Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Disney’s newest live action vehicle, ‘The Lone Ranger’, reunites the producer-director-actor trio of Jerry Bruckheimer, Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp from the massive ‘Pirates Of The Caribbean’ franchise.
In the run-up to its release, it has already drawn comparisons to Disney's financial flop of last year, ‘John Carter’, due to a few shared similarities such as their inflated US$250 million (S$318 million) budgets and difficult production processes.
Was the money and effort worth it? Well, the amount of physical stunts done and the realistic train sets all add a lot to the overall enjoyment of the film.
Shots of New Mexico standing in for the location of Texas are appropriately gorgeous and of course, Hans Zimmer's booming score gives the film the steam and exhilaration it needs.
By the time the famous ‘William Tell Overture’ hits, the movie is the fully realised child-friendly Cowboys-and-Indians adventure that is often played out in children’s minds. Those children who grew up mucking around with little plastic toys and not touchscreen gadgets anyway.
Read also: Jerry Bruckheimer: Reinventing the Western
Apart from that though, it is just too bloated. And at two-and-a-half hours long, even the large spectacle and the overstuffed climatic action sequence cannot justify the conflicting tones present throughout the entire movie and the test on the audience’s patience. Much of the depth it could have had was also tossed aside.
The character of the Lone Ranger, whose real name is John Reid, originates from a serialised radio show in the 1930s and the story has been adapted to a hit TV show, movies, books and comics.
This marks the Ranger's first silver screen outing in more than 32 years after ‘The Legend of the Lone Ranger’ in 1981.
Native American warrior Tonto (Johnny Depp) tells the adventures of how Reid (Armie Hammer), a law-abiding man with a personal distaste for guns and violence, became a legend. The audience is then taken on a ride as the two of them pair off to seek out a common enemy in Butch Cavendish (William Fitchner) and to fight injustices.
As anyone who has watched the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movies would know, that ride is a long, long one.
It takes almost an entire hour before the duo teams up, and with about 30 minutes left in the movie, you're almost exhausted by it all before you realise there is more to go.
The performance from Johnny Depp mostly works and part of the fun is to see how he adds his own quirks to his onscreen character.
Read also: 10 reasons why we love Johnny Depp
And with Tonto as the movie’s narrator telling the tales to a child in San Francisco in the 1930s, you're never quite sure if the events occurring in the film are just a product of his wicked imagination or not.
Yet the uneven tone is obvious. When Tonto is not in a scene, the film plays it very straight – the politicking and personal drama between Reid and his family are all handled almost as if they are in a different movie. But once Tonto appears, everything becomes comical, almost by default.
Hammer and Depp have incredible chemistry and make for a great comedic duo who deliver on some nonstop laughs.
Not discounting the baddies, a highlight of the show is Fitchner's outlaw, whose viciousness and extensive makeup are impossibly hard to ignore. Having said that, Tom Wilkinson, who plays the opportunist Latham Cole, lords it over everyone.
All in, ‘The Lone Ranger’ works, if only just barely. It cannot be helped that with the same collaborators, the movie feels very similar to the ‘Pirates Of The Caribbean’ franchise in many aspects.
There will be plenty of laughs and explosions to take away from this one, but nothing really to make a lasting impression beyond saying to yourself that Hollywood should stop blowing US$250 million to make movies.