The Disney film Pirates of the Caribbean was made for the ride of the same name located at Disneyland. It was a movie largely made in order for Disney to use a new theme, specifically the theme of a swashbuckling seafaring adventure.
And it was a smashing success. It had life, it had energy, and it just had this ability to sweep you into it like you were a part of the story. The highlight, however, was Johnny Depp, who portrayed Captain Jack Sparrow, whose witty dialogue and charming attitude carried the film to its highest level.
The Lone Ranger is an attempt at the same kind of thing. Although it wasn’t made from a ride this time, the premise is no different — an excuse to make a movie with a western theme. And you can pretty much tell this without even seeing the film, because it was mostly made by the same crew. Same director (Gore Verbinski), two of the same key writers… Even Johnny Depp was called back in to play a snide, witty Tonto.
The plot itself has a mature taste to it, one a little too mature for the Lone Ranger brand. Tonto and John Reid (Armie Hammer) are out for revenge against a dangerous (and cannibalistic — kind of an unnecessary trait) criminal who massacred Tonto’s people and John’s ranger squadron. In their pursuit they uncover a web of greed and corruption which they alone can stop. Also, there’s a kidnapping, because you can’t have an adventure movie without a kidnapping, that’s filmmaking 101.
This movie is, in essence, an attempt to recreate Pirates’ charm in a new setting. What Disney failed to realize was that that this kind of nature does not translate at all into a movie of this theme, and especially not a movie with these characters. It feels like it drags a little, like it doesn’t have its heart in the right place. It just doesn’t feel strong or suspenseful enough to be a true western. (At least not until the climax, but honestly, if I was desperate for a really good action sequence I still wouldn’t wait two and a half hours to see it.)
Age Recommendation: Don’t be fooled by the Lone Ranger branding or the Disney stamp: This movie is far darker than one would initially expect, and unnecessarily so. For example, the villain cuts out a man’s heart and eats it, and there are a few parts which get just a little bit racey. 13+
Final Verdict: This is effectively a movie made off of an attitude of “It worked before”, and that is an absolutely awful way to look at films. While it has a few moments of quality action, they’re just far too scarce for the movie to wholly rely on them. 4/10