Monday, July 08, 2013

The Lone Ranger: everybody's a critic

Patty here...

 On Saturday night I went to a SAG screening of The Lone Ranger. I almost bowed out because I'd heard so many disparaging comments about the film. I especially relied on a negative review by Kenneth Turan, film critic for the Los Angeles Times, who didn't think much of the movie. You can read his thoughts here. I often agree with Mr. Turan but not this time. I loved the movie, loved Depp, loved Hammer (although John Reid was a bit too much of a doofas for my taste), loved Silver...ah the horse. The radio shows, which launched this franchise, were before my time but I enjoyed learning the poignant back stories of the two main characters. I also loved learning why he's called the LONE ranger.

The Lone Ranger was at times silly, over-the-top, sweet and hilarious. When the beginning notes of the William Tell Overture sounded late in the film, I felt a crescendo of nostalgia and exhilaration. The audience was made up of actors. There was much laughter and applause. Despite the naysayers, the movie will be a success.

Depp's Tonto costume was inspired by "I am Crow" by artist Kirby Stattler

Turan claims there were no avenues for audiences to connect emotionally with the film. Okay, I didn't cry but I did laugh—a lot. Joy is also an emotion. The bad guys weren't especially nuanced, but if you look closely most did display some sort of humanity, i.e., railroad tycoon Lathom Cole has always dreamed of a family of his own and wants that to be Dan Reid's widow and son.

TLR is a Western and the genre's white-hats-versus-black-hats formula generally leans toward stereotype. The film is also a comedy. John Vorhaus, in his book The Comic Toolbox, posits that "comedy is truth and pain." The truth is John Reid (TLR) believes the path to justice can only be achieved through the rule of law. His pain? He soon discovers that his belief is an illusion. There will always be people who control our lives who subvert justice for money and power. Once you've dispensed with one powerful bad guy, another steps into the void. And isn't that the dilemma facing all our crime fiction heroes?

Here's an opposing review by Mark Hughes of Forbes magazine as he ponders the negative press:
 "...Which is all a shame, because it's a wonderful movie. Let me be honest and tell you up front, I originally was excited when I first heard about he film, but as more news came out the negative press coverage sank my hopes. By the start of this week, I didn't even plan to see it in theatres, and felt it probably wasn't going to be very good...

Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be funny, exciting, heartfelt, and just full of real joy and great entertainment...

I am really at a loss to understand how a film like this has generated so much animosity from the press. This is the kind of film I would imagine critics normally rushing to support as the kind of really well-written, well-acted, superbly-directed adventure story we need more of for the summer. It manages to sort of smile and invites us to laugh a bit at some of the cheesier elements of the character's sense of duty and righteousness, but we come to realize it's not meant to mock him, and in the end we are rooting for him and his desire for justice and the rule of law...[it is] a testament to the hero's commitment to his ideals [that he] will become an outlaw rather than compromise his principles to stay within the corrupted law."
Bravo, Mr. Hughes. I couldn't agree more.
"Hi-Yo, Silver! Away!"

"Who was the masked man, anyway?"

Happy Monday!


  1. Here is what I got out of the movie: All white men are evil and need to be eliminated. Everyone else are honest and noble people. The train that our "heroes" plan to destroy is called the Constitution. (I get it Hollywood)

    Clayton Moore is rolling over in this grave.

  2. Patty, good to hear! I have wondered why the reviews have been so negative...

  3. Anon, I disagree with your assessment. The film was about one powerful man who hijacked the Transcontinental Railroad project (the Constitution, if you will) for the sake of greed and destroyed many lives (of other white men) along the way. One could look at it as a cautionary tale or simply as an entertaining movie.

  4. I was going to see the movie, because I was excited about the prospect of it. And then I found out it was 2 1/2 hours long (why are movies longer than 2 hours? Why? It's like a book that's longer than 300 pages. No reason!) and I also heard about some of the violence in it. What was your take on that?

  5. Haven't seen it yet but will. The reviews seldom keep me away from a film that I think I would like. Johnny Dep alone would reel me in! :-)

  6. Karen, there was violence but some seemed like cartoon violence to me except for one scene at the beginning, which Kenneth Turan alerted me to and I closed my eyes when I saw it coming. I didn't notice the length of the film until I left the theatre. There was incredible stunt work and horse riding, plus a cast of thousands! Work for actors. Yay!

  7. from Jacqueline

    The film is on our list for this week. I am pretty much done with reviewers now, because I have enjoyed so many films the reviewers have panned, and walked out of a few I am supposed to have loved. The Great Gatsby was given a thumbs down by quite a few reviewers, who I think might never have read the actual book - yet I thought it was amazing, and certain scenes just took my breath away, because that's exactly how I imagined them (among ash heaps and millionaires). Thanks for this, Patty - lovely to have a review on NA!

  8. If you are expecting a Lone Ranger movie that stands up to the Masked Man's original core values, like the creed that he lives by, you'll be disappointed. This movie is basically a cartoon, like the Pirates of Caribbean series. And probably should have been called something other than "The Lone Ranger." Nothing new here that Hollywood hasn't been spitting out for that last 10 years. I felt it shamed the honor of what the Lone Ranger was all about when it was created and admired by fans in the 40s, 50s, & 60s. I recommend the 1941 novel "The Lone Ranger Rides" by Fran Striker.

    By the way, here is the Lone Ranger Creed:
    1.I believe that to have a friend, a man must be one.
    2.That all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.
    3.That God put the firewood there, but that every man must gather and light it himself.
    4.In being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for that which is right.
    5.That a man should make the most of what equipment he has.
    6.That "this government, of the people, by the people, and for the people," shall live always.
    7.That men should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.
    8.That sooner or later...somewhere...somehow...we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.
    9.That all things change, but the truth, and the truth alone lives on forever.
    10.I believe in my Creator, my country, my fellow man.

  9. Thanks for listing the creed and for the name of the book. Most people have never seen the TV series or listened to the radio plays. I'll agree it was Lone Ranger light but I don't see where this John Reid violated any part of the creed.

  10. Agree that reviewers' tastes often aren't my own. Also I'm with Jackie on "The Great Gatsby." Captured the era, a visual feast, and though I'm no great fan of L.C., I thought he carried off the title role well. Haven't yet seen TLR. Based on your take, Patty, I will.

  11. It's Mr. depp. Party of four please. bringing amaranth popcorn, sweetened with honey in the shape of a small god. We all get a piece. Maybe barbeued goat from GOAT-RIPPER.

  12. If you are old enough to remember the radio plays or the TV series and hold them sacred, then perhaps seeing this movie is not for you. Just a reminder that the depiction of Tonto in those early versions was considered racist by many people. Here's an interesting discussion of that on the front page of the 7/9/13 LA Times:

  13. Thanks Patty for putting my feelings into words. I loved the movie and believe it really is ok to enjoy a Disney film without taking it too seriously. The nostalgia came through my toe tapping to William Tell. I laughed right out loud when Silver and TLR were galloping right through the moving train. And if this is violence, give me more of it, instead of blowing cars and people up into tiny bits of flying, flaming garbage. Kemo sabe? Wrong Brother.... get a clue, folks... this is not a remake.

  14. Thanks CJ! Yes, the train galloping. OMG, how did they do that? I loved the ending when TLR Ranger finally said Hi-Yo, Silver and Tonto rolled his eyes and said, "Please. Don't ever do that again." I'm sorry so much hate rained (or reined) down on this film.

  15. great movie...but very few people will like such kind of movie. its mainly recommended for the infallible acting of Johnny Depp.

  16. I agree with Jacqueline about reviewers. I learned that it is a good idea to see a movie as soon as it opens before the reviewers praise or pans it. I look at who the writers, directors, actors are and I read the storyline then I decide if I want to see the movie. I wanted to see the Lone Ranger based on the preview trailer I saw.