Writing - 8
Direction/Filmmaking - 7.5
Soundtrack/ Score - 7
Acting - 7
Cinematrography - 5.5
Summary : Despite being lambasted by most critics, this is actually a fairly enjoyable movie.
I have to admit something. When I first saw the trailers for The Lone Ranger, I was completely unimpressed and absolutely positive that it would fail. While I was correct that it would fail, I now sincerely wish that it hadn’t. After talking about the issue with fellow G33k-e contributor Skinslip, he revealed to me that the same company behind the marketing of John Carter, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Prince of Persia had also been tasked with promoting this film. Unsurprisingly, all four films failed miserably in theaters, and it was probably because of how poorly they were marketed. After all, if you go back and look at the trailers and promotional materials for all four films, I think you’ll find that they are all miserably poor in quality and fail to compare to the product they are shilling – which is especially pathetic when you consider how unimpressive some of these titles actually were.
I feel bad about having written this film off from the get go, not necessarily because I actually ended up liking it, but because I actually used it as an example of excess in Hollywood. When trying to argue against big budget features, I relied upon this movie as an example of how a big budget doesn’t always mean success and can sometimes spell catastrophic failure. Had I known about how entertaining the film actually was, I might have held my tongue, because I have to admit that sometimes I like to see a bit of excess from Hollywood. After all, what would the industry be like without needlessly expensive productions that titillate the senses? Maybe we could use fewer blockbusters over all and perhaps the industry would be better served to cut those big budgets up into 3 or 4 features instead of just one, but there’s something to be said for the truly bombastic nature of these over inflated spectacles of the film world. I may not always enjoy the end result, but at least I know it’s going to be ridiculously grand in scale, with shock value that will come from the numbers alone. “They spent how much on this movie?”
All that being said, it usually takes more than a big budget attempt at a blockbuster to pique my interest. I’ll watch just about anything, but I just don’t typically enjoy these types of movies. However, even after using The Lone Ranger as an example of how the big budget blockbuster is a worthless endeavor, I still wanted to see it. I know that a large segment of the film buff community will want to castrate me for saying this, but I actually enjoy Johnny Depp’s work. I especially like the work that he has done with Gore Verbinski, who is definitely one of the finest directors of our time. Let’s just be honest here, the man knows how to make a good adventure flick, which is something the cinema has been sorely lacking over the past few decades. Put the two of them together and you’re almost assured to get something great. Sadly, this project just wasn’t sold well enough and it didn’t speak to the audience it desperately needed to approach. As such, it failed miserably at the box office. Once again, critics hated it for all the wrong reasons.
Regardless of its failure, I was surprised to discover that The Lone Ranger is actually quite good. Verbinski really put a lot of love into this project and it definitely shows. With a score that directly references the work of Ennio Morricone, any fan of the genre is sure to be pleased by the music in the film. Speaking of references and examples of homage in the film, there are also at least two scenes which were taken directly from Once Upon a Time in the West and at least one scene which may have been a reference to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Needless to say, there’s a lot of love for the Spaghetti Western on display here. This movie truly is a love letter to the genre that any fan worth their salt should enjoy. Once more, we find a film where Gore Verbinski is paying loving homage to the Western genre. Unfortunately for him, this time around the audience didn’t give it a chance. What makes Rango so different from The Lone Ranger? Honestly, not much. If anything, I’d say that he does a much better job of paying his respects this time around.
Speaking of paying your respects, there was a bit of controversy surrounding this film because of the role that Johnny Depp was given. What sparked the controversy is beyond me, considering that Depp is actually part Native American and was probably a better choice to play the role than anyone else they could have gotten. Okay, so maybe they could have found someone a bit more native, but when a studio is looking for star power and you’ve got Verbinski behind the project, you kind of have to expect that Depp is going to be involved somewhere. Expecting otherwise would be tantamount to seeing a Tim Burton film and being surprised to find Helena Bonham Carter in there somewhere. Besides which, the Western genre is known for its glaring inaccuracies of Native American history and its poor choice of actors to play the roles of natives. You should be so lucky to get a movie featuring a Native American character who is played by an actor who actually fits the bill in some small way.
And did the movie actually portray this history correctly? Well, yes and no. There are some aspects that could be considered inaccurate, but for the most part The Lone Ranger actually does a good job of portraying Native Americans in a positive light. There is mention of the “Wendigo,” which is indeed a creature depicted in Native American folklore, and the character who is given this name (brilliantly played by William Fichtner) in the movie actually does fit the role of said folklore. When we run into the tribes in the film, they all display a bit of humor, which is most definitely a positive aspect of the native lifestyle. Depp plays a bit of a tortured soul in the film, but he does it for comedic effect in a way that is very close to what you would expect from Native American humor. That being said, there are some examples of mysticism within the story that are somewhat unnecessary. It would have been nice to see an entirely accurate portrayal of these fine people and their history, but this is a Western film and the genre has never been one to accurately portray much of anything. To be honest, this is possibly one of the more respectable movies in the genre and it’s meant to be a tale of action/adventure for all to enjoy, so accuracy probably wasn’t even their main goal.