3 out of 5 stars
If there's a more bizarre major studio release than "The Lone Ranger" this year, I'm not sure I want to see it. Not that I mean to insult this movie, which I suspect may actually be a genuine act of subversion on the part of its makers and is thus strangely ... admirable. Still. The damn thing is pretty exhausting.
It's not just the state-of-the-blockbuster-art fast-paced moviemaking that I found a little draining. The way the movie shifts tone so suddenly and constantly had the aggregate effect, for this viewer, of a game of ping-pong played with a basketball inside of his head. This is a movie that meticulously recreates a Gatling-gun slaughter of Native Americans, asking for empathy and tears and a sense of indignation at injustice, and then, as the simulated dead bodies are still steaming from the hot lead that's been pumped into them, cuts to a theoretically side-splitting gag involving a large animal poised in an incongruous location. In a sense, this represents an upping of the ante that producer/director Gore Verbinski, co-producer Jerry Bruckheimer and star Johnny Depp established with their "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies, overstuffed spectacles of comedy and adventure that don't function so much as coherent movie narratives as diverting cinematic environments. "The Lone Ranger" wants you to care. Sometimes.
Purists who deign to express outrage over the liberties this picture takes with the various iterations of the source material (here the titular Ranger is a bit of a pompous bumbler, for instance) miss the point, which is not entirely relative to the kind of irreverence that's almost automatically built in to such contemporary reboots. While the movie does indeed have all sorts of potentially objectionable fun with the Lone Ranger ideal, put forward so seriously in the old television series, the fact of the matter is that the revival of the character here is merely a pretext to allow Verbinski and company to pay goofy tribute to pretty much every Western ever made. I hope someone made sure to pay Ennio Morricone residuals on the leitmotif from the score of "Once Upon A Time In The West" that Hans Zimmer's score quotes from so frequently.
The movie also lifts entire shots from Sergio Leone's classic, as well as a plot point that locates 19th Century capitalist expansion as the root of all evil (only in Leone's movie the political indignation was actually sincere). You could spend almost all of the movie's generous two-hour-and-thirty minute running time playing "Spot The Reference," which was also the case with the engaging animated movie "Rango," Verbinski's roadkill variation on, among other things, "Chinatown." It's all very indulgent, but it surely doesn't lack in invention and intelligent design: note, for instance, the rhyming bridge imagery in the movie's introductory frame story sequence, set in 1933 San Francisco, and the story proper, in which a large railroad span across a significant river figure prominently (and gets blown up in a scene so inevitable that it really can't be spoiled, and which of course was lifted in part from "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly").
But is it an enjoyable moviegoing experience? I don't know what to tell you. It might work better if consumed with some intoxicants, not that I endorse or even indulge myself. But the fact of the matter is, its cavalier attitude toward the Major Issues the story and its themes touch upon and the freewheeling insouciance of its humor do suggest a very heavily financed stoned goof on Westerns, as does its kookily convoluted plot line, which is almost malicious in the way it insists on hitting certain conventional beats, for instance, romantic rivalry between hero and someone close to hero? Check. Revenge storyline motivated by childhood trauma? Check. Representative of the law betraying his duty for greed? Check. And so on.
While I laughed a few times and was engaged by the Rube Goldberg quality of a number of the more over-the-top action sequences, and thought Depp was reliably droll, particularly in his conversations with the expressive white horse (probably played by several animals, I'd reckon) who will come to be called Silver, I have to admit that my direct experience as I left the screening was a hard-to-shake "what the hell was that?" feeling. I'm genuinely curious as to what the huge number of people who are likely to see the film make of this "Lone Ranger." And will there be enough of them to garner a sequel?
[youtube_w]yROib97F74M[/youtube_w]Source:NY Daily News
Source: Washington Post
'The Lone Ranger' movie review: Even Johnny Depp can’t save the day
Despite its iconic source material and Depp's charisma, 'The Lone Ranger' won't have you riding back to see it again.
Director Gore Verbinski’s “The Lone Ranger” is for anyone who thought the Native American guy from the Village People and a western-wear model would make the perfect blockbuster-action team.
This smart-looking but empty adventure — with a hero that looks more Tom Ford than John Ford — suffers from a shambling script, shifting tones and a surplus of villains. Clunky and drawn out, “Ranger” shoots blanks, even with the star power of Johnny Depp behind it.
The movie’s one true twist is to tell the tale, originated on radio 70 years ago, from the point of view of Tonto (Depp), first glimpsed in 1933 as a nearly 100-year-old sideshow denizen
The proud Comanche recounts his exploits in 1869, when he met an upright Texas lawyer named John Reid (likable but bland Armie Hammer).
Reid and Tonto are at odds when they meet, but when Reid is left for dead after he and his brother’s Texas Ranger troupe are ambushed, the face-painted man with the lifeless black bird on his head helps him recover.
Saying that his spirit came back from the dead, Tonto fashions a mask for Reid to wear, capping off a natty outfit of suit, white hat and red scarf.
Together they set out to stop baddie Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner) and the corporate fiends whose greed puts its odd-couple protagonists in harm’s way time and again.
Not quite a parody but broader than an homage, “The Lone Ranger” fights itself at every turn. Verbinski, who with Depp did three “Pirates of the Caribbean” adventures as well as the animated “Rango,” has energy to spare but a restless spirit.
The massive, mostly non-CGI train sequences that bookend the movie lack internal logic, with the final one losing track of where its heroes are as they scramble atop steam engines filled with loot and explosives. The use of the signature “William Tell Overture” here tilts it all from tribute to sendup.
Depp — the first Caucasian performer to play Tonto — will likely be brushed off and targeted for playing a Native American, though he and Verbinski get away with it by keeping the mood cartoonish. And what Depp does just with his eyes is slyly subversive, somehow cutting off criticism at the pass.
But as the overlong, dull “Lone Ranger” goes over a bridge, Tonto’s reinvention as wily warrior is the least of its worries. When Helena Bonham Carter, in her now-requisite bustier, shows up with a gun in her fake leg, things get full-bore “Wild Wild West.” The movie may not be a silver bullet into the heart of its iconic characters, but it’s sure not going to fly.
Source:The Huffington Post
‘The Lone Ranger’: Johnny Depp is a cool Tonto, but the movie drags-one star-
It’s an article of faith in a movie industry obsessed with chasing multiple demographic groups that no summer blockbuster can be only one thing. “White House Down” can’t be just an action adventure; it has to be a buddy comedy. “Man of Steel” isn’t only a science-fiction comic book movie; it’s a violence-heavy, special-effects spectacle. “Iron Man 3” isn’t just a special-effects spectacle; it has to have a little romance.
“The Lone Ranger,” starring Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp, presents audiences with a case not just of “both” but “all of the above.” A draggy reboot of the franchise Western that started as a radio series before it became a movie serial and a hit TV show, this mishmash of styles, genres and tonal shifts makes for a dizzying pastiche best described in terms of the many movies it references throughout its nearly 21 / 2-hour running time, from “Little Big Man,” Buster Keaton’s “The General” and the Monument Valley-set canon of John Ford to “Dead Man,” “Rango” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.”
Those last three, of course, starred Depp himself. And it turns out that “The Lone Ranger” may best be understood and appreciated as one long, baggy homage to Depp, who addresses the myriad personae that have made him the world’s biggest movie star, especially the tattooed, bejeweled bohemian primitive that defines his off-screen look as well as the punched-up version when he plays Jack Sparrow.
As Tonto, the Lone Ranger’s perennially stoic and monosyllabic sidekick, Depp both challenges and indulges in the caricatures that made Jay Silverheels’s TV character such a lightning rod for Native American outrage. Depp plays Tonto as a sly, sarcastic spirit warrior, continually mugging and making with subtle put-downs of his earnest but dim crime-fighting partner. But his guttural pidgin English, elaborate war paint and the ridiculous dead crow he wears as a headdress suggest that, for all his desire to give Tonto the dimension and dignity he was robbed of for decades, Depp owes his own dubious debt to the Noble Savage stereotype he claims to critique.
Tonto and the Lone Ranger — whose real name is John Reid — meet aboard a train headed for a tiny Texas town in 1869, when the transcontinental railroad is about to be joined, a businessman named Cole (Tom Wilkinson in full Snidely Whiplash mode) is about to make a lot of money, and an outlaw named Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner) is about to be hanged. Reid is a straight-laced law-and-order man who worships John Locke and doesn’t believe in guns. But when Cavendish escapes, then gruesomely murders Reid’s muy-mas-macho Texas Ranger brother in a suspicious ambush, he’s forced to hunt the malefactor down — with the help of his newfound Comanche guide Tonto and a magnificent white horse they meet along the way.
But wait, there’s more! There’s a comely sister-in-law (played by Ruth Wilson), a sharp-eyed, ivory-legged brothel-keeper (Helena Bonham Carter) and her bevy of painted ladies, there are flash-forwards to a carnival midway in 1933 and runaway trains and roaming buffalo and brutal massacres and war dances and cannibalistic rabbits. There’s fancy ridin’ and sure shootin’ and cross dressin’ and at least one instance of a man eating another one’s heart (thanks, Disney!). Silver enjoys a wee dram of an evening, Tonto is dealing with his own shadow material and Reid is unprepossessing enough that, rather than breathlessly cry, “Who was that masked man?” after they’ve met him, people simply cock their heads and wonder, “What’s with the mask?”
Presumably, the myth will be burnished in future installments, although it’s difficult to foresee “The Lone Ranger” becoming an international hit. No doubt the baby boomers who grew up with the original forms will smile when the William Tell Overture kicks in during the film’s climactic sequence, but director Gore Verbinski’s strenuous efforts to inject enough violence, spectacle and action to make “The Lone Ranger” comprehensible to foreign audiences wind up making way too much of way too little.
What’s more, despite its impressively staged set pieces, “The Lone Ranger” can’t survive the epic train wreck resulting from its own tonal clashes, wherein mournful scenes of genocide and stolen immigrant labor are tastelessly juxtaposed with silly slapstick humor, and solemn historic revisionism abuts awkwardly with overblown computer-generated spectacle. One of the running gags of “The Lone Ranger” is that it was Reid’s braver, cooler sibling who was always destined to be the real Lone Ranger: When John Reid finally asks what “Ke-mo sah-bee” means, Tonto replies that it’s Comanche for “Wrong Brother.” As for the Comanche word for “Wrong Movie,” we’ll just have to guess.
'The Lone Ranger' Review: Johnny Depp Movie Is A Runaway Train
There's a limit, it turns out, to how much Johnny Depp and a bucket of makeup can accomplish.
In "The Lone Ranger," Gore Verbinski's flamboyant re-imagination of the hokey long-running radio show and `50s cowboy TV series, Depp eagerly attempts to recreate the extravagant magic of his similarly farcical Jack Sparrow of Verbinski's "Pirates of the Caribbean."
With cracked white and black streaks down his face and a dead crow atop his head, Depp's Tonto (whose look makeup artist Joel Harlow took from the Kirby Sattler painting "I Am Crow") appears more witch doctor than warrior. One would think that a so-costumed Depp careening through the Old West with Buster Keaton aplomb would make "The Lone Ranger," at worst, entertaining.
But Verbinski's film, stretching hard to both reinvent an out-of-date brand and breathe new life in the Western with a desperate onslaught of bloated set pieces, is a poor locomotive for Depp's eccentric theatrics. For 2 1/2 hours, the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced "Lone Ranger" inflates, subverts and distorts the conventions of the Western until, in an interminable climax, the big-budget spectacle finally, exhaustingly collapses in a scrap heap of train wreckage.
"The Long Ranger" is, alas, a runaway train. A filmmaker of great excess, Verbinski's ricocheting whimsy here runs off the rails. Flashback-heavy plot mechanics, occasionally grim violence (bullets land in bodies with the loudest of thwacks, a heart gets eaten) and surrealistic comedy add up to a confused tone that seems uncertain exactly how to position Depp's Tonto in the movie, to say nothing of Armie Hammer's wayward Lone Ranger.
The film begins with an elderly, leathery Tonto (also Depp, nearly unrecognizable) at a 1933 San Francisco fair where, under a sign labeled "noble savage," the old Native American regales a young, masked Lone Ranger fan (Mason Cook) about his adventures with John Reid (Hammer).
Previously the sidekick, Tonto plays the starring role in the story, narrating a tall tale of his coming together with Reid, a district attorney who arrives in the frontier town of Colby, Texas, with high ideals of justice and a copy of John Locke's "Treatise on Government" under his arm.
The lawman is made a Texas Ranger when the criminal Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner, ashen and sinister) escapes. The pursuit takes on urgency when Cavendish massacres the rest of the Rangers (including Reid's brother, played by James Badge Dale), leaving Reid and Tonto to navigate a familiar mid-19th century Old West – the coming railroad, mining development and Indian warfare – with familiar types like the intrepid tycoon Latham Cole (Tom Wilkinson) and a one-legged madam (Helena Bonham Carter).
Stepping into Clayton Moore's boots, the tall, baritone Hammer never looks at ease. While he exudes the Lone Ranger's earnest wholesomeness, he's understandably an uncertain straight man alongside Depp's slapstick. Having to wear a white Stetson and mask in his first starring role feels like yet another humiliation for the Winklevoss twins Hammer memorably played in "The Social Network."
The most laudable aspect of "The Lone Ranger" is that it attempts to dispel and mock Hollywood's past Native American ills. Depp, who has claimed he has some Cherokee ancestry, delights in upending false images of Indian mysticism, all the while tossing bird seed to the dead crow on his head.
But "The Lone Ranger," which was made with much of the "Pirates" team including screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, along with "Revolutionary Road" adapter Justin Haythe, can only be filed alongside "Cowboys and Aliens" and "Wild, Wild West" as ornate films that are so nervous about the modern appeal of the Western that they ruin it by impulsively overstuffing it. The Coen brothers' "True Grit" and the 2007 remake of "3:10 to Yuma" better understood the genre's inherent terseness.
When Verbinski was last directing and Depp was a cartoon lizard, they crafted a far better Western in "Rango."
"The Lone Ranger," a Walt Disney release, is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence, and some suggestive material. Running time: 149 minutes. One and a half stars out of four