The Lone Ranger is a series as old as TV itself and goes back even further than that. Disney hopes that The Lone Ranger can be their new pirates of the Caribbean franchise, but is that a good thing?
After his brother is murdered and he himself left for dead, John Reid takes up the role of The Lone Ranger – a masked vigilante - and joins forces with his native american friend Tonto as they ride for vengeance and uncover a corporate plot that has haunted Tonto since his youth.
I’m really not sure who The Lone Ranger is aimed at, fans of the original series are likely pushing up daisies so the next best bet is fans of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise as the film shares the swashbuckling antics of the Pirates films, albeit with cowboys and Indians.
The Bottom Line
Many of you are undoubtedly unaware of the heritage of The Lone Ranger a masked hero of the wild west with his trusty steed called Silver. It seems that Disney itself is also somewhat unaware as their modern day adaptation of the legendary hero is as far removed from his sterling past as Johnny Depp is from a Native American gene. The tale that began as a radio drama in the 1930s soon became one of the earliest television shows back in 1949. The Lone Ranger is as much a part of popular culture as it is part of American culture, so why then does the film feel completely unrelated to the character or even the series at large?
Simply put, I can only surmise that Disney felt the popularity of their Pirates of the Caribbean franchise waning and decided to follow up with another semi-historic tale just looking for the sequel treatment. Well the bad news is that like the Pirates series, The Lone Ranger has been helmed by none other than Gore Verbinski and Jerry Bruckheimer, two individuals responsible for the Pirates films. That’s not to say that the two are untalented hacks of the industry, they’re just very good at making lots of money out of whatever they happen to be working on together. With a budget of $250 million, I expected this from The Lone Ranger
Larger than life action set pieces
-Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow portraying a Native American
-Armie Hammer wondering around the set with no clue of how to portray the macho Lone Ranger character
-Plenty of Western Cliches as a frequent reminder that the film is set in the wild west
-A film that is more a brainless action fest than a Western
-Painfully underwritten female characters
-Running gags that aren’t funny at all
And for all of these expectations I was not disappointment, which is to say I was disappointed that film turned out the way it did. The one endearing quality of a Western is the romance between man and the wilderness, and the scenery of The Lone Ranger is simply breathtaking at that, however Verbinski just doesn’t seem to understand the underlying foundations of the Western. The Lone Ranger has more in common with the ill fated Wild Wild West than it does with a film like Unforgiven or even Django Unchained. Make no mistake, the film may have cowboys, horses and bandits but it is an action movie through and through with the setting of a Western.
There’s been some controversy as to the use of Johnny Depp as Tonto, he is after all a Caucasian and the make-up could be compared to that of the very taboo black face f the past. If anyone thinks that Johnny Depp is portraying anyone other than Jack Sparrow, they are sorely mistaken. Tonto may be an exiled Comanche tracker, but in the big screen debut of The Lone Ranger, Mr Depp just doesn’t have anyone fooled and if anything, white people should be insulted that he didn’t put more effort into his performance to prevent us from looking like a bunch of money hungry racists, because in all honesty the only conceivable reason I can imagine him doing this is as an excuse for a fat paycheck.
The only thing that The Lone Ranger has in common with its origin are the characters and the William Tell Overture by Rossini which was used as the music in the original series. The score of the film is equally uninspiring, with Hans Zimmer once again providing the bare minimum of effort required for a soundtrack. The majority of the music is a lazily assembled remix of the exhilarating finale of William Tell - to be honest, this is just Hans Zimmer robbing Disney and I bet he doesn’t feel the slightest bit of guilt.
The largest criticism I have of The Lone Ranger is by far its insane running time. The film is 149 minutes of retreaded story, yes that’s almost two and a half hours. The film could have easily been trimmed down to 90 minutes but in typical Bruckheimer fashion, a larger than life film should be accompanied by a larger than life running time. However, in order to increase the running time, the film’s pacing and story becomes maddeningly convoluted and delves into some non-linear storytelling that is simply excessive. The Lone Ranger required a straight forward, no-nonsense story, and even that they couldn’t get right.
With all this cynicism, surely there must be at least one redeeming factor that can elevate The Lone Ranger beyond its weaknesses? In all honesty, in spite of all its flaws, The Lone Ranger is an enjoyable film and very watchable. The strength of the film is tied to its action sequences which are stunningly well executed and have all the cliched traits of a cowboy movie. That said, The Lone ranger is more than a film about daring train robberies and firefights, its about the characters, and sadly the execs at Disney missed a great opportunity to develop and amazing franchise by playing it safe.