By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood July 1, 2013 at 1:46PM
After proving himself a crack shot on his first pranky Western, the animated Rango, Gore Verbinski appears not to have had enough ammo left over to score as well with The Lone Ranger, a moderately amusing but very uneven revisionist adventure with franchise and theme park intentions written all over it.
To be fair, Depp is not the main problem with Disney's disastrous "The Lone Ranger." This film is a catastrophe of tone, a truly tortured screenplay that seems embarrassed by its central character, and at two-and-a-half hours, it may be the single most punishing experience I've had in a theater so far this year. There are so many bad decisions on display here that I feel like it's a film worth studying, if only to see clearly how not to bring a beloved character back to the big screen.
In classic Westerns, the hero rides off into the sunset, but in “The Lone Ranger,” it’s Tonto we see shambling off toward Monument Valley as the credits roll. No longer simply the sidekick, Tonto gets top billing in Disney’s extravagant but exhausting reboot, whose vaguely revisionist origin story partners a heavily face-painted Johnny Depp with the blandly handsome Armie Hammer. Directed by “Pirates of the Caribbean’s” Gore Verbinski, this over-the-top oater delivers all the energy and spectacle audiences have come to expect from a Jerry Bruckheimer production, but sucks out the fun in the process, ensuring sizable returns but denying the novelty value required to support an equivalent franchise.
By the time the origin movie stuff is wrapped up and the audience finally gets to see The Lone Ranger and Tonto on their first of their legendary deeds, it's far too late in the movie, particularly if your patience has already been drained by the simple yet over-elaborately staged plot, that struggles to be compelling.
Transplanting the Pirates Of The Caribbean aesthetic to the Wild Wild West proves disastrous in The Lone Ranger, an indigestible swill of forced humour and oversized, overbearing action sequences. Reuniting the Pirates franchise’s creative team of director Gore Verbinski, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and star Johnny Depp, this origin story of the iconic American cowboy character has plenty of combustion, but it’s almost entirely devoid of charm or genuine excitement.
The results are both joyless and seemingly endless, as its two-and-a-half-hour running time stretches out like a desert horizon barren of shade or water.