The Lone Ranger ★★★½

First forty-five minutes are absolutely delightful—framing story was totally up my alley, and from the moment Depp turned to the camera during the freeze frame to correct the story, I was giddy with laughter in its approach to revisionism as parody. And thus the first train sequence, as well as its multiple allusions to pre-cinema (Muybridge, thurmatropes, old photography, as well as a number of compositions that present a 1.33 backdrop), all had me rambunctious in the 25-person audience in the 1,100 seat Ziegfeld. But once Hammer gets to town and we get the necessary plottings, loses some steam quick. The whole death of a brother scene rings completely false - these characters have been set up, but we’ve barely got a chance to know them and invest in their plights. But for the first time perhaps EVER for me, Depp’s comedic and physical performance is a total saving grace, a lightness of tone to each scene. In fact, whenever The Long Ranger is a comedy, it's really great (bonus points for not only using Helena Bonham Carter well for the first time in years, but also using the Machete leg-contraption in a sparing way that reflects classic set up-punchline rules, making it quite effective). Unfortunately, I know Verbinski’s heart is in the right place with all his work of Native American tragedy and anti-capitalism/government authority/Manifest Destiny, but I just don’t think he knows how to handle to the tone of it all – the final sequence with the Comanche only affecting because it recreates that great scene in Cheyenne Autumn, except Ford’s film only follows the Trail of Tears. It’s hard to take any message seriously when the comedy is so broad, and because the film often violently shifts in tone, it’s more jarring than affecting. But once you get down to the final train sequence and Verbinski’s re-working of Keaton’s The General in the most spectacular fashion (and editing to the tune of William Tell might be obvious, but damn it that is great staging), I was hooked. Who cares what is CGI and what is not when the image presented in front of you is brimming with visual pleasure? It’s all light anyways.

SPOILER: Also I’m not one for calling out plot holes, but Cavendish walks around the town right before the final sequence without a single person pointing out the fact he’s a notorious, well known outlaw. Seriously?