From The Bargain Bin: ‘Rango’, ‘The Truman Show’ and ‘Iron Man 2’

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In this edition of From The Bargain Bin, we look at a tale about a chameleon who becomes the hero of his world, a thought provoking Jim Carrey movie and the second entry in the Iron Man trilogy, all of which can be found cheaply.

1. Rango (2011)

The first DVD we’re taking a closer look at is 2011’s Rango, one of the most memorable, striking and distinctive animated movies out there. It’s an impressively animated CGI film about a pet chameleon who finds himself out of his comfort zone after he is left far behind. He comes across a town known as Dirt, an area populated by all manner of critters and creatures that resembles the sort of small Wild West-style towns you’d find in the Western genre. This overlooked release stars Johnny Depp as the aforementioned pet lizard, who calls himself Rango and decides to reinvent himself in a strange new world. He makes Dirt his home, becoming the sheriff and posing as a long-awaited hero with mixed results.

The Wild West genre influence extends to not just the small town of Dirt but to the music and the character designs, the soundtrack and how the characters present themselves and communicate as well. Rango is basically then, a Western, and we don’t really get this sort of movie all that often these days. It has a twist-packed plot which centres on a water crisis that has engulfed the small town. Water is a key element in the story from pretty much the very start to the final scenes. I won’t reveal much more about the engaging and enthralling story-line but it really will keep you on the edge of your seat.

In terms of visuals, the CGI is still hugely charming and impressive with some great uses of lighting and detailing seen throughout. There’s action, drama and humour and Johnny Depp does a decent job as Rango himself. There is a real atmosphere to the movie, which is a highly original entry in a genre packed with rivals. Rango entertains very well and probably will be enjoyed most by older viewers and anyone who finds Western-type movies a favourite film category.

Rango isn’t perhaps quite as family-friendly as some other animated movies. So, if you want family viewing that all ages can enjoy, you should perhaps go for the likes of Toy Story 2 instead.

The Verdict

Now it’s conclusion time. All in all, I found a lot to like about 2011’s Rango and would say this is a CGI movie that adults will get something out of. This is due to the style, the quite thought-provoking plot, the Western theme and references. I would give it a 5/5 and consider it a gem of a film that isn’t in the slightest bit bland, forgettable or mediocre. You can find it for a pound too and I would say it’s well worth the money.

2. The Truman Show (1998)

The second DVD being reviewed today is a film starring Jim Carrey from 1998 called The Truman Show. This film revolves around the life of Truman, an American man whose life is filmed nonstop as part of a globally screened 24/7 TV programme. From the very beginning right through to adulthood. Everyone in his pleasant little world is in on the fact that Truman is being recorded in this long-running experiment apart from Truman himself. The recording is done by many cameras in a sealed-off area the man isn’t allowed to move away from and all of his neighbours and fellow citizens are Hollywood actors and actresses, even his wife.

Eventually, Truman catches onto what is going on and the story really builds up from there. I know Jim Carrey is best known for comedies but this production is, arguably, actually more of a drama than a comedy. The film is very watchable and really quite gripping once things got going. You do want Truman to succeed in his quest after learning the truth bit by bit about his recorded life and his attempt to escape it. The 24/7 camera surveillance filming everything concept reminded me somewhat of the 2000’s TV hit Big Brother, but The Truman Show is the better of the two (in my opinion).

The Verdict

I wouldn’t say The Truman Show is my favourite 90’s film but it offers something genuinely different, has a very moving and satisfying finale and is very much worth the pound I paid. So, I’m giving this movie a strong 4/5.

3. Iron Man 2 (2010)

With the final chapter in the Marvel Infinity saga, Avengers: Endgame being the highest-grossing movie to date, I thought it interesting to explore one of the earlier MCU films. Iron Man 2, focused on the world of the brainy and brash inventor Tony Stark and his early years as Iron Man.

Let’s get into the plot side of things. Iron Man 2 focuses on the cocky hero, billionaire and inventor of the Iron Man suit (as well as Iron Man himself) Tony Stark. Other people want his suit technology, his power source is failing his health and he faces a sinister threat from a formidable computer and robotics genius who is very keen on destruction. This very villain is played flawlessly by Mickey Rourke who really comes across as menacing, mean, callous and very much a credible foe for Stark himself in certain key areas. Robert Downey Jr, of course, does a great turn as Stark/Iron Man (arguably his most famous modern acting job) too, in a role he will probably never be bettered at.

Moving on to the other featured characters, there’s Black Widow, Pepper Potts, Happy Hogan and enthusiastic weapons developer Justin Hammer, to name but a few. It’s hard to think of a weak link really in terms of the acting and everyone does a fine job in the roles they are portraying. As you’d expect from this sort of movie, Iron Man 2 delivers fantastic special effects and battle scenes which are top-notch. This is a big-budget movie and that really is evident as you watch the film.

Another feature worth mentioning is that we see the main protagonist Tony Stark and his world outside as well as inside the Iron Man suit throughout the film. This adds a little extra variety to proceedings and helps balance things out. As with other superheroes like Batman and Spider-Man, behind the mask is a human being in there making choices, with a life outside the suit.

Any flaws? Well, I thought Mickey’s Rourke’s villain was so good that he really should have been given more to do and that for me would be the main gripe of what is otherwise a highly enjoyable film. The edition of Iron Man 2 I used for this review is a Blu-Ray copy purchased for £1.00 and the High Definition picture quality and enhanced make the viewing experience all the better.

The Verdict

It’s big, funny at times, exciting and an excellent film in what is a very competitive genre. Iron Man 2 is just the ticket if you enjoy thrilling, big-budget, action-orientated superhero films. 4/5.

Words by James Gillespie

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