The Lone Ranger
The Lone Ranger is a 2013 American Western film directed by Gore Verbinski and written by Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio. Based on the title character of the same name, the film stars Johnny Depp as Tonto, the narrator of the events, and Armie Hammer as John Reid, the Lone Ranger. The story tells through Tonto's memories of the duo's earliest efforts to subdue local villainy and bring justice to the American Old West. William Fichtner, Barry Pepper, Ruth Wilson, James Badge Dale, Tom Wilkinson, Helena Bonham Carter, and Curtis Cregan are featured in supporting roles. This was the first theatrical film featuring the Lone Ranger and Tonto characters since William A. Fraker's 1981 film, The Legend of the Lone Ranger.
Produced by Walt Disney Pictures, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, and Depp's Infinitum Nihil, production was plagued with problems and budgetary concerns, which at one point almost led to the film's premature cancellation. The film then premiered at the Hyperion Theater on June 22, 2013, and was released theatrically in the United States on July 3, 2013.
In 1933, a boy who idolizes the legendary Lone Ranger encounters the elderly Comanche Tonto at a sideshow in a San Francisco fair. Tonto proceeds to recount his experiences with that Old West adventurer.
In 1869, lawyer John Reid returns home to Colby, Texas, via the uncompleted Transcontinental Railroad, managed by railroad tycoon Latham Cole. Unknown to Reid, the train is also carrying Tonto and outlaw Butch Cavendish, who is being transported for his hanging after being captured by Dan Reid, John's Texas Ranger brother. Cavendish's gang rescues Butch and derails the train. Tonto is subsequently jailed. Dan deputizes John as a Texas Ranger, and with six others they go after the Cavendish gang.
Cavendish's men ambush and kill their pursuers. Tonto, who has escaped from jail, comes across the dead men and buries them. However, a white spirit horse awakens John as a "spirit walker", and Tonto explains John cannot be killed in battle. Tonto also tells him Collins, one of the Rangers, betrayed Dan and is working with Cavendish. As John is thought to be dead, he wears a mask to protect his identity from enemies. Tonto gives John a silver bullet made from the fallen Rangers' badges and tells him to use it on Cavendish, whom he believes to be a mystical beast, the wendigo.
At a brothel Collins recently visited, Red Harrington informs the two about Dan and Collins' fight over a cursed silver rock. Meanwhile, Cavendish's men, disguised as Comanches, raid frontier settlements. John and Tonto arrive after raiders abduct Dan's widow and son, Rebecca, and Danny. Regretting his earlier actions, Collins attempts to help mother and child escape but is shot dead by Cole, who rescues them. Claiming the raiders are hostile Comanches, Cole announces the continued construction of the railroad and dispatches United States Cavalry Captain Jay Fuller to exterminate the Native Americans.
A Comanche tribe captures John and Tonto after the pair finds railroad tracks in Native territory. The leader tells John of Tonto's past: As a boy, Tonto had rescued Cavendish and another man from near-death and later showed them a mountain full of silver ore in exchange for a pocket watch. The men murdered the tribe to keep the location a secret, leaving Tonto with great guilt.
Tonto and John escape as the cavalry attack the Comanche. At the silver mine, the duo captures Cavendish. Tonto demands John use the silver bullet to kill Cavendish, but John refuses. Upon returning Cavendish to Cole and Fuller's custody, Cole is revealed to be Cavendish's partner and brother. Fuller, fearful of being labeled a war criminal for slaughtering the tribe, sides with Cole. Rebecca is held hostage, and John is returned to the mine to be executed. Tonto rescues him and the two flee. Realizing Cole is too powerful to be taken down lawfully, John dons the mask again.
At Promontory Summit, during the railroad's union ceremony, Cole reveals his true plan: to take control of the railroad company and use the mined silver to gain more power. John and Tonto steal nitroglycerin and use it to destroy a railroad bridge. With Red's help, Tonto steals the train with the silver, and Cole, Cavendish, and Fuller pursue him in a second train on which Rebecca and Dan Jr. are being held captive. On horseback, John pursues both trains. After a furious chase and fights on both trains, Cavendish and Fuller are killed, Rebecca and Dan Jr. are rescued, and Cole drowns, buried beneath the silver ore after the train plunges off the severed bridge and into the river below.
The town recognizes John as a hero and offers him a law-enforcement position. John declines, and he and Tonto ride off. Back in 1933, Will questioned the truth of the story. Tonto gives him a silver bullet and tells him to decide for himself, and then departs.
- The casting choices were poor.
- Johnny Depp is not at all convincing as a Native American, despite his claims of possessing a tiny percentage of native ancestry. He also basically just spends the film doing his wacky Jack Sparrow act with a different accent.
- Fun fact: It was later revealed that Johnny is a distant descendant of colonial freedom fighter Elizabeth Key Grinstead (1630-1665), daughter of a British nobleman and his African slave.
- Some of the events aren't really that interesting. In fact, some are so boring, you just want to fall asleep.
- Weak story.
- The film has plot holes.
- Giving way too much time to Tonto, instead of the main character. (Johnny Depp even has top billing over Armie Hammer)
- Extremely poor grasp of the source material. For example, the Lone Ranger didn't have a Southern accent in the original series.
- Certain scenes drag on for far too long.
- Some scenes aren’t really appropriate for a supposed family-friendly film. For example, John's brother gets his heart taken out and eaten. Thankfully, it isn't shown on screen.
- Some of the special effects are poor.
- Pointless supporting characters.
- The makeup on Tonto looks poor: it is also completely inauthentic, being based on a fictional painting of an "Indian Warrior" with crows flying around him: one of the production team incorrectly thought the figure was wearing one on his head, hence Tonto's bizarre get-up with a dead bird on his head.
- The action scenes are pretty good.
- The characters are fine for what they are and our main characters have good chemistry.
- Some moments are pretty funny.
- The music is good, especially when the theme from the original series is heard in the film and during the final train chase with the use of the "William Tell Overture" being good.
- The cinematography is amazing.
- Some of the special effects are decent, despite being poor.
- Except for Tonto, the makeup is decent.
- The overall production design is outstanding, especially the costumes and set designs.
The Lone Ranger received generally negative reviews from critics, who criticized the performances of Hammer and Depp and the screenplay, though some praised the makeup and visuals effects. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 30% based on 247 reviews with an average rating of 4.90/10. The site's consensus reads, "Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp make for an appealing pair of leads, but they're not enough to make up for The Lone Ranger's bland script, bloated length, and blaring action overkill." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 37 out of 100, based on reviews from 45 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.
Gore Verbinski, Jerry Bruckheimer, Armie Hammer, and Johnny Depp openly criticized the American critical reception of the film, arguing that the negative coverage surrounding the project was influenced by reports of production troubles, with Bruckheimer accusing critics of "reviewing the budget," instead of the film itself. Hammer added, "If you go back and read the negative reviews, most of them aren't about the content of the movie, but more what's behind it. They tried to do the same thing to World War Z; it didn't work, the movie was successful. Instead, they decided to slit the jugular of our movie."
Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino called the film one of the ten best films of 2013 through October: "The first forty-five minutes are excellent…the next forty-five minutes are a little soporific. It was a bad idea to split the bad guys in two groups; it takes hours to explain and nobody cares. Then comes the train scene—incredible! When I saw it, I kept thinking, ‘What, that’s the film that everybody says is crap? Seriously?’" Despite this, Tarantino voiced his objections to the film's depiction of Native Americans: "That being said, I still have a little problem with the film. I like Tonto’s backstory—the idea that his tribe got slaughtered because of him; that’s a real comic-book thing. But the slaughter of the tribe, by gunfire, from the cavalry, it left a bitter taste in my mouth. The Indians have really been victims of a genocide. So slaughtering them again in an entertaining movie, Buster Keaton style… That ruined the fun a bit for me. I simply found it…ugly. Making fun of this, when America really did it, it bothered me...That doesn’t stop it from being a good film but they could have done without that.”
Film critic Scout Tafoya included the film in his video series "The Unloved" in 2015, likening the film's unfortunate circumstances to what the 1980 Western film Heaven's Gate similarly went through. Tafoya considers The Lone Ranger to be a masterpiece, praising the film's deconstruction of American myths which erased the tragedies experienced by Native Americans, stating: "There's a melancholy that runs through even the most frenetic, kinetic action sequence in The Lone Ranger. No matter how big a grin it puts in your face, it's still about the deaths of thousands, not to mention our ideals, of the stain on our legacy as a united people." Film critic Matt Zoller Seitz of RogerEbert.com gave the film three-and-a-half out of four stars, stating that "for all its miscalculations, this is a personal picture, violent and sweet, clever and goofy. It's as obsessive and overbearing as Steven Spielberg's 1941 — and, I'll bet, as likely to be re-evaluated twenty years from now, and described as 'misunderstood.'"
The Lone Ranger grossed $89,302,115 in the United States and $171,200,000 in other countries for a worldwide total of $260,502,115.
Preliminary reports had the film tracking for a $60–$70 million debut in North America. The film earned $2 million from late showings on Tuesday, July 2, 2013, and $9.67 million on its opening day, July 4. During its opening weekend, the film debuted in second place with $29.3 million over three days and $48.9 million over the five-day frame.
After under-performing during its opening weekend, the film was characterized by numerous media sources as a box office bomb with many observers comparing it unfavorably to John Carter, another big-budget Disney film that failed commercially the year before. The New York Times estimated that the film cost $375 million to produce and market, and would need to earn an estimated $650 million worldwide to break even, after accounting for revenue splits with theater owners. The Hollywood Reporter noted that the losses from the film could surpass $150 million, with Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures vice-president Dave Hollis calling these results "very disappointing".
Compared to Despicable Me 2, a film that opened the same weekend to $142.1 million on a $76 million budget, The Wall Street Journal noted that The Lone Ranger made just under a third of that ($48.9 million) and had more than three times the budget ($215 million). Nearly 68% of ticket buyers were over 25 years old and nearly 25% over 50 years old, a much higher percentage than is typical for the studio. Disney viewed the film's international performance ($24.3 million from 24 markets), including that of Russia and Australia, as "softer than we would have liked."
The New York Times and USA Today reported that The Lone Ranger joined a string of high-concept western films that failed at the box office, such as Wild Wild West (1999), which cost $170 million but grossed $222.1 million; Jonah Hex (2010), which cost $47 million but grossed less than $11 million; and Cowboys & Aliens (2011), which cost $160 million but grossed $174 million. Chief analyst for Boxoffice Phil Contrino described the film's box office performance as "the kind of bomb that people discuss for years to come" due to its use of otherwise successful director, producer and stars. Alan Horn, current Walt Disney Studios chairman, admitted the financial risk the studio faced with the film. Jay Rasulo, Disney CFO, expects to attribute a loss of $160–190 million in the company's Studio Entertainment division during the fourth fiscal quarter.
In September 2014, studio president Alan Bergman was asked at a conference if Disney had been able to partially recoup its losses on The Lone Ranger and John Carter through subsequent release windows or other monetization methods, and he responded: "I'm going to answer that question honestly and tell you no, it didn't get that much better. We did lose that much money on those movies."
Awards and nominations
The film was nominated for four Golden Raspberry Awards including Worst Picture, Worst Actor for Johnny Depp, Director, and Screenplay. However, the film won one Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off, or Sequel. Despite the Razzie Award win and nominations, the film was nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects and Best Hairstyling and Best Makeup.
- This was the 6th Disney movie based on a non Disney tv show, the previous ones were: Popeye, George Of The Jungle, Mr. Magoo, Inspector Gadget, My Favorite Martian and Underdog.
- This movie spawned Lego projects before the actual film came out.