1. What’s it about?
The Lone Ranger, opening today, is the latest revisit to the radio western serial of the 1930s. It’s pure origin story as director Gore Verbinski tells how the Masked Man came to be. Along with his Native American sidekick, Tonto, the two work together to fight greed and corruption and combat bad guys on multiple runaway trains.
2. Will I like it?
Doubtful. I thought The Lone Ranger was an overly long disjointed mish-mash of action scenes sandwiched between unbelievable CGI sequences. As you could probably tell from Johnny Depp’s top billing, it’s really more of a movie about Tonto and the plot suffers because of it. Overall the movie tries to be a western, an action movie, a buddy flick, a slapstick, and a goofy comedy. Resultantly, it feels awfully schizophrenic.
There are some bright spots. William Fichtner’s turn as a seemingly Jonah Hex-inspired Butch Cavendish is devilishly good and, at times, the Hans Zimmer soundtrack flirts with a hint of a just-slightly-out-of-tune score from an Ennio Morricone Spaghetti Western, which is delightful. I wish the entire soundtrack had mirrored those choices. But the best part of the movie was when the finale of Rossini’s “William Tell Overture” began to swell during in an action sequence toward the end of the film. It was the only time during the movie that the audience got really excited.
However, the bad outweighs the good. They’ve tried hard to recapture the essence of The Pirates of the Caribbean and come up well short. Depp’s Tonto comes off as quirky, but not in a good or funny way most of the time. Armie Hammer’s John Reid/Lone Ranger seems more of an after-thought, as if he was wedged into the script after the fourth draft, and the movie is consistently punctuated by scenes that were possibly supposed to be humorous, but just come off as weird. (If you take a chance on this movie, keep an eye out for a tree climbing horse and a warren of rabbits that will remind you of the Rabbit of Caerbannog. Like I said — weird.)
Verbinski’s interpretation of the old west with herds of buffalo, laccoliths, canyons, and a glaring sun is picture-perfect and a treat to watch. At two and a half hours there’s plenty of everything — and that’s mostly where The Lone Ranger fails. Like a cowboy stew, where everything available is thrown in a pot and boiled, The Lone Ranger is a disjointed collection of scenes in a movie that’s unsure what it is meant to be.
3. Will my kids like it?
It’s hard to say. There were a lot of kids at the screening I went to, and for much of the movie they were engaged. The movie is loaded with action scenes and that will keep a kid’s attention for a while, but the movie goes on for two and a half hours and, by the end of the film, plenty of the kids in the audience were standing up and walking around, talking to each other, and not watching the movie.
One hundred and forty nine minutes is a long time to keep a child’s attention, but the chases and gunfights should go a long way toward keeping them engaged. Johnny Depp’s Tonto, while certainly no Jack Sparrow, is enough of a clown; kids will probably pay attention when he’s on the screen, which is often. Still, I don’t see The Lone Ranger as being a big kid favorite.
4. When’s the best time to use the bathroom?
At purt near two and a half hours, this here movie’s a bladder buster, pardner. But there’s more’n one time for you to go see a man about a horse. About 30 minutes into the movie, when the Lone Ranger, errr, John Reid meets Rebecca Reid for the first time; an hour and 15 minutes in, after the scene with the burning barn; and just before the two hour mark, when they make it to the silver mine — all make good opportunities to git out to the necessary.
5. Are there any good trailers?
At my screening, there were just two, but both I’d not seen before. First there was the sperm bank comedy remake called Delivery Man, starring Vince Vaughn. (Nothing too far out of line for kids in the trailer.) The other was for the Marvel sequel Thor: The Dark World, which looks great.
6. Should I stay after the credits?
At the end of the movie, the credits begin to roll. After a minute or two there’s a surprise scene, one that builds on the ending of the film and continues to run until the credits are complete. Once you get the gist of what’s going on, there’s no need to stay. There’s no further dialogue or anything more to the scene than what you see at the beginning of it.
7. How does it compare to previous versions of The Lone Ranger?
Since Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels took the big (and small) screen and set the standard for The Lone Ranger, there have been several attempts at recapturing the magic: one television movie, one big screen version, and the latest adaptation. None have been able to replicate the success of Moore & Silverheels, and Verbinski’s Masked Man is every bit as bad as the previous tries. On the upside, you can sometimes catch Moore & Silverheels on afternoon cable.
8. Is it as bad as the reviews are saying?