As a kid I used to watch The Lone Ranger TV show starring Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels. The show originally aired from 1949 to 1957. (Yes, I watched it in re-runs.) Prior to that, the program had a very long run as a radio program—1933 to 1954. Wikipedia has a good article on the topic. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lone_Ranger
Last weekend I went to see the new Disney version with Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp in the title roles. I had read that Despicable Me 2 was creaming it at the box office. I was shocked to read that the film cost over 250 million. I mean, it’s a movie about two guys that ride horses not X-Wing Fighters.
Between the information that I had read and the fact that Depp is almost as odd as Tim Burton, I was not sure what I was going to see. The team that had made Disney’s Pirates films was behind this version of The Lone Ranger. Was this group the right ones to take on the iconic Ranger?
There is a claim that movies often tell you more about who made them and what their views are than what the movie is about; even if it is set in another time period. This film is another such example. John Reid (a.k.a. The Lone Ranger) is portrayed as metrosexual that is afraid of using force or fighting for what is right. Only the coaxing of Tonto (played by Depp) and circumstances force the Ranger to slowly embrace his destiny. The writers of this movie should have read at least one book by Louis L’Amour and watched a few episodes of the old TV show.
Johnny Depp was given latitude to improvise and try to be funny, but his back-story was a repudiation of the portrayal given by Jay Silverheels. Basically the only reason that he hung-out with the Ranger was that the Indians would not have him because he was mentally unbalanced. In Ranger lore, Tonto was saved by the Ranger when both were kids and later Tonto was able to save the Ranger. They had a bond based on the virtues of honor and self sacrifice. Both men represented what was best and operated from a code of ethics that guided their conduct.
The Lone Ranger also suffered from another flaw. This is yet another offering from a large media conglomerate that portrayed all other for profit corporations as evil. Why does Hollywood portray corporations as evil but people are all just various shades of gray? The Ranger lived in a world of black and white; right and wrong. Railroad bashing seemed like a lazy foe from writers that were unwilling to have bad guys be the villains instead of pawns for evil corporate interests.
Also, the army as allies of the bad guys is not consistent with the universe where the Ranger lived. The Army can be delayed or even deceived but for them to willingly be allied with bad guys seems a violation of the established cannon of the golden age of westerns.
This movie reminded me of the Green Hornet movie a few years ago. It was a bad attempt to introduce an iconic hero to the 21st century moviegoer. Ironically, the creators of The Lone Ranger also created the Green Hornet. Per the Wikipedia article above, the Ranger was actually an Uncle of the Hornet.
Lastly, I doubt that few people under forty have ever seen the Clayton Moore/Jay Silverheels portrayal of the Ranger. Disney wrongly assumed that everyone knew who the Ranger was and had a favorable image of him.
The reality was that this movie was not a salute to the Ranger but a parody. The writing was weak and formulaic. I really wanted to like this movie; however, my advice, save your money and catch it on Netflix.