This review will most likely be a bit biased. You see, I am a third generation Lone Ranger man. My grandfather would have a smile on his face as he would watch my young father and uncle sitting indian style watching The Lone Ranger on television in the late 1950’s to early 1960’s.
My father passed down the story of The Lone Ranger and his trusty sidekick, Tonto, to me before I even knew who Han Solo, Superman or Indiana Jones were. The Lone Ranger was my first hero. The 1981 Legend Of The Lone Ranger feature film was one of my all time favorites as a child. There was just something magical about him and Tonto who stood for truth and justice in the brutal and harsh wild west in the late 1800s.
I played with the toy’s and even wore a Lone Ranger pajama set complete with mask, gun holsters, and hat that I would wear almost everyday in broad daylight, let alone bedtime. So you will have to forgive me for enjoying this film much more than its theatrical critic reviews perceived it.
It has been 32 years since we have seen the “masked man” on the big or small screen. Despite the film’s box office disappointments and mixed reviews, I am happy to say that this gem of a family film was truly one of my favorite films of the summer that will reintroduce to a new generation of kids and will be surely played for my son one day as well to continue the tradition.
Director Gore Verbinski clearly has a passion for The Lone Ranger as well, and he doesn’t make any apologies for giving the audience a fresh take on the Lone Ranger and his faithful horse, Silver, while simultaneously paying homage to franchise that has captured the heart and imagination of kids everywhere since he first appeared on a radio show back in 1933.
Which ironically in a nice nod is the same year the film begins when a Lone Ranger costumed boy comes across an elderly Comanche Native American, named Tonto (Johnny Depp) at a San Francisco county fair. After classic Johnny Depp meet and greet, the films begins to shift in a pure Walt Disney style moment-flashback to the great lone star state of Texas in 1869 where Tonto shares his tale of how he met a young lawyer named John Reid (Armie Hammer) who would one day put on the mask and become the Lone Ranger.
This is a story of revenge and redemption at its wild west popcorn fun finest. John Reid is young and likable white-collar lawyer who lives in the shadow of his older brother, a more seasoned wild west Texas Ranger. No matter what he accomplishes in life, he will always be the “little brother”.
Something I think all younger siblings can relate to. When taking a break from his law firm to visit tycoon Latham Cole’s (Tom Wilkinson) under construction Transcontinental Railroad, where his brother Dan Reid (James Badge Dale) is escorting his freshly captured ruthless wild west outlaw Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner) to be hung for his crimes who just so happens to be placed next to a innocent prisoner, known as Tonto.
This is when the film really begins to kick into the action as we witness Butch Cavendish’s gang pull off a daring rescue and forces Texas Ranger Dan Reid’s hand to deputize his younger brother to give a hand and go after Cavendish and his gang. The events that unfold next are the origin story of how and why Dan Reid gets paired with his faithful indian sidekick and puts on the mask to become the Lone Ranger. I don’t want to spoil the rest of the plot, but don’t worry the rest of the film delivers a wild ride of a steady dose of action and humor as the Lone Ranger sets out on his quest to hunt down Cavendish and a mysterious ally.
I really would like to point out the wonderful chemistry that Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer shared with each other on the silver screen. The one liners that Tonto gives to the Lone Ranger are hysterical and delivered with perfection. Be it a scene where Tonto is attempting to communicate with Silver, or saying “GREAT SHOT” after a lucky ricochet bullet hit the exact target from a smoking pistol by a in disbelief Reid.
This film has a lot of little moments of classic Walt Disney style comedy between the action. Very well paced. One thing I have always enjoyed about a great western, be it Silverado or Unforgiven, would be the “visual time machine” of enjoying gorgeous wild west scenery. From distant snow topped mountains, to sparkling rivers and sandy deserts, The Lone Ranger is just as much fun to enjoy the backdrops as it is to follow the entertaining plot.
William Fichtner‘s portrayal as Butch Cavendish won’t win any Oscars, but I felt he was fairly solid as the film’s villain. Make no mistake though, the real star of this film is Johnny Depp and his fresh and charismatic portrayal as Tonto. He flat-out stole the show. The high point for me personally would have to be the climatic moment when the Lone Ranger hops on Silver and yells the ageless “High-O Silver” to the classic Lone Ranger theme song. The inner 4-year-old boy wearing Lone Ranger pajamas with mask could only quietly grin in joy at.
Blu-rays have been wowing viewers at home for a few years now. Usually, it is the heavy CGI special effects of science fictions imagination that deliver the “oohs and awes“. The Lone Ranger isn’t about hi-def flying spaceships or massive planet explosions…it’s a western pure and simple. That being said, this is hands down the most eye candy western I have ever had the pleasure of watching wide-eyed with a cold root beer in hand and a mouth full of buttery popcorn.
Deleted scenes, bloopers, and making of documentaries round out the special features including an exclusive version of “The Finale William Tell Overture” and a bonus album download of Wanted, music inspired by the film.
I give The Lone Ranger a fun for the whole family entertaining 3 out of 4 throwing stars!