I'm not sure if I'm breaking embargo when I say that I have fallen under the very, very strange spell of "Rango," but if I am, then so be it.

"Rango" is Gore Verbinski's animated Western, a Lizard-With-No-Name story that is funny and freaky and gorgeously realized by ILM.  I don't think of them as an animation house, but after this, I suspect we'll be seeing more films where ILM handles all of the animation, start to finish, because this is a heck of a way to start.

We've got some clips from the film today that show off the character performance work in the film as well as the remarkable designs by Crash McCreery, and that give you some sense of the film's very odd sense of humor and storytelling.  Verbinski's "Pirates" movies with Johnny Depp all basically play like cartoons anyway, so there's something almost liberated about the energy in this film.  Gore plays with tone, plays with genre, and just plain plays.  It's an intoxicating mix of ideas and styles.

Early on in the film, the lizard, voiced by Johnny Depp, finds himself alone in the desert, trying to survive the attentions of a hungry hawk, and that's where this first clip comes from:


Still desperate, the lizard comes across a girl named Beans, voiced by the lovely Isla Fisher, and tries to ask her for help:



 

Finally, after getting a ride from Beans, the lizard finds himself in the town of Dirt, where he's given a warm welcome by the locals, including a little girl named Priscilla, voiced by Abigail Breslin:




I heard several people at the press day say that the movie is too weird for kids, but don't believe it.  I took Toshi, and he's been talking about it since Friday.  It's that great kind of creepy that kids totally love, and even the scariest, darkest moments in the film seemed to thrill him.

Finally, if the clips above weren't enough for you, Yahoo! premiered an exclusive clip yesterday that features Rango leading a posse of the citizens of Dirt out into the desert in search of water:

 

 
I'll have a real review of the film soon, as well as video interviews with Breslin, Fisher, Depp, and Verbinski, but for now, enjoy this glimpse into the wacked-out world of "Rango."

"Rango" opens everywhere March 4, 2011.