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Rango by Hans Zimmer (Review)

posted Mar 18, 2011, 1:13 AM by Kaya Savas

Sergio Leone is my favorite director and Once Upon A Time In The West is my favorite film. So when I heard that Gore Verbinski was working on an animated spaghetti western with desert animals I got extremely excited. The main reason was that I knew Hans was gonna score it and I knew it was gonna be filled with Ennio Morricone homages with that Hansy style. The music for Rango is a unique palette of sounds and talents indeed. Hans didn't approach the score alone. Los Lobos took the reigns for writing a few original comedic ballads and of course the "Rango Theme Song". Let me get my one gripe out of the way first. The album's arrangement is terrible. The presentation is littered with dialogue from the film and I absolutely HATE when soundtracks do that. If I wanted to listen to the dialogue I would see the movie (which I did). The whole point of a soundtrack is to have the music separate from the film.

Okay, got that out of the way. Now to look at the music while trying to ignore the dialogue sprinkled throughout. Hans' score is a waltzy Morricone tinged approach that incorporates the genre as well as the character of Rango. This is indeed a western score, but at times it doesn't feel like it. It feels like... well, a Hans Zimmer score. I mean, that's a good thing. I wouldn't want it to be a whole big Morricone rip. The score has that quirkiness that only Hans can bring like he did for Jack Sparrow and Sherlock Holmes.

The music has a Mexican flavor to it that kicks it up into overdrive. The track "Lizard For Lunch" sounds like a Mexican arrangement of Raising Arizona. I loved it. The Rango theme was actually written by John and David Thum (produced by Hans) and the theme song is performed by Los Lobos. The theme has traditional spaghetti western elements but it feels like Robert Rodriguez got his hands on it (a compliment). Oh yeah, and don't mind The Magnificent Seven nod in that track as well. I mean, the score is plain fun. What more can you ask? It honors a genre and still has a fresh feel. It's Hans' ode to Ennio while still making the music his own. My favorite besides Hans' quirky Rango motif has to be the "Ride Of The Valkyries" medley. The whole sequence in the film is fantastic and the arrangement of Valkyries is stupendous. Where else will you hear Wagner played with a banjo? If you recall Ennio Morricone used "Ride Of The Valkyries" heavily in his score for Il Mio Nome E' Nessuno (My Name Is Nobody), which is a fantastic western by the way. The end of the film actually ends up keeping a piece of the temp track. The road scene at the end was actually "FInale" from The Kingdom by Danny Elfman and is not included on this soundtrack obviously.

So, is Rango all that I dreamed it would be? Yes and even more so. It was the most fun I had in a theatre in quite some time. I had a big ol' grin the entire time and loved every minute of it. The western genre has flourished over the past twenty years and we've seen some great ones. Rango will go down as one of them as an ode to what Sergio Leone crafted a long time ago that changed cinema for the rest of time. Go enjoy Hans' score to Rango. You shall not be disappointed.