The Lone Ranger - Review
In 2003 Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp teamed up to deliver a film based upon a fifty year old theme park ride, which took the world by surprise and cemented Johnny Depp as a mega star. Ten years on, they are now bringing the unlikeliest of films to the big screen: an adaptation of a television show from the 1950s. The Lone Ranger is exactly what I want in a block buster: fast paced action, straight-forward characters, caricature villains and bucket loads of fun. I’m tipping this to be one of the better-performing films of the year.
The Lone Ranger conveys that sense of adventure that Disney is renowned for, taking full advantage of the classic Americana imagery of the Wild Wild West. I loved the deep, ever-winding canyons, the frontier townships and the general Cowboys and Indians motif. They are the kind of images that hark back to the golden age of Hollywood. The story-telling in many ways reminded me of those older John Wayne Westerns. As with most western films, the themes are based around justice, revenge and industrial expansion. This film proves that story telling doesn't need to be complicated to be effective. Sometimes it’s refreshing just to watch a good versus evil tale.
This film shares many similarities with the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. In fact, it’s probably fairer to say this is almost a re-skin of the first Pirates film, which doesn't bother me since I’m a fan of the formula. Johnny Depp plays Tonto in a role which will no doubt draw comparisons to his iconic portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow. I would, however, argue that Depp has far more to do in this role, delivering both the emotional core and comedic value. This isn't just hamming it up in silly make-up, it’s the performance of a man who predominately stars in films which gross a billion dollars at the box office, and he couldn't look more comfortable if he tried. Depp is the perfect side kick to Armie Hammer (The Social Network, Mirror Mirror and J. Edgar) as the Lone Ranger because he allows Hammer to have a fairly clear uncomplicated character arc without it hampering the film. I think Armie hammer is prepped to fill the void left by Brendan Fraiser - he's a big goofy bloke who can take both comedic and dramatic scenes in his stride. I like the earnest quality to his acting; I liken him to George Clooney’s performance in O Brother Where Art Thou.
William Fichtner (Go, The Dark Knight) is fantastic as the villain Butch Cavendish. Whilst he is usually relegated to minor roles, the veteran character actor looks to be having so much fun as the chief antagonist. Furthermore, the film is given a shot of respectability with the inclusion of the legendary Tom Wilkinson as Cole, the only man trying to make the west a better place to live in. The Lone Ranger has continued the trend of Helena Bonham Carter (who is outstanding in the film) appearing in her usual period piece garb – the woman must really love corsets!
The set pieces are quite impressive throughout the film. Given that the major thrust of the story revolves around the railroad, it only makes sense that the action is predominately set around the trains. The action is often slapstick and over-the-top but at the same time delivered light-heartedly in a way that renders it charming rather than overly goofy.
The only real issue with The Lone Range is its length. Weighing in at two and a half hours, the film drags slightly in the middle act. If they had trimmed thirty minutes or so it may have made for a far punchier film – a problem it shares with the first Pirates film.
I didn't know much about the original television series except that it involved a masked man, a horse named Silver and a sidekick named Tonto. The filmmakers brought these three elements to the screen and developed the rest for themselves. The Lone Ranger isn't anything new and by no means is it challenging. It’s a fun film that will probably remind you of what big-name blockbusters should be all about.
The Lone Ranger hits theaters on Thursday the 4th of July. If you agree or disagree with my review please feel free to drop a line below.