On The Edge Films

Cinematic Thoughts for Cinematic Minds

The Lone Ranger

2013/ USA

Director: Gore Verbinski

Starring: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, Ruth Wilson, Helena Bonham Carter, James Badge Dale, Bryant Prince

The premise of this film was initially rather promising. Take a beloved American TV and radio icon and add the successful team behind The Pirates Of The Caribbean Quadrilogy; Jerry Bruckheimer, Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp in the hope of producing a great movie… and we’ve not even mentioned potential sequels yet.

Unfortunately however the film has been an unprecedented flop worldwide with Disney estimating that the film has lost the studio nearly $200 million. The only way of approaching this film is to weigh its positives against its negatives. For it certainly has both but it remains to be seen which aspect ultimately wins over.

The story is one fans of the famous character will be largely aware of. A Texas lawman teams up with a Comanche Indian named Tonto to become the masked avenger The Lone Ranger. In this most recent slant on the character The Lone Ranger (Armie Hammer) is straight laced lawyer John Reid who seeks to hunt down the men who kill his brother Dan (Badge Dale) who are led by the evil Butch (Fichtner). He is paired up with (by ancient earthly spirits it seems) Tonto (Depp) a rebel Comanche Indian who has his own reasons to be hunting the men who murdered Dan Reid. Over the next 149 minutes the pair scheme and battle their way through a varying back drop of classic Western scenarios, mainly trains, in the quest to bring the evil doers to justice. All the while there is an even more sinister plot at work that looks set to plunge Texas into a bloody war between the American citizens and the local Comanche tribe which revolves around Tom Wilkinson’s Latham Cole.

So to the weighing process…

THE NEGATIVES

1. It’s Pirates Of The Caribbean: Curse Of The Black Pearl set in the Wild West. No word of a lie you could view these films at the same time and see both plots unfolding at the same rate thematically almost simultaneously.

  • The hero of both is a character of morals who is uneasy with conflict and adventure
  • The two main characters constantly double cross each other throughout
  • William Fichtner’s Butch Cavendish is just a cowboy Captain Barbosa
  • Both films literally revolve around the hunt for buried treasure
  • They both take place on transport for the vast majority i.e. trains/ tall ships
  • The additional evil characters are the same in both films i.e. comedic/ foolish/ type cast
  • The last thirty minutes of both films are rousing and entertaining as opposed to the two hours of build up you have to sit through
  • They both have Johnny Depp… being weird

And I could probably list more but I am beginning to get confused as to which film I’m trying to think about… they really are that similar. This factor is even worse than the similarities between Man of Steel and Batman Begins which were again essentially the same film.

2. The film tries to pay tribute to Sergio Leone and Sam Peckinpah but fails and can be accused of ripping them off a bit…

… Especially if we take Leone into consideration. In the film’s opening sequence Dan Reid and his assembled Texas Rangers stand on a train platform dressed in dust jackets which is highly reminiscent of the opening sequence Once Upon A Time In The West. Later on as well John drags Butch through a vast expanse of desert which is the same as the way in which Tuco drags Clint Eastwood in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. John’s plot arc is also pretty much stolen from Anthony Mann’s The Tin Star.

3. The cinematography…

Bojan Bazelliย can be accused of lighting the film in a rather horrible fashion. The whole film is shot in a rather silvery grey tone which makes the change from sandy desert to snowy woodland rather dull on the eyes. Maybe they were going for a retro feel but from playing Red Dead Redemption before you can really see how they missed the ball in terms of colour… they could have made it ping.

4. The treatment of women…

… All of the women in the film are either prostitutes or a bit fragile. They did try to level the field by having Helena Bonham Carter play a brothel owner with a gun in her false leg but it doesn’t atone for this mistake.

THE POSITIVES

1. It’s ridiculously good fun…

…From the moment the famous music kicked in towards the end of the film I was hooked. The closing action sequences are superbly well choreographed and shot. The action in this trumps anything Verbinski managed to shoot in any of the four pirates films… you can see why the film was so expensive in this instance.

2. Johnny Depp is back on form…

… His last two big screen outings as The Mad Hatter in Alice In Wonderland and Barnabus Collins in Dark Shadows were rather weary attempts to push Depp as “that weird guy in big budget movies” but as Tonto,The Lone Ranger’s trusted side- kick, Depp has regained some of the lost faith in his acting abilities. Tonto is hilarious whilst also being dark and at times rather devilish. His inclusion in the plot also stops the film from being a boring straight laced Western. Tonto’s thread involves elements of the supernatural and the unreal which alongside the aspects of reality really give the film an edge… a bit like Davy Jones in Dead Man’s Chest.

3. Armie Hammer is actually good value…

… Surprisingly the actor best known for his supporting role as a set of twins in The Social Network puts in a good shift as The Lone Ranger. Like other all- American characters it is fair to say that The Lone Ranger isn’t difficult to portray but Hammer does well at being entertaining and funny and good at all the silly action bits as well.

4. It’s incredibly well written…

… Even though the film is titled The Lone Ranger Hammer and Depp share the screen time throughout the running time. Apart their films would be terrible, a Lone Ranger without a megalomaniac Tonto would be dull and a film solely focusing on Tonto would be too dark and disturbing (initially the film was meant to focus mainly on Depp’s character but this was changed when Disney felt uneasy with releasing such a weird movie based around supernatural elements). Both of their story arcs intertwine well as they are told from the perspective of an aged Tonto living in 1930’s San Francisco.

5. The score…

… Well with Hans Zimmer on board and that famous jingle how could you go wrong!

6. Good bad guys…

… Any great films needs a good villain and Butch Cavendish (a cannibalistic revolver wielding outlaw) certainly ticks that box. For younger viewers I would advise discretion though he is a bit terrifying. Tom Wilkinson as Latham Cole is also wickedly devious.

The main positive about this film is the fact that it revels in being highly unpretentious. It’s not posing as a great work of art, quite simply it’s a good action movie for the all the family (maybe slightly too dark for viewers ten and under) but nevertheless an all around enjoyable experience. There were no excessive amounts of “cheesy-ness” and you can really tell Disney went all out to deliver a big screen spectacle.

Overall though I did feel that the film’s positives outweighed its negatives. I enjoyed the film more than other big films I’ve seen this year I instantly said on leaving the screening that it was better than “Man of Steel, Pacific Rim and The Wolverine” and I stand by that judgement. Yes it’s a re-imagining of a similar plot in a different historical location but if it works why try and fix it? Yes it may not give much time for female characters but it’s by no means as bad as other films I’ve seen this year for that criticism and it is really just a big tribute to Classic Westerns… it’s just shot in a very copy- cat kind of way. I am genuinely sad that it got such a bashing from the press prior to its release. The Lone Ranger Part II it seems will never go into production. Jerry Bruckheimer won’t suffer from this, he recovered from The Prince of Persia. Johnny Depp will continue to get big leading roles playing wacky characters but Gore Verbinski will feel the weight of the film’s financial failure fall heavily on his shoulders. It’s sad to say but we may never see The Lone Ranger ride again… but what the hell I loved it! HI HO SILVER AWAY!!!

4/5

– Josh Senior

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3 comments on “The Lone Ranger

  1. Jem
    August 29, 2013

    hhiii guys not sure if you know this but I can’t read your reviews ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ˜›
    the text seems to be like realllllllyl tiny ! xo Jem

  2. Jem
    August 29, 2013

    so weirdd! just came up full size ha

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