Monday, December 16, 2013

Hi Ho Silver...AWAY! - Review of Disney's Lone Ranger

by Al Kessel

When I was a kid, I remember watching old re-runs of The Lone Ranger from the 1940's, starring Clayton Moore as the Masked Man and Jay Silverheels as Tonto. Now remember, this was from the 1940' the characters were a bit, well, different. The stories were always about some bad men doing some bad things, and the Lone Ranger, with his trusty side-kick Tonto saving the day. By the end of the episode, as The Lone Ranger would slowly ride into the sunset, all the town folk would say that now famous line..."who was that masked man?". Kind of corny but hey, it was a western, and full of action! It worked! So, imagine my delight when I first heard that Disney was going to reimagine (because you know, nothing is remade these days, just, reimagined!) The Lone Ranger! AND..Johnny Depp was going to play TONTO?! HOLY COW!!
Tonto and Silver

Now, if you haven't seen Disney's The Lone Ranger yet, I'll TRY not to spoil anything. But that may be hard since, in order to really review THIS title, it's important to give you some details from the movie. So, be forewarned now. 
The Lone Ranger and Tonto

The plot to this version of the iconic Western is a little different than the original. In the original, The Lone Ranger (also known as John Reid) was the last surviving Texas Ranger, who were sent after the fiendish Butch Cavendish and his gang. Well, seems the Rangers were betrayed and ambushed by Butch and all were shot and left for dead. This is where Tonto comes in. Tonto realizes that one of the Rangers is still alive and nurses him back to health. Realizing he is the last remaining Texas Ranger (and that Cavendish killed his brother Dan, one of the Rangers), he dons the iconic mask (made from his brothers vest) and vows to fight injustice as the Lone Ranger - so named not because he fights alone, but because he is the last of the Texas Rangers. 
William Fichtner as Butch Cavendish

In the 2013 Disney reimagined version, much is the same, except that John Reid wasn't originally a Texas Ranger, but a lawyer (district attorney actually) who was relocating to his brothers town to uphold the law, when certain events happen (you'll have to watch to find out) that lead John to join his brother and the other Rangers in their hunt for Cavendish. Pretty much the same deal as the original: betrayed, ambushed, killed, found by Tonto, mask, avenge brother. 

BUT, unlike the original, Tonto is sort of the star of this version. They made the Lone Ranger out to be somewhat of a bumbling ninny who, at first, stumbles into heroism. Actually, John wasn't Tonto's first choice to help him in his quest, his brother Dan was.  In fact, in the original story, Tonto gives John Reid the name Kemo-Sabee which he tells Reid means trusted scout, or trusted friend. In the reimagined version, which by the way is laced with a lot of great humor and sight gags, Tonto gives Reid that same moniker but says it means wrong brother! And in this version, Tonto creates the mask for The Lone Ranger to wear.
Tonto makes John Reid's mask

Disney's The Lone Ranger got a LOT of horrible reviews and a lot of bashing by moviegoers. And I understand why. If you go into this film with the expectations that you're going to see THE The Lone Ranger, well, yep, you're going to be VERY disappointed. This is NOT your daddy's Lone Ranger at all. It's something different, and in some ways better, other ways, not so much. Yes the plot is sort of sticky, and the movie tends to go long in a few places, but it is an enjoyable watch. The cinematography is absolutely beautiful, and the way in which they relate the story of The Lone Ranger is extremely clever (again, you'll need to watch to understand). The 'look' of the movie is just outstanding, but like I said, at times the actual movie leaves a bit to be desired. In fact, in a few places I said that if it weren't for Johnny Depp, this movie may not have worked at all. Depp brings so much to the reimagined character of Tonto which, for me was refreshing. I liked the original Tonto just fine, but he was just a side-kick, and at times not a very intelligent one. Depps' creation had heart, and a very intriguing back story that explains a LOT about the character that I felt worked. Which in this case was a good thing because I wasn't too fond of Armie Hammer's portrayal of John Reid/The Lone Ranger. After awhile he kind of grew on me, but I could have easily seen any number of other actors in the role. 
Johnny Depp's Tonto is Amazing

With a decent cast of supporting actors like Helena Bonham Carter (Harry Potter, Alice In Wonderland) as Red Harrington, Tom Wilkinson (Batman Begins, Michael Clayton) as Latham Cole and William Fichtner (Black Hawk Down, The Dark Knight) as Butch Cavendish, Disney's The Lone Ranger isn't a totally bad movie. It's actually a fun and adventurous romp through the old west! If you're a fan of The Pirates Of The Caribbean movies, you'll most likely enjoy The Lone Ranger. It's definitely worth a viewing!

Disney's The Lone Ranger hits stores on Blu-Ray Combo Pack, Digital HD, DVD and On-Demand December 17, 2013

The Blu-Ray and DVD packs come with the following Bonus Features:

  • Blooper Reel (TOTALLY hilarious!)
  • Deleted Scene - (Blu-Ray and Select Digital Retailers Only)
  • Riding The Rails Of The Lone Ranger – (Blu-Ray and Select Digital Retailers Only) For the production of the movie, director Gore Verbinski had a five mile oval track built along with multiple engines and cars. See the incredible effort that went into crafting such a detailed and important part of The Lone Ranger.
  • Armies's Western Road Trip - (Blu-Ray and Selected Digital Retailers Only) Armie Hammer takes viewers on a tour of the scenic locations the production shot in as we see and learn more about the amazing places he went to become The Lone Ranger
  • Becoming A Cowboy - (Blu-Ray and Selected Digital Retailers Only) Before the cast began shooting the film, they had to learn how to shoot a gun...and ride a horse! In this piece we follow the cowboy (and cowgirl) cast to boot camp, where they got a chance to experience what their characters would really be living like in the Wild West. 

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