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Ultra HD : Highly Recommended
Ranking:
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Release Date: June 4th, 2024 Movie Release Year: 2011

Rango - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray [Steelbook]

Overview -

4K UHD Review by M. Enois Duarte
With voice talents, ranging from Johnny Depp and Isla Fisher to Ned Beatty and Bill Nighy, Gore Verbinski and ILM join forces in Rango, a thoroughly enjoyable metamodern Western comedy that may or may not perform as well with the kiddies as it will with older cinephiles. Arriving on Ultra HD, it is a fun movie with a beautiful 4K HDR presentation but ports over the same DTS-HD MA track and bonus features. Nevertheless, this UHD SteelBook edition makes for a Highly Recommended package for fans.

OVERALL:
Highly Recommended
Rating Breakdown
STORY
VIDEO
AUDIO
SPECIAL FEATURES
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
Two-Disc UHD SteelBook Combo Pack, UHD-66 Dual-Layer Disc, BD-50 Dual-Layer Disc, Region Free
Video Resolution/Codec:
2160p HEVC/H.265, Dolby Vision HDR, HDR10
Length:
112
Aspect Ratio(s):
2.35:1
Audio Formats:
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, German Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian Dolby Digital 5.1, Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles/Captions:
English SDH, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish
Special Features:
Audio Commentary, Featurettes, Storyboard Reel, Deleted Scenes, Trailer, Blu-ray Copy
Release Date:
June 4th, 2024

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

Ranking:

For his first foray into the world of feature-length animated films, Gore Verbinski delivers a delightful charmer that doesn't quite cut it as kid-friendly with Rango. Despite the Nickelodeon brand plastered at the start of the movie, much of the dialogue and action will easily fly over most kids' heads. There are even a few curse words used by some characters. It's nothing at the R-rated or even PG-13 level, but they're clearly expressed as harsh language and far from anything we'd ever expect to hear in a Pixar flick. Speaking of which, the basic story of Rango isn't any more difficult to follow than any of that studio's other movies, but again, kids are likely to be bored by it and maybe even think it complicated.

Still, in this age of metamodern filmmaking, Rango is an absolute hoot, and I loved every minute of it. From its plainly self-aware opening to its genre-nudging closing, the movie is a splendid joy to watch, as long as viewers keep to one caveat. That being it's a true Western in every way imaginable and directed more at adults, especially those familiar with the genre and other classic films. Think of it as something of an animated Quentin Tarantino picture with less graphic violence or the long-winded, explicit dialogue. Rango is one big, extravagant-looking mashup of references with nods to several Sergio Leone films, the Gary Cooper classic High Noon and other great Westerns. We even get a witty cameo appearance from The Man with No Name, voiced with perfect pitch by Timothy Olyphant.

Johnny Depp stars as the titular character, a fast-talking chameleon with lots of imagination but lacking the proper outlet. Once released from the confines of his aquarial prison, which is a terrifically clever beginning that warns on being careful of what you ask for, the little green lizard in a Hawaiian shirt sets out into the harsh barren landscape in search of a meaningful plot to his life. Over the years, Depp has proven himself one of the most gifted actors in front of the camera, and in Rango, he also reveals he's a brilliant voice talent. He provides the perfect balance of slapstick farce and charm required in a silly comedy about an accidental hero meant as an amusing homage to Don Knotts.

The following day, the nameless but eccentric lizard comes across a quaint desert settlement called Dirt and soon surmises he's back in the Old West, quickly becoming the savior the townsfolk desperately need. During his time there, he meets Beans (Isla Fisher), another lizard frantically trying to save her family's ranch and incessantly suspecting a larger conspiracy is afoot while being cross-examined by the precocious little lemur Priscilla (Abigail Breslin). Ned Beatty joins the cast as the source of conflict, providing the voice to a mayoral desert tortoise, and Ray Winstone is one of his outlaw henchmen, whose own gang includes a Klaus Kinski rabbit. However, Things really turn intense when Rattlesnake Jake (Bill Nighy) and his Gatling gun tail arrive in town. The only thing missing is someone dragging a coffin.

But before Rango is thrust into finding his inner hee-roe and fighting off these no-good varmints, he must investigate Dirt's water shortage. For cinephiles everywhere, the plot wonderfully evolves into a cross between Chinatown and Once Upon a Time in the West. It's a terrific marriage of themes from two greatly beloved classics that works surprisingly well with a satisfying conclusion. Other than Gore Verbinski, Rango also marks the first feature-length animated film from ILM, and the results are astonishing. The incredible amount of visible, microscopic detail is spectacular; simply, some of the best CGI work seen in years. And with a thoroughly entertaining story to boot, Rango makes for a memorable animated picture that parents and adults are more likely to enjoy. (Movie Rating: 4.5/5)

Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray

Paramount Home Entertainment and Nickelodeon Studios bring Gore Verbinski's Rango to Ultra HD Blu-ray as an attractive two-disc SteelBook with transparent plastic slipcover. The package comes with a flyer for a Digital Copy, unlocking the 4K UHD version in Dolby Vision HDR with Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 audio. The dual-layered Region Free, UHD66 disc sits comfortably atop a Region Free, BD50 copy on the same panel. At startup, the UHD goes straight to a static menu screen with the usual options along the bottom and music playing in the background.

Video Review

Ranking:

The animated Western rides into the dusty town of Ultra HD, equipped with a stunning HEVC H.265 encode delivering a nice upgrade over its Blu-ray predecessor. However, it's not a huge night-and-day difference with much of it looking similar to the HD version, but the upscaled 4K transfer nonetheless offers a welcomed uptick with sharper, better clarity of the minute details. Every little nuance within the individual hairs, feathers and scales of the various characters is cleaner and more observable while the wood grain of the buildings and the separate pebbles of the desert floor can be better appreciated. There are few instances of very mild aliasing along the sharpest lines during the extreme wide shots of Dirt and in the accordion of the mariachi band, but aside from those, the overall image is incredibly detailed and sharp.

The biggest upgrade is thanks to the Dolby Vision HDR grading, displaying a beautifully arresting and gorgeous array of colors. Although not quite as dynamic as would be expected for an animated feature, which is due to a deliberately artistic choice, primaries are nonetheless richly saturated and flamboyant while the softer hues show slightly more variation and appear more energetic. Contrast runs intentionally hot, but whites are crisper with brilliant, radiant specular highlights that allow for improved visibility in the hottest, brightest areas. Likewise, black levels are much inkier and richer with excellent gradational details within darkest, dingiest shadows, providing the 2.35:1 image with three-dimensional depth and a lovely cinematic quality. Overall, it's a major leap into the UHD arena, but the 4K HDR presentation is nonetheless impressive. (Dolby Vision HDR Video Rating: 88/100 or 4.5/5)

Audio Review

Ranking:

The comedy blasts its way into theaters with the same, demo-worthy DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack as before. The front-heavy design is a splendid display of activity across the entire soundstage, providing the visuals with a great deal of warmth, creating a spacious and sweeping sense of presence. Room-penetrating dynamics are crystal-clear with amazing clarity detail that perfectly differentiates between the highs and mids. One fantastic scene is when a dress-wearing Rango hangs from a rope while flying through the air, effortlessly shifting from the intensely loud action to a whispered tranquility without issues. Switching back to the thunderous mayhem, the track maintains a sharply clean mid-range throughout while a powerful, walloping low-end adds a robust, full-bodied extension. Amid the noise and commotion, dialogue remains intelligible and precise so that viewers never miss a beat and hear every funny quip. Rear activity is filled with several discrete effects, generating a fully immersive, enveloping soundfield as various atmospherics move throughout the room with ease. All in all, the lossless mix makes for a wonderfully satisfying track fans will thoroughly enjoy. (Audio Rating: 96/100 or 5/5)

Special Features

Ranking:

All the same bonus features are ported over for this UHD edition, and they are all housed on the accompanying Blu-ray disc, which appears to be identical to the previous BD release.

  • Audio Commentary 
  • Breaking The Rules: Making Animation History (HD, 49 min)
  • Real Creatures of Dirt (HD, 22 min)
  • A Field Trip to Dirt (HD)
  • Storyboard Reel (HD)
  • Deleted Scenes (HD)
  • Trailers (HD)

Final Thoughts

Gore Verbinski's Rango is a thoroughly enjoyable metamodern Western comedy that essentially celebrates the spirit of the American West. With voice talents, ranging from Johnny Depp and Isla Fisher to Ned Beatty and Bill Nighy, ILM's first animated feature is a comedic blast that may or may not perform as well with the kiddies as it will with older cinephiles. Arriving on 4K Ultra HD, it is nonetheless a fun movie with a beautiful Dolby Vision HDR presentation that offers a notable, albeit small, uptick, but it ports over the same DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack and bonus features. Overall, the UHD SteelBook edition makes for a Highly Recommended package for fans. 

All disc reviews at High-Def Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More about the gear used for this review

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