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What Went Wrong? The Good, The Bad & The Weird Of Disney’s ‘The Lone Ranger’

What Went Wrong? The Good, The Bad & The Weird Of Disney's 'The Lone Ranger'

Disney‘s “The Lone Ranger,” a lavish period epic directed by Gore Verbinski, starring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, had kind of a rough weekend. It began with an unprecedented critical pile-on (there have been some to leap to the film’s defense, like Matt Zoller Seitz, who described the movie as a “personal picture, violent and sweet, clever and goofy… as obsessive and overbearing as Steven Spielberg‘s “1941‘ — and as likely to be re-evaluated twenty years from now, and described as ‘misunderstood'”) and ended with a limp box office tally that couldn’t even top the middling opening weekend gross of Disney’s forgettable franchise nonstarter “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.” 

While it’s pointless to speculate why the film performed the way it did, we can acknowledge that the movie is a much more interesting and complex mechanism than most made it out to be. Of course, whether all those mechanisms cohered competently and entertainingly continues to be a source of debate between those who found the film to be messy, bloated misfire and the small few who believe Verbinski has crafted something of an expensive anti-blockbuster blockbuster. And certainly the filmmaker’s stamp is on the movie from the lovely framing to a number of flourishes that might have left some taken aback. When we asked Verbinski if he was worried about whether or not anything in the movie was too weird, he fired back: “I hope so. I hope there’s a lot that’s too weird.” 

So below, we break it down: the good, the bad, and the weird of “The Lone Ranger.” And needless to say, spoilers undoubtedly will follow.

The Good

The Climatic Double Train Chase
No matter how you feel about “The Lone Ranger” for the first two hours or so of its epically immense running time, once The Lone Ranger, in full regalia, atop his mighty steed Silver, starts riding alongside a speeding locomotive, you can’t help but give into the wild, over-the-top world that Verbinski and co. have created. Or, at the very least, you’ll crack a smile. Verbinski has showed this kind of gonzo inventiveness before; for the climax of his “Pirates of the Caribbean” trilogy, he had two massive ships firing at one another while being swirled around in a massive whirlpool. The director shows an unparalleled sense of spatial geography and comic timing, with a knack for escalating the stakes within the sequence until the tension becomes nearly unbearable (something Robert Zemeckis used to be oh-so-very-good at). Even though the sequence involves at least two speeding trains (on parallel tracks), you always know what’s happening where in any given moment during the sequence. The gags are piled on, one on top of the other, with a child shooting grapes at a monstrous cavalryman gleefully embellishing a moment where Tonto (Depp) uses a ladder to walk from one train to the other in a moment of Buster Keaton-esque physical comedy derring-do (other amazing moments: a gunfight between the trains, a horse jumping between two cars of the train, and Ruth Wilson perilously dangling off the side of one of them). As far as summertime action set pieces go, it’s unlikely anything will top the last twenty minutes or so of “The Lone Ranger.” It’s that jaw-dropping.  

The Performances
There are a lot of things wrong and weird about “The Lone Ranger,” which we’ll get into shortly, but none of the failures of the film can land at the feet of two leads, Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp. For better or worse, the script puts them at odds with one another for most of the picture, but the pair share a great chemistry, with Hammer forging his own identity as the principled hero, which is no small feat against someone as charismatic as Depp, who could easily steal the entire picture out of from under him. And though Tonto is right up Depp’s usual weirdo alley, it’s not a simple Jack Sparrow rehash as many critics lazily countered, as the character is less informed by eyeliner and alcohol, and given a new shape by an almost silent comedy approach. He’s an endearing oddball, but also an emotionally and spiritually wounded one, and Depp finds those notes. Extra points go to a barely recognizable William Fichtner as the truly vicious and fearsome Butch Cavendish, while Tom Wilkinson has some fun smarming it up as the duplicitous railroad baron Cole. 

The Visuals 
Unlike most of the summer movies that have slammed headfirst into movie theaters this year, “The Lone Ranger” luxuriates (perhaps a little too long) in its own visual opulence, mostly uncluttered by elaborate computer-generated imagery. (It’s got its fair share of visual effects but they’re mostly seamless and hidden, subtly deployed mostly during the train chase sequence at the end.) Instead, “The Lone Ranger” takes in the John Ford-y vistas for all their widescreen grandeur, at one point the image seems to flicker, like it’s faltering under the weight of its own beauty. Everything about “The Lone Ranger” is designed for maximum aesthetic impact— the smooth contours of the trains, every rusty button on every period-specific costume, the way that the glass of the train cars cracks and crunches like old school glass. The movie is overwhelmingly beautiful and Verbinski and company give you ample time to soak in its majesty.   

Verbinski’s Direction
For better or worse, there’s nobody who could have made this “Lone Ranger” besides Gore Verbinski. He is a singular talent, whose imagination rendered things like the train chase but also insisted on oddball elements like the wraparound story (more on that in a minute), and some of the more self-indulgent flourishes that so many have found so off-putting. But in strictly directorial terms, “The Lone Ranger” is a stunner. There are subtle things like the whip pan that accompanies the arrival of the Texas rangers in the film’s opening train sequence, and the way a computer generated herd of buffalo get out of the way of a steaming train in the same scene, but there are also more flashy embellishments, like the drop of poison that drips into a character’s bedside water glass but also liquefies an entire, unrelated frame of Tonto and the Lone Ranger traveling through a sandy desert, or the shot that follows a character as he cascades (mid-air) through a train car. Both exaggerated and simplistic, these moments are all Gore’s. Before a public screening of the film in New Mexico recently, Verbinski stated that he was really trying to do something “different.” He succeeded. Beautifully. 

Zimmer’s Score 
Composer Hans Zimmer has cooked up a number of memorable scores for Verbinski, most notably the still-unreleased scores for both “The Ring” and “The Weather Man,” and “The Lone Ranger” is no exception. When we talked to Verbinski last month about the movie, he said that Zimmer used the “William Tell Overture” as the blueprint for the entire score. He said that Zimmer was responsible for “taking out the motif.” “You hear it early on and there are tertiary fragments that are little themes throughout,” Verbinski explained to us. “It all accrues during the finale.” Zimmer stepped into the production late after bluesy rocker Jack White, who had originally been commissioned to write the music, had to bow out due to scheduling conflicts following the movie’s brief cancellation, and absolutely knocked it out of the park. It’s more subtle and mournful than Zimmer’s similar score to Verbinski’s animated western “Rango,” but it’s also more epic and sweeping. Just awesome.

The Bad

Too Fucking Long
There’s no reason that a movie called “The Lone Ranger” should clock in at at an ass-straining 2 hours and 30 minutes. No reason. And yet there seems to be very little fat in terms of what to cut out, which led to one of the film’s editors, James Haygood, to publicly defend the film’s length and editorial integrity, on his Facebook page (he also gets some well-placed jabs in at the movie’s critical response). “I know I wish the script had allowed me to shave out more, but we went through, over and over and over, looking for things to lift, but there’s a point you just break the film – it stops making internal sense, and THAT becomes the problem,” Haygood wrote. “We decided to make each scene as efficient as possible, and to make sure going from one scene to the next made sense. That was our mission.” Verbinski’s movies are never tight on time (his third “Pirates” movie ran nearly 3 hours) and part of their charm lies in their sometimes meandering aimlessness. But “The Lone Ranger” needed to be a 100 minutes of all killer, no filler funtimes. Instead, it’s burdened by a wraparound story (see below) and a number of scenes which are extraneous in the first place, but within the movie seem to drag it down with excessive bagginess. Had the movie been cut down, it might have lost some of its hangdog atmosphere, and at a trim 2 hours would’ve likely been at least more enjoyable— and not just because it would have gotten us to the train chase 30 minutes earlier.

The Framing Device
The year is 1933, and Tonto now works for a traveling sideshow, acting as a human mannequin in a Wild West tent, as part of a diorama detailing “The Noble Savage in His Natural Habitat.” When a young boy walks by wearing a Lone Ranger costume (we’ll bet a factory somewhere is cranking them out for Halloween), Tonto feels compelled to break the fourth wall and tell him the true story of how he met the masked hero, the genocide of his people, a heart-eating bad guy, land deals, murder and whorehouse madams. Where are this kid’s parents? How is he not freaked out and/or bored? Where’s The Lone Ranger? Is he dead? How come no one else walks by the display? How did Tonto end up here? Can that kid be any more annoying? Can the script be any more spoonfed by continually jumping back to this kid (which grinds the movie to a staggering halt each time) to ask thuddingly obvious questions? That Verbinski made this element— above anything else— the “deal breaker” in making the movie his way or not at all, is perhaps the most baffling part of all of this. The director says he wanted to tell “The Lone Ranger” from Tonto’s point-of-view, but does so in the most ham-fisted, literal way possible while still managing to make it confusing, and a constant fork-in-the-spokes to the pace of the movie. Aside from Nick Carraway titling his psych-exercise memoir “The Great Gatsby,” this may be one of the more embarrassing, blundering narrative missteps of the year.

Lone Ranger & Tonto Aren’t A Team Until Too Late
Call it origin-story-itis, or the result of the filmmakers already thinking one or two movies ahead (franchise!), but the most disappointing aspect of “The Lone Ranger” is that we don’t really get the iconic hero we’ve known for decades until the final third of the movie. On the one hand, perhaps it can be understood that the masked man— despite being a pop culture staple and/or reference for over seven decades— needs to be re-introduced and contextualized for a modern audience. And sure, it probably makes sense to add a bit more to Tonto’s sidekick role, especially when you get an A-list actor like Johnny Depp to play him. But the movie overplays its hand in establishing every minute detail of The Lone Ranger and Tonto’s pre-fame life, and their tedious journey to become crime-fighting pals. This means, essentially, the audience has to sit and wait for these two to go through the familiar motions of learning to trust each other, complete with the standard cliché that finds them splitting up— oh no!— only to come back together again about ten minutes later. So instead of the rootin’-tootin’ adventure the advertising tries to sell, with these two classic characters, much of the film finds them constantly at odds, not becoming a true team until the final train chase sequence—  but by then, it’s too late. As the “William Tell Overture” roars over the theater speakers, hoping to shorthand the transition from bickering buds to heroic duo, the moment feels unearned. 

The Abrupt Tonal Shifts
Wholesale slaughter of Native Americans, a human organ-eating bad guy, harshly treated indentured Chinese laborers, corporate boardroom maneuvering… bring the kids! It would seem that in Disney’s dance to keep the budget down, no one really bothered to read the script or perhaps realized what a wildly uneven mix of tones the resulting film would be. Sure, Gore Verbinski delivers the action (two massive train sequences), and there’s no end to the assorted array of hijinks between the Lone Ranger and Tonto. But the film’s continual and abrupt shifts to “dark” and “mature” throughout may have parents questioning whether it was wise to bring their kids at all. Riding what must be the limits of PG-13, and certainly the edgiest Disney movie in ages, the film’s desire to make a point about the bloody path history left in its wake when it came to building the West, belongs in an entirely different movie. Verbinski simply doesn’t have the nuanced hand required to go from the wacky, Odd Couple antics of his heroes to the more sober, history-lesson segments in the film, which include a flashback as we witness Tonto’s tribe get murdered en masse. As for the fearsome Butch Cavendish, William Fichtner plays him perfectly, giving a real sense of unpredictable danger. But in a movie where the actual bad guy is really the evil Corporate Leader, who is taking over the West via some shady dealing (zzzzzzzz), the human flesh connoisseur and murder happy Butch feels like a leftover element from a darker (and yet zanier) version of this movie, who in the final act, winds up as the secondary bad guy anyway.

Not-So-Romantic Romance
Every hero needs a girl to come home to, but we can’t recall the last time a blockbuster romance was this oddly formed and borderline inappropriate. On the one hand, perhaps there is something to be said for the logic-driven, John Locke-reading, straight-as-an-arrow John Reid having a thing for this brother’s wife. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time in history something like that happened, and it’s an interesting texture to have our hero’s heart wrapped up in something entirely, seemingly unattainable. But, the script doesn’t give John much of a journey to win the heart of Rebecca Reid. Her son (his nephew) already likes him, they openly flirt with each other in front of his brother Dan solidifying their feelings for each other, and once he gets murdered, John doesn’t waste much time after he’s in the ground to make his move. John is presented as a goodhearted, noble man, fighting for a righteous cause, but his relationship with Rebecca is a weird mix of contrived, undercooked and slightly distasteful. (Not to mention that Rebecca’s mourning period for her husband, lasts all of a few seconds, with her heart drawn to John from the start.) While John might be upset that Dan had to die, in the end, it made him a hero and landed him a brand new family all in one fell swoop. It seems dying is the best thing his brother Dan ever did for him.

The Weird

Tom Wilkinson’s Missing Penis
We saw the movie twice before it even opened and on the second viewing, we picked up on something that had flown right past us the first time— Tom Wilkinson’s character has no penis. It’s very subtle but when Tonto and The Lone Ranger are visiting Red’s, the makeshift whorehouse, Red (Helena Bonham Carter) says that Wilkinson’s railroad baron Cole doesn’t stop in because an accident during the war (the Civil War, for those playing at home) left him unable to appreciate the girl’s distinct charms. Still, we thought we were losing our minds, especially when we brought it up to some Disney publicists who looked like we had just grown a second head (and that second head had also asked them if Wilkinson’s character had lost his penis in the Civil War). So we went to the source: Gore Verbinski. His words? “Of course. Somebody’s paying attention!” Wilkinson’s penis actually adds a huge amount of shading to his villainous character because he keeps trying to artificially engineer a family for himself (one that involves the recently widowed Wilson and her young son), because he doesn’t have the gear to make one himself. Too bad everyone glazed over this point. Maybe it was a little too subtle.

The Bad Guys
Consider the band of bad guys of “The Lone Ranger”— one is a transvestite serial killer, who dresses in his lady victim’s clothes and tries to articulate his sexuality (but can’t); there’s another dude whose face seems to be horrible scarred by rope burns and who leaves the hangman’s noose dangling around his neck like a necktie, a reminder that somebody had tried to kill him once and failed; and gang leader William Fichtner, who literally cuts the beating heart out of a man’s chest and consumes it in front of him. This is incredibly weird, even for the admittedly loose standards of a Johnny Depp movie directed by Gore Verbinski (keep in mind that he was a director who kicked off the third “Pirates” movie by hanging a little kid). Someone at Disney has to have seen an early cut of “The Lone Ranger” and, concerned about what they saw, insisted that “Planes,” a spin-off of the lucrative popular “Cars” franchise, be a theatrical release and not just a direct-to-video affair as originally anticipated. There’s probably no cannibalism in that one.

Disney’s Plans
While it seems like there will be no follow-up, of any kind, to “The Lone Ranger,” save some kind of staggering about face at the international market, that doesn’t mean Disney had lost hope for the movie’s commercial prospects and synergistic possibilities within the company. Disney had already teased “Lone Ranger” elements for its forthcoming “Disney Infinity” video-game but as with everything associated with “The Lone Ranger,” they dreamed big. Months ago, plans for some kind of live performance piece timed to the movie’s release was planned for Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s Frontierland section of the parks, and, even more amazingly, there were tentative blueprints drawn up to place both The Lone Ranger and Tonto into show scenes inside Big Thunder Mountain, the beloved Frontierland roller coaster that just so happens to be centered, just like the climax of “The Lone Ranger,” on a runaway train. (The Tonto addition would have been a breeze considering they already had an animatronic Johnny Depp lying around in the revamped version of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction.) Right now, it looks like the closest the characters are going to get to the park was during the movie’s star-studded premiere, which took place at Disney California Adventure. There have been a number of exciting-sounding shows and attractions that have been scuttled in the wake of poor box office numbers, including rides built around such disappointing Disney productions as “The Black Hole,” “TRON Legacy” and “Dick Tracy.”

What did you find the best, worst, or most baffling about Disney’s “The Lone Ranger?” Did you even go? There are clearly a number of exceptional things to talk about in regards to “The Lone Ranger,” both good and bad, but after the uniform hazing it got this weekend, the discussion could be sadly short-lived. Sound off below, though, to keep it going. At least for a little while. Before it turns into legend.

Drew Taylor and Kevin Jagernauth

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Don Rickles and Johnny Carson
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Bob Tompkins

I, too, was paying attention and knew the villain had lost his equipment, penis and nutsack one or both, in the Civil War.
The movie wasn't any stranger or more violent than any of the Pirates movies.
And I enjoyed most every minute of it; a chill ran down my spine ad I nearly jumped out of my seat and cheered when the William Tell Overture fired up. John Reed finally accepted who he was supposed to become- finally! It was a moment I knew had to come and Hans Zimmer, for the first time I can recall handled the musical duties for a film marvelously.
Anyone really think the music for Man of Steel was —iconic? It was boring and dreary, much like the rest of the movie. The Lone Ranger was a much better movie.
Americans don't like Westerns any more. Sad but true. We don't like to be reminded that we were- and often still are– ugly and brutal thugs when we set our minds on something. In the founding and expansion of our country, more of us were like Butch Cavendish and his brother than were like John Reed.
The Lone Ranger is that uncomfortable reminder to some people.

Chris Christian

Two things made me know that this movie was in big trouble. First, was the scene during the early moments, when Tonto punched the Lone Ranger, and second, when Tonto's tribal leaders described him as being loco. Both injections were so far removed from the original description of this classic tale. It was too hard for me to digest the rest of the film.


Hm, no mention of the blatant racism.

May I suggest:

Mr. Jake Carson

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…Count Us In Darling, Sweetheart, Please Wrap-Us Up A Dozen Pies
To-Go!…We’re Gettin The Band Back Together……………..

I Know That Your Not Going To Believe This When You First Read It.
Don’t Worry, I Didn’t Believe It Either At First. My Dear Wife Insisted
Or As She Said, That She Was Going To Cut Me Off. Now I Like My Nooky As Well As Anybody But When She Starts talking About Cutting Me Off. Well, Lets Just Make A Long Story Short, If You Want To Continue Eating At The (Y), Then You Had Better Listen To What Mama Is Whispering Into Your Ear. Get The Damn Pies, Enjoyed Them With The Little Lady And Die A Happy Man. End Of Story.

People, If You Want To Have A Lot More Sex, And Who Doesn't? Then
You Need To Start Eating A Lot More Of Anita And Kutchie Pelaez’s Key
Lime Pies! They Work Every Darn Time!

…One Eyed Willie…Smooth Willie…Be Good Willie!…Elwood Blues…Darling,..Don’t Go Breaking My Heart!

Honey, What’s the number to the Key Lime Pie Factory?…We’re Out Again!

The World Famous Captain Kutchie Pelaez Of Key West. "Kutcharitaville". Fame Was Recently Spotted Down In Old Town Key West At Sloppy Joe's Bar Partying With His Old Compadres,…Captain Yankee Jack Of The Bull Fame,…Micheal McCloud Of Schooner's Wharf Fame…Captain Tony Tarracino Of His Own Saloon Fame,…Jimmy Buffett Of Margarativille Fame,…Captain Teri Levi Of Lum's Fame,…Missing Was The Late Great Mel Fisher….Also Missing Was The Late Great Treasure Hunter Captain Roger Burleson And The Late Great Roger "Moon Dog" Turner.,..The Famous Group Of Compadres Were Said To Be Drinking Doubles And Causing Just Lots Of Some Mild-Kind Of Troubles, But Nothing The Waitresses Couldn't Handle. It Seems That All Of The Team Mates Were Wearing…"Captain Kutchie T-Shirts!…We Were Wondering Where They Might Have Gotten Those T-Shirts?…"HUMM" You Don't Think It Was From…..?.?.?………

Kinda Like Captain Kutchie Says… "I Bet You Can't Say Happiness With Out Saying Penis".

I Guess No Key Lime Pie Story Would Be Complete Without Saying,
"AAHHH", The Magic Of Anita Pelaez And Her Key Lime Pies…

You Know-…It's No Wonder That She's America's Sweet Heart!


perhaps the public has come to the realization that not all movies are for everyone. when i see an action film, im not looking for the classic a-team variety where guns blaze and no one is harmed. perhaps the "desirable" profit algorithm catching as many demographics as possible has reached its zenith. if I'm dragged to a daddy/child cartoon fluff machine flick, i lose. if i drag my kid to a movie that we both enjoy, why would i like or enjoy that? aaah its the classic scenario. one size does not fit all. its good to know that eventually even the opaqueness of money making schemes over entertainment becomes transparent.

Jim Allen

This was the best film of 2013–one of the best ever. I am going to watch it again at the theater. I am going to get the DVD and DVR and VHS and Purple ray or whatever the heck they call these things now. All you people who did not like or "get" this film are on dope (pot), and are walking zombies.. What other guy over 50 (Johnny Depp) could have pulled this off? He is the best actor of our generation.


I am under fifty and I am interested in TLR. Watched the old tv show in repeats. At each showing I went to (have seen the movie several times) there were ALL ages in the audience. Not only that, but in all showings I've been to, I heard nothing but good comments coming out of the theater. Sure, the movie has flaws. Every movie does. But it's a popcorn movie meant to entertain, and it does just that. I have read some reviews that some were bored in the middle. I wasn't bored at all. Everything that happens (except for maybe the bordellos scenes and the Red character) are pivotal to either plot or character development. Anyway, it sucks that some people actually let critics tell them what movies to see. I made up my own mind, so glad I did. I will be buying this on DVD-and trust me, I almost NEVER buy movies !


Nothing could be worse than "This is The End"! REALLY!
Nothing but teen-age penis./bathroom humor!


I went yesterday to see this movie. I think I was lucky I did not even see or read what the critics said about it or I may have missed one of the best and funny films I have seen in a long time. Thank God the critics can not yell their dislike all over TV and ruin more movies for us all. This movie I enjoyed watching with my Mom who is 90 years old I will let you just guess at my age! I was not sure she would even like the movie but since the Lone Ranger was a guy I grew up watching I figured I go see what he was up to today.
Well this movie has special effects mixed in with comedy at same time it also has some lines in it that unless you are dead you will laugh out loud I know I was my mom was and everyone in the audience besides us was all through out the movie. I have read some here and about the penis missing and more that now when as I had already planned to do buy the Blueray version of the movie on CD and watch it many times to catch even more things to chuckle at. Mom wants to watch again too. I do that when I see a movie I want to watch several more times. Last one I did that with I think I have watched it at least 15 more times.
Yes it is long but like the editor said there really was no scenes to cut out hey I tend to fall asleep when watching a movie or TV if it is slow or boring or I just do not like it. I was wide awake the whole time and felt for once got my $6.25 ticket price dollars worth!!! So those of you who some with vulgar voices say it was too long or not good or whatever negative thing you can say.

Take it from someone who use to help finance movies has worked on them many times and was a producer this one is a winner and will go down in history as such and will develop a great fan club to boot. It will go down as one that the critics panned and box office was not so good but people will still be buying and or renting the movie for 10+ years to come! I rest my case! I was hoping it could be a series of movies like pirates of Caribbean was but since the critics have ruined this and sabotaged it I doubt that will happen now. I know this is not first move the critics missed the boat completely on and will not be the last and I for one look at trailers and judge from that the flavor of a movie and if I would like it not listen to critics as they are just people like you or me and what they like I may hate so why should I listen to them they would not listen to me!


First, let me say I didn't see the movie, don't plan to see the movie, and have no desire to purchase the DVD when it comes out just in time for the Holidays. I am one of the reasons this movie bombed.

Why didn't I see this movie? Johnny Depp. I am tired of his weirdness, his one dimensional caricatures, and how he turns what should be a supporting role and makes it all about him. (The Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland anyone?) When Depp received top billing while at the same time I don't even recall any mention of who was actually playing the lead role of the Lone Ranger, I immediately suspected a train wreck of a movie. Even the previews I saw showed more screen-time of him than anything else. If Disney was going to spend all of the money to bring Depp onboard for this film, why didn't they cast him for the lead? Hmm, perhaps the Lone Ranger himself just wasn't weird enough… Just like Depp himself.

Perhaps I'm being too harsh in trashing a movie I won't ever watch just because I no longer desire to see anything to do with one of its actors, but from the people I've talked to, especially the ones who regretted going to see it, they feel the same way.

Julie Fishman

I have to agree with most of the review… way too long, tonal shifts stupid.. story lines that were unnecessary (Helena Bonham Carter's character was totally useless, though she was fine in the role, even though I don't like her).. the romance element was too underplayed.

I too, wish they had just made a good update of the legend and made an action film with some comic moments instead of this mess.. Can't believe that Johnny Depp is running around saying how he spent time with Native Americans and used what he learned from them.. YIKES! Tonto is such a horrible stereotype it's almost in the category of Mickey Rooney's Chinese character in "Breakfast At Tiffany's" — I would have liked to have seen a film more in the vein of "Raider's of the Lost Ark" than this mess… happy I saw it without paying as it was not worth $12

Dave Webb

The piranha-like rabbits were certainly weird and out of place. Was the horse actually up in a tree at one point (it was a night scene and I couldn't really tell)? The 1930's narration perspective where we see the kid in the costume might make audiences adopt a feeling of going to an old B-western when they were kids I suppose, otherwise it was unnecessary (unless there's a sequel where it ties in somehow – maybe when audiences learn of the Reed family connection with the Green Hornet?). The parallel train chase reminded me too much of the 2nd Indiana Jones movie. Other scenes reminded me of Wild, Wild West (e.g., gun in the leg).

I think they tried to cram too much in. It did feel like two stories. The plot was WAAAAAYYYYY too predictable.

I like Depp. I don't feel like this effort was much removed fom his Sparrow character though, and I can't see what it was that he did with the character in his effort to do justice to American Indians that makes the character much different from what was expected from Hollywood. I did enjoy the Keaton-inspired scenes though.

In my opinion, many of the failings that have been cited regarding this movie were failings because they were UNDER-done and mixed with elements that don't work we'll together. Let me explain. It seems to me that there was an attempt to take a B-movie, classic Hollywood western story, and MERGE it with elements that might appeal to today's audiences. The result was an odd mash-up that isn't classic Hollywood western, and still doesn't appeal to many of today's movie goers. Unlike other commenters here, I DO think that today's audiences might have liked a classic Hollywood Lone Ranger western with modern cinematography and direction. On the other hand, the movie would likely have been more successful if Verbinski had followed the recent Batman approach, and took the story to the dark side completely – forgo the comedy (some dark comedy would work though); make the Ranger a truely troubled, but fearless, torn character; Tonto a scary (but good-guy), genius that we worry has his own agenda; make the bad guys truly menacing and dangerous without being cross-dressing "Pirates" borrowed from that other Depp movie. Something along the lines of Lone Ranger meets Dark Knight meets Bourne meets Unforgiven(?) might be a good starting point.

Linda D

IF….we believed everything the critics said about the movies….none of us would be going to the theatres! I, for one, LOVED The Lone Ranger. It made me laugh…a lot…and I can't wait 'til the DVD is released so that I can watch it again and pick up everything that I missed in the dialogue. The scenery was fantastic, the tongue-in-cheek portrayal of characters was very entertaining and those rabbits….OMG….LOL!


I sort of liked the film but just barely. The train sequence was fun and the cinematography of the West was beautiful but the tonal shifts and fast pacing really kind of bugged me. The beginning scene where it introduced John Reid made me really though too. I mean it started out good and was kind of heartwarming but then it takes a sudden turn into mean spirited territory. Not a good way to introduce your main hero! If you want to make a character a bumbling fool or go mean spirited, don't get a baby involved, okay? Especially with what happens right afterwards so that baby's officially given the worst day of its life!

Oliver Gogarty

"The Climatic [sic] Double Train Chase?" I haven't seen the movie, so I don't know: is the train chase related to the weather, somehow? Or did you mean "climactic," because the chase happens at the climax?

james moss

this is one of the great movies of all time. as a film collector and movie buff I've seen all the great films on the big screen. johnny depp was outstanding as tonto. the movie has one of the greatest endings of any film you could ever see. the last 25 minutes of the film is worth the admission price. the way the film started in 1933 was ingenious. it was great to see a western that was fabulously produced. the theatre was full when I saw the film–adults and kids were standing cheering at the end of the film. I hope everyone will see it.

Flying Tiger Comics

Why did it bomb? Much simpler than the pseudo-intellectual guff in the article. Here's a top 10:

1. Ageing Johnny Depp with a dead bird on his head. Historical reference for this crass costume?

2. No name brand actors other than Depp.

3. Wild wild west style gimgrack rubbish instead of a real story. Lone Ranger story could not be simpler. So let's throw that out.

4. Violence levels inappropriate to the comicbook style film. Moronic.

5. Endless too long scenes of fake Western imagery. Digitally enhancing the Old West is sacrilege. The land is right out there, dipsticks.

6. It's called the Lone Ranger. Can we see him ranging on his own? And fighting bad guys like in old films?

7. Period specific costume? Sure. Sure.

8. Post modern flavour in what should be an Indiana Jones style update of a classic genre.

9. Dialogue that could melt your eyeballs like wax in a blowtorch.

10. That fucking dead bird on the old guy's head. Seriously. What. The. Actual. Fuck.


I appreciate your great analysis of the Lone Ranger and the complex inner reasons why it may have bombed, but I wonder if that's overly intellectual and missing the obvious. Why does no one point out the elephant in the room, the first clear reason to avoid the film that caused me to say no to my kids even if Lego's Lone Ranger kits had already caught their eye. Depp was handsome and appealing and fun in the Pirates films, but here he is scary and creepy buried in face paint with a dead crow on his head. Who wants to see a protagonist that looks like a psychokiller? The look branded the film as family inappropriate, and then reading the reviews just confirms that first impression. After learning there's actually a whole native-sympathetic Howard Zinn type spin to the film, I may see it myself someday on video, but never with the kids, and I still won't like the brutal sadistic bad guys who are unnecessary distraction from real deeper themes. Call me shallow, but if Tonto had been more attractive this could've been both a family friendly buddy film and a haunting revisionist history saga, and I guess then the director's ego would've been left out. I'm so tired of Hollywood's love affair with dark imagery that isn't as profound as they think. People aren't stupid, and will actually get disturbing themes more deeply if they aren't repelled and/or attracted by literal sicko characters. The "don't tell just show" mantra of the modern directors' ego is wearisome, they've gone too far from their theatrical roots where the writers are still respected. I'll take a great story over gore and insane action any day, and I hope enough people are agreeing more with me these days so this is why the Lone Ranger bombed.


Great cast, great visuals. No script. All they had to do was write a good story. Disney doesn't know how to tell a story anymore. Everything you're complaining about is script based. Sad. So many great writers in Hollywood. But studios don't read, don't understand story and don't develop.


Great cast, great visuals. No script. All they had to do was write a good story. Disney doesn't know how to tell a story anymore. Everything you're complaining about is script based. Sad. So many great writers in Hollywood. But studios don't read, don't understand story and don't develop.


Great cast, great visuals. No script. All they had to do was write a good story. Disney doesn't know how to tell a story anymore. Everything you're complaining about is script based. Sad. So many great writers in Hollywood. But studios don't read, don't understand story and don't develop.


Great cast, great visuals. No script. All they had to do was write a good story. Disney doesn't know how to tell a story anymore. Everything you're complaining about is script based. Sad. So many great writers in Hollywood. But studios don't read, don't understand story and don't develop.


Great cast, great visuals. No script. All they had to do was write a good story. Disney doesn't know how to tell a story anymore. Everything you're complaining about is script based. Sad. So many great writers in Hollywood. But studios don't read, don't understand story and don't develop.


Great cast, great visuals. No script. All they had to do was write a good story. Disney doesn't know how to tell a story anymore. Everything you're complaining about is script based. Sad. So many great writers in Hollywood. But studios don't read, don't understand story and don't develop.

Deb C

Over 60 & my 15 year old went to see together and both laughed throughout. Maybe we are easily entertained or just downright odd but old fashioned Buster Keaton-like comedy were priceless. With a dash of the odd & insane thrown in we found it to be highly entertaining & are still laughing about parts of it. Bit of a downer with the slaughtering of the Indians so it had a bit of historicalness about it as well. Sad that it was released on the same day as Despicable Me 2. That I think was its biggest flaw. We would happily see it again!

Melissa Brown

I agree with everything. My first comment, sitting in the theater, was "Well, this is going to be awkward," when I realized he was in love with his doomed brother's wife. It should have been a serious movie or a funny one, and it feels like it IS two movies, pasted together.


i actually liked this movie.then again i liked john carter another disney disaster according to critics and ticket sales.what live action flick do they have out next year at this time?let's see if that bombs and i like that too!


The movie critics need to relax and not take things so seriously. It was almost like it was trendy or fashionable to bash this movie. Everyone I know that has seen is loved it and so do I. The scenes were epic and the story in my opinion was actually very well articulated. You had to be pretty dim witted to be confused by the plot (although I can't attest that movie critics are the brightest bulbs). And the last train chase scene is probably one of the most fun and action packed movie scenes in a long time!


If the Western genre is ailing to the extent where we need the success of 'The Lone Ranger' to sustain it, then it may be time for the Western genre to end.

I mean, I love the sports movies of Michael Ritchie and I miss the classic Looney Tunes, but I still sure as hell wasn't going to see 'Space Jam'.

And '1941' isn't "misunderstood"; it's just an obnoxious mess.


Lone Ranger dud will live on in Mystery Science Theater 3000 parody.


Personally, I was truly entertained and so were my movie-mates. Age in my opinion was not an issue as 2/3 were under the age of 50. Maybe people were expecting JDepp to portray the masked man instead of the monotone Tonto? Who knows… The criticism of the movie is undeserved, although the vampire bunnies and the 'unbalanced nature' crap was a bit much. I'd see it again, as long as I can have a beer or two while watching.


i need to work in hollywood, I have predicted ALL the bombs for the last ten years. This didn't work because their was no interest in seeing a western, it's too far removed from today's audience.

Wild Willie

I loved the movie. Can't wait till it comes out on DVD. Such talent those designer and make up artist are,
I like it that it did not take on the old Lone Ranger. No one could ever replace that time period. I felt this movie was very good in the fact they stayed away from it.
It was fun and would go see it again. One note, there were no cuss words or the F bomb thrown at you every five minutes. To me that is one way to ruin a movie and take away good talent. If you think you have to throw those words at us to make a movie, no thank you. I loved the Heat, but it bothered me that they had to have these women demean themselves. I won't be getting that movie. Sure there was some violence, but tell me did they not slaughter thousands of Indians at that time period. "You go Johnny Depp" I love you.


I loved this movie, for all the reasons you said and more. I don't understand the argument that it's not popular because no one under 50 is interested in The Lone Ranger. Nothing ticks people off more than the Hollywood studios not taking risks…. so why don't you as a ticket-buyer take a risk? Challenge yourself, give something new a chance to entertain you! This was a great, fun, funny film, Verbinsky was perfect for it. I agree with James Haygood's statement – too many people are hate-piling on this film because they're afraid to distinguish themselves from the crowd. (Btw, I'm 27, didn't know hardly anything about The Lone Ranger going in, was drawn in by the prospect of an exciting adventure movie that wasn't 90% CGI. It delivered.)


I loved this movie. I loved the bizarre tonal shifts, I loved the zany humor, I loved the wrap story (I did find it unnecessary, but still loved it), I loved the gorgeous imagery, I loved the directorial flourishes, and I completely loved the weird moments. The carnivorous rabbits were the weirdest, most unexpected part, and you didn't even mention them. I fully enjoyed the entire two and a half hours and, I might be completely alone on this, would have been fine with even more. I completely agree with the other commenter; like Fantasia, like The Wizard or Oz ( nominated for beat picture but still got middling reviews), one day down the line I truly believe this will be hailed as a masterpiece. I'm disappointed in its failure, because I want more.

A.C. Robinson

Lone Ranger & 1941 most definitely on the same track as Vertigo, re-assessed in 2033 as misunderstood gem. Maybe one day they'll triumphantly ascend to the pinnacle of the Sight & Sound list too!

Juan Espinoza

Zimmer's score, at least parts of it, was in fact released.


Who knows what went wrong. Maybe people saw too many similarities between this and Jonah Hex, Wild Wild West and Cowboys and Aliens? It looked rather busy. Like a western for people who wouldn't see a western unless there were non-western elements involved. Obviously that worked really well for the previously mentioned films.

Sterling Cooper

The real reason this movie tanked is a fundamental failure of entertainment: the majority today's audiences DO NOT CARE ONE LICK about the Lone Ranger.

But some crusty Disney fatcat with an ego decided HE enjoyed The Lone Ranger as a 10 year old in 1955, and since HE greenlit movies, HE would get this done.

Maybe I should just mind my own business and get back to my job at the post office….


The movie was more about the wacky Tonto than the Lone Ranger. Plus they made Reed into a nerdy douche character. When he screamed like a girl when hit by an arrow I almost left the theater. The last 20 minutes did make up for the rest especially because of the score using the iconic William Tell overture which was a nice tribute. So I have mixed feelings about it but it definitely could have been better.


I actually do like Westerns, at least some of them not all. I enjoyed Cowboys & Aliens. While I didn't go see the Lone Ranger I do think there is a place for movies like these. I think a sequel would only work if it would be used to correct what they did wrong with the first movie and make it a better franchise, make it more family friendly without being cheesy.


You forgot to mention the carnivorous/cannibalistic bunny rabbits under the Weird section


I haven't seen this film… but i have no doubt that it is atleast "OK"… Verbinski is a good director… good enough not to make a huge dud.
I'm convinced there's only one reason why this didn't work… Depp.

I'm not a Depp hater… infact I enjoy him in a lot of things… but he has gone waaaaaaay downhill.

I think his biggest mistake was selling out to do more Pirates films (past the TRUE 3-film trilogy).
He was off the Forbes most powerful list this year for the first time since Pirates… and his public image is in poor shape since leaving his wife for some 22yr old lesbian or whatever.

I think the next Pirates will stumble at the box-office, and perhaps studios will start clueing in on the fact that he's is not the box-office draw anymore that he gets paid for being.


The Legend of the Lone Ranger is a film! This was a popcorn flick. Most people these days are wanting to see more films! Hold back on the CGI & SPX. It takes you out of the film. World War Z, Pacific Rim, Man of Steel, etc… They are all losing money because of the fact the audience cant sink into the film and put themselves into the life because it is so unreal.
Take a big big note from Chris Nolan and the Batman trilogy he created. Those films did what they did because the audience felt as if it could be possible


The Legend of the Lone Ranger is a film! This was a popcorn flick. Most people these days are wanting to see more films! Hold back on the CGI & SPX. It takes you out of the film. World War Z, Pacific Rim, Man of Steel, etc… They are all losing money because of the fact the audience cant sink into the film and put themselves into the life because it is so unreal.
Take a big big note from Chris Nolan and the Batman trilogy he created. Those films did what they did because the audience felt as if it could be possible


The Legend of the Lone Ranger is a film! This was a popcorn flick. Most people these days are wanting to see more films! Hold back on the CGI & SPX. It takes you out of the film. World War Z, Pacific Rim, Man of Steel, etc… They are all losing money because of the fact the audience cant sink into the film and put themselves into the life because it is so unreal.
Take a big big note from Chris Nolan and the Batman trilogy he created. Those films did what they did because the audience felt as if it could be possible


The Legend of the Lone Ranger is a film! This was a popcorn flick. Most people these days are wanting to see more films! Hold back on the CGI & SPX. It takes you out of the film. World War Z, Pacific Rim, Man of Steel, etc… They are all losing money because of the fact the audience cant sink into the film and put themselves into the life because it is so unreal.
Take a big big note from Chris Nolan and the Batman trilogy he created. Those films did what they did because the audience felt as if it could be possible


The Legend of the Lone Ranger is a film! This was a popcorn flick. Most people these days are wanting to see more films! Hold back on the CGI & SPX. It takes you out of the film. World War Z, Pacific Rim, Man of Steel, etc… They are all losing money because of the fact the audience cant sink into the film and put themselves into the life because it is so unreal.
Take a big big note from Chris Nolan and the Batman trilogy he created. Those films did what they did because the audience felt as if it could be possible


The Legend of the Lone Ranger is a film! This was a popcorn flick. Most people these days are wanting to see more films! Hold back on the CGI & SPX. It takes you out of the film. World War Z, Pacific Rim, Man of Steel, etc… They are all losing money because of the fact the audience cant sink into the film and put themselves into the life because it is so unreal.
Take a big big note from Chris Nolan and the Batman trilogy he created. Those films did what they did because the audience felt as if it could be possible


Wait to see how Pacific Rim is going to bomb at the box office this weekend! Most of the scenes involving robots and monsters fighting are clouded with fog or rain to hide the poor CGI. And the least you say about Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi, the best.


Oh hey, did you like that ho hum train sequence at the end? I wasn't quite sure even though you MENTIONED IT IN EVERY PARAGRAPH.


"at one point the image seems to flicker, like it's faltering under the weight of its own beauty." LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL, oh you guys.


I didn't go and won't go because I keep asking myself, "Who in this day and age gives a shit about The Lone Ranger and what corporate yes-man thought anyone would?"

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