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The Lone Ranger Review: An Enjoyable Modern Take on the Western
There is something very familiar about the plot of The Lone Ranger. But this is kind of to be expected when both films are works of Disney featuring Johnny Depp acting and Gore Verbinski directing.
Instead of seeing Jack Sparrow manipulate an impressionable blacksmith apprentice into becoming a titular pirate of the Caribbean who will take down a cursed villain who wronged both, Tonto mentors an impressionable lawyer into becoming the titular Lone Ranger who will take down a cursed villain who wronged both. For all intents and purposes, Tonto is a matured Jack Sparrow in disguise.
As the Lone Ranger’s Indian spiritual and plot development guide, Tonto connects better with the audience with his deadpan expressions and eye-rolling reactions to the Lone Ranger’s initial ineptness. The writing and Johnny Depp’s acting does make Tonto outshine the Lone Ranger in audience appeal to the point that the film could cut most of the Lone Ranger’s footage and retitled itself as Tonto. But that would really piss off the fans. It’s starting to become a recurring thing for Disney films since Alice in Wonderland where Johnny Depp proves to be a terrible supporting actor because he tends to outshine the main protagonist. Without reading below or Google, who plays the Lone Ranger?
Johnny Depp outshining the lead actor and sharing traits with Pirates of the Caribbean aside, The Lone Ranger at least remembers that it is a Western film and maintains such an atmosphere with its action, comedy, and character developing drama. It looks like a Western, feels like a Western, and features old Western action scenes done up with modern special effects & kaboom that works while relating to the plot. As an origin story, the Lone Ranger starts out incompetent as lawyer John Reid (Armie Hammer) evolves from bumbling Western newbie to Western hero after an encounter with a madman terrorizing Texas. Only his drive for justice and the guidance of his new friend Tonto can pave the way to make things right. The chemistry between the Lone Ranger and Tonto is well portrayed by their respective actors and keeps the film entertaining whether as mentor/protegee or action comrades in arms.
Those familiar with the series will see iconic moments of the series like the mask, the white horse Silver, and those silver bullets (though those bullets are now used for boss fights). These touches may bring a nostalgic feeling to fans while the blazing action will keep the attention of the intended younger audience. Fans of the original series may not take kindly to the NERF-ing of the Lone Ranger’s abilities, but as he evolves into the competent legend, this issue may get resolved in sequels. Another nitpick is how Helena Bonham Carter makes an appearance as a stock Western madam character with a leg gun. But then she realized that The Lone Ranger was not a Tim Burton/Johnny Depp film so she pretty much leaves after that. Silver has more screen time than her and provides more memorable moments.
But in the end, The Lone Ranger presents itself with Western style, excellent pacing, and mix of comedy & action to give me a willing suspension of disbelief to enjoy this modern Western while getting a bit nostalgic on the rough & tumble spirit of classic Westerns. And while Pirates of the Caribbean already had a Disneyland ride to base itself on, I wouldn’t be too surprised if Disneyland decided to rebrand Big Thunder Mountain Railroad as a Lone Ranger ride if the film does well.