Reviewed by Movie Moxie’s Alicia Glass
MPAA Rating: PG 13
Director: Gore Verbinski
Review Rating: 6.5
John Reid is a masked legend of justice, accompanied by his painted Indian sidekick Tonto, as they clean up the corruption of the Old West!
I didn’t watch the television show. My mother did, of course. So I don’t know if this Cowboy and Indian slapstick-fest is how the actual show is or not. That’s one of the first things the film has going against it, sadly, the generation gap. Okay so yes I understand Hollywood is rather devoid of original creativity and is now delving into history to “remake” and “modernize” movies and television shows that have no business having either one done to them. Take Dark Shadows as an example. And hey, anyone notice Mr. Depp starred in that one too? Moving on.
Problem #2: Tonto. Yes, I adore Johnny Depp, who doesn’t? Yet here we have him allllll over the place. As the narrator to the little boy in the museum, as a fighting badass, a sad small boy who didn’t know any better in a man’s body, and both the comedic relief and the straight man, all at the same time. Proud Comanche warrior, and yet he argues with the spirit horse who brought the Lone Ranger to him, to aid him in his vision quest. Got that? It’s a lot like making Jack Sparrow the main character of Pirates of the Carribean 4: Yet More Johnny Depp Acting Funny, oh wait, I mean, On Stranger Tides. The more unkind critics are referring to Lone Ranger as POTC 5, and that just isn’t good. Tonto gets way too much exposure, he all but overshadows the Lone Ranger himself for pete’s sake, and yes Depp did get top billing first too.
Next we have the accuracy problem. And I don’t mean accuracy as far as the original show is concerned, I think we can all agree that at this point, that idea has been scrapped anyways. Historical accuracy has also been sadly scrapped, pretty much everything concerning historical fact: the Comanches and their culture, the long legends of the Texas Rangers, even the whorehouse madam with the leg made of carved ivory that has a shotgun in the heel. The Madam, by the way, is of course Helena Bonham Carter. Most of those valid points were either tossed outright, or spruced up, may the movie Gods forgive us, with Hollywood humor for comedic effect. I’m not seeing a wave of Lone Ranger, or Tonto for that matter, fan-atics inundating the Conventions and theaters. (If you actually feel the need to go there, make sure your pop-gun is bright orange, or else face the cops.)
Then there’s the slapstick action of the movie itself. I’ve heard enough about the show to know that the Lone Ranger was a champion of justice behind a mask, kind of like Batman for the Old West. (As I am a huge Batman fan, that was actually a big compliment attempt.) Yet this version, oi. Arnie Hammer does a game job for the character they give him, he really does. Yet the character they give him to play, oh geez. He starts off as a man in a fancy suit riding a train surrounded by singing Presbyterians, studying to become a lawyer. In the Old West. Where the Comanche and the Rangers are still fighting for control of Texas. A whole bunch of ass-kickery and death later, Reid dons the mask Tonto tells him he has to wear, takes up the mantle of the Spirit Walker who can’t be killed, and goes off to serve his own brand of justice to the lawless. Please bear in mind, this finally happened at about the beginning of the third act. The third act is also where we finally get to hear the iconic Lone Ranger theme music, for that utterly ridiculous great train showdown. The other thematic shenanigans the Lone Ranger is known for do visit us, but only in the third act of the entire film. Are we sensing a theme here? They’ve saved all the questionable “best” for last.
Taking all these things into account, this new bigshot film attempt of The Lone Ranger will not make older fans happy, nor likely garner any younger generation new fans. If you can come to the film with no expectations other than a blockbuster-style spaghetti Western starring Johnny Depp (sorry Arnie Hammer) with no “based on” history, more power to you.