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Talk about an expensive misfire. Disney’s big-budget “The Lone Ranger” had all the ingredients necessary to be the summer blockbuster it was designed to be. Everything from the talent in front of the camera (led by Johnny Depp) to behind it (led by Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer) screamed “hit”. That, uh, didn’t quite happen. Which is too bad, because minus the suffocating expectations, “The Lone Ranger” is a mildly entertaining — if a tad pointless — way to waste away two and a half hours of your life. Find out for yourself if “The Lone Ranger” is worth riding with when the film hits DVD/Blu-ray this December 17, 2013.
Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer star in The Lone Ranger, from Jerry Bruckheimer Films and Director Gore Verbinski. It’s a wild ride of high velocity action, explosions and gunfights that brings the famed masked legend to life through brand-new eyes. The Lone Ranger (Hammer), the last of his kind, teams with Tonto (Depp), a dark and mysterious vigilante, to seek vengeance after justice has failed them. It’s a runaway train of epic surprises, as these two unlikely heroes must learn to work together before the ultimate showdown between good and evil explodes.
Johnny Depp in face paint acting weird. How does that not translate into box office hit? Oh right, “Dark Shadows” is proof that’s a very real possibility these days. Depp is very much in his element here, playing Native American sidekick Tonto, who must save the day while putting up with bumbling idiot Armie Hammer. Stupid white man. If you wondered why a superstar like Depp would voluntarily play second fiddle to the lesser known Hammer, well, now you know — because he’s not. Tonto is the real star of the movie.
The truth is, there’s nothing too offensive about “The Lone Ranger”, though there are plenty that are downright puzzling. A bit overlong at two and a half hours, the film features a bookending sequence featuring Depp in old man make-up, telling the “true” story of the Lone Ranger to a young boy. I’m not entirely sure what the idea behind this sequence was, but I found it a bit depressing. Honestly, I’m not sure I want to see a wrinkled old Native American living in a teepee. It’s just, well, depressing. Then there’s Helena Bonham Carter and her fake leg. I think this is supposed to be cute, but like old man Tonto, it comes across as odd for something that’s supposed to be mainstream entertainment. I could see it in a David Lynch movie, but not one from Disney boasting a $200-plus million price tag.
The rest of the film has its moments. Director Gore Verbinski, a veteran of the bloated “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies with Depp, certainly knows his way around big-budget action sequences. Horses, people, and Tonto perform impossible feats on moving trains. It’s all very exciting and thrilling, but like most good things, “The Lone Ranger” never quite knows when enough is enough. As a result, most of its sequences go on for way too long. On the other hand, if you’re a fan of extravagant Hollywood movie magic, then “The Lone Ranger” is the movie you’re looking for. It’s got over-the-top flying out of its butt.
“The Lone Ranger” is, yes, a bit of a mess. But it can be an entertaining mess if you don’t notice all of its many faults. Depp is Depp — which is to say, if you’re a fan of his Jack Sparrow, this is simply Depp with different face paint. Hammer is stiff and uninteresting, but when you’re tall and handsome and as square jawed as Hammer, you can get away with that. There’s a rather awkward romance between the Lone Ranger and his dead brother’s wife, but in a movie filled with rather awkward choices, I guess that’s par for the course. At least Ruth Wilson is ridiculously attractive, though watching her being wooed by old man Tom Wilkinson is just this side of creepy.
“The Lone Ranger” Blu-ray comes surprisingly barebones for a major release. You get a couple of perfunctory featurettes (“Riding the Rails of The Lone Ranger”, “Armie’s Western Road Trip”, and “Becoming a Cowboy”), along with a handful of deleted scenes and bloopers, none of which really add much value to the Blu-ray. Maybe they’re saving all the goodies up for a Director’s Cut in the near future?