This review was published on the 4th of August 2013 in Images on Sunday (Dawn Newspaper). The post is an unedited copy.
Masked Rider; Storybook Western
By Mohammad Kamran Jawaid
There’s a way writing about movies work.
When watching a movie a reviewer, often though not always, finds himself in a mood setup by the strenuously designed ambiance of a motion picture whose budget alone would feed a couple of hundred million families for a decent number of months (dependent, of course, on how you well stretch the dollar). And while the payoff-feel certainly depend on the intelligence and whim of the its makers (or the mood of the reviewer at the time), sometimes the producer’s own sense of personalization either helps jump over – or right into – potholes dug by their own preference of what the audience would like to see.
This guess game, which has worked quite well in “The Lone Ranger” producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s decades long action-man career, is going through a ‘phase’ – at least, that’s what I’d like to call it.
“The Lone Ranger” is built for the screen by Bruckheimer and his “Pirate” cohort Gore Verbinski – and regardless of intentions, a not-so-subtle role-reversal for its leading character, and frantic zest (a Bruckheimer staple), is a drag. At least, in three four, long phases.
The rest of the movie, which starts in 1933 (a time when “The Lone Ranger” made appearances on the radio), flashbacks to a “should be true” fable set in 1869, narrated to a young boy (Mason Cook) by a wrinkly old taxidermied Native American statue in an exhibit. The way the statue comes to life, whimsy and half-acquainted with his surroundings, the viewer by gut knows this could either be the work of “Native Indian” supernaturalism, or just plain hogwash; and of course, no one gets points for deducing that the wrinkly “Injun” is actually Johnny Depp in prosthetic disguise.
Depp is Tonto, a half-wacked version of his Jack Sparrow, and the future Lone Ranger’s sidekick. Only, with Depp’s persona – and perhaps the insistence of Disney – he “almost” comes off as the real lead of the movie. Almost – because the screenplay by Ted Elliott, Terry Rosio and Justin Haythe, try to adjust Armie Hammer into the film to the best of their abilities and circumstances.
Hammer plays John Reid, a square, law-abiding prosecutor whose brother, a Texas Ranger, and co. get massacred by Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner), a disfigured carnivorous outlaw, who later takes Reid’s brother wife and son hostage. Reid, who is also left for dead, recovers (I won’t tell how, and I don’t know why), and is told by Tonto that he is a “spirit walker”, who cannot be killed in battle (he also gets a mask, but that’s one of the lesser asked questions of the film).
The rest of “The Lone Ranger” is about every darn Wild West movie on the planet. The cavalry, the gold rush (or in this case, silver rush), railroad, prostitutes with guns embedded in their legs (an always excellent Helena Bonham Carter), vendetta, a bit of Native American magic, some Road Runner-like gusto – and a very long running time.
Released by Disney, “The Lone Ranger” is rated PG-13. Parents cautioned. A yawn might creep up from time-to-time, only to be stifled by the unpretentious filmmaking attitude of Verbinski and co.
The published version is here, and it looks like this in the paper: