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DVD REVIEW: FTN reviews The Lone Ranger

November 25th, 2013 by Irwin Fletcher Comments


The Lone Ranger (PG)
Directed by: Gore Verbinski
Starring: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, William Fichtner
Running time: 149 min

Native American warrior Tonto recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid, a man of the law, into a legend of justice.

It’s 1933 and Tonto (Johnny Depp), in old age and an attraction at a wild west sideshow, tells a young boy of his life in the wild west and how The Lone Range became a legend.

It’s 1869, and Lawyer John Reid (Armie Hammer) is travelling to start his life as a lawyer and bring justice and order to the west. Teaming up with his brother and six other Texas Ranges, they track the notorious Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner) to the mountains where they are betrayed and ambushed. All of the rangers are slaughtered and John is nursed back to life by Tonto, a Comanche Indian who also wants justice brought against Butch Cavendish. Teaming up, they blaze a trail across the old west to find the real villain and bring justice to one and all…

The Lone Ranger, based upon the radio show and television series, has been updated thanks to the team of Director Gore Verbinski and Producer Jerry Bruckheimer who made the highly successful Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

I have fond memories of the television show as a child and was eagerly looking forward to watching this film, however, I can see clearly why it failed at the box office.

The main plus points to this movie are the cinematography, score, costumes and set decoration. The cinematography shows every nook and cranny of Monument Valley, the place where John Ford literally carved out the old west on the silver screen. Each frame of film is a moving picture of perfection in this location and you can see why so many westerns have been shot there for nearly a century.

Hans Zimmer has certainly raided his previous scores and fused them altogether for The Lone Ranger. Whilst viewing this film you can’t help but pick out notable music cues that were used in Sherlock Holmes and Pirates of the Caribbean. That said, he has also lifted some wonderful melodies from Ennio Morricone’s Once Upon a Time in the West and its great to listen to.

That said, the faults with film are with the casting and the script. Armie Hammer portrays The Lone Ranger as a bungling buffoon at times and yet for a film where he is the title character, he doesn’t receive as much screen time as he should. Johnny Depp’s Tonto on the other hand is certainly not a Native American, and has been plied with white make-up to obviously hide his parentage. His performance as Tonto is more akin to Jack Sparrow than the loyal and quietly reserved sidekick fans of the original radio and television show will remember. Indeed, the film should be titled The Adventures of Tonto due to his constant screen time and zany antics.

The main villain in this piece of period hokum does however lend a certain credibility with a sidekick who, complete with scars on his face and silver tooth, looks very similar to Jonah Hex.

The script is woeful, with one particular exchange of dialogue involving Helena Bonham Carter coming across as simply stupid. The filmmakers and studio were obviously trying to make a comedic adventure film, but it simply fails on every level.

Whilst the set decoration and costumes do look specific to the period, The Lone Ranger’s costume is not what the fans have been used to; gone is his trademark white suit and instead is just a simple suit, he only retains the white hat and mask. During the course of the film, he even uses a whip and you can’t help feeling the similarities between him and Zorro! The over use of CGI is also present with his horse up on top of trees or on the roofs of buildings or moving train carriages.

It’s quite obvious Disney were hoping that this film would start a franchise similar to The Pirates movies, especially when they reunited the key players of those films. Sadly though, The Lone Ranger plays more like a pirates movie set in the desert and is neither comedy nor a great action piece.

One minor grace is that Rossini’s William Tell Overture is used and upon hearing it it did bring a smile to my face. Sadly though the music was played but there was little sight of The Lone Ranger himself at times. If only Rossini had created a memorable opera motif that could have been used as Tonto’s Theme, this film could have been very different; a bitter disappointment.

2 out of 5

I'm an LA journalist who really lives for his profession. I have also published work as Jane Doe in various mags and newspapers across the globe. I normally write articles that can cause trouble but now I write for FTN because Nerds are never angry, so I feel safe.