One of the best looking Blus ever comes out this week among a crop of decent releases across the board.

PICK OF THE WEEK: RANGO (Gore Verbinski, 2011, USA).

Paramount’s first non-Dreamworks animated effort in years, and the first time ILM have attempted making a full CG animation, Rango is a delightfully odd and cinephile happy film which maybe doesn’t have quite enough to keep the kids amused throughout, but then hey, I’m 26 what do I care?

The simple tale of a lizard who finds himself in a make-shift Western town whose then made mayor and investigates the town’s lack of water, it marks itself out as “different” from its brethren through one of the more distinctive feels I’ve ever seen in a kids animation. The whole thing is bloody gorgeous with some at-times photo-real locations mixing up with unusual and at-times a tad creepy character designs, a surreal sense of humour filled with peculiar sights and a great many non-sequiters in the dialogue and a general quirky tone which never comes close to annoying and instead just fills the film up with character.

Johnny Depp is a lot of fun as Rango, a would-be actor who sees his new role as a big performance piece before having to grow up, Isla Fisher offers a nice line in throwback “hard woman with a heart of gold” and the rest of the cast is filled out with spot-on character actors and a badass performance from Bill Nighy. There’s not a lot I don’t recommend about Rango, the sheer fact that in my screening, kids got audibly bored. I doubt you will though.

I got the Blu through late last week and looked through it a little, and the picture is as good as I’d read, it being pin sharp and detail cranked up to the max, it’s a wholly impressive transfer and certainly the best I’ve seen since Tron: Legacy’s jaw-dropping picture. Features on the disc also look decent with an Extended Version which includes an alternate ending which continues where the theatrical version leaves off, a commentary with Verbinski and various others, a 50 minute making of which I’ve watched which also goes some way to showing why the film cost $135,000,000, a full length storyboard-to-screen comparison and various other shorter pieces. The makers of this disc seem to have realised that the film isn’t quite a straight kid’s flick as this is one of the more “adult” group of features I’ve yet seen for this type of film. Available for around £16 online in a Triple Play edition, it’s a tad expensive but if you liked the film, this may well be a no-brainer, it was for me.

 THE LINCOLN LAWYER (Brad Furman, 2011, USA).

Terrible bloody name eh? “The Lincoln Lawyer”, what does that mean? A lawyer who worked for Lincoln? That’s genuinely what I thought it was when I first read about this film but no, this actually turned out to be a fun piece of pulpy nonsense which I very much enjoyed in the cinema a few months back.

Matthew McConaughey is the lawyer of the title who works out of his Lincoln car and specialises in getting the scum back on the streets. He gets a new client, a rich playboy (Ryan Phillipe) who appears to have beaten and raped a bar worker. But did he? He may have, he may not have…

Surrounded by a great supporting cast including Marisa Tomei, Bryan Cranston and William H. Macy, McConaughey puts in a likable performance despite being a bit of a scumbag though by the end you are very much rooting for him. The whole thing feels like a trashy novel you’d read on a beach with twists, sex and a general feel of sticky dirt to the whole thing which makes it seem more real than the screenplay would suggest. I’m not entirely sure how effective a rewatch this would be but as a rental, it’s very much recommended.

The disc itself doesn’t have too much to shout about on the face of it with only a few featurettes, deleted scenes and a trailer making up the extras and at £15 online it’s not worth a blind buy at all but as I’ve said, if you want something to rent this week, certainly go for it.

DAZED & CONFUSED (Richard Linklater, 1993, USA).

Everyone knows and loves Dazed & Confused I think that’s pretty much fair to say. So why the hell isn’t it my pick of the week?

Well, like many Criterion releases that come out in the UK, we’ve got rather stiffed on the features, and even also the brilliant packaging they do other there. Oh, how I’d love to have a multi-region Blu player, how I would love to pay over the odds to import these discs. I do that on occasion, hell I paid £15.99 just for the pleasure of owning Down Terrace in HD but it’s not something I want to do all the time and so this release from Universal which does have deleted scenes, a featurette and some sort of “U-Control” feature related to the music, for the sheer fact that the US DVD has so much more on it, I can’t straight up have this as my Pick of the Week.

Saying this though, it’s widely available for £7.99 online and is also a part of Play.com’s 2 for £15 deal so I’ll likely bite soon myself, thus negating everything I just said. What a dick.

 

ALSO OUT THIS WEEK

American Grafittit – Lucas before Lucas became Lucas.

Fast Times At Ridgemont High – One of Sean Penn’s best performances in a fun ensemble high-school comedy.

Cry-Baby – Johnny Depp + John Waters. Oh yeah.

National Lampoon’s Animal House – TOGA TOGA TOGA.

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never – Weirdly not as good as I was led to believe, interesting social networking commentary, shitty everything else.

Middle Men – Luke Wilson continues his string of straight-to-video mehness.

More next week! (Actually, next week really is cracking…)