The Adjustment Bureau, George Nolfi, 105 mins (12A)
Rango, Gore Verbinski, 107 mins (PG)

Overworked, under-staffed...guardian angels don't have it easy either

Most of my male friends suspect that Fate is scheming cruelly to keep them apart from Emily Blunt, so they should relate to The Adjustment Bureau, a mischievous supernatural thriller based, very loosely, on a Philip K Dick story.

It stars Matt Damon as a hotshot New York politician who is certain, after one short conversation and one long kiss, that Blunt is the woman he's meant to be with. The unusual thing is that audiences might agree: he and Blunt have the easy, bantering chemistry that's missing from most romantic comedies.

But not everyone is convinced they belong together. Damon soon learns that an organisation of super-powered men in trilbies is working behind the scenes of reality to nudge human affairs in a divinely ordained direction, and that his relationship with Blunt doesn't fit the plan. Two of these "adjusters", John Slattery and Terence Stamp, tell him to keep away from her or face the consequences.

For those viewers, like me, who relish films with Twilight Zone-like high concepts, The Adjustment Bureau is a mind-bending treat: a science-fiction-tinged, metaphysical love story that bears comparison with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It delivers as a chase movie and a passionate romance, but has pleasingly daft, yet vaguely plausible ideas about destiny and free will. The adjusters, far from being ethereal guardian angels, are overworked, under-resourced company men. And on the two occasions they left the human race to its own devices, they claim, the results were fascism and the Dark Ages.

The film could have done with a few adjustments of its own, its main weakness being Damon's passivity as a hero. People keep telling us how impulsive and determined he is, but even after he meets the adjusters, he gets on with his life as if nothing has happened, and he doesn't do much to fight for Blunt except to sprint along a street in the rain. Most of my male friends would do more than that.

Rango is a cartoon about a pet chameleon (voiced by Johnny Depp) who gets lost in the desert, finds his way to a Wild West town populated by frogs and rodents, and discovers his heroic side when the townsfolk appoint him as their sheriff. But if that makes it sound like an ideal film to keep the little 'uns occupied for an afternoon, then beware. Rango isn't the standard kids'-cartoon-that-adults-will-enjoy-too, but an adults' cartoon that might appeal to some children, just as long as they've got strong nerves and strong stomachs.

Rather than adopting the shiny, happy colour scheme used in Pixar and DreamWorks cartoons, the film has the harsh, dusty look of a live-action Western, while its mottled and scaly characters are so grotesque that they could have been sketched by Depp's pal Terry Gilliam. There are sly jokes about Hunter S Thompson and immersive theatre, there are deaths and verbal flourishes that wouldn't have been out of place in True Grit, and there's a storyline that recalls Chinatown and There Will Be Blood. I'm not saying that Rango is in quite the same class as those films, but it's defiantly eccentric and often very funny. Alongside Coraline, Fantastic Mr Fox, and Legend of the Guardians, it's part of a new wave of Hollywood animations that reflect the vision of a particular director – in this instance, Gore Verbinski – rather than the house style of a whole studio.

Its only real flaw is its drawn-out, self-indulgent opening, but if those first 15 minutes prompt parents with young children to march out to the box office and demand a refund, maybe that's for the best.

Next Week:

Nicholas Barber sees if the Farrelly brothers' Hall Pass passes muster

Also Showing: 06/03/2011

Patagonia (118 mins, 15)

Two warm-hearted road movies for the price of one, as an old Patagonian woman takes a teenage neighbour to see her ancestral home in Wales, while a Welsh couple visit Patagonia.

The Tempest (110 mins, PG)

Not even Helen Mirren's Prospera can redeem the bargain-basement digital effects, rudimentary camerawork, and general shapelessness of Julie Taymor's disastrous Shakespeare adaptation.

Unknown (113 mins, 12A)

This superior Hitchcockian thriller stars Liam Neeson as scientist who wakes up from a four-day coma to find that someone has stolen his identity – and even his wife (January Jones) is siding with the imposter. Good fun.

Client 9 (117 mins, 15)

Alex Gibney's in-depth documentary argues that Eliot Spitzer, the fraud-busting New York governor, wasn't just brought down by his taste for expensive prostitutes, but by a cabal of fat cats who make Gordon Gekko look like the Good Samaritan.

Ironclad (121 mins, 15)

Terrible action movie about some knights (including James Purefoy and Brian Cox) defending Rochester Castle against the dastardly King John (Paul Giamatti) and his Danish mercenaries.

Arts and Entertainment
Jude Law in Black Sea

film

In Black Seahe is as audiences have never seen him before

Arts and Entertainment
Johnny Depp no longer cares if people criticise his movie flops

film

Arts and Entertainment
Full circle: Wu-Tang’s Method Man Getty

Music review

Arts and Entertainment
When he was king: Muhammad Ali training in 'I Am Ali'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film Ridley Scott reveals truth behind casting decisions of Exodus
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Scare tactics: Michael Palin and Jodie Comer in ‘Remember Me’

TVReview: Remember Me, BBC1
Arts and Entertainment
Scare tactics: Michael Palin and Jodie Comer in ‘Remember Me’

TVReview: Remember Me, BBC1
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Image has been released by the BBC
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Will there ever be a Friends reunion?
TV
News
Harry Hill plays the Professor in the show and hopes it will help boost interest in science among young people
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
A Van Gogh sold at Sotheby’s earlier this month
art
Arts and Entertainment

MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word

Arts and Entertainment
It would 'mean a great deal' to Angelina Jolie if she won the best director Oscar for Unbroken

Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says

Arts and Entertainment
Winnie the Pooh has been branded 'inappropriate' in Poland
books
Arts and Entertainment
Lee Evans is quitting comedy to spend more time with his wife and daughter

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is dominating album and singles charts worldwide

music
Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Midge Ure and Sir Bob Geldof outside the Notting Hill recording studios for Band Aid 30

music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game