The Lone Ranger (2013)

The Lone Ranger (2013)As promised and after all the build up and discussion I made it to see the much talked about and dragged through the mud The Lone Ranger (2013) which was not as disappointing as the critics would have you believe. Its more the lame horse that they just want to fail, just because it’s a re-teaming if Johnny Depp and director Gore Verbinski who had worked together on the Pirates of the Caribbean series that should have ended after Curse of the Black Pearl (2003). Still that’s another story.

Onto The Lone Ranger which is a reboot of the oldest franchise in history, that began in 1933, and cleverly worked into this origin story as we see a young boy at a fair meet the old and still weird Tonto (Depp) tell him the story of the beginning of The Lone Ranger. This adds some real depth to the western tale that could easily be built on truth, part of a wild-west show at a fair. Able to engage the younger audience who may never have seen or even heard of The Lone Ranger.

The first act is fast paced, introducing all the characters as John Reid (Armie Hammer) is coming into a Texan town as a lawyer, priding himself on the backbone of the law, doing anything he can to enforce it. Not what you would call a soon to be masked outlaw type of the wild west. Also on the train is the villain of the piece Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner) in chains alongside Tonto on their way to trial. This is the set-up for the first of the big train fights, something that is not to be missed. You can see where all the majority of the overblown $250 Billion budget has gone, the trains and massive set pieces such as this. These are what the film should be remembered for.

Then what begins is an overly long origin of the Lone Ranger, with his annoying sidekick Tonto, the Comanche with no tribe. Depps portrayal as I have been concerned about since learning of his role. Depp gives an overblown Deppesque portrayal of a Native American. At times he does have words of wisdom for the “wrong brother” who has been chosen to fight for justice. The Robin hood of the west.

Set during after the civil war, when the rail-road was beginning to really take hold across the country, the backdrop for this film. There are a number of homages throughout the film, from Monument Valley again taking the place of Texas which was beautifully captured. It will never be able to compete however with the grandiose of John FordTo the Comanche raid that referenced the family massacre in Once Upon a Time in the West (1968). The film-makers have indeed done their homework, just not refined what you see, throwing it all in there, with few revisions.

It feels like forever before we start to see things come together to see justice being dealt to Cavendish’s gang who have caused more trouble than we first saw at the beginning. Once again we are on the rail-road, with a hint of Indiana Jones as they all fight for freedom, justice and the truth. There’s a lot to take in, plenty of laughs for all ages to enjoy. It’s far from being the disaster that the critics want it to be. Everything is thrown in there for good and bad measure. For a reboot, it feels too long, trying to say too much at once. I’m glad I’ve watched it, but wish they had recast the lead roles, or at least toned down the wackyness of Depp who as the side-kick has top-billing, a first in film, whilst a whiny and unsuitable Hammer as the Lone Ranger tries his best in a role that is just not for him. If and when (which I doubt) they make a sequel I would be happy to see John Reid recast, not sure by who, just not Hammer who is more a supporting player. Was it worth the wait? Yes and no, It’s another rare western on the big screen whilst It should have been trimmed to be a tighter and more exciting film. It did treat the Native American’s more sensitively than I expected (bar Tonto) who even when they meet their conclusion is more profound than I imagined for a Blockbuster. It may not make it’s money back just yet, the screening I went too wasn’t even 1/4 full on a summer night, eventually it may break even.


18 responses

  1. Interesting post, I’m still unsure whether to see this as it seems to have been trashed by many.

    August 13, 2013 at 11:15 am

    • That’s the thing, the critics want it to fail, which it has at home, Europe loving Depp may save it (a bit). Give it a go, that’s what I say.

      August 13, 2013 at 11:18 am

  2. i like Depp – figure he’s pretty good at what he does. sometimes shines. can carry a movie. i hear he’s taken the criticism pretty bad – as the success of the movie is perceived at being largely on his shoulders. if money is what movies are about (and most popcorn movies are precisely about money) then TLR will likely be a failure. yet with DVD and World market it may recoup it’s money – guessed at being about $400 including marketing and all. i think it had some good moments … but loooonng.
    one thing i will say is this: i cannot understand the minds of movie makers. ?? for instane, every kid in the world will want to see this movie – yet it contains scenes like the dude ripping the guys heart out (was he munching on it too?). that (to me) is irresponsible, stupid and unnecessary. but typical these days. Have WE and kids become so desensitized this kind of shit even fizz on us anymore ??

    it’s not Art folks .. and despite it’s massive and high production values, it’s not even good movie making.

    August 19, 2013 at 9:15 am

    • Thanks for your comment. I think Depp is starting to burn out, already saying that he wants to retire, if he keeps playing the same role, well no wonder, he’s not being pushed to try new things.
      Sadly that’s what I am seeing more and more from Hollywood, it’s rare to get a film with a decent storyline that isn’t full of explosion, and more character driven, even Little Miss Sunshine which was a family comedy, it was a fresh take on the road trip genre.
      The DVD/Blu-ray sales will definetley help recoup more of the loss, they may break even by Christmas.
      Yeah it was long, for a family film it did go on more than a kids attention span can usually hold, I remember a kids film being no longer than the 90 mins mark and was still exciting.
      I agree on the cannibalism, that was a step too far, even for adult, for a 12A over here, which is mild or brief violence/gore for kids to watch (with their parents) maybe pushing the mark a bit. Not a high point for me either.
      I think if we want what is lacking we have to look for independent films for something really worthwhile, or even a wacky director who has more creative freedoms than the likes of the Gore Verbinski’s of the world.

      August 19, 2013 at 9:35 am

  3. Right U R. Seems it falls mainly to the Independent film makers to make anything worthy. Yet even they cannot afford a flop – as movies – even small ones – cost a lot of loot to make. And if you want to employ a Star, that’s a big price tag just for starters. It’s the cost of movies that creates the problem. Then you also need marketing and distribution …
    With all this, it’s amazing that anything of value emerges. But somehow it does.
    Happy viewing.

    August 19, 2013 at 9:53 am

    • I think some actors are prepared to work for less, the likes of Will Smith et al are not going to drop their salary. Woody Allen has just worked with Alec Baldwin on a budget of less than $50million. It seems there is a need even for the artists themselves to work with better material. Whilst others just wont settle for less than that.
      There’s a glimmer of hope.

      August 19, 2013 at 10:10 am

      • Guys like Willis, Clooney, Pitt seem to have a pattern. They make one ‘commercial movie’ – then one Art film or personal project. Hopefully the personal project is also successful money wise – but not always. They know full well their ability to do such things is dependent upon their success and ‘pull’ from commercial ventures. Clooney and PItt have been smarter and done what others have attempted in the past – gone into Producing and Directing for themselves – trying to take matters into their own hands and call their own shots. They aren’t depending on what someone may offer them – or not. Guys like Stallone have had to do this (and done so very successfully – despite what we may think of their products). When your Star falls and nobody’s knocking – and this happens to many in Hollywood – they can still make something happen for themselves. Bravo.
        “Rocky 18”? “Rocky and Rambo vs the Expendables”??

        August 19, 2013 at 9:36 pm

      • Yes, it’s an old trick which has seen some gems made, and good for them, I am hoping to watch Clooney’s The American, which I started but couldn’t finnish (recording issue) It’s great to see that the artist can work independently within Hollywood. When you have the clout and luck, you can do anything you set your mind to. Thats where the great stuff is coming from for me and many others who are disenfranchised with mainstream Hollywood. For Example , i have only seen a few films this summer that are blockbusters, I want more films like The Company you Keep by Robert Redford. There is hope, and good film-making going on, you just have to seek it out.

        August 20, 2013 at 6:07 pm

      • Redford ! Good call. Even started his own film festival (Sundance) – mainly to promote smaller ‘outside the box’ films.. ironic in a way because this is a guy who personified the term ‘Movie Star’ – but even his so-called commercial films were quality movies that said something.
        The American is a decent movie – not your regular spy fodder. Clooney is almost a Redford clone – a guy who could make it on his looks and Star Power alone – if he wanted to. But can also act – and wants to make quality products.
        Most of anything coming out of Hollywood is formula stuff. That’s why there is such an avalanche of remakes – safe projects that have some proven track record for making money – but sadly rarely duplicate the quality or inspiration of the original – yet try to cover that up with Star Power and modern production values – and special effects. Welcome to OZ and the Lone Ranger. We don’t like that, but unfortunately movies cost a lot to make and the potential to make make many millions back is there. Strange in a way because on TCM most of the films are from the old studio system – though we see some crafted work. Of course, we forget that for every Classic, there were 2 dozen formula pieces of garbage shovelled out.
        Onward !

        August 20, 2013 at 10:14 pm

      • I agree with you, Although I see Clooney more as a Cary Grant type, but yeah I see where your coming from. I’m glad there are these sorts of film festivals, gives hope and a space for the more exciting less safe bets.
        I think Hollywood is afraid of taking a risk like it did years ago. I think the Cleopatra’s and Titanic’s have really scared them off from really pushing the envelope.
        I wrote my dissertation on special effect, they just destroy anything you can really believe in. No wonder there are problems in the CGI community, who are heavily relied upon.
        I’m glad TCM exist, allows you to escape from the regularity of the blockbuster to something more crafted, even though back then in the studio system, they worked their artists hard.

        August 21, 2013 at 6:30 pm

  4. My lady and I were sitting here the other night watching trailers for upcoming movies. It was very discouraging – many ‘Special Effects’ movies with giant dragons flying around and the like – completely unnecessary, over-the-top crud. Jeff Bridges is getting a rude lesson, After the atrocious RIPD (I had to flinch when I saw the trailer for that) he’s coming out with yet another weird special effects formula: The Seventh Sun. Watch the trailer and you’ll see what I mean. Guess he can’t refuse the loot since he won Oscar. I do see one movie that shows some promise called ‘In a World’. Of course there are plenty of smaller movies coming out all the time that don’t get the marketing – have to watch for them.
    Thanks for your responses.
    Titanic? I hear Cameron is working to 2 sequels to Avatar. ?? Now that was a huge special effects production that actually worked.

    August 21, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    • I know what you mean, they become a blur after a while, there’s nothing really for the eye to engage with that’s real. May get some good films in the winter in the lead up to Oscars. I prefer Bridges as the Lebowski if anything. I heard that he has 3 three sequels, not really sure what he can really do, the first was a 3D spectacle, that worked on an experiential level. But it was just Dances with Wolves/Pochantas in space when all said and done. Doing that 3 more times is just destined to fail, the money he made will be ploughed back into these and lost.
      I’m really enjoying this conversation too.

      August 21, 2013 at 9:44 pm

  5. You’re Right … gonna take some really inspired writing to come up with something of equal quality for Avatar.
    Bridges .. liked all those Bridges guys – going back to Lloyd. Lloyd was in 2 Western Classics: High Noon and the Rainmaker (Lancaster and Hepburn). Could always count on them doing – or at least attempting – quality stuff.

    September 4, 2013 at 8:39 am

    • I really want to see The Rainmaker, High noon is just amazing. I think Jeff’s latest film RIPD is destined to fail somehow, the premise is a hit and miss to be honest.
      Lets hope the 3 Avatars are straight to DVD and don’t do much damage. I know that I lost interest in the film as soon as I bought it on DVD, I realised it was about the 3D, which without, is nothing, but how can you keep going back to do more, without repeating yourself after the aliens fought for freedom, it feels quite final. They maybe going for a prequel angle, which would loose the Jake Sully. I just don’t see it working

      September 4, 2013 at 11:22 am

  6. Cameron is an interesting guy … always seems to be going against the grain … and pulling it off. Most of his productions are mucho expensive though (The Abyss; Titanic; Avatar) so they better succeed. Maybe, if anybody can pull it off, it’s him. There have been a few Film Series that have succeeded: Star Wars and Harry Potter come to mind. But most are weak – even if they make money. I must confess to you that I have never been able to sit through Titanic … and I hated Rocky and all it’s follow-ups from the ‘get go’. I remember Harris saying how furious he was with Cameron on the set of the Abyss – as some of the stuff he had to do was very dangerous. Sorry – I’m jumping all over the place here.!! LOL. I just drop in here once a week to absolve my sins.
    Oh ‘The Rainmaker’ – a really great film, great cast, great performances. The part of Starbuck seemed to be made for Lancaster who agreed to do ‘Gunfight at the OK Corral’ upon condition that he get this part. From the stage play the movie translated nicely to one of the great ‘feel good’ movies of all time. Works for me anyway.

    September 4, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    • I just think Cameron, with all his success is really clutching at straws, he had immense success with Avatar but he should move on. Be happy with what he has achieved and do something new.
      Never knew The Rainmaker was based on a play. it’s one of the rare westerns with Hepburn, who is always a treat to watch. Lancaster is full of macho passion that boils over all the time at just the right temperature. I feel his best performance was Elmer Gantry.

      September 4, 2013 at 5:13 pm

  7. Gantry was awesome … very controversial in it’s day. Adult stuff. I recall my parents taking me to it and, as a kid, i just didn’t ‘get it’. Not a kid’s movie. Lancaster was a maverick and liked to do topical off beat stuff: The Swimmer; Local Hero … He coulda just been a movie star and raked in the loot, but he wanted more than that.. And achieved it.

    September 5, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    • Couldn’t agree more, There are so many of his films I have yet to watch, he just keeps on giving as an actor to new generations.

      September 5, 2013 at 10:03 pm

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