Film Review: The Lone Ranger

The Lone Ranger

The Lone Ranger directed by Gore Verbinski brings two actors that you would think would work great together but with a poor script/story it just makes the silver on the Lone Rangers legendary silver bullets look dull.

This version of the classic wild west tale of the famed masked hero is brought to life through new eyes. Native American warrior Tonto (Johnny Depp) recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid (Armie Hammer), a man of the law, into a legend of justice-taking the audience on a runaway train of epic surprises and humorous friction as the two unlikely heroes must learn to work together and fight against greed and corruption.

The scenery of the wild west is amazing on the screen. The film shot in New Mexico and Utah which are great places to film this legendary wild west story. Verbinski does an amazing job of using that as ways to keep you involved in the film. The action scenes are very well put together using very little special effects in the shot and while using more practical sets to give a more period feel. Many of the train scenes for example in which the Ranger and Tonto face the villain Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner) and his gang are amazing and sometimes you cannot tell what was CGI and what was a practical set.

The action and the beautiful scenery though cannot save the story of this film. The film just does not live up to the legend of The Lone Ranger but to be honest previous films have had a hard time doing so. The Lone Ranger on the silver screen has never lived up to the radio serial from 1933 or the popular television program from 1948 that aired originally on ABC. Excluding the film serials of the late 1930s because the footage is very rare and hard to find.


A Lone Ranger film was released in 1981 titled, “The Legend of the Lone Ranger” which seemed to me that the writers of this film took some sequences. For example, as when Reid is on his way to meet his brother after newly graduating as an attorney but instead of riding in too meet his brother on a stage coach in this film he rides into town on a train. That film was not a success just to be clear.

The story was written by Terry Elliott and Terry Rossio with screenplay by Justin Haythe, Elliot & Rossio for the Disney/Jerry Bruckheimer version and it drags such promise to a slow crawl. It has many plot holes with John Reid/The Lone Ranger in the story coming off so weak especially as an educated nerdy prosecutor in a nice suit to then be appointed as a Ranger by his brother. You must see the other variations of the origin story.

It came to a point where I was saying this guy is going to be the fearless masked man.

In many scenes in the film you almost feel bad for Hammer who has done some great work in the past and in this film performed great in the action scenes but just couldn’t save this film from being a wild west version of Pirates of the Caribbean. Depp’s version of Tonto (the first by a Non-Native American to play the role, though diverting controversy by citing his own Native American heritage) is too cartoonish.

You do hear the famous theme of the Lone Ranger, “William Tell Overture” but by that time I have already checked out of this film just watching the action sequences and the beautiful background.

Overall, the story is what makes any film great and this one, well is just not that. I usually leave the theater wanting more if the story is good but I was happy to see it end. What made it harder to watch is the sequences of the film making it Tonto telling the story of the legend in San Francisco sideshow 1933 (1933 paying homage to the radio serial) a waste and really was not needed in this film. I would have rather scene this film more of a drama than a version of Pirates of the Caribbean on land.

I had high hopes for this film especially with such talent and the great work of Verbinski, Bruckheimer, Hammer and Depp to bring a western to the big screen. Though sad at the end the product. Hoping that this does not kill any possibility one day to try again but with a script that brings give legendary story the glory it deserves.

I always go into something with an open mind for a modern audience but for a classic character as this, sometimes it is not bad to stick to what has worked in the past. If you want a better story about the Lone Ranger or to compare versions I would highly recommend seeing the TV series or if you can hear the classic radio serial do so.

Disney’s The Lone Ranger is out in theaters tonight and officially opens on Wednesday starring Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as John Reid/The Lone Ranger with Helena Bonham Carter. The film is directed by Gore Verbinski and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer who both worked on the Pirates of the Caribbean films. The films run time clocks in at 2hrs and 20 min and is rated PG-13.

Disney’s The Lone Ranger

Grade: C

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Michael Sandoval

Michael created MUSE/MUSE TV after a career in professional sports and journalism. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California. He attended Don Bosco Technical Institute in which he studied Electronics and Computer Science and California State University, Fullerton in which he graduated with a degree from the College of Communication in Journalism. He is a big Foo Fighters fan, loves Star Wars and loves photography. Member of the Los Angeles Online Film Critics Society.

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