Writer: Elaine EweWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
"The Mask Of Zorro" and "Pirates Of The Caribbean"
It is easy to see why "The Lone Ranger" suffered through so much production setbacks and the recent outbreak of bad reviews, but not because the film moves at a glacial pace or its long running time; it is because the film is too short and too small for Gore Verbinski's ambitions.
Right from the start, "The Lone Ranger" sets itself up as a story told by a very old Tonto (Johnny Depp) to a young boy dressed much like the famed Lone Ranger. John Reid (Armie Hammer) is an attorney returning to his hometown in the West, only to find that the Wild West has no place for his fair justice. Reid first encounters Tonto in the middle of the Comanche's revenge plot against the cannibalistic Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner), but their rocky relationship is cut brief when Cavendish escapes and Tonto is locked up in prison for his 'crimes'. Reid is then deputized as a Ranger so he can join his brother Dan (James Badge Dale) on the hunt for Cavendish, but is shot and left for dead. Tonto, who manages to escape from jail, stumbles upon the posse, and is forced to work with Reid to find Cavendish, because the "spirit horse", Silver, has chosen Reid as his rider.
While eccentric, the story is nothing much to shout about. It plays out very much by the "How to Make A Western Film" book, where two men of differing views team up because they share the same goal, and their journey towards that goal is hampered by various obstacles. Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained" is one recent example, but unlike Tarantino's spaghetti Western, Gore Verbinski's epic Western fails to launch because it tries to take on too much. The film tries to be amusing (Depp's deadpan reactions), exciting (there are two train chase scenes), sophisticated (there is more than one villain and a twist thrown in), violent (there are cannibals) and upright (Reid doesn't believe in killing) all at once, which results in a tonally inconsistent and rushed narrative.
In addition, the film is saddled with some of the shoddiest CGI to grace the silver screen. Given the size of the budget, which is estimated to be about USD 200 million, one would think that the film's special effects would help make it look less like a play set. For that same reason, the cinematography by Bojan Bazelli should be called out as well. Some of the scenes don't flow into each other as seamlessly as they should, such as the scene where Rebecca is brained by Tonto with a rock, because the next thing we see is her standing upright acting like nothing had happened. The result is a very stagey story about how one man cheats death to become the Lone Ranger, and proceeds to bring wrongdoers to justice with the help of his American Indian friend. It is "Pirates Of The Caribbean" set on land in the West, except that this time, director Gore Verbinski has stumbled upon the winsome combination of Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp.
Indeed, Hammer's Reid and Depp's Tonto is a match made in heaven. It is the sole redeeming aspect of the whole film that single-handedly saves it from falling into the C-grade category. Prior to the film's release, many have voiced their doubts about Tonto being whitewashed, but considering that Tonto was less of a sidekick and more of a partner in the film, the team behind "The Lone Ranger" clearly has the right idea how to go about portraying Indians, if not the right casting. As for Tonto's obvious shortage of marbles, it is not so much to provoke laughs from the audience about Indians, but to provide a counterpoint to Reid's stuffiness and naivety. The way the film subtly builds the two characters relationship from an uncomfortable partnership into one where one's ideals rubs off the other is something you will miss if you blink, which is a refreshing change from the Disney cheese.
When either of the two have scenes alone, however, the story seems a whole lot less interesting. Regardless, Hammer, who is known for his roles in "The Social Network", "J. Edgar" and "Mirror Mirror", easily holds his own against Depp as Reid. It is delightfully endearing to watch his nerdy take on the Ranger, which is akin to Antonio Banderas as "The Mask Of Zorro". Depp, meanwhile, rehashes and mashes his previous quirky roles; Tonto is like a mix of Jack Sparrow and Barnabas Collins. Non-fans may find his character tiresome, but fans will rejoice because the Comanche is so much better than the 200-year-old vampire.
Overall, "The Lone Ranger" is a deeply flawed film, but the appeal and chemistry between its two leads, Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp, is so strong and fun that it somehow justifies the 149 minutes spent watching it. The fact that the film has room for improvement shows that, despite the bloated packaging and lack of surprises, the film is still more entertaining and distinctive than a lot of what is on offer at theatres at the same time.Cinema Online, 03 July 2013