Friday, 30 August 2013

The Lone Ranger: Too Dark for Disney?

The Lone Ranger is a Disney movie with a bit of a difference. Like Pirates of the Caribbean before it, The Lone Ranger gets away with some pretty harsh scenes of violence due to its 12 rating. Disney used to mean princesses, knights, enchanted castles and charming romances. It does not mean murder, revenge and slaughter. And yet The Lone Ranger reaches beyond your typical Disney moments of darkness and includes the gunning down of lawmen, a terrifying villain in William Fichtner and the slaughter of the Comanche by the United States army.

The Lone Ranger sees the titular lawmen turn outlaw after teaming up with more-than-just-a-sidekick, Native American Tonto. After his brother is brutally murdered (and has his heart cut out... see kids it's full of fun!) John Reid turns vigilante with the help of new spirit horse (eventually named Silver) and damaged Indian Tonto played wild and weird by Johnny Depp. Seeking the men responsible and their leader Butch Cavendish (freaky Fichtner) The Lone Ranger takes to wearing a mask and must get to the bottom of why the Comanche are being blamed for attacking settlers before a war (or just plain old genocide of the Natives) breaks out. With the trans-continental train track being built as a back drop, the quest for revenge and justice sees the mismatched pair uncovering corruption at every turn.

Armie Hammer nails the stoic hero while Depp tones down the Jack Sparrow excess while still making Tonto memorable, noble and fun. Hans Zimmer's score is brooding, dark and occasionally mournful until the glorious final set piece unleashes the William Tell Overture to rousing effect. Verbinski mounts a hell of an action packed set piece with trains, horses and plenty of characters to throw around but it's all a bit too ridiculous at times and as a result has to frequently rely on grating CG visual effects. However after sitting through two hours of nearly as much talk as action, kids and adults alike will undoubtedly be relieved to see some spectacle.

The Lone Ranger is bloated. Some scenes feel unnecessary and one late in the game character reversal is so obvious that it feels like a long wait for the revelation. Helenha Bonham Carter is completely sidelined but makes the most of very limited screen time while the slaughter of the Comanche is talked about but barely shown. After all no matter how dark and violent this gets, it is still a Disney film. The film is admirable for flipping the old Western traits on its head and showing a hugely sympathetic side of the Native Americans while also relegating their representation to the odd, amusing but also wise Tonto. It's no Dances with Wolves but it goes some way to showing the dreadful treatment of the Indians at the hands of settlers, particularly for a big dumb fun summer blockbuster.

According to Box Office Mojo, The Lone Ranger may have only just managed to scrape back it's over $200 million budget with a particularly poor domestic take. It looks likely that instead of becoming a Pirates size franchise, this might be the Standalone Ranger after all.

Watch the trailer:

Recent reviews at I Love That Film: 

You're Next Review

We're the Millers Review

Lovelace Review

2 Guns Review

Monsters University Review

Man of Steel Review

This is the End Review 

Fast and Furious 6 Review

Iron Man 3 Review

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