The Lone Ranger
HitFix Critics' Reviews
DJohnny Depp and Gore Verbinski made pirates cool again, but don't expect them to pull off the same trick with westerns, thanks to their ugly, grim, over-violent reboot of 'The Lone Ranger'
BWrite a short review (optional).There's a reason films like The Lone Ranger get released in the summer. You venture into the theater to get out of the heat, and hopefully to be entertained. And though this one won't be on anyone's Oscar ballot, it's certainly a fun, action-packed, family western. I even think Disney pushed the "family" limits a bit with the Lone Ranger pistol whipping a guy across the mouth multiple times, and the, shall we call it, Hannibal Lecter scene. My biggest fear was director Gore Verbinski. It's been a long time since he directed Mousehunt, one of my favorites. And though the first Pirates of the Caribbean film was good, the more recent installments left me more confused than anything. But Verbinski is back, and The Lone Ranger is even more fun than the first Pirates movie. The Lone Ranger is framed with an elderly Tonto (Johnny Depp) telling the story to a kid at a Wild West show. We see immediately that Tonto is a few horses shy of a dozen. This makes him an unreliable narrator, which gives the story leeway to be as crazy as it wants to. So when a horse climbs into a tree and people fall ten stories onto a pile of rocks, only to get up and run away, it all makes sense, because none of it has to. The story is set in Colby, Texas, 1869. The villainous Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner) is coming in chains to Colby to be hung. Tonto is on the same train, also in chains. His crime is simply being an Indian, or so he tells us. Also on board is John Reid (Armie Hammer). He's the district attorney and brother to a Texas Ranger in Colby. This train scene is the first of many action set pieces to follow, three of which involve trains, which is appropriate since the story revolves around them, more specifically the completion of the transcontinental railroad. Reid eventually becomes the Lone Ranger, has some revenge to enact, and he and Tonto hit the trail. Though the title suggests differently, this is Tonto's story. He is the last of the Comanche wendigo hunters. According to Tonto, a wendigo is a type of spirit monster with a taste for human flesh that throws nature out of balance wherever it goes. And according to Tonto, Butch is a wendigo. It's an interesting supernatural spin on the western story, and with Tonto spinning the yarn, it remains to be seen how true it is or isn't. Johnny Depp does a really nice job creating yet another memorable character. I felt they could have developed the Lone Ranger a bit more, but as my wife said so well, "The Lone Ranger is the ecru canvas for the modern art painting that is Johnny Depp." Tonto and the Lone Ranger even share a horse through the whole film. It's as if the Lone Ranger needs to hold on to Tonto or risk disappearing in his own film. The Lone Ranger was shot in a variety of great western locations. From Monument Valley, Arizona to Durango, Colorado. None of it looks like Texas, but that's okay, since there is doesn't appear to actually be a Colby, Texas anyway. I was waiting for some western homages, and while you could make a case that The Searchers, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Buster Keaton's The General all show up in one form or another, they all pass by too quickly to even be considered. Sure, the film is a little too long and there are a few too many situations that could've been resolved if people had simply pulled the trigger instead of making speeches. But there's a lot of western fun to be had, and with Tonto driving the train, so to speak, the complete insanity of the final train-bound CGI spectacle is worth it. And if the William Tell Overture happens to be playing, all the better. www.douginthedark.com