Saturday, July 6, 2013
Cindy Prascik’s Review of The Lone Ranger
Dearest Blog, yesterday I trekked to the cinema to see The Lone Ranger. Should have been The Lone Ranger and Despicable Me 2, but, alas, the lure of Star Trek remains too strong, so Gru will have to wait.
Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't know from the trailers.
A reluctant masked hero and his Native American sidekick seek justice in the Old West.
Now, dearest Blog, my great affection for Johnny Depp might reasonably lead reader(s) to assume I'd have a positive bias towards this film, so I must stress that nothing could be further from the truth. I was flatly against this movie from the outset, and prayed every bump on its troubled production path would be the one that kept my adored team of filmmakers (Bruckheimer, Verbinski, Elliott and Rossio) from embarrassing themselves with what seemed like the mother of all bad ideas. When trailers started popping up, I was relieved it didn't look quite as bad as I'd feared. Yesterday at the cinema, to my great surprise, I was in love from the first frame.
The Lone Ranger is not without flaws, and, since I always prefer to get my bad news out of the way first, we'll go ahead and start with where it goes wrong.
Regular reader(s) won't be too stunned to hear me complain about the length. At almost two and a half hours, The Lone Ranger is 30-45 minutes longer than it needs to be. Bad enough when a complex drama or some epic fantasy runs long, but it's inexcusable in a summer popcorn flick.
The Lone Ranger derives much of its humor from cheap sources: horse manure, a guy in a bonnet, a dead bird. Not that I didn't laugh, but at some point that kind of thing does wear out its welcome.
Mostly, though, as an idea, The Lone Ranger seems too broadly drawn to be updated effectively for 21st-century cinema; such a vanilla good guy is almost a joke by current standards. Having said that, the original intent was sincere, and for a different time, so playing the bumbling hero for laughs feels like an insult to the source, as does the extreme violence in the film.
Onto the positives, starting where I always will, with the cast. Ahhh, this cast! Armie Hammer stars in the title role and does a fine job of it, despite being relegated to sidekick in his own film. Hammer is the perfect leading man, a solid actor with a flair for comedy--painfully good looking to boot--and this kind of "white hat" role suits him to a T. Johnny Depp enjoys top billing as Tonto, his Tonto portrayed as the wise one who (reluctantly) guides the Lone Ranger on his path. I am the truest of true Depp fans, so I desperately wish he'd return to roles that remind people why he's the best actor in the world, but he's entertaining in a part that does little to tax his extraordinary talent. The Lone Ranger's chief baddie is the amazing William Fichtner, and wow, what a baddie! I think the last time I was this in love with a villain was Fichtner in Drive Angry. Tom Wilkinson, Helena Bonham-Carter, and Barry Pepper turn in terrific performances in supporting roles, and I give myself full marks for picking out favorites James Frain, W. Earl Brown, Stephen Root, and Leon Rippy despite their having limited screen time and being covered in dirt and/or fake hair!
For my money, there is no genre that suits the big screen quite so magnificently as the Western. Everyone knows I love big explosions and big effects and I'll pay my money any day for great monsters and huge spaceships and sweeping shots of superheroes overlooking their fair cities, but none of it quite compares to a panorama of rock and sand and galloping horses. But for one wonky CGI shot near the beginning, The Lone Ranger is a glorious feast for the eyes, the likes of which I've not seen in some time.
The humor is effective, though, as mentioned, mostly lowbrow, with some solid physical comedy thrown in for good measure. My packed cinema was roaring with laughter throughout.
Despite The Lone Ranger's excessive runtime, I was never bored, never inclined to check the time, never wished it'd just get over already. That doesn't mean it's not too long, and it certainly would have been a more-effective and better-regarded 100-minute movie, but it never stopped entertaining me.
Finally, The Lone Ranger's final act boasts one of the best action sequences in recent memory, exciting and beautifully filmed. Any problems the with rest of the film are quickly forgiven and forgotten once that train gets a-rollin'.
The Lone Ranger is taking a critical drubbing and will undoubtedly be considered a "flop" by this team's usual standards, but I think its worst enemy is those who are so swayed by what they've heard that they can't just enjoy the movie for what it is. I'm not talking about low expectations, which I firmly contend are the key to a happy life; I'm talking about people who are so determined to hate it that they've left themselves zero chance of being pleasantly surprised. Much like 2009's The A-Team, I understand why everyone won't love The Lone Ranger, but the film does NOT deserve the pure spite being leveled at it.
The Lone Ranger clocks in at 149 minutes and is rated PG13 for "intense sequences of action and violence, and some suggestive material." As certain as I was that it would be awful, I'm delighted and surprised to call it one of my favorite films of the year so far.
Of a possible nine Weasleys, The Lone Ranger gets seven and a half.
Until next time...
All the evil awards all the time to you, sir!