The very recent animation ‘Rango’ gallops on to UK Region free Blu-ray with a stunning looking 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 encode, framed in the widescreen 2.40:1 aspect ratio. There’s no grain to see here as it appears to be a direct digital encode with no film print involved. The result is a demo quality picture that is absolutely bursting with fine detail. Individual hairs are picked out clearly as are the scales on other animated characters. The town of Dirt is amazingly drawn with a clarity and almost 3D like quality that you feel you could almost step into the shot. Primary colours are strong and nicely saturated. You’d swear some of the blue skies had been shot by a camera using a polarising filter, such is their colour density – and sunset shots have a real richness to them. Throughout the movie, contrast is to die for and black is black. The picture looks superb whether projected on a 7 foot screen or displayed on a 50 inch plasma panel. This is probably the best looking movie I have seen this year and ideal for showing off your Home Cinema set up at its best.
The audio on ‘Rango’ comes in the DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround flavour that makes full use of a very wide front soundstage. This decision at the dubbing stage ensures that an audience’s attention remains locked to the screen, with little to distract them coming from the rear speakers. The rears are used mainly for atmospheric effects and the odd discrete sound effect, which gently adds to the overall feel of being there without totally drenching the listener. There is a lot going on in the expansive front sound field with some loud action that is carefully placed so it never becomes just a wall of sound. Amid the cacophony of sound, dialogue remains clear and intelligible throughout – allowing us to catch all of the script’s amusing one liners. Some clever sound editing involving the juxtaposition of loud level scenes and quiet scenes impresses the listener. Our ears are grateful for the silence after a noisy scene and then we’re thrown back into it all again shortly afterwards. The subwoofer is used to good effect here, adding the rumbles and low frequency sound pressure as required. This is a very well thought out surround mix indeed.
The version of ‘Rango’ reviewed was the UK Region free ‘Triple Play’ version which contains 2 discs, a Blu-ray and a DVD. While the High Def version of the movie and Extras are obviously on the Blu-ray disc, the DVD contains the Digital Copy and standard definition version of the movie. The Blu-ray contains an Extended version as well as the Theatrical version of the movie. This review was based on the Extended version, which is around 5 minutes longer than the Theatrical version.
Audio Commentary - Only available on the Extended version, we have this CGI focused comm. track with input from director Gore Verbinski, Head of Story James Ward Byrkit, Production Designer Mark ‘Crash’ McCreery, Animation Director Hal Hickel and Visual Effects Supervisor Tim Alexander. They don’t really discuss the story in any depth, but they do supply a great deal of animation detail that will keep enthusiasts happy for a while.
Breaking the Rules: Making Animation History (HD, 49 mins) - A chunky two part doco that focuses not only on the CGI animation work involved in the film, but also the fact that they got the voice talent to act out scenes rather than just record their voice in a dubbing theatre. This gave the animators a chance to see the movements of the actors and incorporate them into the animated characters. It certainly does add an extra performance level to the characters. We hear it from both the animators' as well as the performers’ point of view and director Verbinski is on hand to tell us what he was trying to achieve.
Deleted scenes (HD, 8 mins) - Here we have 10 scenes removed from the final edit, including an alternate ending. The one they used in the movie was much better. Some scenes are merely extensions of the final edits, while it looks like others were trimmed to avoid some ‘cussing’.
Real Creatures of Dirt (HD, 22 mins) - An animal expert guides us through the real life incarnations of the creatures in the movie. He manhandles snakes, lizards and spiders with amazing dexterity as he fills us in on the background of each.
Storyboard Reel - Only available on the Theatrical version, we get the opportunity to compare storyboarded scenes with the final article, courtesy of this Picture-in Picture track.
A Field Trip to Dirt - This interactive map of the town of Dirt allows you to wander the streets, bump into the characters as well as discover some trivia and extra movie footage.
Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2 mins 27s) - The trailer makes the movie look more kiddie orientated than it actually is. Still looks like fun though.
The very recent animation ‘Rango’ moseys on to UK Region free Blu-ray with a stonking good 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 encode, framed in the widescreen 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The movie is visually stunning with no visible grain thanks to the direct digital encode. There are well saturated primaries to please the eye with loads of fine detail on display. No doubt this will be appearing in all good Demo rooms across the country soon.
The audio is no slouch either, coming in a DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix that makes use of a wide front sound stage to give us well placed effects and clear dialogue among all of the action. Rears are generally reserved for atmospheric effects.
An audio commentary from the production team and a chunky ‘Making of’ documentary are the stars of the list of bonus material.
The movie is a salute to almost every classic Western you’ve known from the last 50 years, as ‘Rango’ the wise cracking lizard takes on the water thieving varmints of the town of Dirt. Great voice talent is involved including Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Ned Beatty, Bill Nighy and Ray Winstone among others. Western movie buffs will love it.
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