Looking around online this movie seems to be viewed one of two ways, critics love it, or hate it. There seems to be very few balanced, middle of the road, opinions. I suppose this this can be laid at the door of expectation and how reverential peopel feel the movie should/shouldn’t have been. Many of the reviewers on the American side of the pond, quite probably, were brought up with one version of the Lone Ranger or other; the all-American, archetype. I have only vague recollections as the hero from my youth it must be said, mainly of the whole thing being a little too clean, goody two-shoes, sensible and boring for my taste. It is perhaps why I so thoroughly enjoyed the movie. For the most part it is a little bonkers. For the majority of its running time it does not take itself too seriously (see my review of Fast and Furious 6 for to see how I dislike po-faced action movies), though it does have bizarre framing story that, on the whole, is a huge tonal shift when compared to the majority of the story.
What is it, then, that makes the movie so much fun? First and foremost, Tonto (Johnny Depp) and The Lone Ranger himself (Armie Hammer) build up a very entertaining rapport. Outside of maybe a couple of performances I am not a big Depp fan, so I was pleasently surpsised at how much I enjoyed his performance here. Is the movie skewed so that the movie should really be called Tonto, probably, but that is what happens when you need the money men to back a movie, you put your big stars front and centre, story be damned. Hammer plays the, generally, straight man to Depp’s crazy very well, and he is a very likeable screen prescence to boot. It is a shame that the movie performed how it did, as it looks unlikely we will see these guys pair up again in a sequel.
Shotgun. Leg. Those two words are a good point all on their own. Helena Bonham Carter has an ornately carved ivory shotgun leg. That is all there is to say about that.
What about the Rangers trusty steed silver? How does he fare? Very well as it turns out. He is probably now my favourite celluloid horse. How many movies give a white horse a large white stetson. And how many horses could pull that look off?!? Black Beauty couldn’t that is for sure. The movie successfully gives him all of the personality that the best Disney animal sidekicks have, and he doesn’t even speak; except perhaps to Tonto, but he is a little ‘odd’ so maybe we should just discount that. Maybe. He also has his part to play in all the best action scenes, inexplicably turning up where you would not expect a horse to turn up; with his appearances being all the more amusing for it.
And those action scenes sure are a lot of fun. The final rollercoaster, train based, action swequence in particular is a highlight. Imagine the mine cart section of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, but on two full sized steam locomotives – one travelling backwards – throw in a bit of slapstick, some excitement, some adventure and then soundtrack it with the William Tell Overture. If anyone says that that piece of music doesn’t bring a grin to themselves and make them want to ride a horse around the room Monty Python style, then they are lying.
Before I am accused of lacking balance, I think I should include one or two negatives. I have touched on one of them already, the tone. For the majority of the movie it is very much a light-hearted, kinda campy (in a 60’s Batman kind of way) and every bit the summer blockbuster, but, from time to time, particularly the framing device, it becomes a little maudlin and grim. The villain, for instance, is shown eating the heart of the heroes brother – or at least you see as much as a 12 (PG-13) rated movie will let you; though truth be told in days gone by it probably would have bumped the rating to 15. The story does veer off into pseudo-philopohical nonsense on occasion too. All these detours on the tonal road do is add length to the movie (clocking in at nearly two and a half hours!) that is not neccessary. I think if these detours were removed, it may not have had quite the number of detractors it does. A number of them may have a point when they say that, at times, the movie doesn’t really know what it wants to be. And that length. Summer blockbusters do seem to be creeping up in length, but two and a half hours …
Anyway, in summary. A highly entertaining movie. I am dissapointed that I missed it in cinemas last year, but am lucky enough to have a reasonable home entertainment system to make the most of the spectacle. And it is a movie of spectacle, made for big screens and bigger sound systems. Check all pretentions, and your thinking cap, at the door. They are not welcome or needed for this movie. Jujst turn off, tune in and have a blast.
Have you seen it? What do you think? Am I way off base? Was it as bad as many critics seem to think? Is it as good as I think? Let me know.