Slater film twice (once as himself and the second time as The Ripper).

  • Fatbologna

    BIG Last Action Hero fan! Saw it in the theater with my Grams.

    This podcast was super-mint, bro!

  • KeithTalent

    I don’t usually watch cartoons, but I’m totally down for some lizard rape, so I may need to check this out.

    The Cable Guy is freaking amazing. I loved it when it came out and it still holds up today.

    I feel like Observe & Report is treated similarly to Cable Guy; Observe & Report is fantastic, but people seem to shit on it since Rogan is playing a different kind of character and is in a film that is very different than his previous films.

    Both Cable Guy and Observe & Report are hilarious and very re-watchable and do not get the credit they deserve.

  • Dave

    Jay, you kept mentioning movies you made back in the day (using songs from The Last Action Hero and Jurassic Park). Any chance you’ll share these with the listeners?

  • podcast fanboy

    Jay, it fascinates the shit out of me that you bought Marvel vs. Capcom 3.

    Looking for the Jurassic Park game is one thing. I get that. It’s nostalgia.

    And playing Left for Dead 2 I get as well. It’s the typical ‘casual gamer’ shooter.

    But MVC3, I would never expect you to dig on. It’s pretty rad that out of all the games available, you pick the super geeky crossover fighting game. I guess you don’t come off like a geeky type of guy. If anything, you’re usually calling out the bullshit of geeks on the show, so it’s cool to see this side of you. Makes me smile to think of you assembling your team. You probably roll with a Dormammu, right? MAGIC!!!

  • Double_A

    A great episode as usual. The odd one about this is the coincidence that both Jurassic Park and Last Action Hero both opened a week from each other.
    I was working at a movie theatre in those days and remember the hype. Everyone expected big things from Arnold’s new movie but Jurassic was a mystery since Spielberg had not been on a roll in those days (his last films were Hook and Always).
    After JP opened huge, Hero was assumed to open as big if not bigger – of course it tanked. I think people were just a little tired of Arnold by that point.
    I never liked it back then and don’t think it offers much today but different strokes right?
    Jurassic is still awesome – I also enjoy the sequels so maybe I just have a thing for dinosaurs.

  • Bas

    @Rus: I bet you wanted to type ‘Kirk Douglas’ but just read the first post by Kurt :)
    @Bard: agreed, Jesse James rocked the casbah
    @the FJ crew: please skip a visit to the cinemas and watch Deadwood together for a review instead! And Sean, do you still have the receipt for the dvd’s? Either way, go back to the store and try to exchange them for the br’s, you will thank me later.

  • KeithTalent

    ^^ agreed! I picked up the Deadwood Blu-ray box over CHRISTmas and while I’m only about 5 episodes in, it is amazing. Looks and sounds fantastic too!

  • Marty

    Last Action Hero was brutal.

    Please, don’t even try polishing that turd.

  • projectgenesis

    Great to hear Frank talk about one of my favorites, The Natural. Did you know in the book he strikes out in the end instead of hammering one into the scoreboard? Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

  • Thanks for answering my question. I think you hit the nail on the head with people only watching 1 movie a year.

    Will be watching Rango tonight, looking forward to it.

  • Steve Kasan

    Last Action Hero is awesome! When you look at that film and its release, that film was quite ahead of it’s time. Anyone who says LAH is a turd or a stupid film…well, thats a BIG mistake.

  • JFGinDigital3D

    On The Cable Guy commentary, the person they reference being the mother in Arrested Development was Jessica Walter, they aren’t talking about Matthew Broderick’s mom, they are talking about the woman on TV when Play Misty for Me is playing.

  • Antonio

    For Frank, for your next Jurassic Park back to back I recommend the other Chricton film Westworld as these are identical in film spiritdom and Jurassic Park is basically a copy of this film in so many ways… Cheers Antonio