“Narrator: A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty "Hi-yo Silver" - the Lone Ranger! With his faithful Indian companion, Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of …..
Wait, wait, wait, wait! – this is not THAT Lone Ranger and perhaps this is one reason why Walt Disney’s reboot of the iconographic persona of this legendary western hero did not do as well as expected at the box office. From the moment this new production of The Lone Ranger was announced it was compared with the 1950s television show starring Clayton Moore (and for a short while John Hart) and Jay Silverheels. It seemed it was destined to be a train wreck from the beginning. However, I love trains and as much as I hate to admit it, I’m always willing to look at a train wreck, no matter how much it pains me. So I dutifully checked out this new version of The Lone Ranger and watched it, knowing from the start that it wasn’t going to be my Lone Ranger and Tonto
– which is what saved it for me- and I discovered much to my chagrin, that I actually really liked the film.
Once I was able to pretend that there had never before been a story about the Lone Ranger I was able to settle myself down for the reboot. This version is less serious than the TV series and radio programs and it is not filled with the heavy handed moral overtones found in the series. The characters have different motivations. It was to me what Roger Ebert often called a “popcorn movie.” Not a great film, but a good way to spend a couple of hours.
I had no preformed opinion regarding Armie Hammer as the Lone Ranger and he filled the bill quite well, once he accepted his destiny. It was Johnny Depp as Tonto that scared me. His Tonto, I would have to say, is a little bit off center. We’ve all seen the costume with the big crow on his head. It just seemed “wrong” somehow. The film however explains the headpiece. Once that was done I was able to accept this aspect of Tonto’s personality. The film, for the most part, moves quickly. It is a little like watching an Indiana Jones film. You know that things couldn’t happen this way in the real world, but it was fun watching them happen anyway. If I were to find any real fault with the film it is with Johnny Depp as “Old Tonto.” I’m not sure these moments in the film added anything to the story and personally, I felt they distracted from it. Tonto does however finally tell the Lone Ranger what Kemosabe means, and while I have my doubts that the creators of The Lone Ranger would agree with this definition, in the context of the film it works.
This film is not for everyone. If you take The Legend of the Lone Ranger seriously and/or you’re looking for a typical 1950’s Old West story, you might not like this film. But if you just want a couple of hours of escape without having to think too much about what you’re watching, you could do worse, and honestly, there are several really good train wrecks in the movie as well…