Archive for the ‘Gore Verbinski’ Category

Masking the Silver Trail

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The Lone Ranger

Director: Gore Verbinski

Cast: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, Barry Pepper, James Badge Dale, Ruth Wilson, Helena Bonham Carter, William Fichtner

Hi Ho Silver the Lone Ranger is back! But who can take Armie Hammer seriously after appearing as the hapless Prince in Mirror Mirror? The only time he was brilliant was playing the identical blue blood Winklevoss twins in David Fincher’s superb Oscar winning film The Social Network.

In Disney’s wisdom they have cast Armie Hammer alongside Johnny Depp in a Jerry Bruckheimer produced Gore Verbinski film, the much anticipated The Lone Ranger. Of course Depp channeling his more successful screen character of Jack Sparrow from The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, is less convincing as Tonto, the lone Cormanche Red Indian who betrays his tribe for the lure of silver.

Unlike the brilliant Coen brothers rendition of True Grit or director James Mangold fierce Western 3:10 to Yuma, The Lone Ranger feels too much like a ride at a Disney theme park, whether it be in Orlando or Anaheim. Fortunately for The Lone Ranger, director Gore Verbinski saves the film from being a complete farce with a striking balance of visuals, great cinematography evoking the mythic Wild West and a bizarre mixture of cowboy brutality and dazzling action sequences mostly to do with the Transcontinental Railway expansion towards California.

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Hammer plays Texas Ranger, John Reid, aka The Lone Ranger who arrives in a spectacular fashion in the town of Colby, Texas in 1869 at the height of the American-Indian wars over land, expansion and minerals. The unwitting Reid soon teams up with the resourcefully quirky Tonto and in a particularly bizarre sequence discover his pristine white horse aptly named Silver in a desert plateau. The unlikely duo go on a quest to stop the vicious outlaw Butch Cavendish, played with particular relish by William Fichtner, from the hit series Prison Break and the expansionist railway magnate Cole played by British actor Tom Wilkinson who both plan to mine the silver trial.

Dodging scorpions, arrows, the relentless great desert, reckless trains, the Lone Ranger and Tonto soon find themselves embroiled in a plot by the chairman of the Transcontinental Railway Company to enrich himself through the transportation of discovered silver across the Wild West to San Francisco. Historically placing The Lone Ranger, in the height of the late 19th century industrial revolution, the film veers between comic farce and historical diatribe about the destruction of the indigenous Indian tribes of the Wild West by the evil expansionist Americans at the prospect of mineral wealth and deadly industrial progress.

Whilst the slaughtering of the Comanche at the hands of the better equipped American Cavalry, is vividly contextualized in the broader vision of civilizing the Wild Wild West of the latter 19th century, it does little to elevate the plot out of comic action. The Lone Ranger is unevenly told, with the second half of the film far outweighing the sketchy narrative of the first, and at over two and a half hours long, this feature could have done with some seriously crisp editing.

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There is a great supporting cast to help prop up the unlikely onscreen paring of Hammer and Depp, with the likes of Helena Bonham Carter as Madame Red Harrington, Barry Pepper as the confused Cavalry officer Fuller along with blockbuster newcomer James Badge Dale as Dan Reid and British actress Ruth Wilson (last seen as Princess Betsy in Anna Karenina) playing his ill-destined wife Rebecca.

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The Lone Ranger is fun entertainment and purely fictionalized Western with lots of scraggly Cowboys and noble Indians fighting it out amidst the gorgeous scenery of the great untamed plains of Texas, Utah and Nevada.  The downside is that the comic element does not quite sustain itself in the midst of director Verbinski and the trio of screenwriters attempting a more historically correct statement of how the White Man’s progress across America was through the destruction of the continent’s indigenous Indian tribes. Recommended for a fun Western romp, but The Lone Ranger should stick to being a superficial action comedy about Cowboys and Indians without the political relevance thrown in and is definitely not in the same blockbuster category as The Pirates of the Caribbean.

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