Rated PG-13 3 stars out of 5
I thought I would be all alone seeing “The Lone Ranger” at 8:45 this morning. Gee willikers, was I ever wrong. A packed theater and I saw Director Gore Verbinski’s (The Pirates of the Caribbean) take on the 1930s icon of American Justice. Since the story comes with its own catch phrases and kooky sidekick, this seemed like a perfect fit.
This is an origin story, and it does follow the original premise of how John Reid (Armie Hammer of The Social Network) came to wear the mask. The appearance of Tonto (Johnny Depp of Pirates of the Caribbean) is a little different, and you were led to expect a different Tonto from the trailer. I don’t want to give anything away, but these two work together to get justice against the evil outlaw Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner of Crash). Butch has done a lot of ruthless things and should be hung for his diet and dental hygiene alone. This new dynamic duo also has to take on corporate and personal greed in the name of Latham Cole (Tom Wilkinson of Michael Clayton), who represents the interests of the railroad.
So, it’s a western, but it’s not cowboys and Indians. That was never what the Lone Ranger was about. This is about justice against evildoers, in whatever form they take. The Ranger badge keeps him from being a true vigilante, and the fact that he never shoots to kill. I know that’s the Lone Ranger’s way, but you would think he could up his game while hundreds of people are being mowed down all around him. As for Tonto, he always was the comedic relief, and Depp is well suited for that.
I gotta say, it was not horrible, and I know that is not a ringing endorsement. The filmmakers seemed to want to connect to the slow pace of old westerns, but the way they did it gave me saddle sores. The action scenes were cool, of course, but it seemed like everyone else onscreen and I were just resting and waiting for the next ride. The movie was further saddled with the clunky narrative approach of having the whole story being told to a kid. That only worked once, and this is not “The Princess Bride.” With all this bouncing around, some of the villains were off screen for 30 minutes at a time, and you started to wonder what the fuss was about.
This is still a popcorn movie, and a western with impressive train stunts that finished pretty strong. There was some fun there, and I have to give the movie 3 stars out of 5. That means when I got from my seat at the end, I did not feel let down. For future reference, here is a breakdown of my scale: 5 stars: Amazing, 4 stars: Really Good, 3 Stars: Ordinary Movie Fare, 2 Stars: Disappointing, 1 Star: Sucks.
Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker.
Here is a link to his movie review site: http://bashmovies.wordpress.com/