Sunday, July 7, 2013
By Jeff Mooers
Origin stories are difficult movies to make. The screenwriters and director have the unenviable task of creating a film that introduces a character, creates his back story, provides his motivation and is also entertaining. The Lone Ranger amps up the difficulty by attempting to give us not one, but two origin stories. In this film we are introduced to not only the character of the Lone Ranger, but also Tonto. Don't be fooled by the title of the movie, this is every bit Tonto's story as much as the Lone Ranger's, if not more. Of course that is to be expected when Johnny Depp is playing Tonto and Armie Hammer is playing the Lone Ranger. Without going into specific details, the story certainly gives ample motive for the actions of both of them.
We are introduced to Tonto first, who we meet decades after the events of the film. We watch the film as Tonto recounts the tales of his and the Lone Ranger's adventure to a young boy who obviously has heard of the two heroes. The story is told with periodic visits back to the aging Tonto and his young listener. It's a storytelling device that I felt was unnecessary, and really didn't add much to the story. I feel that a simple straight-forward story arc would have suited this film better.
Gore Verbinski and the writing team do a pretty decent job of creating a pair of characters that both long time fans of the Lone Ranger and people who are new to the franchise will root for. Let's face it, this is a simple popcorn movie, and I think if people go into it with that expectation they won't be disappointed. This is not a great film by any stretch, but it provides some mindless summer fun at the movies, and sometimes that's enough. One issue I did have with the movie, however, is the 150 minute run time. This is the continuation of a disturbing string of bloated movies. The Lone Ranger could have been told in a much tidier 2 hours. One other word of warning I would give to parents: This is a pretty hard PG-13, closer to R than PG. There is a lot of violence for a PG-13 movie, and some disturbing moments for younger children.
Plot: **1/2 The plot is a little muddled, and there are some surprises that anyone who is paying attention will see coming a mile away.
Acting: *** Everyone does their job well, but you won't walk away from this movie overly impressed either.
Writing: ** The writers did the right thing by keeping things light and comical. The tone is very similar to that of Verbinski's Pirates of the Carribean.
Direction: *** Gore Verbinski has shown that he can handle popcorn movies and big action set pieces. There are plenty of those. The action is silly and over the top, but the movie never takes itself too seriously, so it fits.
Technical: ** Some CGI effects look pretty bad, and the William Tell Overture is overused.
X Factors: ** It's an interesting reboot of what Disney hopes to be a new franchise for them, although based on the box office results thus far that may not be the case.
Verdict: **1/2 Not my favorite movie of the summer by any means, but certainly not the disappointment that some other movies (I'm talking to you Man of Steel) have been.
Will this wind up in my collection: Probably not, at least not until it's in the bargain bin at Walmart.