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By Jayne Waterford
Copyrighted © Jayne Waterford, 2013.

REVIEW: "THE LONE RANGER" by Jayne Waterford

There have been a few large scale takes on the Western lately. It's such a successful genre:

  • The radically successful James Mangold's "3:10 INTO YUMA" (2007) that sounded references to its predecessor like skipping stones on an idyllic lake.
  • The Coen Brother's successful in a completely different way "TRUE GRIT" (2010). You could recite whole speeches as you walked out such a true script was so beautifully delivered.
  • Quentin Tarantino's gorgeous and disarming "DJANGO UNCHAINED" (2012).
  • J.J. Abrams' "STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS" (2013).
And now, the draw card, period costume franchise engineered by Gore Verbvinski gives us Johnny Depp as Tonto in "THE LONE RANGER" (2013).

What a curious role.

Gore Verbinski's "THE LONE RANGER" (2013) is a film in two parts. These parts are distinguished by their

emotional content and pace. The first part of our movie is pretty stayed. Tonto neither says nor does much and the Lone Ranger who after all is a ranger, alone, is a hapless guy in love with his brother, Ryan's wife Rebecca. She is very interesting. The Lone Ranger is a young and dashing Uncle John Reid. The rangers are murdered, the righteous Ranger John becomes one and Tonto is obliged, both spiritually and conveniently to help.

Part 1

I call this the stealth phase. For other instances of its occurrence please refer to "DESPICABLE ME", ... see IDENTITY THEIF... it's the phase where we get to walk around in the world of the people we're watching. We get to know them and while we're toying with the idea of walking out, they get their hooks into us. At the conclusion of this phase, it is impossible to leave. In fact if we are still there, most likely we will buy the DVD. Because...

Part 2

Let 'er rip! This is where all veils are dropped and we are carried somewhere worth going! This happens after the rather arduous experience of part 1, where we don't

even know if we like the characters, or what they're doing.

In what must be taking an homage to the cow on the roof of the inn in Enzo Barboni 's "THEY CALL ME TRINITY" "LO CHIAMAVANO TRINITą" (1970) to its natural extreme, Silver (The Lone Ranger's horse) whom also gets a cameo in Quentin Tarantino's "DJANGO UNCHAINED" (2012) under Big Daddy (Don Johnson) for a phrase or two, gallops over the train, threw the train, escapes being mushed by a tunnel roof in the nick-of-time all to the strains of the ultimate galloping music by full orchestra, William Tell's Overture. This scene is the ultimate working out of all themes: Tonto's facility with leverage, the Lone Ranger's beguiled enthusiasm, the outsmarting of the bad guys and the, dumb luck multitude of trains running in tandem.

Verbinski has appropriated the truth that the most moving drama that comes from somewhere and that place must be established. Gore Verbinski also knows that the most moving drama is comedy reacting against vague discomfort. That is the role of part 1.

The end of our film is incredible and exhilarating.

Johnny Depp plays a curiously small role. We don't know why. Is it to let the befuddled presence of The Lone Ranger shine a little brighter? Who knows. Comic genius again is sat on a bland canvas. But when he moves, he solves problems with surprising dexterity and agility. It's the kind of entertainment that makes you feel glad you stayed.

The vistas are grand, the plot unpredictable. It's a must see.

This saga is set in the relatively recent past, San Fransico, 1933. It begins with a boy visiting a curiosities tent at a circus where an aged Tonto, as an example of the Noble Savage, is wearing a rubber mask of wrinkles and tells the story. Then we flash back from 1933 to 1869, in living memory. There are still Cherokee wearing paint and feathers and living in tee-pees.

In the telling of this story Verbinski borrows heavily from the language of the "PIRATE" (2003)-(2015) franchise. A music box theme indicates early who the villain is. I found it annoying, as aesthetically muddied as Fran Walsh's deployment of the early "HARRY POTTER" and "PIRATES" themes in the telling "THE HOBBIT" (2013).

Just who the rubber chicken man is on the other hand is a bit more interesting.

This Tonto's character arch is short. In the end he picks up his suit case and walks, perhaps through the backdrop into the desert of Utah, and proceeds to approach infinity as the credits role, after the manner of Peter Sellers at the end of Hal Ashby's "BEING THERE" (1979) or Sylvester Stallone walking home at the end of his first "RAMBO" (1982) film, "FIRST BLOOD".

Costuming is combed through a nit comb by the indubitable Penny Rose ("PIRATES" franchise). Every character is unexpected and realised so thoroughly we can't imagine one more accoutrement for any of them. In some scenes we have the opportunity to enjoy the detail, as if for a moment the costuming is given pride of place in terms of screen time and area, mostly on wranglers. In fact, sometimes I'm sure that's what we are starring at as someone stars at something. Verbinski allowed the costumes to take a role.

There is something about texture in Verbinski's films. Remember Gore Verbinski's "RANGO" (2011)? Another Western, perhaps a preamble to this as it too was a Western tarring the sophisticated chameleon with

aspirations to be an actor and a town of massively textured animals fighting over water. Costuming under Verbinski covers every bit of every character. He is unafraid of rot and wrinkles. It's as if we meet the characters makeup first. It borders on being in the way, as if they are acting under it rather than being whoever they are, caked in it. But how can we tell?

To interesting to be bad. 8/10

Gore Verbinski's "THE LONE RANGER" (2013)
Release Date 4th July 2013
Category Action/Adventure
Running Time 149 minutes (2 hours, 29 minutes)
Rating M
Origin USA
Format 2D
Director Gore Verbinski
Producer Jerry Bruckheimer
Stars Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, Tom Wilkinson, Helena Bonham Carter
Distributor Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Australia

Official Blurb "From producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski, the filmmaking team behind the blockbuster "PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN"
franchise, comes Disney/Jerry Bruckheimer Films' "THE LONE RANGER", a thrilling adventure infused with action and humour, in which the famed masked hero is brought to life through new eyes. Native American spirit warrior Tonto (Johnny Depp) recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid (Armie Hammer), a man of the law, into a legend of justice- taking the audience on a runaway train of epic surprises and humorous friction as the two unlikely heroes must learn to work together and fight against greed and corruption." - Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Australia PR
From producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski comes Disney/Bruckheimer Films' "THE LONE RANGER". Tonto (Johnny Depp), a spirit warrior on a personal quest, joins forces in a fight for justice with John Reid (Armie Hammer), a lawman who has become a masked avenger.
Photo: Peter Mountain
©2012 Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer, Inc.
Photograph: Peter Mountain..
©Disney Enterprises, Inc. and Jerry Bruckheimer Inc.
All Rights Reserved..
L to R: Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as The Lone Ranger.
Photograph: Peter Mountain.
©Disney Enterprises, Inc. and Jerry Bruckheimer Inc. All Rights Reserved..
Photograph: Peter Mountain
©Disney Enterprises, Inc. and Jerry Bruckheimer Inc.
All Rights Reserved..
L to R: Armie Hammer as The Lone Ranger and Johnny Depp as Tonto
Film Frame
©Disney Enterprises, Inc. and Jerry Bruckheimer Inc.
All Rights Reserved..
Photograph: Peter Mountain..©Disney Enterprises, Inc. and Jerry Bruckheimer Inc. All Rights Reserved..