10th Anniversary TLDR: The Lone Ranger (2013)
Can it hold up against the endless criticism?
Plot: The Texas Rangers chase down a gang of outlaws led by Butch Cavendish, but the gang ambushes the Rangers, seemingly killing them all. One survivor is found, however, by an American Indian named Tonto, who nurses him back to health. The Ranger, donning a mask and riding a white stallion named Silver, teams up with Tonto to bring the unscrupulous gang and others of that ilk to justice.
Direction: Gore Verbinski made Disney a trillion dollars when he made his Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy and when The Lone Ranger spent nearly a decade in development hell, they thought he could save the project by giving it the same energy. Pirates in the Wild West is a fine idea and he does it well. The whole thing is very clearly built around the action set pieces, with those as the focus and everything else as fill-in-the-blanks. He nearly perfected this winning formula. It's personal preference whether or not you like it, but I don't think you can deny that it works.
Screenplay: Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio (do yourself a favor and read his Wikipedia page) do this, from The Mask of Zorro to Pirates of the Caribbean to National Treasure. There's gotta be worse gigs than paying your bills with Bruckheimer-produced, Disney-budgeted adventures. Justin Haythe is credited with a rewrite and apparently toned down all of the supernatural and spooky stuff, which is the most interesting stuff in the movie.
Performances: This may be one of cinema's most controversial pairings: Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp. When Harvey Weinstein produces a Woody Allen movie, let me know. Until then, this has to be at least top-10, top-5, right? Controversies aside (which is hard to do even when only talking about this movie, considering Depp is playing A NATIVE AMERICAN), they're both fine here, nothing if not well-cast. I hate to just keep comparing it to Pirates of the Caribbean, but when Depp is just doing his Jack Sparrow here as Tonto, it's hard to deny. Hammer hadn't yet perfected his pretty-boy, love-to-hate-him thing that he would go on to do so well. Way too well. Helena Bonham Carter, William Fichtner, Ruth Wilson, and others round-out the rest, doing what they do.
Cinematography: One of the last films shot on 35mm that I saw projected on 35mm before the national switch to digital. Cinematographer Bojan Bazelli's photography looks nice and it probably used to look better than it does now on my Blu-ray.
Best moment: The first action sequence on the train is underrated good.
Fun fact #1: According to IMDB, “this is the first version of The Lone Ranger in any medium in which the actor playing Tonto receives top billing.”
Fun fact #2: This movie is still not available on Disney+. In 2021, more than a few places reported that it was a licensing issue and would be coming soon. Now, two years later, nothing. You have to wonder why...
Fun fact #3: Winner of the Razzie Award for Worst Remake, Rip-off or Sequel. How did it beat The Hangover Part III or Scary Movie 5?
Everything is too long. Is it too long? You might be surprised to hear that despite the two-and-a-half runtime, it doesn't feel long. That's only really because it's pretty fun. I'm a watch-checker and didn't really do that during this one. (Still, 150 minutes is ridiculous - is it legal for family movies to be that long?)
Rating: “I liked it!”-out-of-five.
Credit: Plot synopsis from Letterboxd via TMDb.
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