What Went Wrong? The Good, The Bad & The Weird Of Disney's 'The Lone Ranger'

Features
by The Playlist Staff
July 8, 2013 12:24 PM
67 Comments
  • |

Disney's "The Lone Ranger," a lavish period epic directed by Gore Verbinski, starring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, had kind of a rough weekend. It began with an unprecedented critical pile-on (there have been some to leap to the film's defense, like Matt Zoller Seitz, who described the movie as a "personal picture, violent and sweet, clever and goofy... as obsessive and overbearing as Steven Spielberg's "1941' — and as likely to be re-evaluated twenty years from now, and described as 'misunderstood'") and ended with a limp box office tally that couldn't even top the middling opening weekend gross of Disney's forgettable franchise nonstarter "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time." 

While it's pointless to speculate why the film performed the way it did, we can acknowledge that the movie is a much more interesting and complex mechanism than most made it out to be. Of course, whether all those mechanisms cohered competently and entertainingly continues to be a source of debate between those who found the film to be messy, bloated misfire and the small few who believe Verbinski has crafted something of an expensive anti-blockbuster blockbuster. And certainly the filmmaker's stamp is on the movie from the lovely framing to a number of flourishes that might have left some taken aback. When we asked Verbinski if he was worried about whether or not anything in the movie was too weird, he fired back: "I hope so. I hope there's a lot that's too weird." 

So below, we break it down: the good, the bad, and the weird of "The Lone Ranger." And needless to say, spoilers undoubtedly will follow.

The Good

The Climatic Double Train Chase
No matter how you feel about "The Lone Ranger" for the first two hours or so of its epically immense running time, once The Lone Ranger, in full regalia, atop his mighty steed Silver, starts riding alongside a speeding locomotive, you can't help but give into the wild, over-the-top world that Verbinski and co. have created. Or, at the very least, you'll crack a smile. Verbinski has showed this kind of gonzo inventiveness before; for the climax of his "Pirates of the Caribbean" trilogy, he had two massive ships firing at one another while being swirled around in a massive whirlpool. The director shows an unparalleled sense of spatial geography and comic timing, with a knack for escalating the stakes within the sequence until the tension becomes nearly unbearable (something Robert Zemeckis used to be oh-so-very-good at). Even though the sequence involves at least two speeding trains (on parallel tracks), you always know what's happening where in any given moment during the sequence. The gags are piled on, one on top of the other, with a child shooting grapes at a monstrous cavalryman gleefully embellishing a moment where Tonto (Depp) uses a ladder to walk from one train to the other in a moment of Buster Keaton-esque physical comedy derring-do (other amazing moments: a gunfight between the trains, a horse jumping between two cars of the train, and Ruth Wilson perilously dangling off the side of one of them). As far as summertime action set pieces go, it's unlikely anything will top the last twenty minutes or so of "The Lone Ranger." It's that jaw-dropping.  

The Performances
There are a lot of things wrong and weird about “The Lone Ranger,” which we’ll get into shortly, but none of the failures of the film can land at the feet of two leads, Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp. For better or worse, the script puts them at odds with one another for most of the picture, but the pair share a great chemistry, with Hammer forging his own identity as the principled hero, which is no small feat against someone as charismatic as Depp, who could easily steal the entire picture out of from under him. And though Tonto is right up Depp’s usual weirdo alley, it’s not a simple Jack Sparrow rehash as many critics lazily countered, as the character is less informed by eyeliner and alcohol, and given a new shape by an almost silent comedy approach. He’s an endearing oddball, but also an emotionally and spiritually wounded one, and Depp finds those notes. Extra points go to a barely recognizable William Fichtner as the truly vicious and fearsome Butch Cavendish, while Tom Wilkinson has some fun smarming it up as the duplicitous railroad baron Cole. 

The Visuals 
Unlike most of the summer movies that have slammed headfirst into movie theaters this year, "The Lone Ranger" luxuriates (perhaps a little too long) in its own visual opulence, mostly uncluttered by elaborate computer-generated imagery. (It's got its fair share of visual effects but they're mostly seamless and hidden, subtly deployed mostly during the train chase sequence at the end.) Instead, "The Lone Ranger" takes in the John Ford-y vistas for all their widescreen grandeur, at one point the image seems to flicker, like it's faltering under the weight of its own beauty. Everything about "The Lone Ranger" is designed for maximum aesthetic impact— the smooth contours of the trains, every rusty button on every period-specific costume, the way that the glass of the train cars cracks and crunches like old school glass. The movie is overwhelmingly beautiful and Verbinski and company give you ample time to soak in its majesty.   

Verbinski's Direction
For better or worse, there's nobody who could have made this "Lone Ranger" besides Gore Verbinski. He is a singular talent, whose imagination rendered things like the train chase but also insisted on oddball elements like the wraparound story (more on that in a minute), and some of the more self-indulgent flourishes that so many have found so off-putting. But in strictly directorial terms, "The Lone Ranger" is a stunner. There are subtle things like the whip pan that accompanies the arrival of the Texas rangers in the film's opening train sequence, and the way a computer generated herd of buffalo get out of the way of a steaming train in the same scene, but there are also more flashy embellishments, like the drop of poison that drips into a character's bedside water glass but also liquefies an entire, unrelated frame of Tonto and the Lone Ranger traveling through a sandy desert, or the shot that follows a character as he cascades (mid-air) through a train car. Both exaggerated and simplistic, these moments are all Gore's. Before a public screening of the film in New Mexico recently, Verbinski stated that he was really trying to do something "different." He succeeded. Beautifully. 

Zimmer's Score 
Composer Hans Zimmer has cooked up a number of memorable scores for Verbinski, most notably the still-unreleased scores for both "The Ring" and "The Weather Man," and "The Lone Ranger" is no exception. When we talked to Verbinski last month about the movie, he said that Zimmer used the "William Tell Overture" as the blueprint for the entire score. He said that Zimmer was responsible for "taking out the motif." "You hear it early on and there are tertiary fragments that are little themes throughout," Verbinski explained to us. "It all accrues during the finale." Zimmer stepped into the production late after bluesy rocker Jack White, who had originally been commissioned to write the music, had to bow out due to scheduling conflicts following the movie's brief cancellation, and absolutely knocked it out of the park. It's more subtle and mournful than Zimmer's similar score to Verbinski's animated western "Rango," but it's also more epic and sweeping. Just awesome.

You might also like:
Free Indie Movies and Documentaries    

67 Comments

  • Jennie McMasters | February 17, 2014 3:19 PMReply

    It just doesn’t get any better than seeing the gorgeous “Mrs. Anita
    Pelaez” over at her and her Famous Husband “Captain Kutchie’s”place..Some Folks Also Call Him..”The
    KutchMan others call him The KutchMon!”…Most Just Call Him “The Most
    Interesting Man In The World”….(Anita and Kutchie Pelaez’s Key West, Key Lime Pie
    Factory and Grill)…Just Watching The Lovely Couple Baking Together All
    Those Yummy Key Lime Pies At Their Key Lime Pie Factory And Grill In
    Asheville.
    …It’s Always Worth The Trip To Visit Them In They’re Historic Key Lime
    Pie Factory and Grill…It Should Be On Everyone’s Bucket List For
    Sure..And
    The World’s Best Key Lime Pies!..YUM-YUM-YUM….­­.”Talk About World
    Class” What An Understatement!…….AA­­HHHHH!….The Magic Of The
    Lovely..”Mrs. Anita Pelaez” And Her Delicious Key Lime Pies Baked With
    Pure Love…Always……40 Years And They’re Still Going Strong….
    ….May GOD Continue Blessing “Anita And Kutchie Pelaez” and They’re World
    Famous Key Lime Pie Factory And Grill Where The Personalities, Ovens And
    Smiles Are Always Warm And Inviting.
    ….“Kutcharitaville” You’re The Best And We Love You!….
    …Now You Know Who Is The Hottest!…And Baby Let Me Tell You, Mrs. Anita Is No Act…She’s The Real Thing Baby!…
    ….Located Near The Biltmore House And Estate…..
    ….Who Could Ask For Anything More?…Anita’s Key Lime Pie…(Hell Yes!)
    ….Just Think, Kutchie’s Goody Goody Cheese Burgers, First Billed As “The
    Original Cheese Burgers In Paradise!” Way Back In 1974 By “Kutchie’s
    Good Friend “Mr Levi Stubbs” Lead Singer Of The Four Tops….”Sorry
    “Buffett”…Kutchie’s Version Of “Cheese Burgers In Paradise” Came A Few
    Years Before Yours Did, “Dog Ate Your Home-Work?”!!…Yeah, Jimmy, It’s
    The Same Kutchie Pelaez,-The Famous Deep Sea Underwater And Treasure
    Explorer/Megalodon Shark Tooth Hunter.
    Who Worked Along With “Mel Fisher”, “Captain Tony Tarracino”, “Yankee
    Jack”, “Michael McCloud”, “Alabama Jack” , “Vito Bertucci” and Many Others Of Key West Fame.
    ….That Alone Is Quite A Pretty Big Deal If You Ask Me. ….”Hell”,..It’s A Pretty Big Deal Even If You Don’t Ask Me.
    ….Research, Continually Confirms The Fact That The Pelaez’s World
    Famous Key Lime Pies Truly Increases Married Couple’s Sex Rates By No Less
    Than 300% Respectively. It Also Shows That Said Sexual Encounters Are
    Much, Much More Enjoyable Than They Ever Were Before The Consumption Of
    The Pelaez’s Key Lime Pies.
    …..And
    On A Sad Note. It Has Been Reported That The Consumption Of The Famous
    Key Lime Pies Are Quite Detrimental To The Practices Of Divorce
    Attorneys. But, That’s Not Bad. Hell That’s Good News.
    …Not A Sad Note, A Happy Note! The Pelaez’s Pies Are A Win-Win-Win For Everyone Involved!
    ….I Guess You Could Say What Has Been Said Many Times Before,…”AHHH” The
    Magic Of The Lovely Anita Pelaez And Her Key Lime Pies….
    ….I Do Know First Hand That The Pelaez’s Famous Key Lime Pies Have
    The Ability To Turn Small Stream Squirters Into Major League Gushers Or
    Some Might Call Them “Niagara Falls”. Holly Molly, Let Those Good Times
    Flow, Baby!
    ….It’s No Wonder Everyone Believes That Kutchie Pelaez Is The Most Interesting
    Man In The World…..”Damn He Really Is” For Sure!
    …..That “Kutchie”, He Looks Marvelous Dahling!…

    ….”Hemingway”, Had Nothing On The “KutchMan”…

    ….Someone Overheard The “Kutchman” Say One Day That He Thought That He Was A Lesbian!… We Don’t Want To see Him Coming Out Of The Toilet With Just His Dick In His Hands!

    ….If He Ever Needs Any Guidance, Who’s A Better Consiglieri Than His Father?….They Both Season They’re Garlic With Food!

  • Bob Tompkins | November 9, 2013 11:23 PMReply

    I, too, was paying attention and knew the villain had lost his equipment, penis and nutsack one or both, in the Civil War.
    The movie wasn't any stranger or more violent than any of the Pirates movies.
    And I enjoyed most every minute of it; a chill ran down my spine ad I nearly jumped out of my seat and cheered when the William Tell Overture fired up. John Reed finally accepted who he was supposed to become- finally! It was a moment I knew had to come and Hans Zimmer, for the first time I can recall handled the musical duties for a film marvelously.
    Anyone really think the music for Man of Steel was ---iconic? It was boring and dreary, much like the rest of the movie. The Lone Ranger was a much better movie.
    Americans don't like Westerns any more. Sad but true. We don't like to be reminded that we were- and often still are-- ugly and brutal thugs when we set our minds on something. In the founding and expansion of our country, more of us were like Butch Cavendish and his brother than were like John Reed.
    The Lone Ranger is that uncomfortable reminder to some people.

  • Chris Christian | October 14, 2013 10:01 AMReply

    Two things made me know that this movie was in big trouble. First, was the scene during the early moments, when Tonto punched the Lone Ranger, and second, when Tonto's tribal leaders described him as being loco. Both injections were so far removed from the original description of this classic tale. It was too hard for me to digest the rest of the film.

  • Anon | September 24, 2013 10:52 PMReply

    Hm, no mention of the blatant racism.

    May I suggest: http://nativeappropriations.com/2013/07/i-saw-the-lone-ranger-so-you-dont-have-to.html

  • Mr. Jake Carson | August 26, 2013 8:09 AMReply

    Hello Ladies, Please Take A Few Minutes And Enjoy My True Stories About The Wonderful World Of Key Lime Pies As Well As The Magic Of The Most Beautiful And Gorgeous...“Mrs. Anita Pelaez”... Wife Extraordinaire And The Beauty Queen Of The Key Lime Pie World....“Oh”, What An Honor That Must Be....

    Elwood Blues Here,

    “AAHHH”, Yes, May Each One Of You Enjoy Your Very Own Key Lime Pie Baked by The Lovely And Most Gracious,…Mrs. Anita Pelaez and Her Handsome And Dashing Husband ….The World Famous Deep Sea Underwater Diver And Treasure Explorer And Hunter Extraordinaire Captain Kutchie Pelaez...Together The Proud Owners Of Asheville’s Own ..."Anita And Kutchie Pelaez’s Key Lime Pie Factory And GRILL, Conveniently Located Near The Biltmore House And Estate In That Beautiful City. That's Known As Heaven On Earth Whenever Mrs. Anita Pelaez Is Anywhere Near... “AAHHH",.. The Magic Of Anita Pelaez And Her KEY LIME Pies... Voted The Country’s Favorite Key Lime Pies For The Past 37 Consecutive Years!

    …..That Babe Can Bake Me A Pie Anytime She Wants Too.

    For You Guys, Listen Up Here!
    Turn
    You’re Ladies On In Extra High Heat Mode "Easily", Just By Seducing Her
    With “Anita Pelaez’s”... Ultra-Sexy Key Lime Pies!..You Know The Pies That Her And Her Famous Husband Kutchie Have Been Baking The For Last 40-Years Over At Their Key Lime Pie Factory Near the Biltmore House and Estate In NC.,..Yeah, That’s The Ones, You Dirty Minds! (Shame On You.)

    Anita’s World Famous Key Lime Pies Will Light Her Candle And Make
    Her Hard To Handle. Guaranteed That She Will Get A-Hold Of You’re Handle Too….Your Boy Elwood Here Says,….”AAHHH”, The Magic Of Anita Pelaez ..And Her Key Lime Pies!

    “Yeah”, You’ll Be “AAHHH-ING” Too!…So Put Your Faith In Anita’s Pies.
    In Other Words... "Keep The Faith Baby".

    Part-Two

    Is what they are all saying true about how eating those World Famous Key Lime Pies Baked In The Carolina Mountains By The Former Miss Florida USA And High Fashion And Swimsuit Model …”Mrs. Anita Pelaez”, ….Surely Everyone Has Heard Or Read By Now That Consuming Her Wonderful Key Lime Pies Has The Ability To Cause The Male Penis Length To Increase 50% Or More. And The Girth Of The Erect Male Penis To Increase To Six-Inches AROUND!….”WOW”, And Add To The Fact That Her Pies Have Been Known To Make Males Multiorgasmic /One Orgasm One After Another With Little Or No Reflationary Period In Between Ejaculations Is Nothing Short Of Awesome!. Why, It’s A Miracle If You Ask Me.. "HELL" It's A Miracle If You Don't Ask Me!..Anyway, You Can Count Me In On That,… That’s For Damn Sure!,….Mrs. Anita Pelaez Is Surely The Undisputed Queen Of Key Lime Pies That’s For Sure……

    Yes, There Was A Time For Decadent Key Lime Pies. Pies made And Baked With Love And Caring With The Original Family Recipe Just Like Grand-Ma And Grand-Pa Baked Back In The 1920'S In Old Key West. And Do You Know What?....That Time Is Now At…..”Anita and Kutchie Pelaez's" Key Lime Pie Factory And Grille’, Conveniently
    Located In Asheville, NC., Near The Biltmore House And Estate….Yes The First Lady Of Key Lime Pies,..”Mrs. Anita Pelaez” Named Her Latest Book..“For You’re Pies Only”.

    …Count Us In Darling, Sweetheart, Please Wrap-Us Up A Dozen Pies
    To-Go!…We’re Gettin The Band Back Together……………..
    Thanks,….Elwood.

    I Know That Your Not Going To Believe This When You First Read It.
    Don’t Worry, I Didn’t Believe It Either At First. My Dear Wife Insisted
    Or As She Said, That She Was Going To Cut Me Off. Now I Like My Nooky As Well As Anybody But When She Starts talking About Cutting Me Off. Well, Lets Just Make A Long Story Short, If You Want To Continue Eating At The (Y), Then You Had Better Listen To What Mama Is Whispering Into Your Ear. Get The Damn Pies, Enjoyed Them With The Little Lady And Die A Happy Man. End Of Story.

    People, If You Want To Have A Lot More Sex, And Who Doesn't? Then
    You Need To Start Eating A Lot More Of Anita And Kutchie Pelaez’s Key
    Lime Pies! They Work Every Darn Time!

    …One Eyed Willie…Smooth Willie…Be Good Willie!…Elwood Blues…Darling,..Don’t Go Breaking My Heart!

    Honey, What’s the number to the Key Lime Pie Factory?…We’re Out Again!

    The World Famous Captain Kutchie Pelaez Of Key West. "Kutcharitaville". Fame Was Recently Spotted Down In Old Town Key West At Sloppy Joe's Bar Partying With His Old Compadres,...Captain Yankee Jack Of The Bull Fame,...Micheal McCloud Of Schooner's Wharf Fame...Captain Tony Tarracino Of His Own Saloon Fame,...Jimmy Buffett Of Margarativille Fame,...Captain Teri Levi Of Lum's Fame,...Missing Was The Late Great Mel Fisher....Also Missing Was The Late Great Treasure Hunter Captain Roger Burleson And The Late Great Roger "Moon Dog" Turner.,..The Famous Group Of Compadres Were Said To Be Drinking Doubles And Causing Just Lots Of Some Mild-Kind Of Troubles, But Nothing The Waitresses Couldn't Handle. It Seems That All Of The Team Mates Were Wearing..."Captain Kutchie T-Shirts!...We Were Wondering Where They Might Have Gotten Those T-Shirts?..."HUMM" You Don't Think It Was From.....?.?.?.........

    Kinda Like Captain Kutchie Says... "I Bet You Can't Say Happiness With Out Saying Penis".

    I Guess No Key Lime Pie Story Would Be Complete Without Saying,
    "AAHHH", The Magic Of Anita Pelaez And Her Key Lime Pies...

    You Know-...It's No Wonder That She's America's Sweet Heart!

  • person | August 1, 2013 12:27 PMReply

    perhaps the public has come to the realization that not all movies are for everyone. when i see an action film, im not looking for the classic a-team variety where guns blaze and no one is harmed. perhaps the "desirable" profit algorithm catching as many demographics as possible has reached its zenith. if I'm dragged to a daddy/child cartoon fluff machine flick, i lose. if i drag my kid to a movie that we both enjoy, why would i like or enjoy that? aaah its the classic scenario. one size does not fit all. its good to know that eventually even the opaqueness of money making schemes over entertainment becomes transparent.

  • Jim Allen | July 27, 2013 4:15 PMReply

    This was the best film of 2013--one of the best ever. I am going to watch it again at the theater. I am going to get the DVD and DVR and VHS and Purple ray or whatever the heck they call these things now. All you people who did not like or "get" this film are on dope (pot), and are walking zombies.. What other guy over 50 (Johnny Depp) could have pulled this off? He is the best actor of our generation.

  • Michele | July 26, 2013 12:16 PMReply

    I am under fifty and I am interested in TLR. Watched the old tv show in repeats. At each showing I went to (have seen the movie several times) there were ALL ages in the audience. Not only that, but in all showings I've been to, I heard nothing but good comments coming out of the theater. Sure, the movie has flaws. Every movie does. But it's a popcorn movie meant to entertain, and it does just that. I have read some reviews that some were bored in the middle. I wasn't bored at all. Everything that happens (except for maybe the bordellos scenes and the Red character) are pivotal to either plot or character development. Anyway, it sucks that some people actually let critics tell them what movies to see. I made up my own mind, so glad I did. I will be buying this on DVD-and trust me, I almost NEVER buy movies !

  • Phyllis | July 23, 2013 6:05 PMReply

    Nothing could be worse than "This is The End"! REALLY!
    Nothing but teen-age penis./bathroom humor!

  • PW | July 23, 2013 2:40 PMReply

    I went yesterday to see this movie. I think I was lucky I did not even see or read what the critics said about it or I may have missed one of the best and funny films I have seen in a long time. Thank God the critics can not yell their dislike all over TV and ruin more movies for us all. This movie I enjoyed watching with my Mom who is 90 years old I will let you just guess at my age! I was not sure she would even like the movie but since the Lone Ranger was a guy I grew up watching I figured I go see what he was up to today.
    Well this movie has special effects mixed in with comedy at same time it also has some lines in it that unless you are dead you will laugh out loud I know I was my mom was and everyone in the audience besides us was all through out the movie. I have read some here and about the penis missing and more that now when as I had already planned to do buy the Blueray version of the movie on CD and watch it many times to catch even more things to chuckle at. Mom wants to watch again too. I do that when I see a movie I want to watch several more times. Last one I did that with I think I have watched it at least 15 more times.
    Yes it is long but like the editor said there really was no scenes to cut out hey I tend to fall asleep when watching a movie or TV if it is slow or boring or I just do not like it. I was wide awake the whole time and felt for once got my $6.25 ticket price dollars worth!!! So those of you who some with vulgar voices say it was too long or not good or whatever negative thing you can say.

    Take it from someone who use to help finance movies has worked on them many times and was a producer this one is a winner and will go down in history as such and will develop a great fan club to boot. It will go down as one that the critics panned and box office was not so good but people will still be buying and or renting the movie for 10+ years to come! I rest my case! I was hoping it could be a series of movies like pirates of Caribbean was but since the critics have ruined this and sabotaged it I doubt that will happen now. I know this is not first move the critics missed the boat completely on and will not be the last and I for one look at trailers and judge from that the flavor of a movie and if I would like it not listen to critics as they are just people like you or me and what they like I may hate so why should I listen to them they would not listen to me!

  • Borealis | July 11, 2013 11:42 AMReply

    First, let me say I didn't see the movie, don't plan to see the movie, and have no desire to purchase the DVD when it comes out just in time for the Holidays. I am one of the reasons this movie bombed.

    Why didn't I see this movie? Johnny Depp. I am tired of his weirdness, his one dimensional caricatures, and how he turns what should be a supporting role and makes it all about him. (The Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland anyone?) When Depp received top billing while at the same time I don't even recall any mention of who was actually playing the lead role of the Lone Ranger, I immediately suspected a train wreck of a movie. Even the previews I saw showed more screen-time of him than anything else. If Disney was going to spend all of the money to bring Depp onboard for this film, why didn't they cast him for the lead? Hmm, perhaps the Lone Ranger himself just wasn't weird enough... Just like Depp himself.

    Perhaps I'm being too harsh in trashing a movie I won't ever watch just because I no longer desire to see anything to do with one of its actors, but from the people I've talked to, especially the ones who regretted going to see it, they feel the same way.

  • Julie Fishman | July 11, 2013 2:29 AMReply

    I have to agree with most of the review... way too long, tonal shifts stupid.. story lines that were unnecessary (Helena Bonham Carter's character was totally useless, though she was fine in the role, even though I don't like her).. the romance element was too underplayed.

    I too, wish they had just made a good update of the legend and made an action film with some comic moments instead of this mess.. Can't believe that Johnny Depp is running around saying how he spent time with Native Americans and used what he learned from them.. YIKES! Tonto is such a horrible stereotype it's almost in the category of Mickey Rooney's Chinese character in "Breakfast At Tiffany's" --- I would have liked to have seen a film more in the vein of "Raider's of the Lost Ark" than this mess... happy I saw it without paying as it was not worth $12

  • Dave Webb | July 10, 2013 2:52 PMReply

    The piranha-like rabbits were certainly weird and out of place. Was the horse actually up in a tree at one point (it was a night scene and I couldn't really tell)? The 1930's narration perspective where we see the kid in the costume might make audiences adopt a feeling of going to an old B-western when they were kids I suppose, otherwise it was unnecessary (unless there's a sequel where it ties in somehow - maybe when audiences learn of the Reed family connection with the Green Hornet?). The parallel train chase reminded me too much of the 2nd Indiana Jones movie. Other scenes reminded me of Wild, Wild West (e.g., gun in the leg).

    I think they tried to cram too much in. It did feel like two stories. The plot was WAAAAAYYYYY too predictable.

    I like Depp. I don't feel like this effort was much removed fom his Sparrow character though, and I can't see what it was that he did with the character in his effort to do justice to American Indians that makes the character much different from what was expected from Hollywood. I did enjoy the Keaton-inspired scenes though.

    In my opinion, many of the failings that have been cited regarding this movie were failings because they were UNDER-done and mixed with elements that don't work we'll together. Let me explain. It seems to me that there was an attempt to take a B-movie, classic Hollywood western story, and MERGE it with elements that might appeal to today's audiences. The result was an odd mash-up that isn't classic Hollywood western, and still doesn't appeal to many of today's movie goers. Unlike other commenters here, I DO think that today's audiences might have liked a classic Hollywood Lone Ranger western with modern cinematography and direction. On the other hand, the movie would likely have been more successful if Verbinski had followed the recent Batman approach, and took the story to the dark side completely - forgo the comedy (some dark comedy would work though); make the Ranger a truely troubled, but fearless, torn character; Tonto a scary (but good-guy), genius that we worry has his own agenda; make the bad guys truly menacing and dangerous without being cross-dressing "Pirates" borrowed from that other Depp movie. Something along the lines of Lone Ranger meets Dark Knight meets Bourne meets Unforgiven(?) might be a good starting point.

  • Linda D | July 10, 2013 3:06 AMReply

    IF....we believed everything the critics said about the movies....none of us would be going to the theatres! I, for one, LOVED The Lone Ranger. It made me laugh...a lot...and I can't wait 'til the DVD is released so that I can watch it again and pick up everything that I missed in the dialogue. The scenery was fantastic, the tongue-in-cheek portrayal of characters was very entertaining and those rabbits....OMG....LOL!

  • vegimorph | July 9, 2013 10:29 PMReply

    I sort of liked the film but just barely. The train sequence was fun and the cinematography of the West was beautiful but the tonal shifts and fast pacing really kind of bugged me. The beginning scene where it introduced John Reid made me really though too. I mean it started out good and was kind of heartwarming but then it takes a sudden turn into mean spirited territory. Not a good way to introduce your main hero! If you want to make a character a bumbling fool or go mean spirited, don't get a baby involved, okay? Especially with what happens right afterwards so that baby's officially given the worst day of its life!

  • Oliver Gogarty | July 9, 2013 9:11 PMReply

    "The Climatic [sic] Double Train Chase?" I haven't seen the movie, so I don't know: is the train chase related to the weather, somehow? Or did you mean "climactic," because the chase happens at the climax?

  • james moss | July 9, 2013 7:13 PMReply

    this is one of the great movies of all time. as a film collector and movie buff I've seen all the great films on the big screen. johnny depp was outstanding as tonto. the movie has one of the greatest endings of any film you could ever see. the last 25 minutes of the film is worth the admission price. the way the film started in 1933 was ingenious. it was great to see a western that was fabulously produced. the theatre was full when I saw the film--adults and kids were standing cheering at the end of the film. I hope everyone will see it.

  • Flying Tiger Comics | July 9, 2013 6:13 PMReply

    Why did it bomb? Much simpler than the pseudo-intellectual guff in the article. Here's a top 10:

    1. Ageing Johnny Depp with a dead bird on his head. Historical reference for this crass costume?

    2. No name brand actors other than Depp.

    3. Wild wild west style gimgrack rubbish instead of a real story. Lone Ranger story could not be simpler. So let's throw that out.

    4. Violence levels inappropriate to the comicbook style film. Moronic.

    5. Endless too long scenes of fake Western imagery. Digitally enhancing the Old West is sacrilege. The land is right out there, dipsticks.

    6. It's called the Lone Ranger. Can we see him ranging on his own? And fighting bad guys like in old films?

    7. Period specific costume? Sure. Sure.

    8. Post modern flavour in what should be an Indiana Jones style update of a classic genre.

    9. Dialogue that could melt your eyeballs like wax in a blowtorch.

    10. That fucking dead bird on the old guy's head. Seriously. What. The. Actual. Fuck.

  • Jake | July 11, 2013 10:54 AM

    Yes, the bird on the head does have a historical reference. Though not Comanche, medicine men of the northwest tribes often put dead animals on their head. Including a crow in an illustration I've seen that looks to be from 1933.

  • Oliver Gogarty | July 9, 2013 9:16 PM

    You're saying you know why no one came to see the film, and then you state reasons only someone who's seen the film would know about. Why people didn't go has more to do with marketing and public perception of the film and property than your perceived aesthetic failings of the film itself. It would seem to me that you're singularly unqualified to explain the mindset of someone who didn't go to see the film, being that, inexplicably, you did go to see it.

  • Carl | July 9, 2013 3:28 PMReply

    I appreciate your great analysis of the Lone Ranger and the complex inner reasons why it may have bombed, but I wonder if that's overly intellectual and missing the obvious. Why does no one point out the elephant in the room, the first clear reason to avoid the film that caused me to say no to my kids even if Lego's Lone Ranger kits had already caught their eye. Depp was handsome and appealing and fun in the Pirates films, but here he is scary and creepy buried in face paint with a dead crow on his head. Who wants to see a protagonist that looks like a psychokiller? The look branded the film as family inappropriate, and then reading the reviews just confirms that first impression. After learning there's actually a whole native-sympathetic Howard Zinn type spin to the film, I may see it myself someday on video, but never with the kids, and I still won't like the brutal sadistic bad guys who are unnecessary distraction from real deeper themes. Call me shallow, but if Tonto had been more attractive this could've been both a family friendly buddy film and a haunting revisionist history saga, and I guess then the director's ego would've been left out. I'm so tired of Hollywood's love affair with dark imagery that isn't as profound as they think. People aren't stupid, and will actually get disturbing themes more deeply if they aren't repelled and/or attracted by literal sicko characters. The "don't tell just show" mantra of the modern directors' ego is wearisome, they've gone too far from their theatrical roots where the writers are still respected. I'll take a great story over gore and insane action any day, and I hope enough people are agreeing more with me these days so this is why the Lone Ranger bombed.

  • Tellu | July 9, 2013 2:11 PMReply

    Great cast, great visuals. No script. All they had to do was write a good story. Disney doesn't know how to tell a story anymore. Everything you're complaining about is script based. Sad. So many great writers in Hollywood. But studios don't read, don't understand story and don't develop.

  • Tellu | July 9, 2013 2:10 PMReply

    Great cast, great visuals. No script. All they had to do was write a good story. Disney doesn't know how to tell a story anymore. Everything you're complaining about is script based. Sad. So many great writers in Hollywood. But studios don't read, don't understand story and don't develop.

  • Tellu | July 9, 2013 2:10 PMReply

    Great cast, great visuals. No script. All they had to do was write a good story. Disney doesn't know how to tell a story anymore. Everything you're complaining about is script based. Sad. So many great writers in Hollywood. But studios don't read, don't understand story and don't develop.

  • Tellu | July 9, 2013 2:10 PMReply

    Great cast, great visuals. No script. All they had to do was write a good story. Disney doesn't know how to tell a story anymore. Everything you're complaining about is script based. Sad. So many great writers in Hollywood. But studios don't read, don't understand story and don't develop.

  • Tellu | July 9, 2013 2:10 PMReply

    Great cast, great visuals. No script. All they had to do was write a good story. Disney doesn't know how to tell a story anymore. Everything you're complaining about is script based. Sad. So many great writers in Hollywood. But studios don't read, don't understand story and don't develop.

  • Tellu | July 9, 2013 2:10 PMReply

    Great cast, great visuals. No script. All they had to do was write a good story. Disney doesn't know how to tell a story anymore. Everything you're complaining about is script based. Sad. So many great writers in Hollywood. But studios don't read, don't understand story and don't develop.

  • Deb C | July 9, 2013 11:06 AMReply

    Over 60 & my 15 year old went to see together and both laughed throughout. Maybe we are easily entertained or just downright odd but old fashioned Buster Keaton-like comedy were priceless. With a dash of the odd & insane thrown in we found it to be highly entertaining & are still laughing about parts of it. Bit of a downer with the slaughtering of the Indians so it had a bit of historicalness about it as well. Sad that it was released on the same day as Despicable Me 2. That I think was its biggest flaw. We would happily see it again!

  • Oliver Gogarty | July 9, 2013 9:23 PM

    Yes, you are easily entertained. Also, may I ask, where did you get your 15 year-old?

  • Melissa Brown | July 9, 2013 10:22 AMReply

    I agree with everything. My first comment, sitting in the theater, was "Well, this is going to be awkward," when I realized he was in love with his doomed brother's wife. It should have been a serious movie or a funny one, and it feels like it IS two movies, pasted together.

  • david | July 9, 2013 9:32 AMReply

    i actually liked this movie.then again i liked john carter another disney disaster according to critics and ticket sales.what live action flick do they have out next year at this time?let's see if that bombs and i like that too!

  • Jack | July 9, 2013 7:06 AMReply

    The movie critics need to relax and not take things so seriously. It was almost like it was trendy or fashionable to bash this movie. Everyone I know that has seen is loved it and so do I. The scenes were epic and the story in my opinion was actually very well articulated. You had to be pretty dim witted to be confused by the plot (although I can't attest that movie critics are the brightest bulbs). And the last train chase scene is probably one of the most fun and action packed movie scenes in a long time!

  • Oliver | July 9, 2013 5:04 AMReply

    If the Western genre is ailing to the extent where we need the success of 'The Lone Ranger' to sustain it, then it may be time for the Western genre to end.

    I mean, I love the sports movies of Michael Ritchie and I miss the classic Looney Tunes, but I still sure as hell wasn't going to see 'Space Jam'.

    And '1941' isn't "misunderstood"; it's just an obnoxious mess.

  • David K | July 12, 2013 12:01 AM

    Space Jam is a cultural treasure, you monster.

  • geronimo2013 | July 9, 2013 2:03 AMReply

    Lone Ranger dud will live on in Mystery Science Theater 3000 parody.

  • cherryposse | July 8, 2013 11:04 PMReply

    Personally, I was truly entertained and so were my movie-mates. Age in my opinion was not an issue as 2/3 were under the age of 50. Maybe people were expecting JDepp to portray the masked man instead of the monotone Tonto? Who knows... The criticism of the movie is undeserved, although the vampire bunnies and the 'unbalanced nature' crap was a bit much. I'd see it again, as long as I can have a beer or two while watching.

  • DP | July 8, 2013 10:31 PMReply

    i need to work in hollywood, I have predicted ALL the bombs for the last ten years. This didn't work because their was no interest in seeing a western, it's too far removed from today's audience.

  • Wild Willie | July 8, 2013 10:20 PMReply

    I loved the movie. Can't wait till it comes out on DVD. Such talent those designer and make up artist are,
    I like it that it did not take on the old Lone Ranger. No one could ever replace that time period. I felt this movie was very good in the fact they stayed away from it.
    It was fun and would go see it again. One note, there were no cuss words or the F bomb thrown at you every five minutes. To me that is one way to ruin a movie and take away good talent. If you think you have to throw those words at us to make a movie, no thank you. I loved the Heat, but it bothered me that they had to have these women demean themselves. I won't be getting that movie. Sure there was some violence, but tell me did they not slaughter thousands of Indians at that time period. "You go Johnny Depp" I love you.

  • Lila | July 8, 2013 9:38 PMReply

    I loved this movie, for all the reasons you said and more. I don't understand the argument that it's not popular because no one under 50 is interested in The Lone Ranger. Nothing ticks people off more than the Hollywood studios not taking risks.... so why don't you as a ticket-buyer take a risk? Challenge yourself, give something new a chance to entertain you! This was a great, fun, funny film, Verbinsky was perfect for it. I agree with James Haygood's statement - too many people are hate-piling on this film because they're afraid to distinguish themselves from the crowd. (Btw, I'm 27, didn't know hardly anything about The Lone Ranger going in, was drawn in by the prospect of an exciting adventure movie that wasn't 90% CGI. It delivered.)

  • Oliver Gogarty | July 9, 2013 9:29 PM

    Taking a risk would have been spending this kind of money on an original property that no one has heard of before. They were banking on the name-recognition of The Lone Ranger getting people into theaters, because they know that people are more willing to pay for something if they've already seen it. It didn't work this time.

    Well, except on people like you.

  • Wesley | July 8, 2013 9:32 PMReply

    I loved this movie. I loved the bizarre tonal shifts, I loved the zany humor, I loved the wrap story (I did find it unnecessary, but still loved it), I loved the gorgeous imagery, I loved the directorial flourishes, and I completely loved the weird moments. The carnivorous rabbits were the weirdest, most unexpected part, and you didn't even mention them. I fully enjoyed the entire two and a half hours and, I might be completely alone on this, would have been fine with even more. I completely agree with the other commenter; like Fantasia, like The Wizard or Oz ( nominated for beat picture but still got middling reviews), one day down the line I truly believe this will be hailed as a masterpiece. I'm disappointed in its failure, because I want more.

  • RL Spearing | July 9, 2013 9:55 AM

    Great picture / I thought it would not appeal to the under 55 crowd as it had no sex no swearing just some reality and a lot of good humor. If you want to go to a movie to just sit and be entertained by all means go it is great

  • A.C. Robinson | July 8, 2013 7:56 PMReply

    Lone Ranger & 1941 most definitely on the same track as Vertigo, re-assessed in 2033 as misunderstood gem. Maybe one day they'll triumphantly ascend to the pinnacle of the Sight & Sound list too!

  • Juan Espinoza | July 8, 2013 7:33 PMReply

    Zimmer's score, at least parts of it, was in fact released.

    https://deccarecords-us.com/artist/releases/release.aspx?pid=58986&aid=1877

  • Chris | July 8, 2013 6:33 PMReply

    Who knows what went wrong. Maybe people saw too many similarities between this and Jonah Hex, Wild Wild West and Cowboys and Aliens? It looked rather busy. Like a western for people who wouldn't see a western unless there were non-western elements involved. Obviously that worked really well for the previously mentioned films.

  • Sterling Cooper | July 8, 2013 5:48 PMReply

    The real reason this movie tanked is a fundamental failure of entertainment: the majority today's audiences DO NOT CARE ONE LICK about the Lone Ranger.

    But some crusty Disney fatcat with an ego decided HE enjoyed The Lone Ranger as a 10 year old in 1955, and since HE greenlit movies, HE would get this done.

    Maybe I should just mind my own business and get back to my job at the post office....

  • Adam Scott Thompson | July 8, 2013 8:23 PM

    Yeah, I couldn't get past that. Who under the age of 50 really wants to see "The Lone Ranger"? I think that's part of what tanked "John Carter." Young moviegoers don't know these people or properties, and even if you explained it to them they still wouldn't give a shit.

    I actually got excited about "Dick Tracy" coming out when I was kid, but that's because there was a McDonald's tie-in.

  • BallsDeep | July 8, 2013 4:53 PMReply

    The movie was more about the wacky Tonto than the Lone Ranger. Plus they made Reed into a nerdy douche character. When he screamed like a girl when hit by an arrow I almost left the theater. The last 20 minutes did make up for the rest especially because of the score using the iconic William Tell overture which was a nice tribute. So I have mixed feelings about it but it definitely could have been better.

  • Jen | July 8, 2013 4:43 PMReply

    I actually do like Westerns, at least some of them not all. I enjoyed Cowboys & Aliens. While I didn't go see the Lone Ranger I do think there is a place for movies like these. I think a sequel would only work if it would be used to correct what they did wrong with the first movie and make it a better franchise, make it more family friendly without being cheesy.

  • Maureen | July 8, 2013 4:36 PMReply

    You forgot to mention the carnivorous/cannibalistic bunny rabbits under the Weird section

  • Hayley | July 8, 2013 3:33 PMReply

    I haven't seen this film... but i have no doubt that it is atleast "OK"... Verbinski is a good director... good enough not to make a huge dud.
    I'm convinced there's only one reason why this didn't work... Depp.

    I'm not a Depp hater... infact I enjoy him in a lot of things... but he has gone waaaaaaay downhill.

    I think his biggest mistake was selling out to do more Pirates films (past the TRUE 3-film trilogy).
    He was off the Forbes most powerful list this year for the first time since Pirates... and his public image is in poor shape since leaving his wife for some 22yr old lesbian or whatever.

    I think the next Pirates will stumble at the box-office, and perhaps studios will start clueing in on the fact that he's is not the box-office draw anymore that he gets paid for being.

  • Wade | July 8, 2013 2:29 PMReply

    The Legend of the Lone Ranger is a film! This was a popcorn flick. Most people these days are wanting to see more films! Hold back on the CGI & SPX. It takes you out of the film. World War Z, Pacific Rim, Man of Steel, etc... They are all losing money because of the fact the audience cant sink into the film and put themselves into the life because it is so unreal.
    Take a big big note from Chris Nolan and the Batman trilogy he created. Those films did what they did because the audience felt as if it could be possible

  • crg | July 8, 2013 2:46 PM

    Man of Steel isn't losing money, World War Z is actually doing ok considering the huge budget, and Pacific Rim hasn't even come out yet. ????????

  • Wade | July 8, 2013 2:29 PMReply

    The Legend of the Lone Ranger is a film! This was a popcorn flick. Most people these days are wanting to see more films! Hold back on the CGI & SPX. It takes you out of the film. World War Z, Pacific Rim, Man of Steel, etc... They are all losing money because of the fact the audience cant sink into the film and put themselves into the life because it is so unreal.
    Take a big big note from Chris Nolan and the Batman trilogy he created. Those films did what they did because the audience felt as if it could be possible

  • Wade | July 8, 2013 2:29 PMReply

    The Legend of the Lone Ranger is a film! This was a popcorn flick. Most people these days are wanting to see more films! Hold back on the CGI & SPX. It takes you out of the film. World War Z, Pacific Rim, Man of Steel, etc... They are all losing money because of the fact the audience cant sink into the film and put themselves into the life because it is so unreal.
    Take a big big note from Chris Nolan and the Batman trilogy he created. Those films did what they did because the audience felt as if it could be possible

  • Wade | July 8, 2013 2:22 PMReply

    The Legend of the Lone Ranger is a film! This was a popcorn flick. Most people these days are wanting to see more films! Hold back on the CGI & SPX. It takes you out of the film. World War Z, Pacific Rim, Man of Steel, etc... They are all losing money because of the fact the audience cant sink into the film and put themselves into the life because it is so unreal.
    Take a big big note from Chris Nolan and the Batman trilogy he created. Those films did what they did because the audience felt as if it could be possible

  • Wade | July 8, 2013 2:21 PMReply

    The Legend of the Lone Ranger is a film! This was a popcorn flick. Most people these days are wanting to see more films! Hold back on the CGI & SPX. It takes you out of the film. World War Z, Pacific Rim, Man of Steel, etc... They are all losing money because of the fact the audience cant sink into the film and put themselves into the life because it is so unreal.
    Take a big big note from Chris Nolan and the Batman trilogy he created. Those films did what they did because the audience felt as if it could be possible

  • Wade | July 8, 2013 2:21 PMReply

    The Legend of the Lone Ranger is a film! This was a popcorn flick. Most people these days are wanting to see more films! Hold back on the CGI & SPX. It takes you out of the film. World War Z, Pacific Rim, Man of Steel, etc... They are all losing money because of the fact the audience cant sink into the film and put themselves into the life because it is so unreal.
    Take a big big note from Chris Nolan and the Batman trilogy he created. Those films did what they did because the audience felt as if it could be possible

  • PRESIDENT MAO | July 8, 2013 2:02 PMReply

    Wait to see how Pacific Rim is going to bomb at the box office this weekend! Most of the scenes involving robots and monsters fighting are clouded with fog or rain to hide the poor CGI. And the least you say about Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi, the best.

  • Dan | July 9, 2013 6:47 PM

    Really? I heard that the CGI is supposed to be spectacular in that movie, and that film is supposed to be great itself.

  • jen | July 8, 2013 1:29 PMReply

    Oh hey, did you like that ho hum train sequence at the end? I wasn't quite sure even though you MENTIONED IT IN EVERY PARAGRAPH.

  • RNL | July 8, 2013 1:23 PMReply

    "at one point the image seems to flicker, like it's faltering under the weight of its own beauty." LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL, oh you guys.

  • Rob | July 8, 2013 12:52 PMReply

    I didn't go and won't go because I keep asking myself, "Who in this day and age gives a shit about The Lone Ranger and what corporate yes-man thought anyone would?"

  • Mac | July 8, 2013 11:15 PM

    @Carsey Werner "Uno below is clearly not an informed insider (nor particularly adept at measuring the pulse of popularity.)"

    And you are, because?? Just because you personally (or your friends) don't care about it doesn't mean much. There are lots of us who like westerns, if they're done well. I've been looking forward to TLR since I first heard about it.

    Possibly if it had come out a little earlier, (before Man of Steel, for one) it would have done better at the box office. Many people can't see every movie that comes out and have to pick and choose what to see at the theater and what to wait and watch on DVD. Doesn't mean they don't want to see it at all.

  • Lila | July 8, 2013 9:41 PM

    @Uno - Tell it.

  • carsey werner | July 8, 2013 5:52 PM

    @Rob... trust me, most of America asked themselves this question, no matter who was hired to act and direct by the secret Disney geniuses...

    Uno below is clearly not an informed insider (nor particularly adept at measuring the pulse of popularity.)

  • UNO | July 8, 2013 4:31 PM

    Um... I give a shit about The Lone Ranger. As do other fans of movie and television Westerns. We do exist. Many of us are even quite young. We'd prefer to have better quality films come our way, but, ya know, we are here. And bless Disney for trying to make a buck, because even a movie like this one will get more people into the genre.

Email Updates