The primary palette of Rango is monochromatic, which makes sense for a movie where a lot of the action takes place in a dust-covered, water-deprived, western town. Rango himself provides the main dashes of color, with his bright green skin and his loud red and white Hawaiian shirt. But the film in no way looks flat. The details of every surface of skin, hair, tooth, and nail gives the film real texture and interest. It is not a 3D movie, but it has more visual interest than any 3D movie I have seen.
Another thing I loved about Rango was the dialogue. Rango is first and foremost an actor, and he's spent much of his life virtually alone, in a glass terrarium, so he has had plenty of time to develop his gift of gab. When he touches down in the town of Dirt, he is surrounded by locals who talk the talk of the movie western and he manages to use his strengths of adaptation to blend right in:
Rango: Now you get back on in there and you assert yourself and I think you'll find the people in this town to be suprisingly hospitable.
Bar Guy 1: Thank you, Sheriff.
Bar Guy 2: What?! Not you again!! (throws Bar Guy 1 out)
Rango: I stand corrected.
Not only is the dialogue funny, but it is multi-sylllabic. Kids big and small in the audience might just learn something, as Rango urges book-learnin', "Stay in school, eat your veggies, and burn all the books that ain't Shakespeare." Rango, first and foremost, always the actor's actor.
For grown-up movie buffs there are some great nods to classic films. Ned Beatty as the Mayor of Dirt sounds eerily like Chinatown's John Huston. Tim Olyphant impersonates Clint Eastwood's Man with No Name, and one of the town residents, owl-like Furgus, has the creaky voice of classic Hollywood western sidekick Andy Devine. Depp and Verbinski also load in lots of fun self-references. In Rango's opening monologue he ponders what sort of character he should be, quite a few of them sounding a bit like past roles on Depp's resume. Later, when he is buffeted about on the highway, he splats momentarily on the windshield of the convertible from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, until a windshield wiper sends him on his way.