The Lone Ranger

The Lone Ranger is a frustrating movie. At times good, solid western flick, at others mind-numbingly silly, and at other times far too over the top, it has plenty to offer to everyone but it’s not fully coherent and Johnny Depp needs to take a role that doesn’t require hours of makeup. His Tonto is boring and vapid.

You might enjoy The Lone Ranger if you liked:
Pirates of the Caribbean 2 & 3
Rango
Spaceballs
Rhustler’s Rhapsody

… but no promises.

If you prefer movies that don’t have nonsensical scenes of animals being silly and over-the-top, totally fabricated and pointless explosion scenes, you might want to give The Lone Ranger a pass.

Here’s a trailer:

The deets:

Released July 3, 2013

Written by Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott, and Terry Rossio

Directed by Gore Verbinski

Starring Helene Bonham-Carter, Ruth Wilson, Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, William Fichtner, Barry Pepper, Tom Wilkinson, James Badge Dale, and Stephen Root.

Rated: PG-13

*     *     *     *     *

Story

The story of The Lone Ranger is simple. A clean-cut DA (Hammer) is returning to his frontier hometown where his brother is sheriff and his former flame is his brother’s wife. A railroad tycoon (Wilkinson) will stop at nothing to bring his railroad progress along. A Union army captain (Pepper) shows up for some reason or another. Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) stars as a nutter of an Apache  who wears a bird for a hat is able to show up exactly where he needs to be throughout the film. A psycho(Fichtner) who may or may not be working for the railroad guy wants to kill everyone and might have a vendetta. After the psycho escapes from custody, the DA’s brother (Dale) takes the DA along with a posse and goes into a slot canyon where he himself points out that is perfect for an ambush.

The entire posse is killed, except a horse that is sometimes a spirit guide and sometimes a buffoonish cartoon character indicates to the Apache that the DA is alive. So the Apache revives the DA and they go after the bad guys and they find a saloon owner (Bonham-Carter) who is conveniently angry at the bad guys.

Wait. That’s not simple; that’s mostly just convoluted absurdity used to disguise Depp’s trademarked goofiness and a sad excuse for an homage to a great old Western TV show about heroism and courage and justice.

In any case, the chase is on! Will the railroad magnate manage to take control of everything, including the DA’s nephew? Will the random Union army captain be important to the plot? Will the DA and the Apache ever even break a bone while they are thrown from fast-moving train cars and fall from immense heights and get into numerous fights over the course of a day or two?

Find out all these answers– if you can sit through this far-too-long, generally irritating flick. What makes it worse is that Hammer is a wonderful Lone Ranger and the single arc for that character is great.

Critique

Pretty sure we’ve covered the critique portion fairly well.

Here are the problems with The Lone Ranger:

1. It’s far too long (but how could it not be immensely long with such a convoluted plot?).
2. It’s slapstick and buffoonish and that takes away from the Lone Ranger lore.
3. It’s too full of explosions and over-the-top sequences which would have been better if the conflicts had been more personal.
4. Gore Verbinski directed it and Johnny Depp is in it.
5. Its budget was way too big.
6. Its plot is too complex for what ought to be a Western superhero movie.

Here is what The Lone Ranger gets right:

1. It’s beautifully shot.
2. Armie Hammer.
3. Tom Wilkinson.
4. The Lone Ranger’s character arc.

See The Lone Ranger at your peril.

Very unrecommended.

Content warnings: Plenty of noisy violence, some language, lots of intense scenes.

Writing: 2          Acting: 3.5           Overall: 2.5

You will be a lone person ranging across the land if you don’t share this review.

Share

Rango

Oh, Gore. Gore, Gore, Gore.

You’re trying too hard.

It looks like Captain Jack Sparrow is now a lizard. Either that or characters are now written so that they can BE Johnny Depp.

I saw Rango today during my lunch break. While it is currently ranked #5 on my list of movies released in 2011, keep in mind that the only two movies below Rango on that list are Source Code and Limitless.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s a perfectly enjoyable film, filled with clever dialogue, interesting characters, a complex story line, and it is visually quite arresting. But maybe I’ve just reached saturation point of Johnny Depp-ness.

The deets:

Released March 4, 2011

Written by John Logan, Gore Verbinski, and James Ward Byrkit

Directed by Gore Verbinski

Starring Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Ned Beatty, Harry Dean Stanton and many others

*     *     *     *    *

Rango is the story of a lonely guy who wishes he were an actor playing a heroic role, who finds himself being a lucky liar playing a heroic role, who then ends up wanting to be a real hero and accidentally gets the job done.

The guy is a domesticated chameleon with no name, voiced by Johnny Depp. He is a smart lizard who resembles Johnny Depp in personality and manner more than he resembles a reptile. He is clever, very well informed by culture and theater, and is very quick on his feet. He also seems to have a remarkable ability to stay unhurt while getting other people into very sticky situations.

This is why I don’t like this type of film. I know we’re supposed to be charmed by the lizard’s manner and crazy-quick witticisms, but he’s a ne’er-do-well who seems totally incapable of caring about the consequences his actions have for other people. Now, he is in fact charming, and very funny, and his personality is a great contrast to the rustic, old-west town and culture he finds himself in. And it’s useful for the character to start as a rogue and then undergo changes toward hero.

But Mr. Verbinski was trying too hard, as were the writers. The lizard is just too clever, his success is too accidental and the success of his final plan depends far too much on chance. He is just a lizard, but he was the hero of the film, and yes, he is an anti-hero like Capt. Jack Sparrow, but I want my protagonist to dig deep, find something extraordinary in themselves, and overcome the worst in themselves to become something better and improve the world around them.

There are some great aspects to this film. The four-owl mariachi band is a clever way to remove the fourth wall and keep the story skipping along. But they tried too hard and their pronouncements of the lizard’s death become artificial for any intelligent viewer. The homages to old westerns are much appreciated, including the love for Eastwood’s The Man with No Name. The visuals are stupendously wonderful. They are fabulous, precise and dizzyingly lovely at times. They are unexpected and tasty.

Furthermore, the clever characters sometimes do unexpected things, which is good, because so do real people. The voice actors do a lovely job imbuing the critters with a humanity that we can’t help but enjoy.

But in amongst all the excellent work I’ve described, the lizard, who adopts the name ‘Rango’ partway through the film never does much that will endear him to viewers. He’s no Woody or Buzz Lightyear, because he doesn’t really ever seem to care, despite the stakes that are involved.

Add to all of that the unfortunate fact that the second act lags significantly, and the movie is not the exuberant ride I expected.

And when the movie comes to a close, you feel a little cheated. It’s like the feeling that you get when you listen to a Fall Out Boy song. Yes, the lyrics are clever and the music is skillfully done, and it’s even quite catchy, but it is ultimately pointless and in no way satisfying.

Pens (writing): 2

Cameras (acting (voice-acting, of course)):4.5

Screens (the entire experience): 3

Share