Even the most ardent admirers of The Lone Ranger – that masked avenging good guy of the wild west – will concede his appeal to the masses expired 50 years ago.
A 21st century revival of this pop-culture dinosaur was always going to be a tough ask for filmmakers. Not to mention a tough sell to audiences.
Therefore, the associated backers of the Pirates Of the Caribbean franchise have thrown an estimated $450 million (including marketing) at The Lone Ranger.
While they could get their money back, you will never get your time back from a 147-minute exercise in overblown, underwhelming nothingness. The problems start right at the top of the cast list and trickle down to the smallest of details.
The first thing that hits you about The Lone Ranger is that the title character (played by a bland Armie Hammer) is merely a passenger in the vehicle bearing his name.
Replacing him in the driver’s seat is his famous “faithful Indian companion” Tonto (Johnny Depp).
The behind-the-scenes thinking here is straightforward enough. Given enough time and creative latitude, Depp just might come up with a breakout character to rival his iconic Captain Jack Sparrow.
It only takes a few Tonto-centric scenes for that “just might” to become “just won’t.”
While Depp stuffs the role of Tonto with every quirk, tic and deadpan deconstruction he can muster, the calculated kookiness rarely pays off.
A sideshow of Depp doing nothing but nutty – yes, there is a dead bird on his head for the entire picture – does not a main attraction make.
This undated publicity photo from Disney/Bruckheimer Films, shows actors, Johnny Depp, left, as Tonto, a spirit warrior on a personal quest, who joins forces in a fight for justice with Armie Hammer, as John Reid, a lawman who has become a masked avenger, The Lone Ranger, from the movie, “The Lone Ranger.” The film opens nationwide on July 3, 2013. Picture: AP
Neither does a paper-thin plot about how Mr Ranger learns to like wearing his trademark mask after wispily whingeing about it for, like, forever.
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The famous wonder horse Silver steals a few CGI-assisted scenes by appearing in absurd places not known as equine-friendly. Such as high up the branches of a tree. Helena Bonham Carter shows up as a one-legged Bordello madam who keeps a shotgun concealed in her wooden limb.
There are many train chases, many train wrecks and much railway-related rambling on.
That running time is important.
It’s only five minutes longer in duration than Man Of Steel, but feels more like five hours.
Remember, we’re not filming The Bible here. It’s a creaky old western. All that should be required is some cowboys, some Injuns, some horses, a prairie, a campfire and a saloon, and we’re done.
Not so with The Lone Ranger. With all that cash to splash, it keeps grinding away for a spectacle that will have jaws touching floors.
Jaws will be extended during The Lone Ranger, but only as part of a yawn.
> The Lone Ranger[M]
Director: Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean)
Starring: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, Helena Bonham Carter, Barry Pepper
“Dopey Depp brings down the Hammer”