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By John Chard January 29, 2017
The early signs were not good, tales of production problems galore and
early critical notices wading in to kick the film before it had even
had a run at the theatres. The Lone Ranger seemed destined to be a
blockbuster stinker. Yet in spite of it noticeably alienating original
Lone Ranger purists, and some Western lovers as well, for a rollicking
action fun packed time then Gore Verbinski's movie delivers in spades.
It's awash with the serial silliness of adventure films and TV shows of
yore, pitching good guys against bad guys with buddy buddy shenanigans
pulsing away at the core. The stunts are outrageously enjoyable, the
landscape photography as beautiful as it is respectful in homage to
past masters of the Western genre, while in Depp's Tonto there's a bona
fide hero to root for just as much as he makes you laugh out loud.
This is an origin story, a tale of how John Reid (Armie Hammer) became
The Lone Ranger, and of course how the noble steed Silver and Indian
side-kick Tonto became integral to his villain fighting ways. Tom
Wilkinson and William Fitchner file in for polar opposite villain
duties, the former is the weasel business man trying to mould the West
in is own image, the latter a repugnant psychopath with a penchant for
eating human hearts! Then Helena Bonham Carter wanders in from some
Grindhouse movie for a couple of cameos that are resplendent with
It's all very wacky and wild, and rightly so, but this is not at the
expense of very good story telling. Some parts of the narrative could
have been trimmed, but as the bromance builds between our two heroes,
and Silver gets up to all sorts of comedy horse escapades, there's nary
a dull moment here. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Verbinski
throw all the action staples into the pot. Chases, fights, swinging
from ropes, shoot-outs, people dangling from speeding train (pic is
bookended by awesome train sequences), grisly deaths and on it goes
from start to end.
There's caustic asides to the machinations of organisations of the
time, from railroad magnates to the cavalry, while the catchphrases and
legends of The Lone Ranger TV series are deftly inserted into the tale.
It was interesting to see Depp come out and defend the movie against
those damning early critic reviews, it's not something he does, being
as he is very much a guy who sees acting as just a job. Bruckheimer,
Hammer and Verbinski backed Depp up, stating that some reviews were
written before the film had even been released, the big budget and
production problems clearly making this a big stinker…
Not so, it's certainly not flawless, and those seriously into
anachronisms are likely to have kittens. But if you haven't seen it
yet, if you was put off by the venomous early reviews, then give it a
chance, you may just be surprised at just how entertaining it is. It
also looks and sounds brilliant on Blu-ray, where repeat viewings even
show Hammer to be better than first thought as that masked man. 8.5/10
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