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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
Click poster to enlarge
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Johnny Depp
Armie Hammer
Tom Wilkinson
William Fichtner
Ruth Wilson
Helena Bonham Carter
Barry Pepper.
Directors
Gore Verbinski.
Screenwriters
Ted Elliott
Terry Rossio.
Running Time
149 minutes

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The Lone Ranger
Hi-Yo Fidelity


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Plot
Aged Comanche Tonto (Depp) relates his days with John Reid (Hammer) and how the sole survivor of a massacre of Texas Rangers by the notorious outlaw Butch Cavendish (Fichtner) and his gang became the masked man bringing justice in the Old West. Corrupt railroad men, stampeding buffalo and a comedy horse all play their parts.


Review
The Lone Ranger
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Hi-yo and away, indeed! The Lone Ranger rides again, and it is with no small relief and a wide grin that we can embrace the reboot of one of the longest-running, most iconic franchises in entertainment history. The signs were not auspicious, frankly. Admittedly the photos of Johnny Depp in buckskin with a dead bird on his head — Depp’s make-up and costume inspired by the painting I Am Crow by Kirby Sattler, who is not American Indian and paints imaginary characters — looked tasty. But the years in development, multiple credited screenwriters, different mooted directors, vague chat of ‘production problems’, a budget that ballooned to the $250 million neighbourhood and a slew of comparisons to Wild Wild West from the US reviews all suggested a disappointing fiasco could be on the cards. Not a bit. Blockbuster über-producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Gore Verbinski and writers Justin Haythe (from Revolutionary Road to this, who would have thought?), Pirates alumni Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, with the considerable efforts of a stonking cast, stunt co-ordinators, animal wranglers et al, immortal music and the scenery enshrined as John Ford Country resoundingly deliver the rootin’, tootin’ goods and the potential for an ongoing saga to rival Pirates Of The Caribbean.

The scene is set when a small boy in a Lone Ranger costume visits a Wild West exhibit in San Francisco in 1933. That is just the first in an encyclopedia’s worth of homages and references, since 1933 was the year The Lone Ranger was created for American radio (running to nearly 3,000 episodes in over 20 years of broadcasts), spawning movie serials, novels, comics, cartoons, toys, a ’90s video game, a ’00s TV movie and, of course, the first TV Western, starring Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels, which is still showing on retro channels in the US after 64 years.

Said child (Mason Elston Cook) is transfixed by a display featuring a wax figure of a weird and wizened American Indian, so old he looks like Keith Richards. Then he moves. It’s not a dummy, it’s an ancient, addlepated Tonto, who mistakes the boy for his kemosabe and takes off flashbacking at a gallop down Memory Lane. The device of an oldster telling a tale to a boy was genius in William Goldman’s The Princess Bride and it works as nicely here, the youngster’s intermittent objections, indignation and incredulity over aspects of Tonto’s story taking us back and forth in time periods and effectively linking episodic adventure into one big story in five acts. It also preempts protests in the stalls from Lone Ranger buffs concerned by deviations from the long-established lore. If one can sit tight and exercise patience through troubling episodes and seeming transgressions — like the ever-morally upright hero holding up a bank, noooo! — all is gradually revealed and explained in highly satisfactory, reasoned and sufficiently reverent fashion.

This is an origin story. John Reid (Armie Hammer) arrives in Colby, Texas, in 1869 with a law degree, a prosecutorial job and a belief in law, order and justice that remains unshakable to the point of nincompoopish, Dudley Do-Right innocence. His elder brother, Dan (James Badge Dale), is a Texas Ranger, and married to John’s one-time sweetheart, Rebecca (Ruth Wilson). When Dan and his posse ride out in pursuit of the infamous Butch Cavendish, John the city-slicker dude is embarrassed into coming along. Ambush and slaughter ensue. John finds himself regaining consciousness in a grave dug by eccentric (putting it mildly) Tonto (Depp), recovers and dons a mask made from his brother’s vest, the startlingly savvy-in-flashes Tonto advising him that he needs to stay dead in their circumstances. A partnership is born, with odd-couple bickering the tone and parallel agendas the plot, with the rest of The Lone Ranger’s essential accoutrements — flashing white wild stallion, silver bullets, catchphrase et cetera — collected in due course.

Meanwhile, vicious baddies (William Fichtner, almost unrecognisably grubby as badass Butch, accompanied by assorted sleazoids including the bizarrely underused likes of James Frain) are raiding ranches and so forth, stirring up war between the Comanches, settlers and railroad interests (embodied by Tom Wilkinson’s devious big shot presiding in the fancy, elegantly appointed railroad car). We should point out that history and geography have gone out of the window from the off, and other niggles include various musical anachronisms — like a band playing a Sousa march that wasn’t composed for another 20 years. The Transcontinental Railroad that linked East and West, and the thousands of Chinese workers who laboured to build it, went nowhere near Texas. And locations in cinematically sacrosanct Monument Valley, Utah and California look nothing like Texan terrain. But they do make for mighty pretty pictures; a shot of The Lone Ranger and Tonto astride their mounts at cliff’s edge on John Ford’s Point in Monument Valley is one of the breathtaking images that make you take this film seriously and to heart amid crazed action, breakneck escapades and belly laughs. It isn’t just golden oldies that rate referencing. Helena Bonham Carter’s Red, roistering madam of the improbably Fellini-esque local pleasure palace/den of iniquity, has a finely crafted artificial limb of ivory scrimshaw that conceals a secret straight out of Tarantino and Rodriguez’s Grindhouse.

Depp and Hammer pitch their performances as Tonto (first time ever the ‘sidekick’ has top billing) and Lone Ranger beautifully, funny but not too ridiculous, engaging, even moving. Tonto’s broken English and wackier rants are his mask; there is intelligence, wisdom, cunning and long-term planning in his seeming madness. Even his inauthentic, highly individual accessories are eventually explained as possessions and emblems with great significance in some major backstory reveals. (Small moments, pointed shots and apparent throwaway lines are neatly planted throughout that make sense of several mysteries and oddities by the end.) The impossibly handsome Hammer also has the chops to pull off a naive, do-goody pratfaller, a classic hero and a sorrowing survivor with dramatically emotional gear changes. Although this is dangerously pitched as an action-adventure-comedy-Western, the abundant humour happily stays the right side of feelgood, knowing jests never straying into panto, parody or piss-take.

Silver is a comedy horse, with a taste for hooch recalling Lee Marvin’s drunken nag in Cat Ballou and an aptitude for heights that defies explanation, so there is none, but when thundering hooves and riding like the wind are called for he’s the business. You can even see where the money went when, at last, what we’ve waited for and what must happen happens. The Lone Ranger appears, heroically posed on Silver, on a rooftop, and Rossini’s William Tell Overture takes over from Hans Zimmer’s superb score for a gobsmacking set-piece of runaway trains on twin tracks, Tonto aboard one, baddies on t’other, hostages and loot changing hands, heroine dangling over precipices, while the masked man and his steed fly over rooftops, railway carriages and chasms, the careening locomotives’ paths perilously aligning, bending, diverging and colliding in a sensational climactic spectacle. Thank goodness this is not in 3D or it would make you puke. Verbinski and co have literally timed and orchestrated the culminating thrill-ride action to the music, and it’s magical.


Verdict
Talk about a pleasant surprise! Real storytelling, well thought-out and beautifully, at times insanely, executed, with excitement, laughs and fun to make you feel seven years old again.


Reviewed by Angie Errigo

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for The Lone Ranger
Empire Star Rating

RE: Tone

L: Cool Breeze Overlong boring shite. sp; Don't hold back Cool Breeze! Seriously though, you must have enjoyed at least some aspects of the movie? It was gorgeous to look at and the score was fantastic. ... More

Posted by DONOVAN KURTWOOD at 08:51, 20 May 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Tone

L: Jasper_29 Although vie really proves Depp can only act in make-up and funny costumesactually as enjoyable as the first POTC movie. **** sp; That's not really fair though. He's given plenty of good performances without make up and funny costumes. ... More

Posted by DONOVAN KURTWOOD at 08:50, 20 May 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Tone

Overlong boring shite. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cool Breeze at 20:23, 14 May 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Tone

Although this movie really proves Depp can only act in make-up and funny costumes, it's actually as enjoyable as the first POTC movie. **** ... More

Posted by Jasper_29 at 11:45, 14 May 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Tone

L: Private Hudson Saw this on Sky on Saturday afternoon and I cannot believe it was slated - not by Empire though. A witty, old fashioned film with great performances and superb action sequences. And if anyone doesn't get carried away by the incredible finale with the trains and the Lone Ranger riding Silver to the rescue while the beyond iconic William Tell Overture plays then they have a heart of stone. The Lone Ranger is a blockbuster with a heart and isn't afraid to ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JohnChard at 22:45, 07 May 2014 | Report This Post


They do make them like they used to!

I guess I should add my rating! All in all, a hugely enjoyable romp, which has to be seen for one of the very best endings to a movie ever. As Angie Eriggo says in her review, the synching of Rossini to the action is movie magic. I think this will end up like Big Trouble in Little China or The Thing and will be re-evaluated in years to come. For kids of all ages. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Private Hudson at 17:24, 30 April 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Tone

Thing is, a film really should be all about the finale. What has went before should be topped by the climax. Us forgiven, for example, was merely an okay movie up until the climactic bar scene, which paid off what went before and made it a classic. Nothing worse than a film that starts off superbly only to fall away at the halfway point or the climax. ... More

Posted by Private Hudson at 17:04, 30 April 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Tone

I can only remember the train sequence. The rest of it I didnt think was particularly interesting and was quite forgettable. Also it meandered all over the place. ... More

Posted by shool at 13:22, 29 April 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Tone

Agreed, a fantastic and fun ride. A really great movie that got unfairly slated. And yes, the train finale is just incredible. ... More

Posted by DONOVAN KURTWOOD at 13:05, 29 April 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Tone

Saw this on Sky on Saturday afternoon and I cannot believe it was slated - not by Empire though. A witty, old fashioned film with great performances and superb action sequences. And if anyone doesn't get carried away by the incredible finale with the trains and the Lone Ranger riding Silver to the rescue while the beyond iconic William Tell Overture plays then they have a heart of stone. The Lone Ranger is a blockbuster with a heart and isn't afraid to be uncynical in a world whe... More

Posted by Private Hudson at 22:20, 28 April 2014 | Report This Post


Great fun

Just watched it on Blu-ray and really enjoyed it. I'd much rather see another Lone Ranger film than sit through another Pirates CGI borefest. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by RogueElement at 01:16, 27 January 2014 | Report This Post


Fantastic Movie

I was on foreign shores when this was released in cinemas and try as I might, I kept missing it everywhere I went. I got it off iTunes and watched it last night. Awesome in every way, Hammer and Depp are perfect together. Silver steals the show though. :) Good old fashioned Western with amazing visual effects, great villains and a lot of laughs. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by potemkin1925 at 06:13, 19 January 2014 | Report This Post


BRUCKHAMMERED....

Was anyone seriously crying out for a 200 million dollar western remake of Seth Rogen’s Green Hornet movie? I would’ve preferred a more straight forward take on the iconic gunslinger instead of the half baked comedy nonsense which is served up here. Why on earth would they waste the talents of Johnny Depp and throw away a gazillion dollars on a big red flaming Zepplin like this? It sure ain’t Pirates of the Carribean and the schizoid nature of the script means that it’s h... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ROTGUT at 16:57, 13 January 2014 | Report This Post


AWESOME!

Ignore every review on the planet but Empire. Watched this at xmas! so good! The fact The Guardian gave this 1 star is a joke! and that guy needs to lose his job 4 real. This film has been so overlooked. Was on QT's top ten films of 2013 and defo mine. The last train scene is like a cross between John Woo and the old Lone Ranger series!!! amazing! Was almost wishing the hero died on the train and was reborn at the end!! Plus a guy gets his heart ripped out felt like the scene in Empire strikes b... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by GZ at 16:11, 03 January 2014 | Report This Post


A real surprise

I reluctantly watched this over Christmas but ended up loving every minute... a good, old-fashioned bit of fun and a new favourite, tragically overlooked by snobby critics and cynics. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by philshepp at 08:22, 30 December 2013 | Report This Post


RE: The Lone Ranger

L: dconev e Ranger too long, incoherent at times and loaded with clumsy dialogue agree, a bit of a mess of a movie. ... More

Posted by Willy Wood at 06:32, 15 December 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Wrong

Jolly good fun indeed. ... More

Posted by clownfoot at 14:35, 10 December 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Wrong

I thought this was very deserving of the four stars. Great fun, and pisses on the last 3 Pirates movies from a great height, if the comparison is needed. ... More

Posted by UTB at 21:34, 08 December 2013 | Report This Post


Wrong

No way does this deserve 4 stars. I usually agree with most Empire reviews but this is way off. I wish you lot would start using a 10 star system instead of 5, or just start using halves. I would say this is 2.5 stars at best. Its ridiculous for the most part and boring, so Depp is quite good as usual but that's not enough, too long winded and slow and felt outdated. How about some fresh ideas please ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Gram Woods at 23:26, 04 November 2013 | Report This Post


Buster Keaton's "The General"

I was really looking forward to watching this but after the exciting beginning and the finale, the middle dragged so much that I had sand in my breaches. Glad I persevered as the finale was my reward - which required two viewings. I could see where the money went, but tighter editing was called for. Movie was too long. Needed more 'Pirates' excitement and more set-pieces. Depp was brilliant but I just can't get excited about trains. That said, this has the most exciting train sequences on ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by colinnaraine at 05:56, 15 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: The Lone Ranger

Good start, exciting ending, but very dull for most of the rest. The leads lacked chemistry and the humour doesn't really spread much beyond the kids audience. 3/10 ... More

Posted by ElephantBoy at 16:20, 02 September 2013 | Report This Post


RE: The Lone Ranger

L: MonsterCat Contrary to what you just posted and what Depp, Hammer and Bruckheimer claimed, I don't know if the critic's reaction makes much of a difference to a film's commercial performance. I mean, if it truly were the case, Bay's Transformers wouldn't be the massive franchise it is today. hile at first I thought that Depp, Hammer and Bruckheimer were talking out of their collective pretentious arses, I decided to do a little experiment (because I am a sad, strange little m... More

Posted by MOnkeyboy1138 at 08:24, 30 August 2013 | Report This Post


RE: The Lone Ranger

Contrary to what you just posted and what Depp, Hammer and Bruckheimer claimed, I don't know if the critic's reaction makes much of a difference to a film's commercial performance. I mean, if it truly were the case, Bay's Transformers wouldn't be the massive franchise it is today. ... More

Posted by MonsterCat at 17:33, 29 August 2013 | Report This Post


RE: A mixed bag of bird seed

L: AxlReznor I was going to watch this over the weekend, because they'd gotten desperate enough to send out 2 for 1 vouchers. But both of the cinemas I go to stop showing it after tonight... guess it's an even bigger financial flop than I imagined. found that a big problem was that from day 1 in my cinema there were literally only 2 showings, 1 way too early for me to get there from work, and 2 way too late for me to go on a school night. That and the critical onslaught that it's re... More

Posted by MOnkeyboy1138 at 10:31, 29 August 2013 | Report This Post


RE: A mixed bag of bird seed

I was going to watch this over the weekend, because they'd gotten desperate enough to send out 2 for 1 vouchers. But both of the cinemas I go to stop showing it after tonight... guess it's an even bigger financial flop than I imagined. ... More

Posted by AxlReznor at 10:02, 29 August 2013 | Report This Post


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