Blu-ray/DVD REVIEW: The Lone Ranger @ 17 December 2013 11:40 PM


Sometimes I like movies that are largely considered to be stink bombs. John Carter: flawed but not as bad as many said. Santa Claus the Movie: far from perfect, but wonderful in many ways, especially the storybook quality and Henry Mancini's score. Lost Horizon: misfires aplenty but a fine cast, kitsch value and some catchy tunes by Bacharach/David. And so on.

So I tried to find something to like in The Lone Ranger. The opening, with the boy at the carnival (and the "thrilling days of yesteryear" reference to the radio show) was encouraging. But it just never picks up. Much as I tried, how do I not love thee, Lone Ranger 2013? Let me count the ways...

1. Uneven balance of drama, comedy, send-up, fantasy, sick humor, bawdiness and western melodrama. This could be the first Disney film in which someone is seen peeing on camera. Not long after, another character vomits. Then Silver (as in Hi-Yo) poops and The Lone Ranger himself is dragged through it, head first.

2. The lead character is an idiot. It's as if Jeannie blinked Major Nelson into a very expensive episode of I Dream of Jeannie. The difference is that even Larry Hagman would have played it less silly.

3. Like John Carter, they hung a multi-million-dollar movie on the shoulders of an untested lead actor. It took two Armie Hammers to make a Winklevoss. Perhaps he can redeem his lead status in a future vehicle. Taylor Kitsch is now a supporting actor.

4. Johnny Depp. Plenty has been said about his performance, but I wonder whether the whole concept couldn't work no matter what he did. His Tonto is very much like Jack Sparrow, only his voice sounds like Rob Schneider in Bedtime Stories.

5. Sweaty, yucky, grizzled, bulbous, bloated, scuzzy people, all except for Armie Hammer, followed by the angry-eyes lady who plays the unhappy mom of P.L. Travers in Saving Mr. Banks.

6. Never release a movie in the heat of summer and show a lot of overdressed people who look like they're either in need of a bath or about to pass out, as well as people who look like they need to be hosed down. Another John Carter mistake.

7. Way too much money spent. (SPOILER) As soon as I saw the bridge -- a REALLY big bridge, I knew it would get blowed up real good and come tumbling down. Gene Autry could have made 30 episodes of his TV show,  four movies, six radio shows and a record album in the time it takes to watch this movie. Surely there's a point in the middle.

8. Way too long. An issue with a lot of movies nowadays, though.

9. This is the first time I've ever seen bloopers that mostly could have been in left in the movie without it making much of a difference. Not being facetious.

10. Cannibal bunnies.



Good points: Johnny Depp's performance as the old version of Tonto is the closest any character comes to being sympathetic (though he looks like Dustin Hoffman in Little Big Man or Billy Crystal in Mr. Saturday Night). Breathtaking photography. Armie has nice hair when it hasn't been dragged through horse poop. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Is it worth seeing? Well, I couldn't turn away. There's something compelling and astonishing about a work of this magnitude gone astray. My wife, who loves to see a good western, would still like to see a good western.

Clearly this film was intended to do for westerns what Pirates of the Caribbean did for pirate movies. As a genre, they're still too problematic in this day and age to work. And this film's very visible lack of success doesn't bode well for another attempt of this nature to happen anytime soon.

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