I know you’ll probably feel like I did initially when I heard that there was yet another computer animated movie with talking animals in it about to grace our screens. Yawning was my first reaction. Let me be the first to admit that I was wrong about this one. Not only is it the most gorgeous computer generated film I’ve seen, but it fit exactly with what I’ve been looking for in one of these films. I grew up watching Looney Tunes which always had a nice social bite, and also surprisingly adult sensibilities even within the Three Stooges like violence. For those like me who have wanted to see this kind of Golden Age of animation brought back for us of all ages it is a rare treat indeed. This story is in it’s base form a western, and a damn good one too. It’s not as engrossing as the new version of True Grit, but that may be partially due to the fact that the hero is a chameleon wearing a Hawaiian shirt voiced by Johnny Depp. This is a movie event which can be enjoyed by parents and children alike, but in this unique case, I think, more so the adults. It does carry a PG rating, so you may not want to take the very young. If you happen to be a fan of Sergio Leone films of the late 60’s coupled with a dabbling of Hunter S. Thompson slapstick style comedic violence, you will most likely enjoy this tale. The characterizations that the animators have brought to life, show how much this classical approach is so far superior to the creepy motion capture films of Bob Zemeckis of recent years, and you will find yourself most likely laughing out loud at a few scenes. The voice talent is definitely worth taking note of, with such names as Ned Beatty, Ray Winstone, Harry Dean Stanton, Isla Fisher, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy, and Timothy Olyphant rounding out the cast. The film is so dense with detail and beautiful desolate imagery, that you could easily watch it twice and still not soak everything in. The partnering of the battle proven American Director Gore Verbinski and Industrial Light and Magic once again fills the screen with state of the art cutting edge visuals. There is your obligatory environmental and political message wound into the narrative, but it feels right, as it did back in your favorite Spaghetti Westerns of old. The running time is a tiny bit long at 1 hour 47 minutes, with a slight dip in the momentum right in the middle, but you’ll soon after that be thrown into some very intense and well crafted action pieces which make up for that lull. If I had to give it a score, I’d say 9 of of 10, and from what I’ve heard so far, I’m not the only one.
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