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lone ranger
Click for full sized poster

The Lone Ranger

Starring Johnny Depp and Arnie Hammer
Screenplay by Justin Haythe and Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio
Screen Story by Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio and Justin Haythe
Based on characters created by George W. Trendle and Fran Striker
Directed by Gore Verbinski

IN SHORT: zzz (which means it's gonna make $$$). Rated [PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence, and some suggestive material. 149 minutes]

We should have known.

Writers Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio partnered on all the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, which bored us silly since none of 'em had any real story. Justin Haythe scripted one of the very few films that have earned a whopping $0 rating from us -- Sam Mendes' Revolutionary Road. (That film didn't get the zero because of the script, but because of the unpleasantness of the material.) Put  all those creative types together on an American classic like The Lone Ranger, which we watched in teevee reruns as a kid; whose radio history we learned backwards and forwards as a college kid; we really hoped that all the available background material would furnish enough bedrock to help deliver a balls to the wall film story. But we also feared we'd be doomed.

We were right. We were stunned by the noise and nothingness of the film, which means said film will probably going to be a monster hit. Not that we had problems with the new tweaks to the classic origins of the characters. Nope. Nor did we mind telling the tale from Tonto's point of view.The Lone Ranger is noisy enough, and a lot of people get punched in the face, but the film is flat out dull. Plain and simple.

Set in Comanche Territory -- which the front half of the film calls Indian Territory 'cuz the continuity editor was asleep at the keyboard, while a map shown later in the film clearly says "Comanche Territory," -- a detail important to the Third Act. Attention to detail has never a strong point for the Elliot & Rossio team, so we'll leave it be. The Law in Comanche Territory is the Texas Rangers, led by one Dan Reid (James Badge Dale). A man's man. A true hero. As the film begins, the Territory is quiet. Colby, Texas is getting ready to execute the worst criminal in the territory, one Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner). Then all will be well. But there's a warm-up act to the execution festivities. One Comanche warrior called Tonto (Johnny Depp) will also swing in the breeze.

Both Tonto and Cavendish are locked away in a prison car on a train whose passenger car trans[orts an idiot lawyer, in a nice suit, from the East. He is John Reid (Armie Hammer), brother to the hero Ranger. John believes in the power of the Law and the Political Philosophies of John Locke. He will not carry a gun. He doesn't believe in them.. When we say "idiot," we're being kind.

Mr. Reid, kind of gets in the middle of things. He isn't trying to be a hero. He just tries to do the right thing. He's not very good at it, and he continues to be not very good at whatever follows in this story, again -- when his brother deputizes him as a Texas Ranger; and again -- when the Rangers finally catch Butch Cavendish and stuff happens; and again -- as in everything else that happens that we're not going to tell you much about..

The Lone Ranger turns into a fairly entertaining comedy, which is all well and good. When the film tries to expand to epic proportions, involving the Indian Nation, the US Army, the Railroad, and another family crisis or two, It is as if every story idea that made it through the initial writing session was eventually dumped into the kitchen sink that is the over the top climax, just like all their other work.

The Lone Ranger doesn't deliver much in the way of compelling, not that the pieces aren't there. A good editor might have crunched this mess into something as funny as it is hard edged. But the creators are looking for another Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, this one on land and with a mask.

Yours Cranky will suffer in relative silence.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Lone Ranger, he would have paid . . .

$1

There's no point in putting a rating on this film. This creative combo makes films I can't bear and they all make a gazillion dollars and then become trilogies (Depp only signed for one movie but everyone else is reportedly on board for the long haul)

8/1/13: and it turns out to be a bomb. Finally the public and I agree!

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