Disney’s latest offering is a remake of the legendary 1950’s TV show of the same name. Since then, there have been a few attempts to bring The Lone Ranger back into the hearts and minds of a world that has, for the most part, moved on from the Wild West as a frontier of any great significance. All have failed miserably. Is this something new to throw on the fire?
First, let me fill you in just a little….
John Reid (Hammer) has just been deputised as a Texas Ranger by his brother Dan (Dale). The Texas Rangers are on the hunt for escaped bad guy Butch Cavendish (Fitchner). They are lured into a trap and all are left for dead. Their bodies are found by native American Tonto (Depp) and when he starts to bury them all, he discovers that Reid is alive. When a white horse, a respected animal of the native Americans appears, Tonto believes that Reid is now a spiritwalker who cannot be killed.
Reid is encouraged by Tonto to don the familiar face mask and thus becomes The Lone Ranger. The two then embark on a series of adventures to bring to justice the evil Cavendish and his motley crew of criminals. In the process they encounter corrupt politicians, a grieving (ish) widow, her fatherless son, a feisty brothel madam, some very PG prostitutes (this is Disney after all), some not so corrupt politicians and civic leaders, bemused and sometimes angry natives and many hardworking immigrants trying to forge their way in this new land.
There is lots more action and adventure and fun and serious stuff but I will let you discover all this by yourself.
Depp, as one might expect, gives a twist to the traditional Tonto. It is nowhere as camp as his Captain Jack Sparrow but still has some Depp nuances on full display. This tale is told from his perspective and so we get to see and feel from Tonto’s point of view rather than him being relegated to a secondary character. Perhaps the most notable difference to this Tonto is that he is not just the ‘Indian sidekick’ of yester year. This Tonto is respected and respectful. The fact that America’s indigenous people traded and did not simply take or steal or pillage is noted throughout this film. Tonto is still funny and quirky but there is a genuine friendship between him and Reid.
Hammer is perfectly cast as the handsome, well-meaning and anti gun lawman Reid/Lone Ranger. He is charming and funny and this offsets his great height (he is 6’5″) and screen presence ideally so he is neither imposing nor a caricature hero. He is not too proud to listen to Tonto’s words of wisdom and the two become great friends.
The Lone Ranger is a great movie. I thought it would be too long (what is it with 2 1/2 hour movies anyway?) but there was never a dull moment and the time flew by. This is good old-fashioned Western storytelling………..with a modern twist but it is more elementally traditional than any recent Westerns I have seen. There is no attempt to update or make anyone cool, they just are cool. And I don’t think that Reid or Tonto actually shot anyone directly……watch out for this and correct me if I am wrong. But I don’t think they did.
This is a good movie for the kids, not the littlest movie buffs, but the teens and young people who grew up on Depp’s Pirates will love it. It is big and glossy and only a little bit Disneyfied. I would recommend you take yourself and your parents, who would have grown up watching the TV show, to see this movie. They will have a ball.
During this movie, I was lucky enough to be sitting just behind a lady who appeared to be in her 50’s. She was with a young boy who it turned out was her grandson. This wonderful woman, laughed and clapped and cheered and smiled and threw her arms up in the air throughout this movie. I couldn’t help myself but to approach her afterwards to tell her what a delight it was to sit behind someone who was so obviously enthralled by the movie. She took my hand in hers and told me how wonderful she thought it was, how it reminded her of watching it on TV, how the theme song still made her smile and how she was so happy to be introducing The Lone Ranger to her grandson. I had tears in my eyes as I watched this lady who was grinning from ear to ear as she recounted briefly her Lone Ranger story.
So I dedicate this review to the gloriously animated Glenys and her grandson Charlie. Glenys, you are the reason they make movies like this. If anyone involved in this movie could have seen the absolute delight you showed this morning, they would know they had done their job well. Thank you.
And thank you as always to Event Cinema Glendale for their hospitality this morning
Starring : Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, Ruth Wilson, Helena Bonham Carter, James Badge Dale, Bryant Prince, Barry Pepper, Mason Elston Cook,
Running Time : 149 minutes
Release Date : July 4