Friday, December 20, 2013
The Lone Ranger
This was not a good film -- in fact, it was probably even a bad film, but at least it had the virtue of being bad in interesting ways. This was one of the loudest, most jam-packed, over the top, uncompromising, innovative, visually-astounding, madcap epic motion pictures I've ever seen. It's just too bad it was supposed to be an adaptation of the Lone Ranger. It's also too bad that, well, it wasn't very good.
The film stars some guy named Arnie Hammer as the Lone Ranger... sort of. That is to say, he's sort of the star and that he's sort of the Lone Ranger. He's masked, has a shield, wears a white hate, and rides a horse named Silver, but other than that, he's just some guy. Back on the original radio show and the old TV series and films, The Lone Ranger was a hero who rode from town to town helping innocent people in need. In this film he kind of just gets revenge on the guy who killed his brother, and maybe tries to stop some guy from taking over some company that we never learn about or understand what possible harm it would cause. In other words, this Lone Ranger doesn't really do much, or at least not not much that made any emotional connection with me as the viewer. And did I mention that this film has a two and a half hour running time? That's a hell of a long time to have virtually nothing at all happen.
Also, the most popular Lone Ranger of all time was Clayton Moore, who had presence and gravitas. Arnie Hammer is a charming lead and a good actor, but he's no Lone Ranger. After he rides away at the end, nobody asks, "Who was that masked man?" Nobody asks because, presumably, nobody would ever care.
The film's real star is the inexplicably cast Johnny Depp as Tonto, the Lone Ranger's Native American sidekick. He's not really a sidekick, however, since Depp has top billing and more screen time, not to mention more to do that makes him seem smarter, more resourceful, and far more interesting as characters go. He's also awful, however, and his performance and very presence in the film are probably racist, but I don't really know. I do know, however, that while Depp is a brilliant actor, this performance just didn't work, and his character seemed somehow like even more of a stereotype than the guy from the old TV show.
The story was about... I dunno. Some nonsense about a cannibal who killed the families of both the Lone Ranger and Tonto so they try to get revenge. All I really remember is that the film opened with an amazing set piece on the top of a train, ended with an amazing set piece on the top of a train, and had about two hours in the middle where nothing happened at all. But every time the film took place on the top of a train, it was awesome.
Visually, this was just about the most inventive and gorgeous film I've ever seen, and I'm not joking. Make sure you watch it in HD, since the locations are amazing and the special effects and cinematography are incredible. Never let it be said that Gore Verbinski isn't a brilliant director. If anything, he might be too brilliant and uncompromising in his vision, since this film just had too much going on so it felt bloated and mostly unengaging on any real, emotional level. But it sure was nice to look at.
The worst thing about this film is the fact that it could have been -- should have been -- great. The cast was good, the action was awesome, and the visuals were astounding, but the story was just awful and the interpretation of the iconic character was all wrong. What is there to say about a Lone Ranger film that has the character say his iconic line "Hi Ho, Silver... Away!" as the punchline to a joke about how the character is lame? If you think your character is lame, don't make the movie.
Anyway... skip it.