Watching train-wrecks can be just as entertaining as watching something with actual grace.
Knowing things won’t end well and keeping an eye on all the hiccups along the way before the inevitable fiery end can be counted as a victory as long as it still ends up entertaining. What’s not so fun is watching the train sputter to be put out of its misery over a 150 minute period.
That train is the one that The Lone Ranger finds itself on. Slated to be a train-wreck almost from the very beginning, this joyless mess fails to even succeed in being a bit of bad fun. Instead, it’s just really bad.
Director Gore Verbinski gets a lot of crap when he turns in movies like this. These crap-givers must not have seen his previous film, Rango, which is one of the best animated movies in recent memory and probably the best movie in his cannon, with this movie wisely sharing lots of its visual old west beauty and detail.
Even on his lesser movies, Verbinski still retains the ability to craft some highly entertaining action set pieces, which is one of few things that keep The Lone Ranger from being a complete disaster. But when they only appear at the beginning and end of the movie, the entire middle is left to question. All two hours of it.
No, Verbinski shouldn’t take blame for this misfire. Rather, the movie reeks of having too many cooks in the studio kitchen. The movie is a mind-numbing hodgepodge of disparate ideas that all clash with each other for the entire time. A traditional action western trying to mesh with a dark comedy, supernatural twist included, while still trying to be kid friendly could be done under the right guidance but comes off here as misconceived.
After two hours of jumping between horse poop jokes, a man getting his heart ripped out and eaten,
a wide-eyed little kid listening to the story of his idol, and implied molestation via a petrified duck foot, it never really becomes clear what the movie is supposed to tonally be, nor who it’s meant for. It certainly won’t be fans of The Lone Ranger.
Despite mugging it the whole way through, Johnny Depp has a small handful of those amusing moments that come naturally with him and William Fichtner is serviceable as the villain. Everyone else in the supporting cast is wasted.
Not faring as well is Armie Hammer as the Ranger himself, thanks to the bloated script’s insistence on treating his character as a joke — a foppish buffoon who’s barely on the level of competency as his Native American counterpart. It’s a bullshit move to pull with someone who’s slated to be the main character and when no one in the movie takes him seriously, how are we expected to?
It was fairly apparent that a Lone Ranger movie from the creators of the Pirates series would mean both over-plotting and a gargantuan running time would be at play and sure enough, they didn’t disappoint (as in, they really disappointed again). The irrelevant tie-through with old Tonto and the kid, along with the two subplots with the remaining Comanche and Helena Bonham Carter’s character could all have been cut from the expansive middle part, making for an at least somewhat more straightforward story.
The last 10 minutes when the “William Tell Overture” kicks in as the Ranger and Tonto save the day is what those familiar with the character want to see from the start, not Pirates shenanigans dressed up in a cowboy hat. When the final tone shift does come, it’s too little too late.
There was little hope for this movie from the start and it certainly lived up to its expectations. It’s not the smallpox blanket to movies that other recent action westerns are (Research: Wild Wild West, Jonah Hex) but two action scenes and the Johnny Depp charm isn’t enough to say it’s good. Maybe this will serve as an example of what studio meddling causes and right the wrongs for future adaptions to come.
Oh, what am I saying? Brace yourselves for Pirates 5.