Monday, 21 October 2013

The Lone Ranger (2013)

' big flop Kemosahbee' Not happy with giving pirates a good kick up the wazoo, Verbinski turns his attentions to the wild west and the positively ancient character of The Lone Ranger (and Tonto). If ever there was a more cliched, old fashioned, easy going child appealing character its this guy...and he's been given the Bay treatment by his close work colleague Bruckheimer.

You only gotta look at the details in TV history here. This cowboy wears a brilliant white stetson, has silver pistols, silver bullets, often wears a one coloured outfit of grey, a red scarf round his neck, he never shoots to kill, he speaks well, he doesn't drink or smoke, his horse is also brilliant white and called Silver, he wears a mask which he never removes and he yells out 'Hi-Yo, Silver! Away!'. Yet despite all that the powers that be seemed determined to add a modern day semi serious feel with explosions, destruction porn and violence to this charming characters universe.

This creates conflict straight away because the film makers have given the film a more sensible approach, there is death and the bad guys are reasonably nasty. But then against that you have this ridiculous character who refuses to shoot anyone because its not right, hates guns and pretty much refuses to touch them. The dude goes around trying to arrest people merely with the power of his voice and his badge, it just doesn't work, these guys have guns and will shoot you in the face.

I didn't know the backstory to this guy so after a bit of reading I was actually stunned to discover this new film has followed the origins pretty accurately. John Reid goes off with his brother to capture the outlaw Butch Cavendish but they are betrayed by one of their own and ambushed. All are killed accept for Reid who is saved by Tonto the clown...errr I mean Native Indian. From this point on the duo work together, kinda, to capture Cavendish.

The story is told in part as narration by an elderly Tonto who for some reason is on display in a museum? wut? The guy is in an actual display case and appears to come to life in front of a young boy dressed as the Ranger. The whole idea is completely irrelevant and ineffectual, plus no one around seems to notice or care and the boy seems OK with moving on.

We all know the angle they were going for here, everyone has seen 'Pirates of the Caribbean', so it was no surprise at all that the escape of bad guy Cavendish at the start of the film snowballed into a gigantic action sequence that ends in a train crash. Not content with a simple stick em up! we are given this outrageously over the top sequence which is peppered with little touches that are suppose to be amusing but aren't. I can't deny it looks damn impressive but its so insanely stupid no one should of survived the events that occurred. Hook yourselves up to the suspension of disbelief machine folks, you're gonna need a lung full for this one.

Most of the film follows these two characters around from location to location as they attempt to find their quarry, of course as this is a comedy they bicker and fight the whole time. In and out of one dangerous situation after another meeting people who don't really matter (Bonham Carter). I still don't quite get how Tonto got out of that jail he was thrown in at the start, or when Reid wakes on top of that massive wooden structure which teetered dangerously on that tall thin enormous rock which had no apparent way up or down. Next scene he's on the ground talking to Tonto! what the hell!?

Must admit the casting is good in this, some of the main characters are portrayed well. Depp pretty much does what he does in all his films these days, he really doesn't like to stray from his self made winning formula. In short he does the job but we've seen it all before and it doesn't really stand up as well anymore. Armie Hammer? sounds like a lavatory disinfectant, he isn't too bad truth be told. He looks the part and sounds the part, he plays it a bit wet though, not sure which of the two main heroes is suppose to be the trousers of the operation as both are pretty drippy but I quite liked Hammer's performance. The best performance is easily Tom Wilkinson as the railroad tycoon who we know from the start is really the bad guy...its the facial hair and wicked grin. He puts in a sturdy offering with a serious tone, maybe too serious for the film, but he's good. I guess the same could be said for Fichtner as Cavendish, he's good but maybe a bit too serious for this film, have to remember this franchise is very lightweight...or its suppose to be.

I guess the main thing about this whole film is its not really anything to do with the Lone Ranger. Sure it has the Lone Ranger and Tonto in it but everything else is simply your run of the mill action movie fodder dressed in western garb. You still have every darn action cliche in the book and every darn western cliche in there too...obviously. They stick the classic Ranger theme tune in there once or twice just to make sure you haven't forgotten its based on the Lone Ranger but my god does that theme stick out like a sore thumb.

You have all this furious action with horses galloping on the tops of train carriages, a massive bridge getting blown to smithereens, heavy machine gun fire ripping things apart, people leaping from train to train, implausible stunts galore and a train plummeting off the destroyed bridge into a ravine. Against all that you then have this age old theme tune trumpeting away, but it just doesn't sit right at all, totally misplaced and it feels very silly indeed.

The best thing about this film is the visuals, the location work is beautiful. Mother Earth looks glorious every step of the way and along with some excellent costumes, sets, props and camera work this film couldn't look any better. Weeeeeell accept for the CGI horses leaping about all over the place and bluescreen moments that is. The film is kinda enjoyable but its a real mess, conflicting ideas and genres as a seriously dated character is dragged into the modern era and you can see quite clearly it doesn't really gel.