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Sunday, July 07, 2013

Sean Kelly

My Thoughts on The Lone Ranger

TheLoneRanger

From the team that brought you the Pirates of the Caribbean films come this new film adaptation of The Lone Ranger, which began as a radio serial in the 1930s, but is best known for the 1950s TV series.  In the film, the Native American warrior Tonto (Johnny Depp) recounts the story of the Ranger, who began as an attorney named John Reid (Armie Hammer).  Reid travels to his Texas hometown for the hanging of captured outlaw Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner).  When Cavendish escapes, Reid joins his ranger brother Dan (James Badge Dale) in the hunt, only to find themselves caught in an ambush.  Left for dead, Reid is saved by Tonto (and a white “spirit horse”) and is reborn as The Lone Ranger, who heads out to seek justice for Cavendish’s crimes.

I should probably begin with what is, in my opinion, the biggest flaw of The Lone Ranger, which is the film’s 149 minute length.  While a 2 1/2 hour running time is not at all that unusual in this day and age (it seems that most blockbusters now have that length), I do believe that there was some fat that could have been trimmed from The Lone Ranger’s story.  I wasn’t the biggest fan of the framing story, which had an elderly Tonto telling the story of the Ranger to a boy in 1930s San Francisco and it was something that could have easily been removed from the film and not change things at all.  Also, even though she’s an interesting character, there is no real need for Helena Bonham Carter as the head of a brothel with a shotgun hidden in her fake leg.  All and all, I believe this film could’ve easily been trimmed down to under two hours and still remain an enjoyable film.

I would say part of the reason for The Lone Ranger’s length is the fact that nearly a half hour is devoted to the film’s climatic action scene, which I have to say is well worth the price of admission on its own.  It is also the moment when the famous “William Tell Overture,” which makes up The Lone Ranger theme, is played in full, after being teased at the start of the film.  Of course, this great climatic set piece comes after a second act that perhaps takes a little too long to get where its going.

I should also talk a bit about Johnny Depp’s portrayal of the Native American Tonto.  Since we tend to live in a very political correct age, the character of Tonto can easily be seen as a very stereotypical character, made worse by the fact that he is being played by a white man.  However, the film somewhat cleverly explains away Tonto’s behaviour as being the result of some sort of mental disorder.  In fact, all the other natives in the film are played by real first nations people and are depicted much less stereotypically than Tonto.  Also, I have to say that Tonto is obviously meant as a comic-relief character and gets all the best lines.  Of course, I still consider it quite odd that Johnny Depp gets top billing for the film.  I know he’s a bigger name than Armie Hammer, but it’s weird that a film called The Lone Ranger is not being headlined by the person playing said ranger.

Ever since Jerry Bruckheimer started producing films for Walt Disney Picture with the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, he has been pushing for films to get a PG-13 rating, which up to that time hadn’t been used on films with the Walt Disney label.  The Lone Ranger continues this trend and I might even argue that it pushes the rating to its limit.  There is quite a bit of violence in The Lone Ranger, some of it bloody, and parents should not be fooled by the Disney label and take very young kids to see the film.  While overall I would say that the film is fun for the whole family, there a few scenes in the film (particular one involving Butch Cavendish), where kids might want to shut their eyes.

Overall, despite the fact that film takes a little too long to get where its going, I will say that I overall enjoyed The Lone Ranger and it is one fun western homage.

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Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).