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Rango by Hans Zimmer

Rango

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Rango (Soundtrack)  by Hans Zimmer
Rango (Soundtrack)  by Hans Zimmer
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Rango (Soundtrack) by Hans Zimmer

Rango
Composed by Hans Zimmer
Anti Records (2011)

Rating: 4/10

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“If only the tracks were more thoughtfully presented, RANGO could have been an enjoyable addition to one’s Zimmer collection.”

Western Wacky Weirdness
Review by Helen San


If the soundtracks of RAISING ARIZONA (CARTER BURWELL) and ANTZ (JOHN POWELL AND HARRY GREGSON-WILLIAMS) had a love child, it would be RANGO (HANS ZIMMER). Calling this album “quirky” would be an understatement. Wicked zany crazy would be more like it.

The movie is a mishmash of classic cinema references, so it comes as no surprise that the music has everything but the kitchen sink. With a hodgepodge of different genres from mariachi yodeling (WTF?) to classical to even a few seconds of industrial metal (courtesy of punk band Lard), the album listens like the playlist of someone with ADHD. The transitions are jerky, sudden, and unpredictable. You feel like you’re falling through a rabbit hole into The Land of Soundtrack Weirdness.

Actually, most of it is The Land of Album Badness. (Not to be confused with badass-ness.) If there are any soundtrack producers reading this, please allow me to outline some rules from the consumer’s point of view--and use RANGO as an example of what NOT to do:

1. Don’t make itty bitty tracks. No music, no matter how outstanding, is worth the annoyance of a fleeting glimpse without follow through. (And imagine our disappointment when the music isn’t outstanding.) RANGO has 3 tracks under 30 seconds, 6 tracks under 60 seconds, and 4 tracks under 90 seconds. Thirteen out of the 20 tracks can be measured in seconds. If you have to include tiny cues, combine them. Really.

2. Don’t include narrations or dialogue in the soundtrack. The whole point of buying a soundtrack is to be able to listen to music without the dialogue. Nine tracks (45%) have voiceovers. Three tracks, “Certain Demise” (3), “Stuck in Guacamole” (8), and “El Canelo” (17) are nothing but voiceovers with stock background music. I mean, c’mon.

3. Group score tracks together. Although I understand the attraction of putting the tracks in order of appearance in the movie, it is so much easier on film score fans if the score tracks and song/dialogue tracks were grouped separately. In RANGO’s case, sorting through 20 tracks to find the ones that we’re interested in is a bit tedious, especially when so many of them are worse than disinteresting.

4. OK, this is nitpicking now, but spellcheck your track titles. In RANGO, “La Muerte A Llegado” is misspelled. It should read “La Muerte Ha Llegado.” It just doesn’t help the general sloppy feel of the album, like it was thrown together carelessly by someone who didn’t give a damn.

Having catharted my irritability, I’m ready to talk about what we really came for: HANS ZIMMER. Not counting the three tiny dialogue tracks with pedestrian mariachi in the backdrop, Zimmer has 12 tracks on this album, totaling roughly 25 minutes of score time. My recommendation is to get some sound editing software to cut out the voiceovers and extraneous annoyance, and make your own Zimmer RANGO album thus:

2. Rango Suite
4. Medley - It's A Metaphore / Forkboy
5. Welcome To Dirt (Edit out 9 seconds at beginning)
6. Name’s RANGO (Edit out 10 seconds at beginning, 9 seconds at the end)
7. Lizard For Lunch (Edit out 40 seconds of yodeling at the beginning)
9. Underground
10. We Ride, Really! (Edit out 4 seconds at beginning)
11. Rango And Beans
12. Medley - Bats / RANGO Theme / Ride Of The Valkyries / An Der Schonen Blauen Donau, OP. 314. (Johnny Depp does this bizarre sighing and “whee-ing” in the middle, but there is nothing we can do about that.)
14. Rango Returns
16. It’s A Miracle
18. The Sunset Shot (Ends very abruptly, so in your playlist, move this track before “It’s A Miracle,” which has a decent finale)


Or if you just want to buy-and-go, go with this:

2. Rango Suite
9. Underground
11. Rango And Beans
14. Rango Returns
16. It’s A Miracle
18. The Sunset Shot


"Lizards for Lunch" (7) actually has a fantastic action cue (4 stars) for 45 seconds after the 40 seconds of Mexican yodeling (1 star). If you can edit out the yodeling, this track would make a great listen.

Album badness not withstanding, RANGO is actually an above average score. It has whiffs of Zimmerian quirkiness heard in SHERLOCK HOLMES and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, and even oldies like AS GOOD AS IT GETS. In general, the wild west with a cartoonish feel dominates the flavor of this music, which is not surprising, given this is an animated picture about the wild west. The main theme is memorable and heroic (albeit it a tad repetitive), reoccurring with different tempos and instruments, including banjo and whistling.

We also get very nice cues depicting action, passion, mourning, humor, reflection, ovation, and of course, weirdness. The central character is a chameleon actor with a sort of multiple personality problem, after all. Zimmer’s signature energy is here, though very short-lived. There is just too wide of a range of emotions, not to mention all the derivative and adapted music, to cram into 25 minutes of score.

The derivative nods to other films, like the imitation Magnificent Seven theme (ELMER BERNSTEIN) in “We Ride, Really” (10) or adaptations of classical pieces, like the Ride of the Valkyries and the Blue Danube in “Medley – Bats” (12) feel like yet another distraction. If only the tracks were more thoughtfully presented, RANGO could have been an enjoyable addition to one’s Zimmer collection.

As a biased Zimmer fan, I'd like to rate the score a 6/10, maybe 7/10, if I get to just rate the 6 tracks I recommended above (since I am on a deleting rampage anyway). Someone who is not so biased might go with 5 -- or less.

For those who are not fans of Zimmer, I’m afraid there are few to no redeeming features in this album. I hate to do this to a Zimmer album, but I feel like I can’t go higher than a 4/10.

‘Cause don’t forget, RANGO’s the love child of RAISING ARIZONA and ANTZ.


Rating: 4/10



Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Welcome Amigo 1:06  *
2 Rango Suite 5:58  ****
3 Certain Demise 0:24  *
4 Medley - It's a Metaphore / Forkboy 0:43  **
5 Welcome to Dirt 0:59  ***
6 Name's Rango 1:32  ***
7 Lizard for Lunch 1:26  ***
8 Stuck in Guacamole 0:21  *
9 Undergound 3:18  ***
10 We Ride, Really! 0:51  **
11 Rango and Beans 1:05  ***
12 Medley - Bats/ Rango Theme /  Ride of the Valkyries / An Der Schonen Blauen Donau, Op. 314 4:28  **
13 The Bank's Been Robbed 0:22  *
14 Rango Returns 1:17  ****
15 La Muerte A Llegado 0:45  *
16 It's a Miracle 1:58  ****
17 El Canelo 0:44  *
18 The Sunset Shot 0:54  ****
19 Walk Don't Rango 2:48  **
20 Rango Theme Song 3:30  **
  Total Running Time (approx) 65 minutes  

 

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