Have you ever wondered what would happen if they adapted one of the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels into a western, and filled it with filler and subtle racism?
Well, look no further, my friends!
The Lone Ranger
Directed By: Gore Verbinski
Produced by: Jerry Bruckheimer and Gore Verbinski
Written by: Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio
Genres: Western, Action, Comedy
Starring: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, Ruth Wilson, Barry Pepper, James Badge Dale, Helena Bonham Carter
Other Actors: Oh, who gives a crap?
Razzie Nominations: Worst Prequel, Remake or Sequel, Worst Screenplay (Haythe, Elliott and Rossio) Worst Director (Verbinski) Worst Actor (Depp) Worst Picture
Plot: Dateline: 1933. The Great Depression is in full swing, King Kong premieres at the RKO Roxy Theater, and Duck Soup inspires future comics everywhere.
At a sideshow in San Francisco centered around the Wild West, a young boy meets an old Comanche man (Depp, in stupid looking old person makeup) , who is being kept by the sideshow as a living example of a “Noble Savage”, because racism. After mumbling, feeding the bird on his head birdseed, and generally acting like your typical Alzheimer’s case, the old man begins to recount his days as “Tonto”, the sidekick of the legendary outlaw, the Lone Ranger.
Flashback to 1869, in Colby, Texas. where mild-mannered, pacifist lawyer John Reid (Hammer) is returning home, via the still-uncompleted Transcontinental Railroad. However, the train is also transporting the cartoonishly evil criminal, Butch Cavendish (Fichtner), who is being transported to his hanging, and a rogue Comanche named Tonto, who is there for plot convenience, basically. Cavendish’s gang attacks the train and busts him out, derailing the train. Reid arrests Tonto, for reasons completely unknown to the audience, which, at this point, has become more than just a minor quibble with the plot. Should we, maybe, know if the guy who we’re supposed to be rooting for isn’t, like, a serial killer, or something? And do lawyers even have the authority to arrest people? I’m pretty damn sure they don’t.
Anyways, John’s Texas Ranger (The law enforcement agency, not the baseball team) brother, Dan (Dale) Ranger buddies together to hunt Cavendish. However, for some boneheaded reason, he decides to bring John with him. I repeat: He brings his timid, naive pacifist brother with him to apprehend a murderer who doesn’t think twice about murdering innocent civilians, as is demonstrated several times during the opening action sequences. Already, we can see that good writing may not have been the priority in making this movie.
Anyways, the posse is betrayed by one of their fellow Rangers, and are attacked by Cavendish and his gang. who murder all of the Rangers, including Dan, and John is shot and knocked unconscious. After Cavendish eats Dan’s heart, which is kind of dark for a movie that was marketed towards little kids.
“You know what these toys are missing? Implied cannibalism.”
Anyways, Tonto escapes from jail,though at no point do they mention how he did this. He buries the Rangers, but is stopped from burying John by a spirit horse, or whatever, who tells him that John is a “spirit walker,” or some such bullshit, who cannot be killed in battle. John wakes him up, and, after Tonto explains what happened, he (reluctantly) dons a domino mask and sets off to find Cavendish and avenge his brother as the Lone Ranger.
This plot, and the writing in general, while not quite as bad as the other Razzie movies I’ve reviewed, is riddled with problems. It’s obvious that the filmmakers were aiming for a feel similar to the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, complete with elaborate action sequences, same writers producers and director, sly humour and Johnny Depp being weird in makeup, but there are several problems with that approach, mainly that a) It’s rarely a good idea to copy your own work, and b) Nobody has actually looked forward to seeing a POTC movie since 2006.
Take the repeated instances in the film where Tonto dodges the question about how and/or why he was in jail in the first place. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but it seems to me that they’re trying to copy the (More popular and more funny) recurring joke about how Jack Sparrow escaped from a desert island (“Sea turtles, mate”). The problem is, it just feels like they’re reaching too hard for the whimsical humour that the Pirates movies provided.
To the film’s credit, though, when the characters shut the hell up and the action sequences get going, the movie becomes pretty damn enjoyable. The opening action sequences, the closing sequence, and, to a lesser extent, the action scenes sprinkled throughout the rest of the movie. I’d go so far as to say it ranks up there with some of the better scenes from the Pirates series. Problem is, the characters open their goddamn mouths way too often, and we’re left with a film that runs way too long, and where I lose interest in the stupid characters and the paper-thin writing about ten minutes after that initial action scene.
Acting: Oh, Jesus Christ. Please don’t make me do this.
To be fair, there were a few actors that showed a pulse. I gotta say, even though I didn’t enjoy his performance, William Fichtner looks like he’s having a grand ole’ time as the cartoonishly evil cannibal, Butch Cavendish. And I actually have a few good things to say about Armie Hammer, as the title character. He did the best with the material given to him, which is all that you could really ask for in this movie.
The rest of the actors, however, are all bad at best, and shit-tastic at worst. Tom Wilkinson was hugely disappointing, and completely uninteresting as railroad tycoon, Latham Cole. Helena Bonham Carter, despite being in a ton of the promotional material, has about five minutes in the movie, at best. And she isn’t very good in those five minutes, either.
As for the star of the movie, Mr. Johnny Depp, he is the biggest disappointment of them all. It’s extremely obvious that he’s just rehashing his Jack Sparrow character in Pirates. And it’s really word that he’s phoning it in the whole damn time, considering that he learned the freakin’ Comanche language in order to play the part.
Speaking of Tonto, the movie doesn’t really do anything to clean up his unfavorable connotation with Aboriginal (Native American) stereotypes. Tonto is just fucking ridiculous, and his character is basically built around the premise that “Oh, those crazy Indians are so eccentric with their spirit talk, and meditation, and weird languages. He thinks the bird’s alive! That’s hilarious!”
It wouldn’t be so bad (Or, well, it might be tolerable) if Tonto was the bad-ass that the trailers promised, but he’s pretty much just a snarky jackass the whole time.
What Razzie Nominations Does it Deserve?
- Worst Prequel, Remake, or Sequel: Well, it’s no Grown Ups 2, but it was still quite bad, so sure.
- Worst Screenplay: Honestly, though I didn’t like the screenplay that much, I don’t think it can be ranked as one of the worst of the year, so no.
- Worst Director (Verbinski): Sure
- Worst Actor (Depp): Yes. It’s not like a nomination for this will do much to hurt his damn-near spotless resume, anyways.
- Worst Picture: No. Compares to the other bad movies I’ve watched this year, this one was a stroke of genius. Nobody should mistake this for an Oscar endorsement, however.
Overall Score: 4.5/10