Darke Reviews – The Lone Ranger
Before we begin this review I need to let everyone know that I went into this with very low expectations. After the trailers offered this up as “From the Producers/Director of Pirates of the Caribbean” I got worried. The last two and a half installments of PoC had moments of brilliance shrouded in bad comedy, bad drama and bad timing. That could be assuaged by a good cast and a solid script right?
Well this movie delivered on all my expectations, right at what I expected. Damn.
Remember a few weeks ago with World War Z when I said count the writers? Three. It makes me nervous. Two of them gave us all the previous PoC movies and a few others that show they like doing a whirlwind of locations and shots. The third still has me scratching my head as he wrote some seriously high drama before this such as Revolutionary Road, The Clearing – I Know I didn’t see them either. Sadly these writers in conjunction cannot deliver a gripping story that didn’t have me looking at my watch going “and then?”. I also had moments of “really, that’s what you went with?”;with I kid you not a feces joke and some urine jokes. God I wish I was kidding there.
Ok so the writing doesn’t do it. Maybe the directing will? Sadly no. It’s more of what we’ve come to expect from the PoC series, except not. The PoC series knew how to be fun through the opening credits to the roll of credits at the end. Most of the jokes worked there, the timing, all of it. Here, nearly none of it works. When SILVER is one of the most enjoyable characters of the film you have done something wrong.
I have only a little nostalgia for the Lone Ranger, his notoriety was coming to an end as my childhood was truly beginning. I remember many things from it in a dull haze of being a four-year old. What I don’t remember is the Lone Ranger giving a scream that would make a young girl look at him and go “how did you scream that high?” I do remember “Who was that masked man?” What I don’t remember is mocking his mask. I do remember Tonto actually being played by an Indian (Jay Silverheels). I do not remember Tonto making bad jokes, leering at women and otherwise acting completely insane.
Alright, I know some of you just went – But it’s Johnny Depp! He was approved by the Navajo and Comanche! That may be true. Depp is now only playing a caricature of a character. This is the Native American reincarnation of Captain Jack Sparrow with his odd mannerisms and disjointed way of speaking and truly bizarre facial expressions. So Tonto is front and center in this one more than our Lone Ranger. I don’t have fault with that. I do have fault with the joke that the character is. Granted, I am not Native American, I have no Native blood in me and am not as familiar with the history of The People as I probably could be. While Disney and Depp maintain he is played with respect to me the entire run of his performance seems to be a joke. It may be accurate, I can’t say, but it turned me off watching him.
What of the rest of the cast? Hmm. Armie Hammer (Social Network, Mirror Mirror and yes that’s his real name) seems like he doesn’t know how to play it and he wasn’t given good direction. He seems perpetually a fish out of water as both an actor and character and is somewhat uncomfortable to watch.
We are now 0 for 2 on the acting. Let’s talk about our villains. William Fitchner (he’s so awesome to list his films) is barely recognizable under his Jonah Hex makeup, but carries the most charisma of the film next to the horse that plays Silver (Arctic, yes I am giving the horse credits). That is a problem wouldn’t you think? There is also Tom Wilkinson (Batman Begins) as a railroad baron. He plays the part as we have seen in every western-sploitation flick so far. All Rail Road barons are mustache twirling asshats. Wilkinson doesn’t twirl the mustache that I remember but I may have dozed off in that scene. We also get Barry Pepper making a reappearance as a typical western Cavalry officer – see also: jerk.
Supporting cast? James Badge Dale as the Rangers brother is cursed to bad movies this year with World War Z and Iron Man 3 on his credits list. Third time was not a charm for him, though he himself wasn’t bad he played a stereotype to the T. The female lead (Ruth Wilson) and child (Bryant Prince) exist and that’s really all I can say. She apparently plays a character who is afraid of doors but not afraid of heights. If you see it you will know what I mean.
Even the style of storytelling of the film seems like they were trying too hard to make something and didn’t know what it was. The movie is told Princess Bride or Young Guns 2 style and sort of fails at it taking you out of the investment you were almost beginning to build.
Does the movie fail at everything? No. Thankfully. There are 20 minutes that don’t appear until the end of the film where I was truly smiling and entertained. I think at this point that the film makers realized how to make a fun movie again instead of a drawn out plodding mess we’ve seen a hundred times already in every western done in the past thirty years. For twenty whole minutes though I was a kid again with the William Tell overture playing and feeling like they respected the character they were making a movie of. They got it. For twenty minutes of a two and a half hour movie I had fun.
So where does that leave you?
I am telling you to pass on this one. Matinee, Full Price, Cheap Seats – Pass. Let Disney know that we deserve better than this retread.
If you absolutely must go see it, so be it. Maybe you will enjoy it more than I did and I hope you do. Some of the people in my theatre (all six of them) did seem to.
I of course as always welcome other people’s opinion on it if you do see it, but really Someone needs to take a silver bullet to this film.