DVD Reviews

The Lone Ranger Blu-ray Review

By Patrick Luce Dec 21, 2013, 20:56 GMT

The Lone Ranger  Blu-ray Review

Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer star in THE LONE RANGER, from Jerry Bruckheimer Films and Director Gore Verbinski. It\'s a wild ride of high-velocity action, explosions and gunfights that brings the famed masked legend to life through brand-new eyes. The Lone Ranger (Hammer), the last of his kind, teams with Tonto (Depp), a dark and mysterious vigilante, to seek vengeance after justice has failed them. It\'s a runaway train of ...more

The classic western hero gets a big screen update with The Lone Ranger, but what ended up on screen is a far cry from the hero many of his fans grew up seeing on television. Instead, we get a goofy attempt to make the Pirates of the Caribbean formula work in the western genre and give Johnny Depp a new franchise. 

Directed by Gore Verbinski, The Lone Ranger features an incredible cast of ensemble talent including Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, Ruth Wilson, Helena Bonham Carter, James Badge Dale, and Barry Pepper.

Starting off at a fair in 1933's San Francisco, a small boy wanders into a Wild West Show tent and meets an old Comanche who turns out to be Tonto (Depp). The boy settles in as Tonto begins to tell him the story of The Lone Ranger - which is a tad different from the tales the boy has heard.

The film then jumps back to 1869 as John Reid (Hammer) is traveling by train to Colby, Texas, to assume his new duties as county prosecutor. John Reid is a man of the law (even stating it is more important than the Bible), and by bringing the law to Texas he is bringing in a new age. His brother Dan (Dale) is Texas Ranger and he is waiting in Colby to take custody of the outlaw Butch Cavendish (Fichtner) so he can be hanged for his crimes against the railroad, which is ran by Latham Cole (Wilkinson). The train is also carrying a Comanche warrior who goes by the name of Tonto and has an annoying habit of feeding the dead bird attached to his head.

As the passengers are singing hymns, Reid notices the train is about to be robbed and Butch sprung by his gang. He awkwardly leaps into action, and the film has its first major action sequence. As Reid makes his way down the train, Butch attempts to break out, but is stopped by Tonto – who has been waiting for a chance to kill Butch. Reid busts into the car just in time to stop Tonto (Reid wants Butch hung proper by the law), and for Butch to meet up with the rest of his gang.

Following Butch’s escape, Reid agrees to join his brother and the other Rangers to track Butch down. He is far out of his comfort zone, not carrying a guy and wearing a hat big enough to fit two people. A betrayal on the trail, results in the Rangers being gunned down. Their bodies are discovered by a wandering Tonto and a white stallion – who might be the legendary Spirit Horse or just simply crazy. Tonto wants the horse to bring Dan back to life, but the horse demands John is the true warrior that Tonto needs to complete his quest for vengeance.  Reid wakes later and Tonto explains all this to him as Reid struggles to understand what has happened and what he should do next.

From there the film moves into a standard hero origin tale. Reid slowly (sometimes painfully slowly) becomes the masked-man we all know and adopts the name The Lone Ranger. He joins Tonto to track down Butch and bring him to justice. Tonto (who it seems is the real main character thanks to Depp’s involvement in the film) is tracking Butch for something that happened when he was a child and believes Butch is really a mythical creature called a "wendigo" – which can only be killed by Reid and a silver bullet.

There are some twist and turns to the story, but the plot basically just moves our stumbling hero from one action sequence to the next with Tonto offering some one-liners meant to be funny and the horse doing things meant to make the audience laugh.  The twists are pretty easy to spot coming, and the updating to the origin of the Lone Ranger do nothing to justify how the character is used in the film.

After the audience has suffered long enough, the famous music finally blasts and the Lone Ranger takes off to stop Butch and the bad guys once and for all. The final action sequence almost makes up for the film’s many mistakes. Sadly the sequence is too long and any momentum started with the William Tell Overture is lost as trains run amok and Tonto bumbles about saving the day – exactly like a certain pirate has a tendency to do in the Caribbean.

Despite what I had heard about this film, I truly wanted to enjoy The Lone Ranger. The character belongs on the big screen, and is one of the best to ever come out of the western genre. The elements are there to make a great Lone Ranger movie, but they are completely wasted.

Hammer does his best in the role and it is clear he could make a good Lone Ranger in the final moments of the film. His character is not used correctly in the film, and comes across as a complete idiot. At times, I was actually agreeing with Tonto that the horse picked the wrong brother. The filmmakers were clearly going for a comedy mixed with action, but it would have been interesting to see where Hammer could have taken the character had he been allowed to play it straight.

Depp struck Disney magic in his performance as Captain Jack Sparrow, and it is clear everyone was hoping he could do it again as Tonto. At times, he is a perfect choice for the character (even the bird makes sense once the backstory is revealed), but his performance just seems like a pale imitation of what audiences have seen him do in four Pirate movies. The film also feels more like Tonto’s tale than the Lone Ranger’s origin since Depp is clearly the star of the movie and the focal point of the plot.

With that said, The Lone Ranger will appeal to some viewers. My young son (who had never seen The Lone Ranger before) loved the movie and couldn’t wait to see it again. He enjoyed Tonto’s jokes, Silver’s whacky ability to get in trees and on top of buildings. The movie completely worked for him. He cheered when the music started to play and couldn’t wait to see the Lone Ranger finally bring Butch to justice. It also left him wanting to watch all the old Lone Ranger television episodes and films.

On Blu-ray, the film is beautiful and Verbinski truly captures the look and feel of the western genre. His shooting reminds of the classic westerns mixed with enough CGI to ensure the action sequences make the most of the film’s budget. It also comes loaded with bonus materials which include a deleted scene, bloopers, and “behind the scenes” features that show how much work went into bringing the film to the screen.

Diehard fans of the Lone Ranger character will find little to like about this big screen update, but the film may manage to please a younger audience discovering the character for the first time. Given the talent involved, the film doesn’t work as well as it should and does come across as following another franchise’s formula.



FROM THE WEB

Further Reading on M&C

Armie Hammer Biography - - Armie Hammer Movies - Helena Bonham Carter Biography - - Helena Bonham Carter Movies -
Jerry Bruckheimer Biography - - Jerry Bruckheimer Movies -
Johnny Depp Biography - - Johnny Depp Movies -
William Fichtner Biography - - William Fichtner Movies -

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The Lone Ranger (Blu-ray/DVD)

Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer star in THE LONE RANGER, from Jerry Bruckheimer Films and Director Gore Verbinski. It's a wild ride of high-velocity action, explosions and gunfights that brings ...more

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