The next set of reviews we’ll be publishing are some of the ones Roger Thomas has done exclusively for The Stanly News & Press. Roger has written movie reviews for The Stanly News & Press and other outlets for years, long before starting this blog. So we decided it would be good to give readers a sample of his previous work, in addition to posts of reviews of current films. Other reviews will run daily.
Johnny Depp, left, and Armie Hammer
Many of us grew up watching “The Lone Ranger.” They tried to revive this story back in 1981 with “The Legend of the Lone Ranger.” I never saw that film, and it was not very successful. (It ranked 56 for the year and made a little more than $12 and one-half million. In comparison, “Raiders of the Lost Ark made $212 million the same year.) For most of us, our experiences with the Ranger, Tonto and Silver, did not come from the ill-fated film from more than 30 years ago.
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I did note that when I looked up “Legend,” I found many characters bearing the same names as those in the new film.
This new version of the story, in much the same was as the first installments of most super hero films, tells the origin of the Lone Ranger and his new friendship with Tonto. I assume the old film did something similar since many of the same characters appear in both, same villains, same supporting players.
One of the strengths of new “Ranger” film is the origin narrative. Before he becomes the masked man, John Reid is an idealistic lawyer who has distaste for guns and little skill in using them. Watching this young lawyer making mistakes along the way to becoming a hero is a compelling journey. His budding relationship with Tonto, which is filled with as much animosity as friendship, at least in the early part of the film, is also, for the most part, enjoyable. The overall plot of the film is perhaps a little too complicated for younger children, but in the end it all made sense.
Unlike the two lengthy action sequences in the recent “Man of Steel,” the two extended action sequences in this film, both involving trains, are truly the highlights of the film. The second backed by a beautiful rendition of the William Tell Overture (traditional Lone Ranger Music) is the highlight of the film and almost redeemed the film of all its flaws. Add to that some beautiful cinematography, pleasant humor, original score music that fits the film perfectly, and there is much to like about “The Lone Ranger.”
On the other hand, there is much that detracts from this film. First, at 149 minutes, the film is too long; several conversations should have been clipped. Second, Tonto is just a little bit too strange. This works when Johnny Depp is playing Captain Jack Sparrow but here a little less would have been a better choice. (The backstory of Tonto was one of the highlights of the film, however, Joseph E. Foy was portraying Tonto in these scenes.) There are also glimmers of the supernatural in this script that never really materialize.
I would recommend against this in any sequel. “Indiana Jones” successfully wedded historical action and the supernatural, but few other films could balance both. Future “Ranger” films would probably not be improved with magic as a plot devise. Then there is this one scene with rabbits that seems completely out of place; it got a laugh from the audience, but in later reflection, I fail to understand why anyone would not find it strange. And it is repeated late in the film.
Finally, “Ranger” is predictable in many ways. Of course, the good guys are going to win eventually, but other scenes like when the railway man speaks to a young married woman, one immediately files that as related to something coming later. Villains in this film are painted all black, heroes all white, except Tonto who is literally painted black and white. In the end though, most of our summer blockbusters have been predictable.
I have written before that some films are just fun. “Now You See Me” from earlier this year fell into the category for me, fun to watch but do not think too much about the plot. “The Lone Ranger” is another film I would classify that way. It is fun. I had a good time watching much of it, though I would have altered many elements. And the final action sequence, with that classic music blaring was especially entertaining.
There are many films more flawed than “The Lone Ranger,” and if you are just looking for fun, this might be the movie. Just remember, 149 minutes is a long time during the slow scenes.
Box Office results
Domestic gross: $89,302,115
Foreign gross: $171,200,000
Production budget: $215 million
Opening weekend: $29,210,849
NOTE: Information from Boxofficemojo.com