Rated 4.0

One of the first watchable movies of 2011, this mind-altering animated effort from Pirates of the Caribbean auteur Gore Verbinski is a true original, even as it borrows liberally from Sergio Leone Westerns, Chinatown, Apocalypse Now, The Apple Dumpling Gang, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Verbinski’s own Dead Man’s Chest. Johnny Depp does his best work in years (who was that fat, boring guy in The Tourist, anyway?) as the voice of Rango, a pampered, semidelusional chameleon thrust out of his cushy terrarium life and into a Fistful of Dollars town held in the grip of a Chinatown tyrant. The humor is mostly crude, but there are clever touches (Clint Eastwood is depicted as a pancho-clad spirit driving a golf cart full of Oscars), and the animators do a magnificent job making visual references to the Westerns of Leone and John Ford.