“No man can walk out on his own story” says the Timothy Olyphant voiced Spirit of the West that looks remarkably like The Man with No Name from the Sergio Leone’s insanely brilliant The Dollars Trilogy. And this just shows that this movie is a movie lover’s tribute to this form of art. Through Rango the director has clearly and vividly displayed that he treasures movies and is willing to show the world just how much. References are splattered all across the movie. From greats like Chinatown, Lone Star, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and The Dollars Trilogy to Verbinski’s own Pirates of the Caribbean, a keen observer is sure to find out signs from these films.

Directed by Gore Verbinski who helmed Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy, this one is a beauty to watch. Now, we all know that animated movies are beautiful to look at, by principle. But I have rarely seen a movie which has such dazzling visuals or which uses its visual artistry to portray itself with such mastery. Scene after scene in this movie is rich in detail, a wonder to gaze at and quite simply, funny. Because first and foremost Rango is a comedy movie. And it is one of the best to come out this year. The Wild West created in this movie is the West we have seen countless times from the westerns of 1950s and 1960s but somehow we seem to have forgotten what it felt like or what it used to be to make a Western. Sure, we get Westerns like Open Range, 3:10 to Yuma and The Assassination of Jesse James from time to time but it is a fact that this genre is a legend long gone. But, now, Verbinski’s love letter is so dazzling that it is quite sure that he, for one, has not forgotten about it.

The plot is a bit on the complex side considering that this is a movie aimed at kids. It revolves around a chameleon named Rango (voiced by Johnny Depp) who arrives in the town of Dirt which seems to have a problem: no water. He quickly creates a legend around himself and gains the trust of the people. He becomes the sheriff of the town through false tales of his bravery and an accident that kills a huge hawk. After this we are delved free fall into the quest for water. The town of Dirt is desperate for water. They laugh when Rango asks for water in a bar,  as if the idea is so absurd that it is laughable.The bulk of the movie is spent in uncovering the mystery against the absence of the water and Rango’s journey to self-discovery and finding of love.

The voice cast is, for lack of a better word, impeccable. Johnny Depp as Rango is perfect. I can’t think of anybody who could have done a better job than him in voicing this character. His one liners land right at the spot and he brings that childish hilarity in his voice and that genuine fear, when it need be, that it is amazing. The rest of the voice cast is talented and they do justice to their roles: Isla Fisher, Ned Beatty, Timothy Olyphant, Abigail Breslin, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy. The music is great, as is in most Westerns and the mariachi owl band is a colorful addition.

In the end, suffice it to say that this is one of the best movies of  2011 so far and with no real competition in sight so far, it is a clear frontrunner for the Best Animation at the Oscars. It is a must see for all movie lovers and doubly must for the fans of Westerns and Clint Eastwood.