In the category of Best Animated Feature, the Foreign Press Association has just nominated both Rango and The Adventures of Tintin for Golden Globes. This awards nod comes as no surprise — expect Oscar nominations as well — each is state of the animation art, but so different. In Rango, director Gore Verbinski used the quirky story telling techniques that made his Pirates of the Caribbean franchise so special — well, at least the first two. The plots are frankly forgettable, but the characters remain fresh, a product of brilliant casting. In Rango, Johnny Depp’s voice animates the central character, a chameleon, of all creatures, and it’s like he’s retained a residual high from his Rum Diary persona in this sheriff who must solve the mystery (a la Polanski’s Chinatown) of the disappearing water supply for the desert town of Dirt.
Last week Verbinski introduced a Rango screening, part of a MoMA series called The Contenders. In conversation with the museum’s Chief Curator of Film, Rajendra Roy, Verbinski explained the process for Rango, a different kind of filmmaking for him: “There’s no real path,” he said about making animation, allowing him to play with a Greek chorus of mariachi musicians, “A Man with No Name,” and references to the classic Sergio Leone westerns and Hitchcock. For 18 months, he worked on the story with the artists in a house in Pasadena. Then he recorded the actors for 20 days and reworked the story reel.
Of course on the question about the choice not to make this 3D, so much of a filmmaking trend this season, Verbinski responded that in the end, they decided that 3D would not enhance the storytelling in Rango.
3D, however, is perfectly suited to the swirls, shifts and swoops in The Adventures of Tintin, Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson’s new swashbuckling motion-capture animated epic to open in time for Christmas. Coming from the French Tintin series by Herge, the script (Edgar Wright, Steven Moffat, Joe Cornish) merges three stories to craft a tale about the reporter Tintin (Jamie Bell), his trusted dog Snowy, a sea captain Haddock (Andy Serkis) who can barely hold his course or his drink, and a villain named Sakharine (Daniel Craig is extra good as the bad guy).
The 3D is especially effective in illustrating the landscape of North Africa, the desert dunes and the seacoast towns with their winding medinas, arabesques and minzahs. And best of all, like the books on which this film is based, this wonderful adventure is sequel ready.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.