July 7, 2013

Movie Review: The Lone Ranger (2013)

The Lone Ranger is not a movie I can say I was all that excited for. Sure, some bits from the trailer looked kind of fun and I am generally a fan of Johnny Depp, but there was something about this that just felt off. It seemed as if they were banking too hard on the connections to the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy (not including that last one). It also seemed like Disney would have been much happier to push this as a Tonto/Johnny Depp movie rather than a Lone Ranger movie. Who is Armie Hammer anyway?

Well, I went anyway, far be it for me to not see a potential summer tent pole, blockbuster, franchise starter such as this. Now, on one hand, I just want to say just how meh the whole thing ultimately is, but I also feel just slightly compelled to defend the things I did like about it.

I understand the desire by studios to make big budget movies based on known characters to capitalize on a potentially built in audience, although I still think there is room for big budget original fare as well. I also understand the allure of putting a creative stamp on a reinvention of the familiar by creative types. Unfortunately, so many of them fall flat, are misguided, or simply change too much and lose who or what the original creation is. This is one of those that lost its way and while elements are entertaining, the sum definitely fails.

The tale is told in flashback by Tonto (Depp) who is now working as a living mannequin. It flashes back to the origin of how John Reid (Hammer) became the Lone Ranger. It mashes together a number villains, including Butch (William Finchtner), a railroad baron, and even the US Cavalry. Frankly, there were too many villains/story elements that needlessly padded the running time out to nearly two and a half hours, making the story overlong and unfocused.

Frankly, the story was rather inconsequential, or it could just be I didn't care. To me, the Lone Ranger is a family friendly character, but here the tale is not always so. For me, you have a bad guy cutting out a heart from a living person and eating it,just off camera. Was that really necessary? So you have that obvious bad guy, but then it becomes a shell game of who the real villain is and who you should be following. No, not complicated, but over stuffed.

I understand that this supposed to be a reinvention and a new telling of the origin, but it essentially turns the Lone Ranger into a buffoon. He is a face of good, but he is not a capable face for good. He is treated like more of a joke than a legitimate budding hero. Then there is Depp as Tonto, he has some fun moments, but is still treated like more of a joke, for reasons explained later on in the movie.

On the plus side, Depp is fun, even when stuck doing a lot of Depp-isms. Hover, probably the best part of the movie is e extended action sequence leading up to the finale. It is well staged, exciting, and edited well, unlike the rest of the movie

I would be lying if I said the movie did not entertain on some level, but the tone was all over the map, it did not feel true to the nature of the character, and the editing was rather sloppy during the first half of the film. Granted, I was not expecting much from this, but there was a lot of room for improvement.

Mildly Recommended.

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