The Lone Ranger Movie Rides Again!

The end of the movie-almost.
The end of the movie-almost.
The wooden leg shot gun
The wooden leg shot gun

To date, most of the movie reviews for Disney's Lone Ranger have been mediocre. They note how the movie is a Johnny Depp movie (he plays Tonto, the Indian), how the structure, theme, and screenplay are in need of coherence to some degree. They even state Depp is like using the Jack Sparrow character persona in Tonto.

So, I was hesitant in spending money to see it. Now, I am old enough to have seen the TV series on reruns in the 60's, so I know something to compare it to and know how Tonto and the Lone Ranger interacted. In some ways, that is a good and bad thing. It is good because this movie does capture the flavor, especially the slightly dry humorous side of Tonto. Depp does is it well. But, I can see the Jack Sparrow comparison enters into it- after all, they made four movies of the Pirate movie. The bad thing is that I do have something to compare it to! Now, if you know little about the Lone Ranger and his sidekick, Tonto, it is still a good movie. Not great, but easily three stars out of five.

At 2.5 hours long, the movie is a campy yet serious version. The villain is truly gnarly to look. Tonto is less of the type of Indian I recall, he feeds a dead crow that adorns his headdress. He is witty, dry, Comanche. Now, the original Tonto was also, just less so. Depp is funny. I wonder how many takes they had to do to keep a straight serious face?

Armie Hammer (who?) plays the Lone Ranger, he does it as if he is on the job training because we learn he begins as an attorney going to the wild west to prosecute with justice. His brother is a marshall there and for the first time, even I learned, why he turned rogue, put on a mask to be the Lone Ranger. He does so because in a chase, the posse is ambushed and everyone is shot in a "Bonnie & Clyde-like" bloody scene. It goes on for sometime. The viewer sighs relief when its over. He survives and hence-revenge. In the TV show, he just was always the Lone Ranger getting the bad guys. While he survives, it is Tonto that saves him from vultures. Again, the TV show never showed why they became a team.

Like any western, there are plenty of nasty gunfights, the railroad and bad guys exploiting locals for silver, and William Fitchner makes for a VERY nasty, ugly as sin, adversary throughout the movie. You also gotta love, Helen Bonham Carter's 007-like wooden leg that she uses quite well as a shot gun at key times to help the Lone Ranger.

A couple of scenes linger as you leave the movie, like, when the workers are refusing to enter a dark cave to complete the railroad. They think it is sacred. So, when the bad guy forces one to enter to prove it is nothing and he does not come out, another person and another person are sent in, all killed by Tonto inside. It is funny because Tonto sends out a small metal container on the tracks loaded with lit dynamite. As it rolls out, the bad boys open fire but nothing happens. As they approach and peek in- surprise! Of course, the five minute ambush scene is a massacre for the posse. Its like a Bonnie & Clyde with horses and the posse never sees where it is coming from. One of the more serious moments in film.

Filmed in Arizona, the cinematography and vistas are stunning, that is another. Of course, there are some shorter campy scenes that will have the audience laughing that only Depp could make work. However, the stunning surprise that no reviewer has mentioned is the climactic 10 minute or so train chase scene just like those in the TV shows but longer.As I sat there, it was like watching those very old silent movies because despite the action, sound, there was very little dialogue. Most of the story was suddenly told through facial expressions.The sound of the runaway train is classic western expertly pulled off in this film like no other until the very climactic crash. Of course, the Lone Ranger is galloping his white horse on top of the train towards the villain and his love (Ruth Wilson). Tonto is trying to stop it or disconnect the cars. All along, even in this suspenseful segment, there are some funny moments-little things that lighten it up. Throughout the long segment, the theme to the Lone Ranger is blaring over and over, building into a crescendo when the rogue cars and the train collide and then the bridge over the cavern is blow. Like I said, very little dialogue is spoken yet the facial expressions carry it! Very cool.

As I watched it, or watched Depp play Tonto, I tried to think what other actor could, the only one I kept seeing was Charlie Chaplin because of the dry sense of humor. As to playing the Lone Ranger, I wonder what other actors they had auditioned. Armie was okay, but for such a blockbuster film costing $250,000,000, the actor should have been well known.

In the end, see it. It IS worth the $8 and it is epic. It is campy, funny and then deadly serious. The time just galloped by!

"Hi Ho Silver" the Lone Ranger screams. To that, Tonto looks dead serious, "Don't do that again". Love it!


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Comments 6 comments

Jayfort 3 years ago

Much like the previously released Man of Steel film, the approach taken to the characters in The Lone Ranger has left me cold. I had zero intention of seeing MOS and TLR and will not see them. Sorry, if they can't be true to the characters and portray them correctly, they should not make new films "about" them. It's like we're dumbing down our heroes for each successive generation, instead of teaching those generations to step UP!

TLR is indeed a Johnny Depp film with the Ranger in it much the same as Superman III was a Richard Pryor film with Superman tossed in. I have no patience with such and will not support them with my hard earned dollars!


kschang profile image

kschang 3 years ago from San Francisco, CA, USA

Seen the film, don't see why it's universally panned. I think part of the problem is the actors attempted to treat the subject material VERY seriously. There's virtually NO laughter and smiles (except very restrained smiles) in the movie that I recall. And all the seriousness with a few bits of sitcom was taken by people to be "mockery" and silliness when it wasn't MEANT to be.

All my research shows that the subject material was done with reference to virtually ALL of Lone Ranger's lore, from posse to brothers to Tonto, even lawyer (though that's from "Legend of the Lone Ranger") with the proper background on cavalry, railroad, Commanche, and so on weaved in with proper historical reference, and even has the Chinese railroad workers.

So I guess my question to all the "critics"... What exactly did the movie got wrong? Jayfort kept referring to "approach taken to the characters in TLR left me cold" and "we're dumbing down our heroes". What exactly was dumbed down? Or is it that TLR is a "lost cause" in that it's SUCH an iconic figure that no movie can EVER do it justice, much like Superman?


Jayfort 3 years ago

I've been looking for the proper framework for my point and I think you've found it. You say the film was done "done with reference to" the Lone Ranger lore. I'm not talking "reference" but "reverence" in being true to the characterization. Think of your favorite song, with each note in place and the artist giving each note its emotion. Now image another artist taking the same song, altering the flow and the emotion, a little higher here, a little lower there. Same title, same notes but the song just isn't the same.

I've had people ask if I want the same thing over and over. No, I don't. You can have the same character with different stories, different events in their lives, watch them evolve in how they respond to adversity. But treat the character with reverence.

Jeff Rubinov, formerly of Warner Brother, said a few years ago after the success of Batman Begins, that WB needed to make the DC Comics characters darker in the movies. That may work for Batman, but Superman is not about darkness. Totally different characterization. Jon Peters, producer of Superman Returns, spent years trying to bring a version of Superman to the screen that had little to do with Superman. (Look up Superman Lives online.) Bryan Singer finally got Peters to understand the character, then they still messed it up (on so many levels) with Superman Returns.

I believe in the heroic ideal. I know such an outdated concept. Or is it that we've allowed our idea of what is heroic to be eroded over time. Instead of characters we can admire, we've found it easier to have character we can relate to.


peoplepower73 profile image

peoplepower73 3 years ago from Placentia California

We saw the movie last night. It was campy like Blazing Saddles and had the bickering and slap stick of an old Laurel and Hardy movie. I laughed throughout most of the movie. The special effects and scenery were amazing. It also showed how the whole Lone Ranger ensemble came into being, except Tonto had a horse called Scout which was never shown in the movie.

The little boy talking to the old Tonto in the museum really didn't add to the movie, except at the very end as the credits were rolling the old man Tonto walks off into the sunset with beautiful mountains in the background.

I thought Johnny Depp did a great job. I didn't care that he was Jack Sparrow in Indian garb. I thought it was a great movie and the writing was very clever. Thanks for this hub. Voting up, funny, and sharing.


perrya profile image

perrya 3 years ago Author

well, watching a movie is such a subjective thing. I doubt if there will be a lone ranger two because this movie really summed up all their adventures, IMO. It was hard to tell whether some scenes were meant or not to be funny, campy or mockery. But, that was also in the old TV show. The TV series had the ranger as always serious and fighter against good. This movie makes the LR more realistic in that, we find a guy who stumbles into the role when his brother is killed, he survives, and Tonto rescues him. He's a lawyer now a ranger and for him, learning on the job. It was a surprise to me when the gnarly adversary and the railroad king were brothers and their plot to control the RR and get the silver. I would not equate this to Blazing Saddles because that movie was stupid, this has humor, but it has some intense serious moments especially the ambush and climatic train chase. That is the LR at his best together with the iconic theme blaring and little dialogue just action. For me, I am sick of Batman and Superman. Man of steel was not bad, but earlier versions are better. the Wolverine looks good. Yet, this just shows that one cannot a movie review in print as the final word. I am glad I ignored the negative spins and comparisons.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 3 years ago

The reviews have listed this as a B or lower movie rating. I was wondering how others viewed the film. From your sharing, I think it is still worth seeing. I loved Depp as Jack Sparrow and in The Tourist. I think I will take in the matinee. Thanks for the review and will share so others can see what it is about.

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