The Lone Ranger Review

4 07 2013

wallpaper lone ranger depp

Hi-ho, Johnny Depp, it’s Pirates of the Old West! Captain Jack Sparrow returns, this time pretending to be a Native American (which would probably be offensive if it was anyone else besides Depp). But seriously, this is more Pirates than The Lone Ranger as far as pacing, characters, historical accuracy, explosive sets, and background stories (absolutely everything has a background story, even a fake leg) are concerned.  In other words, it’s a Bruckheimer/Verbinski film. But does this movie strike gold or fire blanks? (Sorry).

There was a lot of build-up for this movie. There was an absurd amount of build-up for this movie. Look back at the last few months of my reviews- literally every single one of those movies had a Lone Ranger trailer before the showing, and there’s quite a bit of variety in these movie genres. I was already sick of some moments a month before seeing the actual film, which is unfortunate. Even more unfortunate is how spoiler-ish the trailers are, revealing key moments and plot points from every single chapter of the film, from opening to finale. So yeah, thanks for those stolen surprises, Disney.

Johnny Depp's original costume.

Johnny Depp’s original costume.

One actual surprise is how well the Lone Ranger John Reid (Armie Hammer) and Tonto (Johnny Depp) worked together. In anyone else’s hands, the characters could have come across as unlikeable and clueless (Reid) and loopy (Tonto). Also, William Fichtner as villain Butch Cavendish makes a legitimately creepy villain, but honestly he feels like he was written for a different movie.

lone ranger villain poster

The villain who steals your heart.

The reason I say that is most of the movie consists of Johnny Depp being weird, over-the-top action sequences, buddy humor between the leads, and Johnny Depp being funny. And then we have a scene (MILD SPOILERS) where all the good guys get gunned down by the villain, who then cuts the heart out of a screaming good guy, and then eats it, shown through reflections in the brother’s eye. Whoa, kiddos, why aren’t you laughing anymore? Talk about a mood swing. Another scene has Native Americans, in a new creative twist, getting gunned down dramatically by corrupt American Army soldiers. As they fall, we keep cutting back to Johnny Depp comically doing something comic- in other words, this movie has wildly inconsistent tones. Maybe the recurring line “nature is out of balance” was referring to the screenwriters.

Helena Bonham Carter plays Red, who in summary is one of the film’s throwaway characters. This would be fine, except they used Helena Bonham for the throwaway role- she gets barely any screen time here (unfortunately). The other underdeveloped character award goes to the Calvary officer (Barry Pepper), who basically is there because the editor forgot to cut out all his parts.

The Female Johnny Depp

The female Johnny Depp

Ultimately, the only standout, memorable part for most people will be the final train sequence, due in large part to Zimmerman’s thunderous rendition of the “William Tell Overture.” Here, we get all the slick action hijinks promised (and spoiled) in the trailers. Between dueling train tracks and Reid riding his horse Silver on top of and inside the train cars, things finally get fun- but then the sequence ends. Cue a random ending scene using the random Old Tonto framing gimmick, and you realize how much better this movie could have been.





Les Misérables 5-Point Review

28 12 2012

1. Les Misérables, for the unfamiliar, is not a comedy. This is a film based on a musical play based on a novel by Victor Hugo, and there’s already been an excellent adaption on film that I’m fond of, mainly because it features Captain Barbossa and that guy who punches wolves, Liam Neeson. While that film featured virtually no singing, this one features virtually no spoken lines, and has the feel of a movie that desperately wants an Oscar. 

 

Les Miserables Poster

Gee, I hope there’s no singing.

2. One thing you should know about the singing parts is that they were all recorded live on the set, which is virtually unheard of in cinema. The goal was to get a purer, raw experience, much like you would on Broadway. Overall, I would argue that this delivery made it ten times more memorable, but not all memories are good, are they? Some notes seemed a bit off, and I know Russell Crowe has gotten some flack over his delivery, but I also thought Jackman fell flat a few times, and usually post-shooting dubbing would have fixed that. That said, Anne Hathaway’s stirring, vulnerable performance of “I dreamed a dream” may have caused little tears to well in my eyes. Either that or a bit of popcorn salt was lodged in my eyeball.

 

Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway

Catwoman and Wolverine together at last.

 

3. Some may criticize the film as being bombastic and overly dramatic, but I would question if they’re familiar with the source material. That’s like calling a movie based on Justin Bieber too girly and shallow; it’s the whole point, the genre, if you will. Some parts definitely benefited from being in a musical, but maybe a few spoken lines could have added weight to other moments.

 

Russel Crowe Javert

Singing about riding his horse.

4. If I had to pick my favorite singers, it’d be Anne Hathaway and Samantha Barks, who reportedly beat out Taylor Swift for the role of Eponine (thank goodness). She had also already played the role onstage at the Queen’s Theater. (SPOILER ALERT) I only wish Hathaway had stuck around a bit longer, no matter what the book said.

 

Samantha Barker

Pictured: Not Taylor Swift

5. I said this wasn’t supposed to be a comedy, but that’s not saying it lacks humor. By my count, about 95% of the comedy comes from Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter as Thénardier and Madame Thénardier. I usually shudder when I see Sacha Cohen in anything, so this was a first for me, but I’m always a fan of Carter since she’s basically a female Johnny Depp. They both owned their roles well enough for me to laugh and forget about whatever character had just tragically died (after a while, it was hard to keep count).

 

Carter and Cohen

The Odd Couple

Final Thought: This well-done adaptation is probably in the love-it-or-hate-it category, but I think it’s a safe guess that it will be taking a money bath before the end.

Les Miserables Grumpy  Cat Meme

As if nobody saw this coming.