Tuesday, July 02, 2013

The Lone Ranger: "Don't ever do that again!"

July 2, 2013
   Thanks to my good friend, and movie reviewer, Henry Beck, Kathy and I got to see a sneak peek of The Lone Ranger last night down at the Arizona Center. The long awaited Disney Western opens tomorrow.

Here's my take on it: If you liked Rango and Pirates of the Caribbean you will probably enjoy the new Lone Ranger. If you are a fan of the old  Lone Ranger  starring Clayton Moore you are definitely going to hate it. And if you are a fan of Westerns I have another comparison: if you liked Cowboys & Aliens you should like The Lone Ranger. In fact, both films are very close in terms of tone and special effects, with The Lone Ranger having a slight advantage in terms of amazing CG effects. But, if you have skin in the game, they are too damn close for comfort (I'm talking to the suits at Disney).

In terms of the actual story, it's straight ahead Big-Studio-Pirates variety plot twists and reversals. One amazing note: Barry Pepper is doing Custer, but channeling Robert Duvall. Henry Beck noticed this and leaned over to me: "He's doing Robert Duvall!" And, incredibly, he was. A dead on impersonation of Bobby Duvall it is.

But the most troubling, or problematic, aspect of the film is how they deal with the baggage of the old TV show. You can't help it, you keep waiting for the classic tropes, "Who was that masked man?" and "Hi Yo Silver, Away!" and, of course the theme song (William Tell Overture). Well, we get them, but played mostly as a send up, or as flat-out mockery. The best example of this is toward the end of the movie, Armie Hammer as The Lone Ranger is aboard Silver, and the white stallion rears up and Hammer delivers the classic line "Hi Yo Silver, Away!". The camera pans left to Tonto looking on with a bemused, slightly disgusted face. Depp says, "Don't ever do that again!" Big laugh, but—at the expense of the old show.

I won't even go into the hats again, except to say the same stupid, style hat the Lone Ranger wears is also worn by his brother. Two of the worst cowboy hats to ever appear in a Western would be my take on it.

That said, I enjoyed the ride and, speaking of which, the horseback riding is excellent with thundering hooves and amazing camera angles of galloping horses, and stunt riders doing amazing things (not to mention digital artists rendering The Lone Ranger riding across the top of a moving train).

I really want the film to succeed, but my prediction is The Lone Ranger will do slightly better than Cowboys & Aliens, but in the end, the studio will be left with Depp's line: "Don't ever do THAT again!"

"A snob is a person who can hear the William Tell Overture and NOT think of The Lone Ranger."
—Old Vaquero Saying