Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Review: The Lone Ranger

Release date: July 3, 2013July 26, 2013
Running time: 149 minutes
Starring: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, Ruth Wilson
Who to see it with: Someone who absolutely loves Johnny Depp and long movies


The Lone Ranger is Disney's reboot (I guess it's a reboot even though there never was an official movie) of the beloved radio show. It takes loose elements from the original, such as the character names, rough story, and the white horse, and then adds enough to turn it into a two and a half hour origin movie. The film is told by an old aged Tonto (Depp) who is recalling his exploits to a wandering child. This doesn't really grab you at the start, mostly because it just feels odd, and can be distracting as the story abruptly cuts back to the storytelling at random points. According to Tonto, he is forced to team up with John Rein (Hammer) in order to right an injustice. They're joined by the Lone Ranger's trusty steed Silver, a pretty awesome albino stallion, on a long, slightly nonsensical journey. Apparently justice takes a while to deliver, because the movie definitely feels like an extended adventure. There are plenty of plot twists and turns, making the plot feel bloated and unsatisfying. And it's capped off by an unnecessarily over the top end scene that seems to go on as long as the movie does. The movie is surprisingly dark for what you would expect to be a light-hearted summer movie, and Tonto's jokes and asides feel out of place at times when contrasted with the ominous story.

Johnny Depp is easily the best part of the movie. His portrayal of Tonto is great. Depp always goes all out for his roles and this is no exception. Part crazy and sporadic, part wise man, Tonto feels like a less verbose Jack Sparrow. He provides many of the funniest laughs and some of the most memorable moments. Hammer is good as the Lone Ranger, but his justice angle gets a little annoying towards the end.  William Fichtner is especially creepy and maniacal as the villain of the film, Butch Cavendish. The other characters are well done, but you expect that with an all star cast. Finally, as many of you know, bad CG is kind of a pet peeve of mine. And although the CG was fine in most of the scenes, there were some moments that were pretty terrible and stood out to me. Overall, The Lone Ranger has some funny scenes and parts of the movie are entertaining, but they were too few and far between. If you absolutely love Johnny Depp (who doesn't) then it might be worth a rental. 

Rent it.

I didn't like it so much. It was like a fairly funny buddy comedy mashed up with an average western, plus a handful of okay action sequences. The two moods don't really complement one another, abruptly shifting from silly to serious whenever the film leaves Tonto's perspective. It seems like Disney tried to recapture Pirates of the Caribbean's lighthearted adventure and blockbuster appeal by hiring its director, star and a couple of its writers to adapt a familiar franchise, but that spirit can't be created by simply placing a comical character into a serious, but shallow, story about corruption in the wild west. I liked Tonto and the ranger's playfully antagonistic partnership, and there are some great shots of the desert. The rest is competently made but bland, never terrible but rarely interesting. The action scenes are shot well but aren't very exciting and the story touches on good ideas but doesn't do much with them. The tale is framed within another story where a child is riveted by the Lone Ranger's journey, but I think real kids won't remain so engaged throughout the long running time. You'll have some fun if you enjoy mismatched partner comedy or feel that westerns are sadly underrepresented in today's theaters but, otherwise, I'd leave The Lone Ranger alone.

Don't see it.

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