Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Lone Ranger

The Lone Ranger was a disappointment for those looking to re-live the good old days of the black and white TV version with Jay Silverheels and Clayton Moore. Luckily, my expectations were low from the get go as I went into it knowing it was a modernized version. What I mean by that is: Big explosions, CG action and Johnny Depp. That being said, I was not as disappointed as I thought I would be… Do I think it was a good western movie? Nope. Do I think it was a great tribute to a classic and beloved television series? Nope. Did I think it was fun… yep!

I didn't get a good western, but I did get a movie that would allow me to forget about the real world and step into an adventure for a couple of hours. The main bad guys were made up of a gang led by Butch Cavendish (Played by William Fichtner). Cavendish is in turn in cahoots with the evil railroad boss, Tom Wilkinson, played perfectly by Latham Cole. That was always a classic element in many old westerns… the bad railroad boss who gets the land no matter what it takes. I would say that my favorite characters are usually bad guys and that is the case with the Lone Ranger. Butch Cavendish’s reputation precedes him as a brutal type who not only kills for pleasure, but he also practices cannibalism sometimes eating an organ from one of his victims. This is where I think the film makers really missed an opportunity to make this into a gritty yet authentic western film… but then we meet John Reid… a bumbling softy played by Armie Hammer… the first thing I thought when I learned who was playing the Lone Ranger was: WHO THE HELL IS ARMIE HAMMER!?

 My least favorite element in this movie was the “not so faithful” sidekick. Played by Johnny Depp, this Tonto drifts along in an almost stoned out fashion with a dead bird on his head and we are supposed to see him as some sort of spiritual shaman. It is my understanding that this Tonto is supposed to be a Comanche Indian. The descriptions and stories I have read about the Comanche would suggest that they were a proud, brave and strong people. They were feared across the land and in fact were one of the primary reasons the Texas Rangers were originally formed. When a whole state fears you enough to form a militia force just to fight against you… that is tough!! That is not what I see in Depp’s portrayal of Tonto. 

What I liked the most from this movie was the action sequences. They were big, flashy and loud. There was that climactic moment when we hear the William Tell Overture as the Lone Ranger rides Silver over the top of the train and uses some fancy shootin’ to cause all kinds of chaos and thwart the bad guys. To Depp’s credit, I truly enjoyed the incorporation of vaudevillian comedy during the swashbuckling climax atop a moving train. If you squint your eyes just enough, you can actually see Charlie Chaplin. I don’t think anyone other than Johnny Depp could pull that off these days.

This movie was nothing special, but it had some fun moments that I enjoyed quite a bit.

This movie is available on DVD.

Cap’n Ron