"In the shadow of Pixar" could be the tagline attached to any number of animation houses whose work of the last fifteen years has been eclipsed by the stellar offerings of John Lasseter's Emeryville all-stars. They're not responsible for every great animated film of that timeframe though their successes have become the de facto yardstick for the art form and the company shows little signs of slipping even as it beds in with Disney.

For so many Pixar projects, a simple and elegant hook has been the launching pad for such cinematic brilliance. What if your toys came alive when you weren't in the room? What if mankind had to leave Earth and somebody forgot to turn off the last robot? What if a rat wanted to be a chef?

Rango isn't a Pixar film. In fact, it's being made by Nickelodeon, whose last attempt at CG animation was the unforgivably-awful Barnyard. But there's something so inherently Pixar about Rango's hook as to suggest there's something to this utterly curious new feature. What if a chameleon had an identity crisis?
The project's pedigree, too, is not to be sniffed at. Director Gore Verbinski reunites with his Pirates of the Caribbean star Johnny Depp, while the script comes from The Aviator scribe John Logan.

Introduced to our location by a band of owl mariachis, the teaser gives us our first moving glimpse of the oddly shaped Rango, whose attempts at hiding from an eagle fail spectacularly in a humorous vignette. The rest of the piece treats us to quick slices of the remainder of the film, with the visual style bringing any number of Westerns to mind. And with Depp's name attached, hints of Fear and Loathing can't help but wash over the desert landscape and its kooky inhabitants.

Most impressive, at this stage, are the visuals. Considering ILM are behind the technology – their first time working on an animated feature in this capacity – there's no wonder the dry vistas look so utterly sumptuous.

Rango comes to theaters March 18th of next year. What do you think of the trailer? Head over to Apple to check it out.