HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Lone Ranger
HTS Overall Score:82
The Lone Ranger was our Superman before Superman existed. A lone vigilante who was seemingly invincible against injustice, who stood for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. A man who could overcome any odds with the help of his trusty sidekick Tonto and his horse silver. Armed with silver bullets he was the paragon of virtue, a man who never took a life, but still was able to overcome his adversaries. Someone we all wanted to be, something we were not. Most superheroes in the origin times weren’t the most realistic of people. They were the embodiment of what we WANTED to be, the purity and righteousness of an avenging angel, with the strength of a dozen men. A man without the flaws that we as humans have to bear.
The Western itself has been in decline for decades, except for the rare title, such as “Django Unchained” and the Coen Brothers’ “True Grit” remake, Westerns have become a dying breed and are usually rather risky. Action comedies have also been on the decline ever since the late 90’s. Gone are the days of “Tango and Cash”, where guns, knives, explosions and one liners would mean instant profit for the studios. Which is why I sit here and scratch my head when I see that Disney poured over 250 + million dollars into a Western/Action/Comedy. The only thing I can think of is that they saw a reuniting of Johnny Depp, Gore Verbinski, and Jerry Bruckheimer and hoped for the same dollar signs that the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies raked in. Coming in at just under $260,000,000 taken worldwide, we can see that bet did not pan out for them.
Now, I’m not one to judge a movie based on its box office appeal. “Iron Man 3” made more money than most businesses see in a full year during its theatrical run and I loathed it, while “Pacific Rim” was one of my favorites of the year and barely made enough to get a profit after expenses. I loved “John Carter” to death, so when I heard Disney was remaking “The Lone Ranger” and it was going through the same marketing hell that “John Carter” was going through, I thought to myself “hmmm, maybe lightning does strike twice”. Unfortunately that’s not the case with “The Lone Ranger”.
What we have here is a movie that doesn’t know what it wants to be. It starts out with a young boy, years and years in the future, conversing with a talking statue of Tonto (THE Tonto, in fact), who regales the boy of the real story behind the masked man. It seems that John Reid (Armie Hammer) wasn’t always a Texas Ranger. Here he’s an idealistic lawyer, coming out west to become the new chief prosecutor, where his brother Dan (James Badge Dale) lives with his wife Rebecca (Ruth Wilson) and their son, Danny (Bryant Prince). John is a pacifist by nature and sees no need for violence, ignorant of the villains who disregard that nice little thought. Notorious outlaw Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner) happens to be on that same train as John is along with Tonto (Johnny Depp) where all of their fates are changed forever. Cavendish escapes custody and John must be deputized as a Texas Ranger (for some strange reason) by his brother Dan and ride the outlaw down. The only problem is that Butch has an inside man setting up the rangers for their ultimate demise. Ambushed and left for dead, John and the other rangers are found by Tonto. Digging 7 graves, Tonto is about to bury their remains when, Silver, The Lone Ranger’s trusty steed, shows up. It appears that not only is Silver a fantastic steed, he’s also a spirit animal, meaning that he can pull someone back from the dead. Drawing John Reid back to the living Tonto confides in the Lone Ranger that he is also seeking justice against Butch Cavendish and the two of them team up to take him down.
So far it’s a bit different than what I’m used to with a Lone Ranger origins story. John is a bit more of snob and barely qualified to hold a gun, but I can go with that, Tonto on the other hand is just out of control as Captain Jack Tonto. Creating a weird blend of “Pirates” lunacy with some stereotypical native American traits we get a bizarre blending of the two that resembles a bit too much of Captain Jack Sparrow for my liking. It seems that Johnny Depp decided to go overboard with his crazy persona, like he does some times, and no one had the guts to reel him back in and give him some solid direction. It’s almost as if they thought “look, he did this for Pirates, and look how everyone loved him! Let’s hope it’s the same thing here”. It also doesn’t help that the movie really doesn’t know what it wants to be. Sometimes it’s bouncing around with crazy antics, Tonto talking to the horse, wisecracks about the Lone Ranger’s lack of combat experience, jokes about being scared of cats etc, and then trying to draw the film into a morality tale of greed and deception, where Tonto is mentally unbalanced due to the great tragedy that befell his village 20 odd years ago. Then it tries to become a good ole western with lots of shoot em up moments and a thrilling train ride chase (which actually was REALLY impressive). If they had trimmed out maybe 20-30 minutes of the middle it would have felt a bit more cohesive, but as it stands the film is an utter mess. This bears no resemblance to the original characters except in name only. Armie can’t act his way out of a paper bag and the script reduces John Reid to a bumbling incompetent character, and Tonto is no longer his sidekick, but a more politically correct partner who we are supposed to feel sorry for because of the big bad evil white man who’s twirling his mustache behind the scenes while drinking a glass of imported Cognac. I understand that not every old time character can be brought into this modern world exactly as he was written decades and decades ago, but keeping at least some respect for the what came before is a must. Here they made fun of the most famous parts of the original series and did so without giving a nod of respect, but of derision. The times when the William Tell Overture blared across the soundstage didn’t elicit that same sense of excitement they were hoping for, but seemed raw and very out of place.
As I said, I can live with alterations to a character and story, not everything can be translated to a more modern audience exactly as they originally were written, but what makes or breaks a film is how it’s put together, a lot of things can be overlooked in a review if the story is tight, cohesive and creates a satisfying ending. Unfortunately none of those elements are here. The film suffers from trying to be too many things at once, as well as being WAY overly bloated. A 2.5 hour action/comedy/western is a tough sell, and the middle drags down quite a bit. The only real saving grace of the entire film was William Fichtner. He just ate up the scenery as the repulsive Butch Cavendish. I love most of his characters and he played Butch as the slimiest, most sinister piece of evil out there, making him truly terrifying and believable as one of the two villains. I was hoping for something better when I went into the theater, and hoped that a second viewing at home would alter my perception, but this is truly something that deserves someone in Disney to get fired over.
Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence, and some suggestive material
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=13997[/img]Now, while I wasn’t pleased with the movie itself, I can certainly find no problems with the video encode. Presented in 2.40:1 AVC the transfer is about as pristine as you can expect coming from a digital negative. Disney sometimes has issues with their restorations of catalog titles, but their day and date releases are something to truly marvel over. The detail throughout the film is simply incredible, from the cracking paint on Tonto’s face to the individual textures and hairs on Silver’s, all is replicated a perfect as can be. Long shots look just as good as the close up, with copious shots of the western desert to please the viewers. Black levels are inky and deep without any black crush or faded blacks. The film was graded with a bit of a slate blue tone to it so the colors don’t seem to be as bright as one would expect, but it fits the tone of the movie quite well and gives a sort of bleak shading to the film.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=13998[/img]Just as perfect as the video is the 7.1 DTS-HD MA track. Thankfully with a DTS-HD MA track there is no audio dropouts that have occurred with some of Disney’s Dolby TrueHD 7.1 tracks, so no fears there. The dialogue is crisp and clear as one can expect and the front soundstage is literally teaming with activity. Now I may gush about surround usage in certain films, but this one takes the cake. I was literally sitting in awe of the sheer amount of surround activity that was active throughout the track. I swear there was never a scene where the surrounds weren’t pushing out as much sound as the mains and center were. Truly incredible detail with the sounds of hooves upon the sands or a bullet whistling by your ear from front to back. LFE is tight and CLEAN, no boominesss or sloppy bass here. Explosions carry a wallup but still stay detailed and restrained, giving a much more realistic weight to the movie (even though I do love some overcooked bass tracks as well, it’s always exciting to hear once that’s balanced well). Overall Disney did a fantastic job with this track and deserver all the praise they can get for it.
• Armie's Western Roadtrip
• Riding the Rails of "The Lone Ranger"
• Becoming a Cowboy
• Deleted Scene
Overly bloated and stumbling around in the dark, it falls flat on its face as a film and feels like Gore and Jerry went overboard throwing everything at the wall and hoping that something stuck. Being that it was setup to be the first part of a trilogy of films (seems to be all the craze nowadays) it sets itself up for failure by leaving too much open and not cementing itself with good writing and instead relies on the Michael Bay system (aka lots of pretty lights and wise acre comments) to get it through. However, the fantastic audio and visuals certainly are enticing enough to give it a rental if you can, or if you’re a fan then it kind of makes it a must buy. However as a blind buy I would have to HIGHLY recommend not purchasing until you’ve done at LEAST a $1.50 Redbox rental.
Starring: Armie Hammer, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter
Directed by: Gore Verbinski
Written by: John Haythe, Ted Elliot
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 7.1, English, French, Spanish DD 5.1
Studio: Disney/Buena Vista
Runtime: 149 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: Dec 17th, 2013
Buy The Lone Ranger Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Skip It!
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