Ah yes! Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear and see a fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty “Hi-Yo Silver!” The Lone Ranger rides again! The team that brought us the Pirates of the Caribbean has brought the masked avenger of the Wild West and his faithful Indian companion Tonto back for a new generation. I am a huge fan of the original radio serial and I have a cassette collection that has been worn out over the years. (If anyone knows where I can get digital copies, please let me know) As a kid I would watch the Clayton Moore (Lone Ranger) and Jay Silverheels (Tonto) black and white reruns on WGN every day while playing with my Lone Ranger and Tonto action figures by Gabriel Toys. The Lone Ranger has been a part of my imagination’s fictional world all my life and I have waited a long time to have a feature film or series for my generation. That is why I was excited to hear that Disney had green lit this film with Johnny Depp as Tonto and then later added Armie Hammer as the Lone Ranger. To hear that Gore Verbinski and his team from Pirates was on this made me feel pretty good about what we might get. I was not disappointed.
The film opens during the 1930’s with the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge as a backdrop. A boy dressed as a masked cowboy is visiting a Wild West show and meets the elderly Tonto. This setup the structure of the film being told in flashbacks, which at first I was not sure if I would like, but by the end I thought this was a fun way to tell this story. The bond we older fans of the Lone Ranger have with the mythos of the masked man from radio and TV was gone, but that was ok. I expected that. I knew there would be a different tone and focus to this version. The setting is Texas of course, but it is that John Ford western type of Texas. The scenery is beautiful and the cinematography is above excellent! I would say this is Bojan Bazelli’s best work as a DP so far. The origin story is pretty much faithful to that of the original tale. The Texas Rangers are ambushed by Butch Cavendish and his gang where John Reid is left to die, but then found by Tonto who nurses him back to health. The two then go about dispensing silver bullet filled justice to the Wild West. This was a fun-filled good time. This is a good example of a summer popcorn film. There were times it got a little silly, but it was in that classic Depp kind of way and I did not mind it at all. The humor worked well and the placement of the 1930’s scenes where Tonto is telling the boy the tale was done well despite my reservations early on. So the tonal shift of this version was acceptable to me. Hans Zimmer’s score was a nice accompaniment to the film and the moments where the William Tell Overture kicks in are exciting and get your blood pumping!
Overall, I thought this was a good, fun flick. I had a few small issues here and there, but nothing that diminishes the good time I had watching this film so I won’t mention them. The only area that I will mention is that the 2 hours and 29 minute running time was a bit long for the film. They did not waste that time however. There was a lot of extra story and backdrop included that really rounded out the story. Helena Bonham Carter’s madam with the ivory fake leg was a fun addition and I really liked her scenes, but had they not included those sequences, the film would have not lacked at all. The film is structured where Tonto is featured as the lead a bit more than Lone Ranger, but since the film is a story Tonto is telling a kid it works.
For me, the Lone Ranger will always be Clayton Moore and his faithful Indian companion Tonto will always be Jay Silverheels. This might not be the Lone Ranger of my youth. This may not be what people of my generation and older expect for the Lone Ranger, but I really enjoyed this and in my opinion it is a must see film. I give it 4 stars out of five and want to see more! So until next time Kemosabe, Hi-Yo Silver AWAY!
The Chubtoad is co-host and creator of Nerd Heard. He and his co-host Kenneth E. Hayes can be heard on the Nerd Heard podcast. (To return with new episodes sometime in the fall) Take a listen to what these nerds heard!
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