Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson
, Ruth Wilson, Helena Bonham Carter, Barry Pepper
Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio
Never Take Off the Mask.
Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer star in The Lone Ranger, from Jerry Bruckheimer Films and Director Gore Verbinski. It's a wild ride of high-velocity action, explosions and gunfights that brings the famed masked legend to life through brand-new eyes. The Lone Ranger (Hammer), the last of his kind, teams with Tonto (Depp), a dark and mysterious vigilante, to seek vengeance after justice has failed them. It's a runaway train of epic surprises, as these two unlikely heroes must learn to work together before the ultimate showdown between good and evil explodes.
$29.210 million on 3904 screens.
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
English Descriptive Video Service 2.0
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Runtime: 149 min.
Release Date: 11/19/2013
• “Armie’s Western Road Trip” Featurette
• “Becoming a Cowboy” Featurette
• “Riding the Rails of The Lone Ranger” Featurette
• Deleted Scene
• Sneak Peeks
• DVD Copy
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The Lone Ranger [Blu-Ray] (2013)
Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 15, 2014)
Back in 2003, director Gore Verbinski and actor Johnny Depp joined forces for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Most – myself included – figured a pirate film based on a theme park attraction would bomb. It did not – instead, it became a major hit and spawned a successful franchise.
In 2013, Verbinski and Depp attempted to catch lightning in a bottle again with a massively expensive western – and a “reboot” at that. Would The Lone Ranger do for its genre/characters what Pirates accomplished in its realm? Nope – and not even close, as Ranger went down as a potentially legendary flop.
Did it deserve such a fate? Pretty much. I wanted to like Lone Ranger but found little in the film to merit positive opinions.
Opening in 1933, a young boy named Will (Mason Cook) encounters an elderly Native American called Tonto (Johnny Depp) in a circus sideshow. From there the story evolves in flashback, as Tonto tells Will how he and the Lone Ranger came together.
We head to 1869 and meet a lawyer named John Reid (Armie Hammer) who heads to the frontier town of Colby, Texas. Notorious outlaw Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner) rides the same train, though in less comfortable circumstances, as lawmen take him to be hanged.
Also on board? Tonto, another prisoner confined with Cavendish. The situation changes when Cavendish’s men free him in a daring assault, and this circumstance also joins Reid and Tonto despite their wishes; the pair don’t care for each other but find themselves stuck together. The film follows a mix of personal and action-related scenarios with an emphasis on the unlikely partnership between Tonto and Reid – as well as how Reid becomes a dynamic do-gooder called “The Lone Ranger”.
Going into Ranger, I hoped for the best despite multiple warning signs. When it hit screens, it did so with an abundance of bad press, as a mix of problems nagged the production and left it as an apparent dud in the making. However, I continued to maintain my belief that if Verbinski and Depp could bring so much life to the long-moribund pirate genre, they could make a good movie out of this property.
I was mistaken, though it occasionally becomes tough to pin down where exactly the production went wrong. It shows strong production values and boasts a good cast and crew. The general tale on display could’ve offered fun and excitement.
Alas, no such fun and/or excitement manages to materialize, largely because Ranger tells its tale in a slow manner. At its heart, the movie gives us a popcorn western, so who in their right mind thought it made sense to extend it to nearly two and a half hours? Deliver a version of the story that runs around 110 minutes and you might have a lively adventure, but at 149 minutes, this sucker drags.
A shorter film also might’ve forced the filmmakers to tighten up all the narrative loopholes – and to abandon the pointless flashback format. If the 1930s Tonto/Will scenes have any real reason to exist, I can’t figure out what those might be; these sequences seem superfluous and all they do is force an already slow movie to meander even more.
If the action redeemed these many sluggish moments, I might mind those issues less. Unfortunately, the various set pieces don’t deliver a lot of entertainment. They seem more focused on being big effects showcases and less oriented toward genuine excitement. We can see the money spent on-screen but can’t feel delighted as a result.
The convoluted nature of the story becomes a problem. What should’ve been a simple tale of pursuit/revenge becomes much more complicated than that, but for no logical reason. Do we care about much more than the pursuit of Cavendish? No, but the movie decides to go down a slew of alternate paths anyway and loses track of its main narrative too much of the time.
I guess the filmmakers figured a more ambitious story would give the flick heft, but it doesn’t. Instead, it obscures any potential pleasures and just leaves us distanced from the characters. It all comes together in the end – sort of – but by the time the movie gets there, we don’t care.
Even the cast lets down the film. Hammer looks the part but lacks the charisma for the role, as he consistently feels like a guest in his own film. That’s not because the movie caters to Depp, its only real “name” actor; while it does focus on the star more than the narrative probably should, even with a less prominent Tonto, Hammer would still come across as milquetoast. I think the actor has talent – he was good in The Social Network - but he has yet to come across as “leading man material”.
While Depp has a solid history of those roles, he lacks much impact as Tonto. He doesn’t bring much conviction and presents little more than broad comedy and faux mysticism in the role. Depp mugs for the camera a lot but doesn’t do much else to entertain us.
Could Lone Ranger have been a worse film? Sure – at least it boasts good production values and offers impressive visuals. However, it fails to deliver much actual entertainment, and that’s a pretty serious sin when it comes to a popcorn action flick like this.
The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus C-
The Lone Ranger appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a top-notch transfer.
Sharpness looked terrific. At all times, the movie mustered a tight, accurate presentation with nary a hint of softness to be found. No instances of jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and I witnessed no edge haloes. Print flaws remained absent from the image.
What would a western be without arid, desaturated visuals? Ranger tended to be sandy and dusty, with an emphasis on tan tones. Occasional rich reds or chilly blues materialized as well, and the colors looked solid within their stylistic domains. Blacks appeared dark and tight, while shadows seemed smooth and clear. In the end, this was a strong image.
I found consistent excitement from the film’s DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack as well. This mix used all the speakers in an aggressive manner to create a solid auditory setting. With a wild run of gunfights, explosions and general mayhem, the track boasted a lot of info from all around the room. These elements fit together in a satisfying way and delivered a high-octane presentation.
Audio quality seemed solid. Speech was distinctive and natural, with no edginess or other concerns. Music showed solid vivacity and clarity, while effects added a great deal of power to the mix. Those elements came across as loud and clear, with strong punch. I felt quite happy with this involving soundtrack.
Despite the film’s high profile, the Blu-ray skimps on extras. Armie’s Western Road Trip runs 14 minutes, 37 seconds and includes notes from producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Navajo Nation president Ben Shelly, Canyon de Chelly park ranger William P. Yazzie, director Gore Verbinski, Creede, CO mayor Eric Grossman, 1st assistant camera Tony Nagy, Comanche technical advisor Bill Voelker, and actor Armie Hammer. We get a tour of the various locations, though not with much substance. Occasional factoids appear, but mostly we hear how accurate and how awesome each locale was.
During the eight-minute, three-second Becoming a Cowboy, we hear from Bruckheimer, Hammer, Verbinski, horse wrangler Edward. K. Pinkard, stunt coordinator Tommy Harper, wrangler gangboss Norman Mull, gun handling technical advisor Keith Meriweather, armorer Harry Lu, and actors Ruth Wilson, Barry Pepper, James Badge Dale, Wlliam Fichtner, Johnny Depp, James Frain, and Matt O’Leary. The short looks at the “boot camp” to train the actors for their western experience. Like “Trip”, this one tends toward the fluffy side of the street, though it does give us a few fun glimpses of the processes involved.
For the final featurette, Riding the Rails of The Lone Ranger lasts 10 minutes, 39 seconds and provides info from Bruckheimer, Verbinski, Harper, Hammer, Depp, Pepper, Wilson, Fichtner, co-screenwriter Justin Haythe, train coordinator James Clark, construction coordinator C. Jonas Kirk, foremen/extras Alonzo Montano and Scott Amos, production designer Crash McCreery and Jess Gonchor, visual effects supervisor Tim Alexander, special effects supervisor John Frazier, trains art directors Domenic Silvestri and Naaman Marshall, supervising art director Brad Ricker, actors Tom Wilkinson and Bryant Prince, and executive producers Chad Oman and Mike Stenson. “Rails” looks at the design and creation of the movie’s trains and related issues. Like its predecessors, “Rails” offers some useful notes but threatens to become submerged due to the self-congratulation on display. It’s still the most informative of the bunch.
One Deleted Scene appears. “Locust Storm/Great Warriors Must Adapt” occupies three minutes, 49 seconds and shows a sequence in which Tonto and Reid escape a perilous situation via the assistance of locusts. Only a little live-action footage appears; most of the piece consists of art and CG pre-vis material. It’s not a bad sequence, though I don’t know how well it would’ve fit into the final film.
We also get a collection of Bloopers. This package fills three minutes, 51 seconds and lets us see a pretty standard mix of goofs and giggles. It does nothing to elevate the genre.
The disc opens with ads for Saving Mr. Banks and Muppets Most Wanted. No trailer for Ranger shows up here.
A second disc delivers a DVD copy of Lone Ranger. It offers the blooper reel but lacks any of the Blu-ray’s other extras.
The Lone Ranger might not go down as a legendary flop, but it still ended up as a dud. I wanted to like the film but found little to like on display, as it misfired in most ways. The Blu-ray offers excellent picture and audio but comes with a skimpy set of supplements. Fans will appreciate the high quality of its reproduction, but I can’t recommend this mediocre flick to anyone not already smitten by it.
Viewer Film Ratings: 3.8333 Stars
| Number of Votes: 24