It is being billed as a reunion for the team behind the multi-billion dollar Pirates of the Caribbean film series star Johnny Depp, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski. But the first reviews for The Lone Ranger are unlikely to help the movie mirror the success of its predecessors and recoup a reported $250 million (Dh918 million) budget.
At time of writing, the film holds a rating of 29 per cent “rotten” on the review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, with several negative US trade verdicts yet to be counted.
The consensus is that Verbinski’s over-long (149-minute) film tries too hard to recapture the franchise-launching magic of the first Pirates movie, Curse of the Black Pearl, while Depp’s turn as heavily-made-up Native American Tonto ends up distracting attention from its title character, played by the rather less famous Armie Hammer.
Writes Todd McCarthy of the Hollywood Reporter: “After proving himself a crack shot on his first pranky western, the animated Rango, Gore Verbinski appears not to have had enough ammo left over to score as well with The Lone Ranger, a moderately amusing but very uneven revisionist adventure with franchise and theme-park intentions written all over it. Floated conceptually and commercially by another eccentric comic characterisation by Depp, this attempt by Verbinski and producer Bruckheimer to plant the flag for another Pirates of the Caribbean-scaled series tries to have it too many ways tonally, resulting in a work that wobbles and thrashes all over the place as it attempts to find the right groove.”
Alonso Duralde of The Wrap also reckons the film is too heavily skewed towards Depp’s dead crow-sporting Tonto. “The Lone Ranger seems very reluctant on the subject of its own hero, a character who was exceedingly popular for decades on radio and on television,” he writes. “It’s one thing to give the faithful sidekick top billing, when that sidekick is played by Johnny Depp, but the film feels constantly torn between deconstructing the legend and presenting it in a straightforward manner. Since it’s impossible to simultaneously sacrifice and worship a sacred cow, The Lone Ranger feels schizophrenic, a state of affairs that would be forgivable if it delivered as a post-modern comedy or as an exciting western or even as an exhilaratingly brainless piece of summer entertainment. [But it’s] none of those things. The results are both joyless and seemingly endless, as its two-and-a-half-hour running time stretches out like a desert horizon barren of shade or water.”
Tim Griershon of Screen Daily can only concur. “Transplanting the Pirates Of The Caribbean aesthetic to the Wild Wild West proves disastrous in The Lone Ranger, an indigestible swill of forced humour and oversized, overbearing action sequences,” he writes.
“Reuniting the Pirates franchise’s creative team of director Verbinski, producer Bruckheimer and star Depp, this origin story of the iconic American cowboy character has plenty of combustion, but it’s almost entirely devoid of charm or genuine excitement.”
Finally, Variety’s Peter Debruge is also crying “no fun” in the face of the latest blockbuster Bruckheimer juggernaut. “In classic westerns, the hero rides off into the sunset, but in The Lone Ranger, it’s Tonto we see shambling off toward Monument Valley as the credits roll,” he points out.
“No longer simply the sidekick, Tonto gets top billing in Disney’s extravagant but exhausting reboot, whose vaguely revisionist origin story partners a heavily face-painted Depp with the blandly handsome Hammer. This over-the-top oater delivers all the energy and spectacle audiences have come to expect from a Bruckheimer production, but sucks out the fun in the process, ensuring sizable returns but denying the novelty value required to support an equivalent franchise.” The movie is expected to release in the UAE on August 8.
— Guardian News and Media Ltd