Dog Movie Review Special: “The Lone Ranger”
What do Maxim’s dogs think of the all-new Old West vigilante? Let’s take a sniff and find out.
Out Now, Rated PG-13
All Movie Stills Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures
“Holy hell, y’all, this movie is loooong! There’s a decent bit of action in it to keep butts in seats, but there’s also a hell of a lot of stuff that goes nowhere and doesn’t really add much (why Helena Bonham Carter’s character is even in this movie is beyond me). If you have kids with good attention spans, then by all means, take the little critters along this weekend. If your kids are the fidgety types, though, just be warned that by an hour in, they may well be crawling around under the seats and trying to chew people’s shoelaces (that’s not just my kids, right?)”
“I’d always suspected this movie was going to be a bit of a mess – it went through numerous re-writes, had several problems during production, and has shifted release dates more times than I can count on two paws (admittedly, I can only count to two on two paws) – but I still wasn’t prepared for the hopelessly uneven tone of the finished product. Unsure if it wants to be a quirky comedy, a summer action flick, or a character-based drama, it succeeds in being none of these things, ending up as a two and a half hour sprawl that felt like it could’ve had 45 minutes trimmed without losing anything important.
“Let’s start with the Lone Ranger himself. Armie Hammer is likeable enough, but it’s clear no one knew what to do with a modern interpretation of this character. A city lawyer who despises guns, he’s constantly out of place in the wild west setting, which is supposed to be a source of humor, but ends up just forcing us to ask the obvious question – why is this guy the Lone Ranger? He can’t fight (it’s a running joke that he ‘boxed in law school’), he can’t shoot (he literally doesn’t shoot one person in this movie. A Western where the hero doesn’t shoot anyone! What were they thinking?), and he doesn’t seem to know who the bad guys are even when he’s staring them right in the face. He’s a relentlessly ineffectual hero, incapable of either romance or action, all of which makes him very hard to root for.
“And then there’s Tonto. Now, Johnny Depp does a good job of bringing some humor to the film (although not nearly as much as it needs), but it all feels like a bit of a vanity project. There’s a needless framing device where an elderly Tonto narrates the events of the film, which adds nothing to the story and simply results in more drag to an already bloated run time. There’s an utterly superfluous shot of him walking in the desert by himself over the end credits that lasts for over 10 minutes. There’s an attempt at a dramatic backstory to Tonto that just ends up making the Lone Ranger’s continued reliance on him seem bewilderingly ill-advised. In short, there’s too much going on and too little that’s actually enjoyable.
“But this is just symptomatic of the whole movie. There are at least two fairly brutal, if largely bloodless, slaughter scenes, but they’re shoved in amongst broad comedy (there’s a scene where a horse gets drunk, if you’re wondering how broad I’m talking), with the end result that both aspects feel awkward. It’s like watching two different, better films, smooshed together – the final action sequence, for example, could’ve been exciting, but it’s accompanied by a rendition of the “William Tell Overture” (better known as the old Lone Ranger theme) that lasts for 20 minutes, sucking all the potential tension out of the sequence and turning it into a wacky cartoon. Which, again, would’ve been fine if the whole film was like that, but this is supposed to be the climactic vengeance mission that occurs right after an Indian massacre. The movie is littered with missteps like this, and the overall effect is tiring. Disney has been promoting the hell out of this thing, but I can’t see it paying off for them. In this case, there’s a reason the Lone Ranger doesn’t wait around to be thanked.”
“I SAW THIS MOVIE TWO DAYS AGO AND I STILL CAN’T GET THAT FUCKING SONG OUT OF MY HEAD! DA-DA-DUM DA-DA-DUM DA-DA-DUM-DUM-DUM! DA-DA-DUM DA-DA-DUM DA-DA-DUM-DUM-DUM! I SWEAR TO GOD I AM GOING TO BLOW MY BRAINS OUT IF I EVER HEAR THAT TUNE AGAIN.”