The Lone Ranger ★★★

Looks like we're not reviewing this one on SVU after all, much to my chagrin, so some thoughts.

-There are some things about this movie that flat-out do not work (Helena Bonham Carter, WTFIU?). On the other hand, there is some stuff that is absolutely terrific (like the editing and cinematography in the big train finale).

-Yes, this is sometimes a shockingly dark blockbuster. (A bad guy eating a the hero's brother's heart in a Disney movie? Way to exploit your contractual right to final cut, Jerry Bruckheimer!) The framing story, though, is all about Tonto (Johnny Depp) trying and frequently failing to communicate to this little boy who wants to hear about the great legend of The Lone Ranger. So the film is explicitly about this tension: The difficulty of making a wholesome family film in a darker, more cynical time. The tone is certainly uneven, but I actually found that it worked more often than it didn't.

-Depp's portrayal of a Native American sidekick/shaman-type is problematic, but I thought the movie did a decent job of mitigating some of the issues it raises by casting the rest of its Native American cast as the heroes of the film and showing the white settlers and capitalist to be full-stop, ambiguity-begone bad dudes.

-The bad dudes, though, are one of the film's weaker points. The "surprise" bad guy is obvious from frame one, and his henchman, the heart-eater, is a stock crazy movie villain (besides his taste for human organs). When William Fichtner can't make your movie better simply by being in it, you've got some serious problems.

-Since Johnny Depp ain't going nowhere, Armie Hammer might be the guy to take the hit for this movie's failure. That would be unfortunate; I think he could be a star. Even without Aaron Sorkin's dialogue and incredible CGI double effects, he's got a ton of charisma. And he's actually good with Depp.

-THE LONE RANGER is definitely a mixed bag, but I don't really understand the extreme negativity heaped on it by some critics. True, the movie takes its fair share of missteps. But it also takes more than its fair share of chances. I give it credit for its risks, and appreciated the ones that paid off.

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