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After all the reported production ills facing The Lone Ranger, mixed with less than enthusing marketing all signs pointed to Lone Ranger becoming the 2013 John Carter (of Mars). Ranger might not be as bad as its long gestating IP cousin. That doesn't mean The Lone Ranger is good either. Ranger is watchable, at times enjoyable campy adventure film. Sadly, those moments have to end with the majority of the film being the best example of terrible, soulless, designed by committee, style blockbuster cinema. The film is overstuffed with action sequences, stringing together the shoestring plot. It is a solid 20 minutes too long. Everything in this movie is designed to be four quadrant and inoffensive to the max.
I am left with a void where my feelings on this movie should be. I don’t hate it, it isn’t worth it. I definitely don’t like it. I’m just left emotionally speechless, which is the worst thing any work of art can do.
The Lone Ranger was originally a radio drama in the 1930’s, eventually spawning a long lasting television series, comic books, regular books, and merchandise. He’s an American icon and an early indicator of the transmedia potential of creative properties. Here’s the thing, The Lone Ranger was played largely straight. It was an action adventure western for sure but it knew what it was and stuck to it. The Lone Ranger(2013) doesn’t know what it is. Is it a action buddy comedy? Not really, Reid and Tonto aren't really buddies. Is it a western blockbuster? Not really, despite some nice early shots. It is just a mish mash of film characteristics that you’d expect from the producers of the Pirates franchise among other things.
This is an origin story for The Lone Ranger. How the country turned book-learnin city boy John Reid, came back to his dusty hometown. Went into a canyon with his brother and his Texas Ranger friends, and got all shot up. And came back as a masked man seeking justice. Than the film takes a turn where it apes the conspiracy from The Mask of Zorro. All of these things aren’t really important, since they aren’t really emphasised. White Man is greedy. White Man want silver. Sums it up way to well. Just sit back and watch how everything just turns into an action sequence of some kind or another. There are moments where the film jumps back to an elderly Tonto recounting his adventures with The Ranger. These moments poke fun at the nature of storytelling but never does anything with it like Call of Juarez: Gunslinger.
No one cared who Johnny Depp was until he put on the hat. Sure he had a solid cult and critical following but with his role as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl he became a super bankable box office draw. With the success and money found from in those types of films, Depp has largely stuck to big blockbuster fair for the past decade. Going from vehicle to vehicle acting “quirky” and like the mainstream expects from a character played by Johnny Depp. He has turned into self parody at this point. As Tonto, Depp hits all the same weird notes except this time it looks like he actively just does not care at all. There is some solid physical comedy in this film. Most of it found in the idiosyncratic movements of Tonto. Other than that this is the most uninspired Depp preformance.
The titular Ranger, Armie Hammer, not that you’d know from some of the posters makes the best out of a bad situation. Playing up the camp aspects of the script, acting a clueless buffoon trying to play action hero. Lone Ranger has all the makings of a launching pad for Hammer. If the film makes solid returns at the box office perhaps he can escape from becoming the next Taylor Kitsch.
Ranger has a solid and underused supporting cast. William Fichtner gets the best draw thanks to chewing scenery as the cannibalistic Butch Cavendish. Tom Wilkinson and Ruth Wilson (Luther) are both relegated to one dimensional roles. The latter the kind of creepy object of affection for Reid. Helena Bonham Carter shows up too, because this is exactly the type of movie that would cast her just to put her in the trailer.
Director Gore Verbinski and cinematographer Bojan Bazelli know how block out an action sequence. Which is probably why the film eventually devolves into action piece after action piece. These moments are mostly watchable and even a bit entertaining. There is a certain degree geographic discontinuity to how things work but there is a built in excuse for that.
This is a watchable totally forgettable piece of entertainment. It’ll probably bring the box office returns of a movie that no one tells their friends to see. You shouldn’t go see it. The Lone Ranger is just an excellent example of soulless blockbuster cinema. It is expected to make Disney $400 million at least and with that kind of money on the line the studio and producers couldn’t risk alienating anyone.
Mike Mazzacane can be found on Twitter @MaZZM and at mazzz.net In thoes places he wonders who has better hot wings, BWW or Hooters. How bad or good the Disney Channel movie Teen Beach Movie (no really that's what it is called). What if Will Macavoy was found by Tonto in the desert. How would Aaron Sorkin write Tonto a "big speech"
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