The Lone Ranger (2013)

Origins of the Lone Ranger

The Lone Ranger

Director: Gore Verbinski

Writers: Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio

Cast: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, Ruth Wilson, Helena Bonham Carter, James Badge Dale, Bryant Prince, Barry Pepper

Synopsis: Native American warrior Tonto recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid, a man of the law, into a legend of justice.

MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence, and some suggestive material

Hi Ho Silver! Away!

Out of all the films that I've seen last year, this was arguably the most disappointing. As some some movie buffs may know, it's been stated by Jerry Bruckheimer that this film's lukewarm perception, by movie critics, ruined it's chances at the box office. No, I'm not kidding either.

According to various reports, certain cast members felt like the film critics unfairly bashed "the Lone Ranger" simply because of how much MONEY it spent during production versus judging it solely on the quality of said film itself. Wow, that's a very harsh generalization. Now, I'm not going to pretend like I speak for these film critics that Bruckheimer and crew are adamantly blaming, but I can speak solely for myself.

And speaking for myself, this film kind of sucked. Why do I think this film sucks? Well, I'll get into that momentarily, but before we delve into my review, lets talk about why this Disney blockbuster bombed at the box office first; which had relatively little to nothing to do whatever the hell the critics said about it. Besides, I don't see that stopping Michael Bay's movies from generating box office billions.

Anyway, the visual effects were great. Definitely some of the best I've ever seen in a film before, as the horse riding on top of a train bit was nothing short of amazing. Sadly though, part of the reason why this movie bombed in theaters was because Disney spent too much money on this film; regardless of what anyone says.

However, it's fairly obvious Disney overestimated Johnny Depp's popularity to draw in box office numbers. Granted, one could definitely tell they were trying to duplicate the same level of success that the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise achieved at the box office, by having Johnny Depp team up with Jerry Bruckheimer again, but sadly the results weren't in their favor this time for various reasons.

For starters, "Pirates of the Caribbean" is a fantasy epic film franchise. Sure, the first film was one of the few movies to make fantasy stories into box office contenders, but a lot of that also had to do with the evolution of visual effects. They were able to introduce ghostly creatures and mutants that defied the imagination of it's audience; hence giving us something we've never seen before.

Whereas something like "The Lone Ranger", the special effects are nice and all, but it's hardly anything we haven't seen before in movies. I mean we've seen over a million train chase scenes in westerns before, so the only real novelty behind the visuals is that they're showing us a horse riding on top of a running train.

Plus, there's the nagging factor that westerns aren't anywhere near as popular as they used to be, and the "Lone Ranger" hasn't exactly been relevant in pop culture for years. Heck, if you look at all the other iconic superheroes that haven't been relevant in years like the "Green Hornet", "The Phantom", "The Shadow", "The Spirit" and etc, then you'll notice that because they haven't been relevant to mainstream audiences, in some medium, that a lot of them bomb at the box office; whenever Hollywood decides in their infamous wisdom to grant a movie to one of these old properties. Sadly, "the Lone Ranger" just happens to be one those rare films, so I'm afraid Bruckheimer and Disney spent way too much money on this flick considering it's hefty two hundred and fifteen million dollar price tag.

However, does that mean the movie stinks because it spent so much money? Certainly not. Heck, as many of my readers know, I liked "Pacific Rim" a lot, and that spent almost the same amount of money as the "Lone Ranger" did, so I'd have to disagree with any film critic that bashes this film solely for how much this film's budget was. No, this film suffers mostly because it's not executed that well, which leads to a rather poor story arc to follow.

Although Johnny Depp tries his best to carry the film, and he's arguably one of the few bright spots about it. However, the sad reality is his character is really nothing more than a poor man's version of Jack Sparrow. Granted, the appearances of both characters, Tonto and Jack, are obviously different, as well as their origins. But make no mistake, Depp tries to portray Tonto as a Native American version of Jack Sparrow that seems more like a rip off than anything else.

Sure, it's been argued that the casting of Johnny Depp to play a Native American character was rather racist on Disney's part considering Johnny Depp is predominantly white. And to that, I have to say I couldn't agree more. It's definitely a racist move by Disney, as this part should've been played by either a full blooded Native American, or at least a half breed.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of these people that expects all fictional characters to be a hundred percent accurate to their source material whenever they're adapted to the big screen. Hell, I was one of the few people that didn't mind that Goku was being played by a white guy in "Dragonball Evolution." Granted, the film still sucked anyway, but that's another story.

However, I am a firm believer that you can change certain things about a character, as long as you stay true to the key essential elements that make that character who they are. You can get away changing something like the height, eye color and etc of the character. But, one of the key things about Tonto is that he's essentially Native American. Therefore, I'd have to agree with a lot of people that casting a white guy like Depp is a racist move by Disney; regardless of what anyone else says.

But barring his ethnicity credentials to play Tonto aside, I still found his character to be funny, and delightfully entertaining. I just wish his character had been a tad more original, but that's just me.

As far as the rest of the film goes, the story seems to follow the lore of the "Lone Ranger" fairly close; with a few minor changes here and there. For starters, the Lone Ranger doesn't believe in carrying guns throughout most of the film. In fact, it's something of a running gag throughout most of the movie, which inevitably leads to him carrying a damn gun.

And unlike most of the original portrayals of the "Lone Ranger", Tonto is the one narrating the story via "Princess Bride" style, as he tells this entire story to a small boy, who's a big fan of the "Lone Ranger" radio show.

Although I have to say these are nice subtle twists to the iconic mythos of the characters, the reality is the rest of movie is fairly forgettable. You have a rather weak and generic revenge plot to set up the hero; while featuring a villain that couldn't be anymore one dimensional if they even tried.

Not to mention, Armie Hammer gives off such a bland performance in this movie that it's hard to feel invested into his character. Although I will admit he does have a lot of great comedic moments with Johnny Depp, as they have a great rapport together. Plus, the scenes where Tonto tries to con the Lone Ranger various times are funny. However, it's when the film shifts to focus solely on developing the Lone Ranger, when Tonto is gone, is when we see Armie turn in a bland performance. Kind of sad too, as this could've been a two star film for me if he had put in a bit more effort.

Overall, I wouldn't go out of my way to say this is the worst western that I've ever seen, as that honor still goes to "Wild Wild West." The one starring Will Smith. Not the original TV show. However, I will say that this is arguably the most forgettable western that I've ever seen. The effects were great, and I have to say I was fairly impressed with the makeup and costume design for Tonto. Not to mention the parts where Tonto pokes fun at the Lone Ranger is funny.

But outside of those rare things, the rest of the movie is fairly generic, and bland for the most part. Unless you're just a die hard "Lone Ranger" fan, or just a huge Johnny Depp one, then chances are you probably won't like this movie. Definitely worth a miss at a rating of one and a half out of four.

Hans Zimmer's rendition of the classic "Lone Ranger" theme song. Enjoy

© 2014 Steven Escareno

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