A lone movie will make you laugh, cry, cheer, gasp, and hang on the edge of your seat this summer: The Lone Ranger.
2013 | 2 hrs 29 minutes | Dir. Gore Verbisnki | Walt Disney Pictures | Rotten Tomatoes’ Rating: ★½ | My Rating: ★★★★½
From the screenwriting and directing team that brought us Pirates of the Caribbean comes an odyssey as original and entertaining as the original Pirates.
The film begins with a youngster dressed as the Ranger pondering Tonto, who resides in a diorama at a fair. Spurred by the crunch of popcorn, Tonto comes to life and tells the child the legend of the Lone Ranger.
Armie Hammer plays John Reid, better known as the Lone Ranger. Until now, audiences know Hammer best as the Winklevii in Facebook biopic The Social Network. Johnny Depp plays Tonto, who wears a dead crow on his head and constantly mutters to himself. Silver the horse gives an Oscar- worthy performance as Silver the horse. The story begins when John Reid returns to his hometown of Colby, Texas, to serve as district attorney.
The bad guy of our tale is called Butch Cavandish (William Fichtner), a deformed and terrifying outlaw with a taste for human flesh. The town of Colby intends to hang Cavandish and usher in a law- abiding future, just in time for the trans- continental railroad’s completion. Before he reaches justice, Cavandishs’ posse breaks him out of the jail car and terrorizes a group of Presbyterians. John rushes to save the day, but his aversion to killing people leads to Butch’s escape. John meets Tonto, and the pair make their first of several speeding train escapes.
The first half of the movie plays like your traditional Western. Good guys (Tonto, John & posse) pursue bad guys (Butch & posse) in the American desert (which is WAY too photogenic to be Texas; credits reveal that Disney shot the film in Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona). We learn that Butch Cavandish is a REALLY bad guy. He and his group ambush the Texas Rangers, tragedy ensues, and John is christened the Spirit Walker by Tonto. He cannot be killed in battle. But, John’s natural inclination to try arresting people rather than shoot them gets him into trouble. As the second half of the movie unfolds, the first half is turned on its head. Characters are not who we think they are. Everybody changes, even the Ranger himself.
Disney made the American West look as romantic and authentic as possible. The film opts for old- fashioned horse chases, derailed trains, rugged American landscapes and damn good story for thrills. The special effects look amazing; The Lone Ranger won an Oscar for visual effects. The ending will have you lose faith in humanity only to have in restored again by the Ranger, a classic American hero. Armie Hammer, the real- life grandson of American petroleum tycoon Armand Hammer, is a total hunk to boot. Plus, The Lone Ranger is not entirely historically inaccurate. The script deals with mistrusted Indians, Chinese immigrant workers and Gilded Age greed at an elementary level.
In addition to balancing action, story, and character development, The Lone Ranger has great cinematic value as well. One of the film’s most memorable shots has Butch Cavendish eating a human heart. Most movies would have no problem exploiting something so grisly. The Lone Ranger shows the act subtly reflected on a character’s cornea in a way that’s totally Hitchcock- and totally terrifying.
Despite its many virtues, critics buried the The Lone Ranger. Critics panned the film for being unoriginal, expensive, and one- dimensional. After seeing the film, I feel like their hate is totally unwarranted. It’s like they reviewed the movie without seeing it.
At least The Lone Ranger tried bringing something fresh and exciting to our cinema screens. Maybe it did feel like Pirates of the Caribbean in Western garb, but am I the only one who forgot how damn good The Curse of the Black Pearl was? If you crave a good story, great cinematography and outstanding special effects, skip the superheroes and check out The Lone Ranger instead. It was stupid expensive to make, but it’s worth every penny.