This review was exceptionally rough on the critic Greg Dinskisk to write. Why? It was bad, but The Lone Ranger did not offend him, so he did not want to be mean to it. This review gets progressively weirder as it goes on. It was about 2 A.M. when he finished it. He wakes at 6.
To start off, I must state that I have had no interaction with anything “Lone Ranger” related before seeing this film; I never watched the TV show, I never listened to the radio show, and I never felt the need to hear stories about this masked man as a kid. I bring this up to explain why I may not have connected to the film. If the film was made with the intention of bringing up nostalgia, I could not possibly have felt that. I mean, I get some of its references. Its framing device is set in the very same year the radio show began for The Lone Ranger (1933). Things like that are sprung up now and again. References. References upon references upon references.
With nothing original to show for it.
The film is two and a half hours long, and has very little to show for it. Gore Verbinski’s film has but a few memorable sets, a few memorable scenes, and a few memorable performances. For a two and a half hour ‘epic’ with a reported budget of about $235 million, I would want a helluva lot more for my money, if I was a studio executive. For the film to break even, it needs to make at least $588 million. Right now, it is sitting at $73 million worldwide. To make the kind of money it needs to, a film would have to do spectacularly well in at least one of four areas: visually, talent-wise, critically, or through originality. This film is ‘meh’ in the first two areas, and is doing ‘shittily’ in the other two, which is why it is not looking too well for them financially.
Having explained why it is doing poorly commercially, let us all take a look at why I do not believe it is a good movie critically. As opposed to my other reviews, I am going to do this in the fashion of a list! Why? Because it is a LOT easier for me to be blunt and list off this film’s issues than it would be to explain them the way I usually do.
1) THE UNNECESSARY FRAMING DEVICE
I understand why some films are told through flashbacks. In the case of Forrest Gump or Citizen Kane, it is done to unravel some mystery (where is Forrest, Forrest Gump headed? What or who is Rosebud?) In the case of The Lone Ranger, it is to plop in a reference to the radio show. A little kid is at a carnival where Tonto (Johnny Depp) is on display. The kid is dressed up like the Lone Ranger, and Tonto mistakes him as his old friend. Tonto then tells his story.
Would it not be a much more short effective film if the film started with the Lone Ranger and ended with the Lone Ranger, as opposed to starting with Random Kid #3 and Johnny Depp and ending with them? It is, after all, called The Lone Ranger, not Random Kid #3 and Johnny Depp.
2) THE RANDOMLY INSERTED, POINTLESS, OVERWHELMINGLY CLICHED CHARACTERS
The Lone Ranger is not a character piece. It is (or at least tries to be) an action-Western flick. In action-Western flicks, one does not need to bring in fifteen trillion characters. Generally, in action-Western flicks, one’s goal should be to move the plot forward. Delaying the plot (and creating a two and a half hour film) does what, asks you thoughtful (and good looking!) readers? It creates a roadblock, forcing the plot to not move forward, and in some cases forces it to go into reverse.
The biggest example of this ‘plot-block’ would be Helena Bonham Carter, someone who was wronged by a villain who eats various parts of people. In her case, he ate her leg. Now she has gone all Planet Terror and shoots people with her leg. Why is her character needed? Honestly, I have no clue. Some part of the convoluted story?
The most randomly inserted character is Captain Jay Fuller, a U.S. Cavalry office played by Barry Pepper. I get that they wanted to extend the fight scene at the end (SPOILER: there is a giant fight scene at the end, which would be one of the highlights; it is really well staged), but his character is so out of place. He leads the charge against a tribe of Indians, just to demonstrate that Westerners killed Indians. Yes, you read that right. The middle of The Lone Ranger plays out a bit like one of the last scenes of that Tom Cruise’s The Last Samurai, where white people gattling gun down a bunch of natives. Why does this happen? Because… morals? Okay?
The overwhelmingly-clichéd characters I mentioned are Rebecca and Danny, who is the Lone Ranger’s love interest and nephew, respectively. Danny (newcomer Bryant Prince) acts exactly like Carl from The Walking Dead (seriously, it is creepy. They even look alike), and Rebecca (Ruth Wilson) is like every love interest from every movie ever made in the history of hyperbole. She especially pissed me off, and so I do not get overly personal in this critique, I shall stop writing about this right now.
3. TonAL IncOnSisTencIes
This is one point that everyone has hit on whilst reviewing/talking about The Lone Ranger. I am not here to say they are wrong. They are right, right, right. One moment there is a brutal gun fight in the canyons which ends with (SPOILER) someone getting their fucking heart eaten (END SPOILER!) and the next moment, there is Johnny Depp messing with a horse (I am not being weird here, he does that probably fifteen times over the course of the film; it is funny the first four times, annoying the next three, unbearable for the next five, and makes you want to commit seppuku).
I mentioned above that there was a gattling gun vs. Indians scene… Almost immediately after the Depp does some of his slap-stick-ish schtick. The Moments like those throw off its tone, or at least the tone it tries to have, ruining it as a film.
I could probably go on for awhile longer, but this section also pissed me off to write as well. I got pissed off a lot in this film…
4) HOW GOOD IT LOOKED
It had potential. Its trailers made it look like an honest-to-God good film. A solid Western, the first mainstream Western since the Coen’s True Grit. I had some expectations, especially with such a talented cast. Armie Hammer is a genuine joy to watch. I loved him in The Social Network, he was the best part of the criminally underrated Mirror, Mirror, and in this he was alright with what he was given. Johnny Depp does the same schtick in most the films he does nowadays, but he is good at it, at least. Most of the cast at least understood their roles (except Ruth Wilson, who was pretty bad). See?
People liked Gore Verbinski’s last flick, Rango. He clearly understands the Western genre. Doing an all-out Western flick in live action with a cast that is above average? Something good could come from that, right? Something good SHOULD come from that, right?
I am going to answer that in just a minute. I am sure you know the answer, but I want to rant just a bit longer. The trailer that came out makes it look pretty good.
Right??? Does that not look like a kick-ass stylistic Western? If you answered ‘No,’ well, you are not wrong about the final product. If it was not so Tanto-y it might be better. The Lone Ranger, in his kick-ass moments, made for an exciting flick. This trailer shows most of those moments, and it showed some of the film’s stylistic flourishes that are scattered in the actual film randomly and pointlessly.
It gave me high expectations for the film. That is part of the reason why I disliked it so much, probably. Its trailer is so misleading… It makes it out to be a thrill-a-minute type deal, which might have been great. Instead, it was a thrill-for-thirty-seconds-every-forty-five-minutes-sometimes flick. Parts were just so slow, it was crazy.
Also, the film is two and a half fucking hours long. Not sure I mentioned that.
Note to the Readers: Greg wishes to apologize if this review came across as incoherent. If it did not, awesome. That makes Greg happy. If it did… Well, the film itself is completely incoherent, random, and not much fun, and this review is in protest. At least that is what Greg says. So… there?