The Lone Ranger Movie Rides Again!
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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