Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Lone Ranger Review

I've been in theatre this afternoon to watch The Lone Ranger, and here is my review.

What a strange movie, perhaps the first time of my life that i had the feeling to see a "bipolar" movie, a film which is partly a classic action western, partly a comedy western and gives the feeling to never choose its side. And this till the very end. That's one of the problem of The Lone Ranger, but not the only one. The other problem is coming from The Lone Ranger himself, who also take two hours to make his choice between being someone who respect law and justice, and becoming a "lone ranger" with less moral conflicts. And, frankly, it's hard to believe that someone who had his brother killed by a brutal murderer who not only killed his brother but also eat his heart is still hesitating to kill him or not when he's finally face to face with him. Anyway, that's some of the things which are a bit hard to swallow in The Lone Ranger but, thanks God, there is plenty of scenes which are superb and extremely enjoyable.

The Lone Ranger is brilliantly filmed by Gore Verbinski and everything you can expect to see in a western is here: western towns, sherifs, outlaws, indians, runaway trains, a saloon, a saloon madam, mines ( in this case a silver mine ), buffallos herd, etc... And even Monument Valley where the movie was filmed for a big part. Action is set in this wild west era during which the trans america railway line was built, so you'll also see chinese workers which is historically correct as many chinese helped to build the railway. 

So, trains, and even lot of trains which for me was very enjoyable to watch as i love trains in western movies. The movie starts in 1933 in a San Francisco sideshow tent, at a time the Golden Gate bridge is still under construction - and this opening scene with a young boy is a lovely idea - and then the story flash back 70 years earlier, and the next scene is a fantastic train attack by outlaws, one of the best i've seen since the famous ending scene of How the West Was Won. And, again, all this is extremely brilliantly filmed. It also ends with another great train scene, unfortunately a bit spoiled by the music choice, but i'll come back on this later.

Actors are all excellent and well directed, and of course Johnny Depp once again creates a memorable character. The way he plays Tonto might be somewhere a tribute to Buster Keaton - so expect a totally different and less hysterical character than Captain Jack was - but creating an Indian character who seems to have escaped from a Carlos Castaneda book - so a bit sorcerer in the Indian meaning of the word - is a clever choice, and for me Johnny is perfect from the start to the end. 

The movie production is also superb, and all of you who love Frontierland theming will be delighted by the sets of The Lone Ranger. You definitely can see where the $225M have been spent. The Lone Ranger had everything to be a great classic western, excellent actors, brilliant director, a good script - although it might be a bit too much complicated for young children - great sets, wonderful natural decor location, etc... but as i've said it's spoiled by a mix of style which for the most doesn't work. Or, as a critic has said: "the Lone Ranger is a film that doesn't know what it wants to be".

So, somewhere, it's frustrating but, still, there is enough spectacular scenes in The Lone Ranger to be enjoyable. Some are saying that the movie is too long, but i'm not sure that it is really too long... may be they could have cut twenty minutes, but not more. What is definitely too long for sure is the time it takes to the Lone Ranger to become "The" Lone Ranger. That said, what i really didn't like at all was the choice of the music for the final train sequence. This is the film climax, you're expecting a spectacular train chase - and you have it - and suddenly you hear the famous Guillaume Tell Overture! I couldn't believe my ears... I was there thinking "what the hell are they doing !?!". What they were doing, once again, was trying to mix two different styles, an action western and a comedy  western. And even if i have to admit that the scene editing match quite well with the music, i was really expecting a classic movie score at this intense moment of the film. The music choice in that scene could have worked or at least not be a problem if ALL the movie would have been a comedy western, but by constantly going from one style to another without making a choice, then it becomes a problem. At least it was one, for me.

Editing: A good friend of mine just let me know that this Guillaume Tell Overture was in fact the original music of the Lone Ranger TV series main title. In this case it of course makes more sense, at least for americans who remember the TV series, which i'm afraid might not be the case for the rest of the world.

So, do i suggest you to go out and watch The Lone Ranger? Yes i do, because what is good and what really works is really good. Go see it for the production, for the sets, for the actors, and of course for Johnny Depp. But be also prepared to be frustrated and to understand what a great classic western The Lone Ranger could have been, and what unfortunately it is not. 

Below, The Lone Ranger trailer, and if you watched the movie already, let us know what you think of it.


Anonymous said...

It swung far too much between slapstick silly and Sam Pickenpaw-style slaughtering. Was uneasy about the Walt Disney name on something so sadistically violent, which was then trying to be funny about it.

Marco Antonio Garcia said...

I've just seen it yesterday and I really enjoyed it!

I don't think that it has what it takes to be a great classic western and, I may be wrong, but I think that the film makers didn't have that ambition for the movie, but it is a really enjoyable movie for a Sunday afternoon view if you are not looking for something too serious.

The filming is brilliant, I totally agree, the locations are perfect and that makes the movie really pleasant to watch.

I don't agree though that a western movie (or any movie) has to choose between being a serious movie or a comic movie. I think that it can be both and be good; why not? Can't a serious movie has some comic relief?

I also think that it is not more sadistically violent than the original POTC version, for instance, and Pirates is the best attraction (along with the HM) that Disney has ever made. It's a western, the West at that time was a very violent place so, what did you expect anonymous, that the rangers would be riding and singing supercalifragilisticexpialidocious just because it's from Disney?

Anyway I thought that it was much better than the last three POTC movies.

Marco Antonio Garcia said...

Another thing that I liked was that, unlike the last three POTC movie, they didn't use a lot of unnecessary supernatural elements and the plot made sense.

I also liked that it was much more realistic than the last pirates movie, well at least the trains were just regular trains, they didn't have a huge flamethrower at the front, for instance...