WHAT IS IT?
The Lone Ranger is the 2013 action-comedy Disney movie, based on the character of the Lone Ranger who first appeared in the 1933 radio show of the same name. The film starred Armie Hammer as the masked avenger John Reid/the Lone Ranger, with Johnny Depp as his Comanche Indian sidekick Tonto and Helena Bonham Carter and Tom Wilkinson in supporting roles.
The film told the origin of The Lone Ranger, who was previously a lawyer-cum-deputised Texas Ranger and his first encounter with Tonto. Along the way, The Lone Ranger encountered the cannibalistic outlaw Butch Cavendish (Fichtner), the unsavoury railroad tycoon Latham Cole (Wilkinson) and the corrupt Captain Jay Fuller (Pepper).
Despite the presence of high profile star Johnny Depp in a key role and a certain nostalgic familiarity with the Lone Ranger character, audiences just didn’t quite seem to care for this particular take on the subject material. Released to negative reviews, The Lone Ranger became a box-office flop for Disney, grossing $260 million from a reported $225-$250 million budget (not including marketing costs) and provided Disney with yet another summer misfire, following 2012’s John Carter.
When released on DVD/Blu Ray, reviews were a little more favourable, with movie director Quentin Tarantino listing it within his top ten films of 2013. However, a nod from Tarantino didn’t help win over a new audience for The Lone Ranger.
WHAT WAS GOOD?
Putting aside the initial negative reviews for one moment, The Lone Ranger wasn’t as bad as some critics made out. Sure, it had its problems (we’ll come to these shortly), but as a daft summer blockbuster it did have a number of redeeming points.
Johnny Depp was clearly the star of the movie and whilst his performance was not quite as crowd pleasing a turn as his Captain Jack from the Pirates of the Caribbean series, it was still the standout performance of the movie. Bringing much needed humour as well as providing the anchor for the story, this was as much Depp’s movie as it was anybody else’s and served up a well rounded character in Tonto, which could have easily become a one-note role.
Gore Verbinski’s direction was also a highlight of this particular production, showing confidence in some key scenes, particularly the dramatic showdown during the film’s final act. Oh, and what an act it was too; placing the Lone Ranger and Tonto in a daring rescue atop a moving train, whilst the famous William Tell Overture (taken from the radio show) played out in the background.
Not only was the final act a rip-roaring, slapstick way to end The Lone Ranger, it was also one of the best action scenes in any movie in 2013! Unlike, say, The Man of Steel, which showcased a drawn out finale, Verbinski’s swansong kept the excitement high whilst at the same time stuck to a plausible timeframe, meaning that the train sequence is continually enjoyable with each viewing.
WHAT WAS BAD?
Sigh.... There were a number of problems with The Lone Ranger and this was the reason for the largely negative reviews.
The first problem the film encountered was its lead star, Armie Hammer, who was miscast in the role and paled in comparison to Depp, even when the actors were not sharing screen time. To be fair to Hammer, the Lone Ranger/John Reid wasn’t the most dynamic character in the film, so he was at a disadvantage to begin with, however he lacked any real screen presence and ironically it showed – big time!
The problems of The Lone Ranger however didn’t completely rest on the shoulders of Hammer as many of the characters were paper thin, particularly Helena Bonham Carter’s Red Harrington, who only appeared for a one-trick plot gimmick. In simple terms, Harrington’s leg doubled as a shot gun, which came in handy during the finale... and that was pretty much it. And then there were the villains – three in total – who did nothing more than provide a lot of generic moustache twirling and... yeah, that was pretty much it too.
The biggest problem with The Lone Ranger was its running time, which could have easily been trimmed by 30 minutes to provide a tighter narrative. Too many times during the film, the story fizzled out and this slowed down the action, possibly causing audiences to question whether they actually cared about the opaque plot or not. It seemed that they did not care for the plot at all.