Friday, July 12, 2013
THE LONE RANGER
It's supposedly a flop, and many professional critics didn't dig it, some even predicting it's a sign of Johnny Depp's finally losing his movie star cache. But I wasn't buying it. I wanted to see for myself, and wanted my fifteen-year-old to see it too, because I love Westerns despite some of the Hollywood distortions of history and myth making that exalts that historical inaccuracy.
I wasn't disappointed. You might be. But I wasn't. It's a long movie to sit through, two and a half hours or thereabouts, and about halfway through I started to wonder if it was too long and going nowhere [I could have done without the framing story], etc. and then it picked up and made me feel like I was on a great ride, just for the fun of it.
And actually, historically, it was more accurate than most Westerns, as my son pointed out right away, with them getting it right that the workers who built the railroad were Irish and Chinese immigrants, together. And I can see why some of my Native American activist friends dug it, cause it gets some of their side of history accurately too. And it gets the beginnings of corporate America right also, as represented by the wealth the railroads created that made The Gilded Age so ruinous to the non-wealthy, reflecting our own times in that equally economically unequal period.
There were a lot of objections to Depp playing Tonto, and to the idea of Tonto anyway, despite claims that Depp is part Native American—some saying his claims, some saying his advocates' claims. But either way, I don't think it matters because Depp is just creating another memorable and indelible character. And he makes sure Tonto is his own man, nobody's sidekick, even if he is eccentric and comic and over the top ala Captain Jack Sparrow in PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN.
There are fantasy elements of course, after all, THE LONE RANGER is a fantasy, but the way he is written and Armie Hammer plays him in this incarnation, he comes off more comic than mythic and more vulnerably human than heroic. I thought he matched Depp every step of the way.
I'm sorry it most likely won't become a franchise like THE PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, though it seemed set up to be (the director of that franchise, Gore Verbinski, directed this too). I'd like to see what else Depp can do with the character he created, and Hammer as well. Like I said, for me, it was a fun ride, worth the price.
[PS: Of course there's some historical inaccuracy as well, mostly in the dialogue with characters using expressions unknown in that period or referring to concepts not yet understood etc., but it's not as bad as Tarantino's over the top revenge fantasies, which in many ways this movie emulates, but without getting self-indulgent with the explicit violence ala Tarantino, etc.]