GOOD VIEWS (What’s new in video): ‘Rango’; ‘The Lincoln Lawyer’

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New Releases

Rango

Paramount Home Video

★★★½

Johnny Depp gives voice to director Gore Verbinski’s (“Pirates of the Caribbean” 1-3) offbeat lizard hero in this clever and smartly crafted animated feature. Mr. Depp is Lars, a pet chameleon who accidentally ends up on his own in the middle of the desert. He stumbles into the town of Dirt, which is populated by a variety of desert-dwelling animals. Adopting the name of Rango, Lars becomes town sheriff and begins cleaning it up. When one very bad hombre (named Road Kill) and a potential double cross of Dirt’s citizens threaten everyone’s future, it’s up to Rango to find the courage and wisdom to save the day.

Mr. Verbinski and screenwriter John Logan have created a tale that echoes and celebrates the conventions found in Western films such as “High Noon” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” In fact, the movie is loaded with allusions to other films, including “The Godfather” and “Pulp Fiction.” The more movies you know, the more enjoyment you’ll get out of “Rango.” Some slightly intense scenes may be scary for the smallest of small fry, so parents probably should watch with them. However, the film works on enough levels that viewers of different ages should have a good time.

Released in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack with a digital download copy, “Rango” is chock-full of extras, including an extended version of the film with a never-before-seen alternative ending and featurettes about the partnership between Mr. Verbinski and special effects powerhouse Industrial Light & Magic in creating the movie’s distinctive look, and one about the real-life desert animals that inspired the characters. With the summer animated offerings limited so far to the pleasant but unspectacular “Cars 2,” “Rango” will be a welcome arrival when it hits store shelves Friday. MPAA Rating: PG, for some intense images.

The Lincoln Lawyer

Lionsgate Home Video

★★★½

Matthew McConaughey’s best lead performance in several years is just one of the highlights in this sharply drawn legal thriller, based on the best-selling novel by Michael Connelly. Mr. McConaughey is Mick Haller, a Los Angeles-based criminal defense lawyer who works mostly out of the back seat of his Lincoln Town Car. He’ll take on any client … who can pay his fee. He can work the system with seemingly effortless skill and a smile. When the son of a California real estate magnate (Ryan Phillippe) is accused of a brutal rape, Mick sees a chance to rise in status if he can win the case. But what initially appears to be a significant and legitimate victory begins to change course, leaving Mick with a moral and legal dilemma that could cost him his career — and more.

Mr. McConaughey delivers the kind of layered, multidimensional performance that has been missing from his recent films. He is well supported by the film’s cast, which includes Marisa Tomei as Mick’s ex-wife and fellow lawyer, John Leguizamo as a courthouse tipster who steers clients to Haller and Frances Fisher (“Unforgiven”) as Ryan Phillippe’s mother. Brad Furman’s direction and John Romano’s screenplay mesh to keep the film’s suspense sharp while developing the characters.

Released in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack with a digital download copy, “The Lincoln Lawyer” extras include deleted scenes, a feature on the making of the film, one on Michael Connelly and a joint interview with Mr. Connelly and Mr. McConaughey.

This is a legal thriller that wins its case for repeated viewings; it’s just that good. MPAA Rating: R for profanity, violence and sexual content.

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