On paper, the idea of a new movie version of The Lone Ranger sounds fantastic. It was once a popular western television series created in the 30′s in which our hero held onto the same solid moral values that made so many cowboys in westerns such perfect role models. Put that on top of the slow resurgence of westerns and The Lone Ranger movie sounds like a perfect fit for contemporary movie-goers, right? While it may be foggy as to where exactly production of The Lone Ranger went horribly off-track, this movie continues to over-expose audiences to a kooky Johnny Depp and a painfully long story that doesn’t go anywhere.
- Director: Gore Verbinski
- Writer(s): Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio
- Cast: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, Tom Wilkinson, William Fichtner, Ruth Wilson, James Badge Dale, Helena Bonham Carter, Barry Pepper, Damon Herriman
- Cinematography: Bojan Bazelli
- Original Music by: Hans Zimmer
When lawyer John Reid (Hammer) arrives back in his hometown, he finds that a lot has changed in the time of his absence. He tags along with his brother, Sheriff Dan Reid (Dale) on a routine mission that goes horribly wrong. Left for dead, John is revived by the mysterious Indian Tonto (Depp). It all becomes clear for John; he must go under disguise as a masked man in order to avenge his brother’s death and figure out how far the corruption in his hometown has gone.
- This is one of the few times where I can’t think of anything good about this movie to write about.
- Some of our cast: When they first cast Armie Hammer on to play the title character, it made sense. He’s a rising star who’s got a lot of potential to really shine on the big screen. Perhaps this is the boost that he needs. If he wasn’t so overshadowed by the likes of his co-star Johnny Depp, he may have turned out to be a fantastic Lone Ranger. While his character runs around as a bumbling fool until the last twenty minutes of the film, at least Hammer makes the most of it. Then there’s Tom Wilkinson who plays the most devilishly charming and powerful evil character of the bunch. The only thing his character needed was a long mustache that he could twirl his fingertips around, since he played such a cool villain. Speaking of villains, Fichtner does a fine job playing the down and dirty villain who unfortunately takes a back seat shortly after the one hour mark.
- Verbinski: Although there isn’t much to praise about The Lone Ranger, Verbinski is able to pass along a decent job directing the picture. Then again, it plays very much as a wild west Pirates of the Caribbean so he didn’t have to stretch himself too far to try and tap back into that particular style of directing.
- Tonto and his sidekick, The Lone Ranger: With the premise, you might expect to watch a fun western adventure where our title character trumps any evil that comes his way, with the help of his trusty sidekick Tonto. Instead what we’re given is Tonto and his trusty sidekick The Lone Ranger. Then again, this shouldn’t come off as too much of a surprise if you look at those in the cast who are making the picture in the first place. You’ve got a good chunk of those involved in the Pirates of the Caribbean films on The Lone Ranger, and if Depp wanted to be the center of attention so bad, he could have done us all a big favor and just star as the Lone Ranger. Johnny Depp is painfully overexposed, especially when he’s playing a quirky chaotic character whose crazy antics do little to nothing to propel the story forward. There’s way too much time spent on Tonto’s backstory and why his quest is apparently more important than that of our title character. It would have been great if, for once in the past few years, Depp could have taken a step back and let the real character take the spotlight. But similar to the Pirates movies, they let Depp’s ridiculous character take center stage with disastrous results.
- Ashy To Bland: Those who were working on the color scheme in the film must have been handed only half of the movie and didn’t get around to the rest. Verbinski and company manage to make the beautiful terrain of the wild west looks grotesque. Older westerns have smooth colors of the desert and the frontier land popped out and made the west look magnificent. With Verbinski’s wild west, it looks like the inside of an ashtray that hasn’t been cleaned out for months, with an occasional hint of color from the fading end of a recently used cigarette. It’s inconsistent, gross and really sad to look at.
- The CG/Action: One thing that never should be mixed in with the wild west should be heavy use of computer stimulated special effects. A good third of the movie, particularly the action sequences, are cloaked with shoddy CG effects that take you out of the movie. Some of the excitement is lost when you see a fake train rolling towards its inevitable doom. At the same time, the action sequences are so drawn out to a ridiculous degree that your eyes begin wandering elsewhere in the movie theater, wondering when they’ll get to the end of the scene so the movie can move on.
- Under-used: What was the point of bringing in some cool star power, say the likes of Barry Pepper, Helena Bonham Carter or Ruth Wilson of Luther fame, only to let them sit on the side as Johnny Depp comes in and steals up the majority of screen time? Since the budget ballooned to such a high degree, it would have made more sense for them to hire lesser known actors in order to save some money. There was also no point to Helena Bonham Carter’s role, the one that’s been plastered on posters across the nation. She has ten minutes of screen time and does absolutely nothing in order to move the story forward.
The Lone Ranger could have been a high point for bringing back westerns, but thanks to this the genre’s appeal will fade away once again.
The Lone Ranger is out in theaters on July 3rd.