Disney mustn’t be feeling too good right now.
Their big-budget summer tentpole movie The Lone Ranger has resulted in disappointment in pretty much every area possible. Critically it’s been dragged through the dirt. Audiences kept their distance from it preferring to spend their holiday weekend doing other stuff and those that did show up to see the epic updating to this classic western character weren’t as excited over it as kids who listened to the Rangers adventures on radio and watched them on television decades ago were.
I doubt we’ll be seeing many little kids dressed as the Lone Ranger and Tonto this Halloween.
On top of all that every movie fan seemed really anxious and were getting somewhat orgasmic adding further to the pain writing and ranting about this bomb of a film. Gloating, calculating how much coin it has earned and ‘I told you so’ blogs and videos have popped up in its wake.
There’s no shortage of folks offering up a laundry list of reasons and theories as to why it failed so badly. People not so subtly pointing out how embarrassed Disney and everyone involved with it should feel having made the latest and probably biggest cinematic flop this summer – and most likely the year.
Everyone loves to talk about a big catastrophic movie disaster. Let’s face it – it’s fun! It’s somewhat ironic when a big spectacle of a movie gets more talked and written about it’s failures than anything else.
I bet the makers of it didn’t expect this when they first decided to do this flick. They were probably lost in misty visions of it raking in the dough, long lines outside theaters, kids playing with all the toys, eating all the happy meals and opening The Lone Ranger attraction in their theme park.
Sorry guys, not this time. Well, maybe they can still do a Lone Ranger theme park show. Heck, Waterworld has one.
I’m not going to pretend I have any inside scoop or an enlightening perspective as to why The Lone Ranger tanked so badly, what this means to Depp’s career, whether the role of Tonto should have gone to a Native American actor, how big of a blow this will be to Armie Hammer’s chances of being a leading man or where westerns will go from here. But since I actually saw this movie I figured I’ll chime in with some thoughts.
I actually had zero interest in seeing The Lone Ranger. Since first seeing the trailers for it it just didn’t look very good. It’s not like I wouldn’t have been interested in a Lone Ranger movie either. But as soon as I heard the makers of Pirates of Caribbean were behind this and Johnny Depp would be Tonto I knew this wasn’t going to be for me. I guess it wasn’t really for anyone.
Anyway, my friend is a huge Ranger fan and despite him knowing full well that this movie probably wouldn’t be too good, he was holding out hope for it. He’s a projectionist at a theater and once he knew they were going to have The Lone Ranger opening weekend he invited me to check it out.
With nothing better to do I figured why not. He graciously said if at any point I wanted to just leave during it he wouldn’t be offended. What a pal.
I stuck it out through the whole thing, along with six people in the audience. Yep, six people in the entire audience. And this was an evening show on its opening night too. You didn’t need a Ouija Board to see it didn’t look like too many people were interested in this. Oh and it’s a pretty bad movie to boot.
There’s really not a lot to talk about with this movie. It was everything I anticipated it would be from the first trailers I saw. Hollow characters, super strange tone, a convoluted story and Depp’s bird-headed showy turn completely upstaging Hammer’s Ranger.
There is absolutely nothing special or heroic about the title character. He’s essentially an incompetent goofball during most of the movie and it will leave you wondering, ‘why was this character so popular at one point?’.
There’s zero chemistry between Depp and Hammer. In fact the characters don’t even like each other or have any kind of connection at all. They were exactly what I predicted – flat characters running amongst big special effect sequences, none of which by the way are exciting or well choreographed.
William Finchtner plays Butch Cavendish with a cleft lip and pours on the evil without remorse. At one point he actually cuts out a guys heart. Although he was the most interesting to watch in all this and created a more compelling character than Depp,
I think the violence might have gone a bit too far in a Disney adventure. I’m surprised they ok’d it. Oh yeah, Helena Bonham Carter shows and doesn’t have much to do other than wield a fake leg that’s a gun.
I don’t understand how they could spend somewhere around 225-250 million bucks on this and have all the big action train sequences be such crap. I’m assuming that’s where a lot of the money went and they’re slapped together with very little of it making much sense.
The first train sequence is alright, since there’s not as many elements involved. The second big finale one is a real mess. They have multiple trains and cars and characters involved to up the ante in it and it ends up being too complicated for director Gore Verbinski to handle or make sense out of. He should have just stuck to a simple drawing of guns between the hero and villain.
Do filmmakers ever think out and design action scenes ahead of time anymore? You know, get a Tyco train set and plan out what they want to happen, where the other train cars will be in relation to each other during every stage of the sequence, how the characters move throughout the whole thing and try to keep the audience involved with it all?
Depp’s Tonto is given much more of a backstory than the Ranger and it’s not very interesting. Plus, at two and half hours, the movie is too long. It’s way, way too long. They probably could have cut an hour out of this thing! It is all a pretty bad bust.
What I feel most bad for is the Lone Ranger character and the western genre. I don’t have any doubt they could have done a decent Lone Ranger movie here. I don’t think the character is as passe as some others seem to and I think well made western films still have a place today.
Had they taken a more serious approach, scaled things down and focused on these two characters who form an unlikely friendship and get thrust into an adventure would have been great. Sure, throw in some big exciting action scenes, but don’t go so far with the outlandish unbelievable stuff and make it feel like we’re watching a cartoon.
With all that they can do now with special effects wouldn’t it be possible to update some old standard western action scenes? How about the classic stagecoach robbery with someone getting dragged in between the horses and under the wheels. Do something unique with it that they were never able to do back in the day. Have the camera follow our hero under the carriage, take us along for the drag, get up close with the horses hooves stomping into the dirt, let us see the spinning wheels closing in on our heroes head.
Get us on the edge of our seats hoping this man who’s made of flesh and blood will be able to get out of this predicament. We can identify with his pain as rocks are scraping up his back and dust is getting in his eyes. Instead they have these guys bouncing around like cartoons off trains and jumping through fire with only a bad one-liner to show for it all.
There’s no reason a Lone Ranger movie should have cost 225 million bucks! But that’s up to Disney if they want to spend that kind of money on what’s essentially a story about two guys on horses hey go ahead!
It would have been nice had the movie looked like it cost that much and had that epic scale you would think that budget would buy. If they’re filming in Monument Valley and all these gorgeous locations, it should really leave an impression – The Lone Ranger doesn’t.
It didn’t seem like anyone involved in this even liked the Lone Ranger. They could have taken a more Batman Begins-type of approach, introduce the origin of this character, start setting up all the iconic signatures that fans associate with him and come up with reasonable explanations as to why they’re there. So by the time the movie ends and we’re walking out of the theater these things hold more significance rather than just ‘oh he uses silver bullets’.
They’re re-introducing or rebooting all these old heroes and movie characters lately with more weighty backstories. Here it appeared they went the opposite route and just made the character a joke and didn’t make me like the guy. You can be sure we won’t be seeing anyone touch the Lone Ranger again for a long time now and he’ll be packed up again like they did to him in 1981.
Then westerns are going to take additional flak because of this too. I would hardly call The Lone Ranger a real western, but to most people that’s how they’ll think of it because it has horses and cowboy hats in it. So a finger will be pointed to the genre saying ‘no one likes you anymore’ and studios are going to be now even more reluctant to invest in making any.
After watching it me and my Ranger fan friend were talking about what the movie could have been. Had they gotten people to make it who actually respected the Rangers history, filmmakers who were western fans and were excited to reintroduce the genre to a new generation.
They stand up and proudly say to everyone – ‘Ok, so you guys like your superheroes, secret agents and sci-fi stuff huh? Well, generations before had it a lot better – they had cowboys! You have no idea what you’ve been missing! Here, let us show you!’
Nah. The Lone Ranger was just a big, bloated lazy attempt at a money-making franchise that didn’t offer anything. The film begins with a young Ranger fan meeting an elderly Tonto who tells him this story. The movie keeps annoyingly cutting back to these two throughout the whole thing, that’s yet another problem.
This is how they should have sold the movie to see if it was worth making. The writers standing with script in hand in front of people and telling the story that the movie would tell. Forget all the CGI eye-candy, just tell the story. Would it hold peoples attention? Would they get wrapped up in the drama unfolding? Would they hang on your every word? If not – rethink the whole thing.
The last time the Lone Ranger hit movie screens was back in 1981 in The Legend of the Lone Ranger. That too was a notorious bomb that was critically reviled and also gave the western genre a heck of a beating. I want to go back and rewatch that now. I haven’t seen it since seeing it on HBO back in the 80’s.
But now thinking back on it from what I can remember, I think it was better than Disney’s The Lone Ranger. At least from what I recall they took the character more seriously than they did here.
So let’s bid adieu to that masked champion of justice as he rides off into the sunset with his faithful first-billed sidekick by his side. Happy trails Ranger. Maybe we’ll be seeing you in another thirty-two years……or it might take a little longer this time.