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Disney's Lone Ranger rides high and mighty on the silver screen

Updated on June 25, 2013

Go see this movie!

Joe Southern gives "two silver bullets" for The Lone Ranger.
Joe Southern gives "two silver bullets" for The Lone Ranger.

Long wait for Lone Ranger was worth it

For eleven years – roughly a fourth of my life – I had waited for this moment. Ever since I took over The Silver Bullet newsletter and later created the Lone Ranger Fan Club, I have been hearing rumors and stories of a Lone Ranger movie being made.

As a professional journalist, I tracked down every lead and source I could find. I followed many a false start and rabbit trail to the same frustrating end. Finally, the House of Mouse came to my rescue, bringing the swashbuckling team that made the Pirates of the Caribbean movies to bear on my great, western hero.

Though I no longer own the fan club, I nonetheless continued to follow and swallow every morsel of Lone Ranger movie news I could scavenge online and elsewhere. Alas, the moment had come. My family got passes to a free screening of the movie a week in advance of its nationwide release. Years of contemplation and anticipation had climaxed and I was not disappointed.

Disney’s The Lone Ranger was far better than I had ever hoped it would be. This movie rocks and will undoubtedly be the surprise hit of the summer. I say this not only with the bias of being a huge Lone Ranger fan, but also with the bias of being a big fan of action and adventure movies.

In terms of fun, action and adventure, this movie ranks up there with the likes of Marvel’s The Avengers. It’s well written, pure escapism that will please most fans of yesteryear and create a new generation of fans moving forward. It would be an epic understatement to call this movie anything but … epic. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski do for The Lone Ranger what director J.J. Abrams did for Star Trek.

The story is told by an aged Tonto (Johnny Depp) to a small boy in a Lone Ranger outfit at a carnival in San Francisco in 1933. The tale begins and ends with trains and is a wild ride in between.

Without giving too much away, The Lone Ranger (Armie Hammer) and Tonto start out not liking each other and certainly not trusting each other. Both have a commanding sense or right and wrong and it takes them working together to bring about justice in the end. Heck, the two of them can’t even agree on what justice means. The conflicts between them lead to some humorous character-building moments that shed color on their black-and-white absolutes of good and evil.

John Reid (who becomes The Lone Ranger) begins as a naïve idealist but quickly wizens to the ways of the West. Tonto is a nut job on the trail of revenge who comes to peace with his own demons while helping forge the lawman into a legend.

SPOILER ALERT! If you don’t want to know details about the story, please stop reading here. Those of you still with me, let’s ride!

First of all, as exciting as the movie is, there are certainly some mystical moments that could have easily been left out without hurting the story. That includes the horse Silver standing in a tree, eating scorpions, and the appearance of some rather rabid, cannibalistic rabbits. To be sure, the word “spirit” is worn as raw as a saddle sore by the end of the movie.

On the other hand, there has never been as much action and breakneck pacing in any incarnation of The Lone Ranger before this. Gunfights, explosions, narrow escapes and situational comedy elevate this to a new level for an old friend. It pays homage to the source material and gently pokes fun at some of the more campy aspects of the legend. At first Reid feels ridiculous wearing the mask. It doesn’t hide his identity from those who know him, but it does keep those who don’t from learning who he is. The cry of “Hi-Yo Silver” is met with a funny response by Tonto.

Oh, and the bird on Tonto’s head, there is plenty of fun made at its expense, but it does play an important part in the movie. Once you know the story, the goofiness of it becomes forgivable.

The bad guys are perfectly portrayed by William Fichtner as Butch Cavendish and Tom Wilkinson as railroad baron Latham Cole. The two are secretly partners in a scheme to harvest vast amounts of silver and take over the intercontinental railroad. Cavendish plays the henchman role and does all the vile dirty work. Cole plays it straight as the respected, upstanding citizen.

There is plenty of violence in the film, though only one part gratuitously so. Cavendish has some cannibalistic tendencies and cuts out the heart of one of his victims to prove it. You learn to really hate Cavendish as the movie progresses. There is no misguided motivation for what he does and there is no sympathy to feel for him in the end.

During the climatic battle and train chase, however, you can’t help but cheer for the Lone Ranger and Tonto as they ride to the strains of the William Tell Overture. You don’t have to be a Lone Ranger fan for that to get your blood pumping. For us fans, however, it’s more than enough to make you want to shout Hi-Yo Silver and dash into action.

It is my sincere hope that Disney puts a sequel into motion quickly. Even though this one was worth the wait, I sure don’t want to go through another agonizing eleven years waiting for my masked hero to rescue me and whisk me away on another grand adventure.

Lone Ranger movie trailer

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