Johnny Depp. One of the biggest movie stars of all time. Teaming up with his Pirates of the Caribbean and Rango director Gore Verbinski. For a $200 million dollar plus action epic. Seems like a surefire idea. It’s not. The Lone Ranger is a sprawling, bloated, messy dud. The only real good faith it exudes is that it is not in 3D.
There are plenty of reasons why this is a stillborn film. The production was a mess, the budget was first slashed, then it went overboard, then the film was delayed. More importantly, this is a Western, a genre that doesn’t find much love in 2013 – (look at what happened to Cowboys & Aliens). It was brave of the filmmakers to attempt a Western, and if anyone could do it is, it was Verbinski and Depp – the duo had taken on Pirates after the genre had crashed and burned with Cutthroat Island, a movie that ended the careers of literally everyone involved with the film, including the gorgeous and talented Geena Davis. The Pirates film became a trilogy that was fun, adventurous albeit a tad inconsistent. The Lone Ranger also tries to become a franchise, and that burden keeps it from becoming a free flowing entertaining ride.
Granted, there are some huge action set pieces. The one with the train swooping in the sky and crashing down on the ground is just one of the many epic money scenes. The film sure as hell wears its cost and shows it off with style. It’s the stuff in between the action spectacles that grates the nerves. When even the sight of a super powered pony eating scorpions off the hero’s face looks dull, you know there is something innately wrong with the film. On the other hand there is Johnny Depp who is as alive in the film as the dead crow that sits on his head. The character has a shade of the quirks from Jack Sparrow and the stoneface of Barnabas Collins. It’s a jarring combo, and one that hogs all the attention from Arnie Hammer’s charmless titular character. The film has all the scale and pompousness of a Jerry Bruckheimer film but sadly the heart of Will Smith’s disastrous Wild Wild West. There’s really nothing more to say about the film, because that’s what it is – a great big ball of nothingness.
(First published in MiD Day)