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June 05, 2023

The Lone Ranger: Movie Review

By Bernie and Sand Pilarski

Bernie said:

Okay, just to let you know up front, this is going to be one of those times when I disagree with the majority of the so-called "major" reviewers, which is to say those who are paid to review movies. I've mentioned to my Editor that there are those who are paid for their work, suggesting that maybe something like that would bring a little novelty to our relationship, but she said that she has never paid for a movie review in her life and that she was not about to begin now. She also said something about buying cows and free milk, then winked and threw me out of her office.

She is difficult to understand at times, but then again, I could say the same thing about Disney Studios.

The Lone Ranger is Disney's latest attempt at an economic stimulus package, wherein they dump large sums of money into the production of a movie (presumably to create jobs) and come away with a pretty good movie with no audience. I understand that Disney is taking another huge financial hit on this picture in a manner not unlike the results of last year's John Carter. Ironically, in my review of John Carter, I said that for the kind of money they spent on that movie "you'd want Johnny Depp in it. For that kind of money, we should have gotten Jack Sparrow of Mars. In fact, Mars would be a logical next venue for the Captain Jack Sparrow. After all, he's already been to the Fountain of Youth and to World's End."

Well this movie had Johnny Depp in it, and it even had Helena Bonham Carter, and for that alone I was willing to plunk down the bucks to go see it. For my money, I was treated with a new interpretation of the Lone Ranger story, one that takes the larger-than-life true-blue, much more serious Lone Ranger from the thrilling days of yesteryear and replaces him with a more modern, perhaps more realistic, hero who is flawed and less certain, an arguably more human character. Tonto too is re-imaged, far less stoic and a lot more eccentric. And let there be no doubt, this story, although it holds fairly true to the major elements of the Lone Ranger origin story, is a comedy, far closer in the cop story spectrum to the Keystone Cops than to Dirty Harry.

And therein lies a dilemma for this movie. The Lone Ranger is an old story, created originally in 1930's, peaked in popularity in the 1950's, and except for a couple of less than stellar attempts at an animated series, the character has been pretty much out of sight for nearly fifty years. The people that might have a vested interest in seeing this movie are the old timers, and they may not take kindly to the much lighter treatment of the main characters, and the younger people that would take to story just are not much vested in a western. This was driven home to me when my eleven year old granddaughter said she wanted to see the movie because she liked Johnny Depp.

"What if you had the choice of seeing The Lone Ranger or Despicable Me?" I asked.

"Oh, Despicable Me," she said.

"What about The Lone Ranger or World War Z?"


"The Lone Ranger or "RED 2."

"Oh, oh, oh, can we go see RED 2?"

Doomed by the demographic.

Now I happen to have liked this movie very much. It was well acted, even allowing for the cheese factor, it was well written for a comedy, it was a good-looking movie with great (and cheesy) effects, and it was funny -- a Hope and Crosby Road Movie kind of funny. My criticism of this movie has nothing to do with the final product. My question is how Disney managed to spend the kind of money on this movie that it did. IMDb.com says the production cost of this movie was $250,000,000. That's a lot of money, putting it in the stratospheric range of most expensive movies ever made, right up there with last year's financial disaster John Carter. For the same amount of money, Syfy channel could have made more than 125 films like Sharknado.

Don't be scared off this movie by what the critics are saying. It is a lot of fun. And if you don't go to have fun at the movies, go to see it as a way to thank Disney for their charitable contribution to our nation's economy.

Sand said:

OMG, most critics hated this movie. After all, there was nothing of Clayton Moore or Jay Silverheels (who played the Lone Ranger and Tonto, respectively, in the TV show by the same name) in Gore Verbinski's The Lone Ranger. I mean, the Lone Ranger and Tonto were all about fighting injustice, right?

Wikipedia has this to say about the Lone Ranger:

As generally depicted, the Lone Ranger conducts himself by a strict moral code based on that put in place by [Fran] Striker at the inception of the character ... It reads:

I believe...

  • That to have a friend, a man must be one.
  • That all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.
  • That God put the firewood there, but that every man must gather and light it himself.
  • In being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for what is right.
  • That a man should make the most of what equipment he has.
  • That 'this government of the people, by the people, and for the people' shall live always.
  • That men should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.
  • That sooner or later...somewhere...somehow...we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.
  • That all things change but truth, and that truth alone, lives on forever.
  • In my Creator, my country, my fellow man.

Wait, how does that translate into 2013, when to believe in a Creator is considered asinine, and truth is now merely relative, and who gives a shit about what is best for the greatest number if there are special interest groups who have superb vocal lobbying power and/or lots of money behind them?

So in today's entertainment venue, if the Lone Ranger is going to fight injustice, he needs to deal with:

  • Racial intolerance
  • Unnecessary war
  • Abuse of women
  • Abuse of children
  • Corporate greed
  • Corrupt politicians

Well, actually, this Lone Ranger does deal with all of those things. Fancy that.

But you have to understand that this story of the Lone Ranger is told by a special person: Tonto. And the story is not that of Jay Silverheels' Tonto, it's Johnny Depp's Tonto. And if you have Johnny Depp's Tonto telling you a story, how do you think it's going to play out in the telling?

Yes, that's right. In ways you never imagined.

Johnny Depp's Tonto also knows his audience: a boy who may have been listening to the radio show that originated the stories of the Lone Ranger, that masked man on a fiery horse with the speed of light (What -- really? Did they actually say that? The speed of light? Well, that was TV, a bit later, but still ...)

Johnny's Tonto is going to tell the kid the truth: bad things happened, men were killed, a war was concocted to cover up evil deeds, and people who wanted more than they needed made a lot of other people miserable. But he's also going to tell the kid that there's room for hope, that amazing things can happen, that good can conquer evil.

And Johnny's Tonto is also going to tell the kid things that make the kid's eyeballs widen and his jaw drop and his eyebrows furrow, and his hair stand on end -- because that's just the way Johnny Depp and Gore Verbinski roll, darnit.

I don't get paid to be a critic, so I have no agenda. I laughed hard at parts of this movie, sorrowed over the truths portrayed about the weakness and evil of fellow humans, watched with fascination all of it, and wanted to jump up and dance and throw popcorn around at the final action scenes.

Absolutely I will own this on DVD, and it will be my definitive Lone Ranger for the rest of my days.

Article © Bernie and Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
Published on 2013-07-15
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