Movie Reviews for Comic Fans: The Lone Ranger
So Today’s movie review, I’ll talk a film that we have mentioned several times on our podcast especially in comparison to a particular comic book run: The Lone Ranger. In particular, both myself and fellow Ghost, Chad Smith, love the 25 issue Dynamite run of The Lone Ranger as we highlighted it as our number 2 most underrated run of comics.
In fact, Chad Smith regularly ranks the Lone Ranger up there as one of his favorite characters of all time, and I remember seeing this movie in a nearly empty theater during it’s opening weekend several years back. Now, a lot has been made of the reasons why that theater was empty, and this film has received it’s far share of bashing over the years. But unlike Chad Smith who might pump the tires of this film unnecessarily out of his love of the subject matter, or those haters that have decried the film since it’s release, I’ll strive in this blog to be fairly objective in the hopes of giving my readers a fair shake as it were on whether they should see the movie if they haven’t already.
So two things I should clear up about this review before we begin:
1) I really do like westerns. From the Magnificent Seven, to the Clint Eastwood films, or The Searchers, I’m always in the mood for a good old fashioned Western yarn regardless of the topic.
2) Although not as hardcore as Chad, I’m a sucker for things like the Lone Ranger. Not only am I nostalgic, but because in the Lone Rangers case its actually linked to another franchise I’m even a bigger fan of: The Green Hornet.
Some of you might have known that both the Lone Ranger and Green Hornet were originally radio dramas and both were created by a guy named Fran Striker. Basically, Lone Ranger came first and seeing that it was a hit, the powers that be wanted another show from Fran that pretty much followed the same formula. So all he did was move the character type into the “modern times”, fighting gangsters instead of cattle rustlers.
That’s why both the Hornet and Ranger have minorities as sidekicks (Tonto/Kato), carry guns but don’t kill anyone, travel on/in ridiculous fast transportation (Silver/Black Beauty), and most of all wear masks and work outside the law.
In fact, Fran actually made the two characters relatives of each other, as the Green Hornet’s Britt Reid is the grandnephew of the Lone Rangers John Reid. In fact, for those of you that see the movie, Dan Reid’s son, is actually the Green Hornet’s father…..
…Wow…that was a mouthful just to get to my point which was that some of you out there might hate the Lone Ranger movie. Think it’s plodding mess of an action adventure film with poor writing. Since however, I’m a fan of the subject material, I’m going to be definitely biased in my review. I’m just letting you know that upfront, so if you disagree with anything you can just brush me off as a fan boy and move on.
The first thing I’ll say is that I’m happy that we got a much more serious interpretation of the Lone Ranger than we did with Seth Rogan’s Green Hornet. Although both movies were fun and initially displayed both heroes as naive doofuses being led around by their much more knowledgeable partners, ultimately, I feel The Lone Ranger was portrayed as much more competent as a hero that then Green Hornet ever was. So right off the bat, I had something else to compare this movie to, and in my opinion this one was better than that.
The second thing I’ll say is that I fully realize that the movie was very choppy at times. There were a lot of sub plots and minor stories being tossed around, and really the night scene at the silver mine just seemed extremely out of place. Whether this was poor writing or editing I was not sure, but it did detract from the story at times. I personally think the entire thing could have used one for final rewrite or something to give the narrative a more polished feel.
Either that or this movie would have worked better as a mini series or something. It has a serial feel to it at times, and might have worked better in multiple installments to allow subplots to be better fleshed out instead of being rushed to shoe horned in. Especially the Tonto subplot, I felt that whole story could have worked better as a separate episode.
It’s probably because this movie took a lot from John Cassidy’s comic book adaptation of the character, and well with a comic book, you can definitely take your time and tell a story in bits and pieces without feeling like you are getting buried under other stories competing for time.
Like how I said buried, and then showed this picture. Get it? ‘Cause they are buried in the sand….oh never mind…
The third thing I’ll say is despite the writing being a bit jumbled, the action pieces were nothing but. Especially, the opening and ending scenes both which take part on trains.Well timed and expertly choreographed, they were perfect for some popcorn munching and what you expect from a big summer blockbuster.
Going hand in hand with that is the fact that they didn’t overdue the “William Tell Overture” too much. Everyone knows that’s the theme you want to hear, and the director does a great job saving it until the climatic final chase. And let me tell you, that the moment it started and you saw the Lone Ranger riding Silver across those rooftops before jumping on to the runaway train, my heart was in my throat. I felt like a kid of 6 again, watching a hero ride into battle to defeat the bad guys. It gave me goosebumps, and definitely made the entire preceding 2 hour build up well worth it.
Hammer and Depp did have some pretty great on screen chemistry at times, although I will say that it felt a bit inconsistent as well. Hammer’s Lone Ranger could be somewhat of a douche at times, and it’s amazing that Tonto would even bother to save his bacon as much as he does, so that did feel more than a bit forced. But by the end you do generally feel the two care for one another beyond just simply wanting to nab the bad guy.
In closing, was this the best movie I’ve ever seen? No. Was it even in my top ten? No. But like so many comic related movies, did I have a really good time? Yes. Was I satisfied that the characters were done properly and not camped out for the sake of mass appeal? Yes.
Believe it or not, that’s all I really wanted from the film to begin with. I had no high hopes that it was going to be crushingly fantastic piece of cinema. I was hoping for a solid Lone Ranger story with fun and laughs. And that’s what I got. So it accomplished for me at least what I wanted it to. And if that’s all you expect from a movie, I don’t know how you can see it as a failure.