The Lone Ranger

The Lone Ranger ★★½

December 2016: Scavenger Hunt #21
TASK #6: A film made after 1994 with a character that made its on-screen debut prior to 1964!

Ah, The Lone Ranger, what a fascinating mess this turned out to be. Released in the summer of 2013 by Disney, the film reunited much of the cast and crew of their Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, including lead star Johnny Depp, director Gore Verbinski, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, writers Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio, composer Hans Zimmer, editor Craig Wood, costume designer Penny Rose, the special visual effects and animation crew at Industrial Light & Magic, and many more. Disney was hoping their adaptation of the iconic radio, comic, and film serial character of the same name would recapture the Pirates series’ success, but budget concerns, production issues, bad word of mouth, and even premature cancellation at one point resulted in a critical and commercial flop. Never having been familiar with the source material (although I am familiar with its spin-off The Green Hornet, which also had a bad film adaptation), I had to judge The Lone Ranger solely as a standalone film, and as such, it’s not hard to see why critics weren’t fond of it. For one thing, at a runtime of two and a half hours, it’s way too long. When the action gets going, it’s exciting, but much of this film is boring white noise. You’d expect a film with a runtime this long to develop its story and characters, but no. The characters are bland and underdeveloped and I found the story to be dumb, needlessly bloated, and uninvolving. Second, Tonto and the titular Ranger. Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer barely have any chemistry with one another and I found myself not caring about their characters. I also didn’t find any of the other characters interesting. So what does The Lone Ranger have going for it? Well, for one thing, the action sequences are fantastic, especially the train scene. Gore Verbinski shows a clear gift for directing action scenes, relying on swift, smooth, sweeping camerawork as opposed to shaky-cam, fast-cuts, or quick-zooms. The visual style is also gorgeous. Bojan Bazelli’s cinematography looks breathtaking, the effects look very convincing, and the set designs for the Old West are also fantastic. The rest of the cast perform admirable jobs in their roles and I also admit to liking how dark it can get at points. For example, William Fichtner's character Butch Cavendish eats people’s hearts. This is a Disney film and that actually happens. However, the dark parts also result in another issue I have: tonal inconsistencies. When things get dark, it then goes to light and humorous, then back to dark, and so forth. In the end, The Lone Ranger is enjoyable in some areas but the overall affair is a bloated mess of a film.

Also, happy New Year, Letterboxd!

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