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VINE VOICEon 27 November 2013
The Lone Ranger landed in British cinemas trailing behind it bad reviews and poor word of mouth from the US like the tail of a comet, and vanished from cinemas again almost as quickly. They say that bad word of mouth can kill a film just as much as good can get it an audience, and this appears to be the case here. After doing very poor business in the US (it's expected to make a loss approaching US$150m), it had turkey written all over it.

The thing is, I can understand why The Lone Ranger did really badly in the `states and it's got less to do with it being a bad film than you might expect - in fact, there's a lot here to like. For my money the reason it did really badly in the US is because it's the most cynical blockbuster I've seen since perhaps Starship Troopers; it holds up a mirror to the creation myth of the American West and I don't reckon the US liked what it saw. From experience, asking simple questions like "Didn't lots of Indians once live in this part of the Americas? What became of them?" can go down really badly on the other side of the Atlantic, and the plot of The Lone Ranger is a retelling of what happened to the Sioux nation after gold was found in the Black Hills (only relocated to Texas and with the Cherokee as the tribe in the - literal - firing line) and, just like in real history, it doesn't end well for the Indians. At least in this version the baddies get their comeuppance.
I've got to admit to being slightly mystified as to why Disney spent the better part of a quarter of a billion dollars making a film about why the Indians are notable by their absence in those areas of US where valuable minerals were to be found given that it might be a bit of a touchy subject for much of their audience.

The Film itself is yet another origin story. It is the 1880s. Slick city lawyer goes home to Texas where his elder brother is a Ranger, elder brother is killed, slick city lawyer must take up the badge to track down his killers (who it turns out are trying to steal a fortune in silver from under land which the Cherokee have inadvisably decided they'd like to live on). A simple idea, perhaps, but it takes two and a half hours to tell the story and in so doing it meanders all over the place, ranging from downright bizarre to slow to great and back again in the process.

And in my opinion that's the big weakness; tonally it's all over the place. One minute it's an homage to Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone, the next to John Ford, and the next to the 1950's TV series. Moreover, it never seems certain of what it wants to be. A comedy, with an amusing sidekick and performing horse? An elegy to the Indians killed in the pursuit of economic expansion? An action blockbuster crammed with thrilling set pieces? Or a grim Unforgiven-style western with supernatural and horror elements (at one point it's implied that the Lone Ranger's brother turns up as a ghost to save someone, and then he vanishes and is never mentioned in any way again). Perhaps the greatest tonal shock for a child-friendly romp is that fact that one of the villains* is clearly identified as a cannibal who cuts out one characters' heart and eats it, and is implied to have eaten another character's leg. At these moments I was staring at the screen wondering what the hell the screenwriters were thinking. And don't get me started on the deviant fetishist US Cavalry captain who is distracted at a plot-critical moment by his attraction to a prostitute with a prosthetic limb. I mean, really?

Tonal issues and bizarre creative decisions aside, when The Lone Ranger gets it right it hits it clean out of the park in a way which few blockbusters manage. Gore Verbinski (the man behind the camera of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise) really knows how to put a film together when the script allows him to do so. Take, for example, the opening shot of the big action set-piece at the end of the film:
A train filled with baddies and their hostages is pulling out of the station. As it starts to pull away a little boy leans out of one of the windows and screams for help. The camera pans across and there! On top of the hill! It's the Lone Ranger on his horse, Silver! Silver rears, the opening bars of the William Tell overture strike up, and we're off.
In that single shot there is more joy and more genuine heart than in every single dreary, self-righteous second of the washed-out, lens-flare-filled lump that was Man of Steel , and yet Man of Steel is still making money by the wheelbarrow load. It's not a fair world.

Would I recommend The Lone Ranger? Yes, I would, unequivocally. It's uneven in pace and tone, and outright bizarre in places, and yet it's also great fun and intensely likeable. Like I say above they spent in the region of $250m making it and you can tell. The look and feel of the old West is perfect and aside from a few ropy CGI shots (Note to Hollywood: we can tell. Just stop) everything looks real because much of it is real; no green-screened landscapes of rendered locomotives here; they actually built two new steam locomotives specifically for the film and went to monument valley to shoot them.
The degree of perfectionism in the look of the film is impressive in itself, it's a shame that it didn't quite carry over to the structure and the script. However, despite that criticism, The Lone Ranger is nowhere near as bad as the US reviews have made it sound (unless you're someone who doesn't like to be reminded of where all the Indians really went whilst Old Glory is flying in the background). Unusually, I'd pay money to see it again in the cinema, and that makes it only the second (after Iron Man 3) film I've seen this year I'd say that about.

*Reading this back I'm amused that I felt the need to specify that it was one of the villains who is a cannibal. It's that sort of film.
33 comments93 of 99 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
'Disney' after all these years resurrect the masked-avenger and legendary
screen hero 'The Lone Ranger' and companion 'Tonto'
The TV series many remember ran from 1949-1957 and starred 'Clayton Larson'
and 'Jay Silverheels'
This action-packed adventure with more than it's fair share of humour as
might be expected with 'Johnny Depp' in the role of 'Tonto'; takes us back
to the beginning of their friendship, when. in the early moments 'John Reid'
assumed dead by the 'Butch Cavendish' gang is persuaded to wear a mask by
For completely different reasons the two seek justice.....together.
The unlikely couple light up the screen with their antics.
(Tonto, many, many years on, working in a fairground 'Wild-West' show is telling
a young lad his tale of his adventure with 'The Spirit Walker)
All I can say, as did an earlier reviewer, don't take any notice of reviews that
slate the film.....
For me, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, the final twenty minutes or so is probably
the funniest film sequence I've seen in many a year....truly brilliant.......
if you were among the audience in the US you'd probably give the film a standing
ovation during the ending credits .........don't miss it.
Among the additional features on board to enjoy.....'Annie's western road-trip' ..
'Becoming a cowboy' ...'Riding the rails of the Lone Ranger' ...'Deleted scenes'
and the ever popular...'Bloopers'
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VINE VOICEon 26 February 2014
Don't listen to the professional reviewers, this movie is brilliantly thought out and executed. This is the Lone Ranger adaptation that you really wanted, and at long last you can watch it over and over on DVD.
Depp is amazing as Tonto and Arm & Hammer (his dad owns the toothpaste company in real life - check IMDB!) is an excellent Ranger too.
There are so many scenes that are memorable, but just lay back and enjoy it - this is real entertainment!
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on 10 September 2013
I also enjoyed this film more than I expected and ended up greatly moved by it. The negative critical reviews (understandably) just looked at it as another Pirates of the Caribbean blockbuster action comedy (which is no doubt what Disney hoped for too!) and it certainly fails there. BUT if you don't expect that and keep an open mind you'll find an intriguing film that, if you have a soul, may get you unexpectedly with its pathos, cinematography and fantastic soundtrack juxtaposed with the bizarre and surreal. I was rather bored for the first 20 minutes but then the film totally hooked me and I was nearly in tears by the closing sequence, in a good way! I didn't expect that at all. The actual Lone Ranger character is a bit of a side issue to the film, although his child like attempt to do the right thing in a corrupt world helped bring home the hypocracy in the difference between what we say we do, and know we ought to do, and what we actually do. I downloaded the soundtrack and am now playing it incessantly while waiting the blu ray release. Beware there are two soundtracks - one music inspired by the film (not particularly special), the other the ACTUAL Zimmer soundtrack (very special) that seems to be only an expensive (£20) US import in hard copy but download is around eight quid.
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on 12 October 2013
"Do you want the truth Kemosabe?"
"I seek Justice Tonto and Justice can only be found when the truth is known."
These are not lines from the film but my own. I write them because despite the myriad of reviews about this film I fear the truth has not been told, and without the truth true justice cannot be given to the film. I hope, with the reader's indulgence I can provide the truth. Of course my comments will be subjective, but I will be honest in explanation of from where they come .
First and foremost I am a film fan. I have been for 50 years since the time my father allowed me to accompany him to the projection room at a small town cinema in Wales where he worked as a projectionist. I am also a massive fan of the Lone Ranger. I remember watching him on Saturday afternoons in my grandmother's house. I was taken in by his steadfast morality and bravery. He taught me many lessons on what was right and wrong and challenged me to take the path of good in my childhood and adolescence. So I write both as a film fan and a fan of the Lone Ranger.
Since over 25 years ago, when it was reported in the Daily Mirror that a new Lone Ranger film was going to be made and directed by John Landis (what happened to that project?) I have been waiting for the Lone Ranger to hit the big screen. Another production, The Legend of the Lone Ranger starring Klinton Spilsbury was made., Despite criticism from many, this movie portrayed the legend well, but overall it was not a superb film.
I was overjoyed when this new movie starring Armie Hammer as the Ranger eventually came to fruition but was so dismayed with the poor critical reviews which seem obviously the reason why the film flopped in the USA. I feel somewhat dismayed that the public were unable to make their own mind up instead of relying on faceless biased reviews.
If you haven't seen the film (or even if you have) GET IT WHEN RELEASED ON DVD
I am spelling it out because so many of the critiques have been written in such a negative fashion from the outset. There was so much dissent that by the time something vaguely positive was mentioned, I guess most readers would have given up.
One of the criticisms is that the film at two and a half hours duration is far too long. I disagree. Are the critics suggesting that the attention span of the film goer is so short that they would not last the duration of the film? The pace of the movie is such that when it ended I was barely aware that 147 minutes had passed. Do the critics think that film audience are so limited in intelligence that we can only pay attention for an hour and a half? The Lone Ranger is not too long. You will be thrilled. You will be engrossed. The story telling is engaging, the photography is excellent and the soundtrack superb.
Critics are eager to point out that there is much violence in the film. This censure alone may be enough to put off parents allowing their children to see it. There is a lot of shooting (what classic western doesn't have that?) but there is very little blood. Much of the violence is by implication and is not graphic. Even the much derided cannibal scene is tastefully handled (no pun intended). The action is covert - enough to indicate the horrific act to the adult viewer but not so overt to make it clear to the younger audience. The film illustrates the violent times of the Wild West as it is an inherent part of the story and to does it in a way that allows the film to be suitable to be seen by the whole family.
The Lone Ranger film has been has been judged as a movie that clumsily attempts to incorporate too many styles in an effort to satisfy many expectations, and in an endeavour to do so provided an untidy mishmash of unfocussed storytelling. See the DVD for yourself, immerse yourself in it and it is my guess that you will not agree. The very difficult task of producing a film to satisfy a family audience has been successfully achieved with a capable balance of humour, heroism, relationships, honour, morality and downright excitement. The film does not lose its way. It show a violent and corrupt time in early American history and uses humour to lighten the tone. It does this competently.
One of the most annoying criticisms I have read is that the film includes too many scenes/ideas copied from other classic westerns. What of the phrase - Imitation is the best form of flattery? References are made to previously released westerns , even Soldier Blue ,( the critics missed that one), but this re-use of ideas is surely a great tribute to a great genre, and I guess many were done tongue in cheek. What must be remembered too is that the Lone Ranger was originally a show for children. By incorporating ideas from these classic westerns it helps bring the character into the adult world.
If you have no preconceptions of the Lone Ranger, or you are not of my age and a great fan from the 50s and 60s you will be totally taken in by this film and will be thoroughly entertained. As a film with the intention to entertain the whole family I award it 5 stars out of 5.
To the reader, thank you for your indulgence so far. I would like to end by offering my opinion of the film from the perspective of a childhood fan of the title character and also to offer a very personal view of why the film was berated so much by the critics. I believe that Johnny Depp's apparent arrogance towards the title's character in the planning stage and production alienated him from the critics. Rightly he wanted to portray Tonto in a more intelligent respectful way than Native American Indians were customarily played in earlier western movies. His desire to do this was marred by his lack of respect for the character of the Lone Ranger. If what I have read is correct, in the planning stage it appears that he even considered the Lone Ranger as somewhat of a fool with Tonto being the superior individual. (Some evidence of this is in the film). This is not equality. The Lone Ranger Creed declares, " That all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world."
When I learned that a new Lone Ranger film was being considered I wanted to see a Lone Ranger and Tonto film, not a Johnny Depp star vehicle in which he plays a character called Tonto in a film called the Lone Ranger. Throughout the planning and production all the hype seemed to be about Depp and not the Lone Ranger. Some critics, may have been disappointed by Depp's lack of reverence to this legendry hero whilst giving excessive attention given to his own self importance.
Another reason for the poor reviews was in my opinion the uninteresting early previews of the film. Trailers 3 and 4 however did get my attention and as I began to learn more about its production I decided that the film certainly deserved a viewing.
Despite my earlier comments on Mr. Depp I am very pleased to concede that his acting was excellent. Comic timing was superb and soon into the film I began to believe that he was Tonto. Even his unusual headgear soon integrated into his character and became unobtrusive. The reason for it is explained in the film.
Armie Hammer does a reasonable job playing the Ranger and I would be happy seeing him, more maturely taking on the role again. He is tall and handsome but his looks seem too boyish and he does not command the screen presence the Ranger needs. There was something about his characterization that was missing - an earnestness perhaps? We all need a hero in our lives. The Lone Ranger is mine, but sadly Armie Hammer's portrayal does not quite live up to my expectations.
Most of the Lone Ranger's trademarks feature in the movie - the silver bullets, black mask, white hat and the magnificent horse Silver. Even Tonto's horse Scout makes an appearance but not until the very end of the film. The Ranger's revised clothing works and after a while I stopped mourning the absence of the blue shirt and trousers synonymous with the Ranger of the comic books and small screen.
If you are a Lone Ranger fan and you watch the DVD expecting to see the character of previous films and television you may be disappointed. If you maintain an open mind and allow yourself to absorb this new interpretation you will be entertained and satisfied. As the film reaches its climax and the Lone Ranger appears on his fiery horse in a cloud of dust (smoke more accurately in this film) to the rousing sound of the William Tell Overture I guarantee that you will be transported back to those thrilling days of yesteryear. With a hearty cry of Hi-Yo Silver the Lone Ranger rides again.
I award 4 stars out of 5 for this interpretation.
Help save the Lone Ranger. Buy this DVD.
Endnote: At the very end of the film the question is asked - Did the Lone Ranger really exist? I know the answer and I know his identity. He was of course........Clayton Moore.
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on 4 October 2013
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on 3 January 2014
This was a great film to watch and I cannot wait to watch it again. It has plenty of laughs and plenty of action especially the part of the film involving the 2 trains. Forget what some critics said about the film it's worth a buy.
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on 6 February 2016
I put off watching this for over 2 years because of bad to mixed reviews, but having finally watched it, I enjoyed it a lot!

Is it perfect? No - I can see the flaws so let's begin with those; to begin with it *is* overly long and it a bit oddball in places. The frame story is a bit pointless and overall if the film had been edited a little more severely and cleverly it would have made the plot a little less wandering and could probably have brought the film in at least 15 - 20 minutes shorter.

Also, there is a scene near the beginning where the main bad guy does something utterly gross to finish killing a character who is the on-screen brother of the guy who will eventually become the Lone Ranger. It is not only gross, it is pointless - has no bearing on the plot and I don't think it is ever even referenced again; they could and should have cut that.

All that being said, this is still a fun movie! The action sequences are great and some are pretty unique. The story itself has more depth than is apparent at first so you have to stick with it to get the whole thing, but it is worth it. By the time they get to the final action sequence and you hear the opening trumpet of the William Tell Overture, you know you're in for a great finale action sequence and I found it to be really enjoyable, making me laugh and even cheer once!

Don't be like me - put off by the bad press; I wish now I'd seen it at the cinema!
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on 16 August 2013
I went to see this at the cinema with my husband and our 12-year-old son during the summer holidays and we thoroughly enjoyed it! Johnny Depp is great as Tonto (a much more complex character than Jack Sparrow, and very sensitively played considering the issues surrounding American Indians) and the train chase as the end is fantastic! Some of the critical reviews in the press said that it was just a mish-mash of bits from classic westerns. I'm not enough of a film buff to know if that is true, but even if it is, they clearly worked the first time round (otherwise they wouldn't be 'classic') so why not let a new audience enjoy them and perhaps get curious enough to seek out some of the originals? I don't remember the original TV version of the Lone Ranger, but I think it was probably very 'straight' and moralistic - this film is true to the moral message embodied in the character of the Lone Ranger, but there is quite of lot of humour and tounge-in-cheek delivery (although there are also dark moments - it does need to be a 12A). Perhaps this annoyed the purists? Anyway, go and see it for yourselves - it doesn't deserve to be a flop. I'm looking forward to the DVD already!
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on 28 February 2014
Can't understand why the critics were so so about his film as it is incredibly funny. I can only think they are too young to have watched the original TV series of the same name to realise this is a spoof of that. Every possible scenario from earlier Westerns are taken the mickey out of in the film.
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