Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Lone Ranger

I grew up watching the re-runs of the Lone Ranger on a Saturday afternoon. I got excited hearing the William Tell Overture announcing the beginning of the next episode. It's galloping tune fired up images of strong convictions and justice and a man determined to see things were done properly. This cowboy was the superhero of cowboys. He was the best shot, he could lasso anything and he had the smartest horse. In those early days, he stood tall in his saddle. For a young boy like me who loved heroes and loved cowboys - he was not just as good a role model as any other - he was the best role model.

As I have grown up, while still harboring a penchant for such heroes and ideals of yesteryear, I recognize that the world has shades of gray and that our heroes are not all dressed in shining armour but can be dark knights in fact. So when I heard that Disney were looking to reboot The Lone Ranger I was not expecting a carbon copy of that classic cowboy hero from my childhood. In fact some of the more recent hero reboots - Batman, Spiderman, Man of Steel - have done a fantastic job of reinterpreting the outdated material in darker tones. So I expected an edgier darker view of this masked man.

Wow! Was I ever wrong.

Firstly, this movie was all over the place. When they cast Johnny Depp as Tonto, something inside nagged at me - in this day and age why could they not cast a more serious native American actor in the role, but I dismissed that as nervous excitement. What could possibly go wrong? Alright, so casting Johnny Depp tells us it is going to be a somewhat comedic turn but nothing could have prepared me for his performance. Sometimes he speaks half sentences like a painted desert Tarzan -"Me, Tonto" and other times he speaks in full sentences. One minute you think he is part of an action hero double act and then you think he is the missing act from the Four Stooges.
The same chaos reigns supreme with the title actor Armie Hammer. He is built for the part, he looks the part but for most of the movie he plays the chastened fool to the apparently sometimes wise, sometimes wrong Tonto - as if he is still playing the puppy dog scene from "Mirror Mirror".

The William Tell Overture played at various times but with no purpose other than it seemed they thought they put it in at some point just to announce an action scene was coming up. Given the benefit of the doubt I'd say they didn't know what to do with it.

Then somebody thought, "...wait a minute Helena Bonham Carter usually plays a part in movies with Johnny Depp, where is she?"-  and so suddenly there she is - with no apparent purpose but written in anyway - much like a dead crow on someone's head: visually noticeable but pointless.

And finally, I hate to put spoilers in but seeing as they spoilt my movie experience and I don't want you to go see this movie anyway...well I'm just going to spoil it a little bit more.

Could someone please tell me - what on earth are cannibal rabbits doing in this movie?

Was this some kind of homage to Monty Python's Holy Grail? And if so why?
And what was the point of having a General Custer-like character in there without actually naming him and if we are going Little Big Man on the audience to frame our story why not bring Dustin Hoffman in and forego the expense of make-up?

Come award season this is going to earn some Razzies! That is for sure.

Now to sum it all up in the old movies Tonto used to respectfully call The Lone Ranger "kemosabe" which means "trusty scout" or "faithful friend". Disney took it upon themselves to re-define the word with Tonto, disrespectfully (for comedic effect) telling The Lone Ranger it means "the wrong brother", meaning that all along this Lone Ranger was not the real Lone Ranger. The real Lone Ranger died at the beginning of the movie and we were left with his half-wit brother's version.

So what does that leave us with? Well I don't know about you but it left me feeling like I just came out of the hospital with the wrong baby.

And you know what is most disconcerting of all? I think they wanted me to feel this way. If I didn't know any better, the makers of this movie actually hated all that The Lone Ranger stood for and decided to make a movie that pretended to honor him but ultimately mocked him and what he stood for.

Final exhibit against the defence: the last scene with The Lone Ranger and Tonto together. The "heroics" are done and The Lone Ranger raises Silver on his hind legs and shouts the final "Hi Yo Silver". To which Tonto retorts "Don't ever do that again."

Well I am left with just one more thing to say to Disney, Gore Verbinski, Johnny Depp et al, "Don't ever do that again"!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

just seeing if this works...