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Film only review. My latest rental was The Lone Ranger, I chose it as I was aware of the original and I thought it would be a fun film to watch. The Lone Ranger''s (Armie Hammer) story is told by Tonto (played by Jonny Depp) who tells the story of how John Reid first became the Lone Ranger. I found this meant the story was very much from Tonto''s point of view, and to me it almost seemed as if it was the Lone Ranger who was the side kick. For those of you who don''t know the traditional story is that The Lone Ranger is the hero and Tonto helps him! This felt like it was a long film as it is very slow paced, we seemed to wait ages for anything to happen. The best part of the film was the last quarter when the action speeded up, and it became quite funny, but unfortunately it was too little to late. The acting was ok, although the film does not show Jonny Depp at his best, he still played an ok part. The only noticeable music in the film was in the last quarter when they played the Lone Ranger theme tune which did add to the sense of action. The plot was generally ok, there were bad guys and good guys, but for me it was nothing special, and it felt too dragged out. In conclusion as you can probably tell I am not a fan of this film, it is just too slow, I think I should have stuck to the original.
A young boy (Mason Cook) dressed in a cowboy outfit walks into a Wild West exhibition at his local carnival. He is promised a look into the past history of how the Wild West really was. As he looks through a large pane of glass, munching his way through a bag of peanuts at the same time, he sees a tepee and a model of an elderly Comanche Indian wearing a crow as head gear. Suddenly the model comes to life and the ancient Indian starts to feed the bird on his head with a handful of seeds. The boy is in awe! The old man (Johnny Depp) asks for a peanut, the boy obliges and in return the Comanche who is Tonto, gives him a dead mouse.
The boy has a romantic notion of the Wild West and starts to ask questions. Tonto replies by relating the story of a clean living city lawyer who is tall, gangly and a bit slow on the uptake. His name is John Reid (Armie Hammer) and has an older brother Dan (James Badge Dale) who is a law man in their home of Texas. John has returned to take up the post of prosecutor; he is a man who believes in truth and justice.
His sister in law and former lover, Rebecca (Ruth Wilson) is surprised to see him; she even asks him why he has returned to such a dreary place. John replies by telling her that the town is his home.
There is an evil outlaw in town who likes to kill a man, he is feared by all. The posse including both brothers, John wearing a white Stetson hat and his brother wearing a black one, ride out to find the outlaw, Butch Cavendish, to bring him back to justice and so the story of Tonto and the Lone Ranger's partnership begins.
I can't tell you how desperate I was to see this film. I always loved the Lone Ranger series from when I was a kid and it seemed so long since I saw the last Depp film. I had read terrible reviews of the film and I knew the movie had lots of problems with filming and budgeting. At the moment the film is running at a loss of 138 million dollars but that stuff isn't important to me. Depp is my man and I wanted to see him in all make up and Comanche headgear. I wasn't disappointed at all, I loved the film. It is a cross between an old fashioned western and a silent movie.
Firstly, I want to mention some of the reviews I have read. One said that the film was cynical, anti-American and overtly political. Well, it really depends how deep you look into this film, remember it is a Disney film. Kids I have spoken to who saw the film loved it and took it at face value. One boy even said that he didn't know Disney made films like this anymore, his mother said that she had never seen him enjoy a film so much. Looking at it from a child's perspective I can see how appealing the film is, it's just like the westerns I used to watch as a kid with my Dad on a Sunday afternoon before we had our lunch, an old-fashioned cowboy and Indian film packed with adventure. This doesn't mean that I am ignoring the messages in the film about right and wrong and the truth about the West and how the Indians were devastated by the white man and his greed. The screenwriters, Justin Haythe and Ted Elliot are on the Comanches side as I always was as a kid but they are not painting a totally dark image of the 'white man.' Isn't the Lone Ranger a white American? He's a good guy, isn't he?
Another critic said that it was absurd to have a white man painted up to look like a stereotyped Native Indian. Excuse me! Does this man know anything about the Deppman??Johnny Depp is very proud of his Native American heritage; he originates from a Cherokee family. His great grandma did the whole Indian thing, wore braids, chewed tobacco and had long toe-nails. You only have to look at his face and eyes to see the trademarks of an American Indian.
Moving on, the film is rather long at 149 minutes but the pace is good, there are lots of action scenes, some really exciting with shoot outs and some hilarious, with Tonto climbing on the top of trains, doing balancing acts and lots of crazy moves with ladders and buckets, at times like Laurel and Hardy or Buster Keaton.
The film has been beautifully shot; I love the desert scenes and the sandstorms blowing which were filmed in Arizona and the train scenes shot in Colarado. Other locations were Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Los Angeles and California.
The soundtrack was interesting with some songs written by Jack White and performed by Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three while classics like Stars and Stripes Forever, Star Spangled Banner and the famous Lone Ranger theme tune (William Tell Overture) were arranged by Geoff Zanelli. I became very excitable when listening to the William Tell Overture, my legs started to twitch and I wanted to pretend to ride my horse but thought better of it, I didn't want to make a spectacle of myself.
Now to the bit where I mention the cast. Let's start with the Lone Ranger himself, Armie Hammer. I know him from episodes of Desperate Housewives and his role as Clyde Tolson in J Edgar Hoover. I liked him as Clyde Tolson and I think as the Lone Ranger he did a great job. The charisma between him and Depp was very convincing; they looked a crazy couple, started off on the wrong foot but in the end became bumbling buddies. It was hilarious and a joy to watch them get up to their very silly hijinks.
Helena Bonham Carter plays the role of a Madam who runs a whore house and saloon. For once she is very entertaining with her wooden leg that hides a shooter. She's as large as life and certainly very colourful.
Johnny Depp, well is just Johnny Depp. His antics and body language are amazing. He doesn't do much acting, it's all in his eyes and movements. He really should have been a silent movie actor because this is where he excels. At first I struggled with his broken English voice, I thought it sounded more like a Pakistani accent but after about five or six minutes I tuned in and it fitted together. He must have really enjoyed playing Tonto as he loves dressing up and wearing weird make-up. The crow on the head is hilarious. Apart from the sad moments where the film shows how badly the Indians were treated by the owners of the railroad company and other white men, I sat with a fixed grin on my face as Depp was so comical.
Other actors worth a mention are William Flitchner who plays the baddie, Butch Cavendish. He reminded me of a scary Iggy Pop or Alice Cooper. The make-up artist must have had a field day on making up his scarred face. Also, Tom Wilkinson was good as the town mayor, Latham Cole. Mason Cook, the boy looking through the glass at Tonto, had an interesting face in that his expression didn't change very much, it seemed like his large doe eyes where always open wide and he looked astonished.
Gore Verbinski is the director, the same chap who directed three of the Pirate films. I am not a great fan of these films although I enjoyed the last one much more and at the time I was pleased that a new director had stepped in. However, I have to say he has directed The Lone Ranger brilliantly and can't fault the photography, timing or plot.
Plotwise, if Lone Ranger fans are expecting the film to be based on the original radio series (1933) or even the TV series (1949-1957) they may be disappointed. It isn't like either. This film deliberately takes the side of the Indian population and goes out of its way to show the public just how greedy, white Americans were in those days by taking their land, killing off all the buffalo and making them sick by introuducing foreign substances that they had no immunity to.
Finally, the film isn't all about 'Hi Ho Silver, a crazy, mystic Indian, railroad tycoons, saloon bars and gunfights. There are many dark scenes showing how the Comanches were massacred, one in particular is beautifully filmed near the water's edge. The reflections and lighting are just awesome. These scenes are disturbing but I wouldn't say they were graphic. The scenes that I think aren't suitable for a sensitive 12 year old are the ones with the baddies and the antics Butch Cavendish gets up to when he has killed a man.
So there you go. Don't listen to the critics, go and see the film. It's one of Depp's best yet and I think in time this film will be remembered as a great piece of work. It is suitable for all the family not just fans of Depp. I could watch it over and over again and have ordered the DVD to add to my very large collection. It will make you smile, laugh out loud and weep. What more could you ask from a film? Well done Disney.