THE LONE RANGER
MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **1/2 (out of 5)
Johnny Depp as TONTO
Armie Hammer as JOHN REID / THE LONE RANGER
William Fichtner as BUTCH CAVENDISH
Tom Wilkinson as COLE
Ruth Wilson as REBECCA REID
Helena Bonham Carter as RED HARRINGTON
James Badge Dale as DAN REID
Bryant Prince as DANNY
Directed by: Gore Verbinski
BY KEVIN CARR
If there was any movie that came out in 2013 that I felt was unfairly maligned, it was “The Lone Ranger.” That’s not to say the film is without its flaws. Yes, it’s too long. Yes, it’s more about Tonto (Johnny Depp) than it is about the actual title character. Yes, it seems like Disney simply threw money at the film hoping it would be another “Pirates of the Caribbean.”
However, it’s not a bad movie. Not at all.
“The Lone Ranger” is an update to the classic western character. Starting with his origin, John Reid (Armie Hammer) sees his brother brutally murdered by the dastardly Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner). Rescued by the bizarre Comanche warrior Tonto, Reid pretends to be dead and assumes the persona of the Lone Ranger, hoping to find revenge for his brother and help save his extended family. Meanwhile, Cavendish is working with a silent partner to take over the railroad.
Really, there’s nothing that couldn’t be fixed with this movie if director Gore Verbinski learned to kill his darlings. Within the 149-minute film, there’s a really good 100-minute movie. The entire framing story, which features an ancient Tonto telling his tale to a young boy at a wild west show, could have been lost completely. Similarly, one or two subplots regarding Tonto’s history with Cavendish could have been trimmed out.
Still, even with these elements that caused the film to bloat a bit, it’s a lot of fun. The cinematography is striking, and Verbinski masterminds some spectacular action sequences involving real trains and plenty of practical special effects. In fact, the action finale of the film (complete with a rousing rendition of “The William Tell Overture”) is a brilliant feat of moviemaking.
I’m not even going to complain about the still-to-be-proved Armie Hammer being cast as the lead. Sure, he slathers on the cheese in his heroic performances (which we should all remember from “Mirror Mirror” a few years ago), but he plays a good foil to Depp. I don’t even mind the film being more about Tonto than him. It just needed a little more editing.
Still, for home viewing, “The Lone Ranger” is an enjoyable ride. It’s not as difficult to sit through at home as it is in the theater, and the western motif is something you don’t a lot of in Hollywood any more.
Purists will still have a problem with it, but “The Lone Ranger” was the victim of the same ire that plagued “John Carter” in 2012. Both films are better than you’d expect from the mustache-twirling box office reports declaring their failures.
The Blu-ray comes with some basic featurettes, but nothing too special. There are bloopers and a few extended scenes. Three featurettes focus mostly on Hammer, who seems incredibly game for the role and also appears to be enjoying the hell out of his new stardom. These include “Riding the Rails of The Lone Ranger” about the railroad elements, “Armie’s Western Road Trip” about Hammer diving into the world of the old west, and “Becoming a Cowboy” which looks at the training the cast and crew went through for authentic western abilities.