Disney’s The Lone Ranger rides into cinemas everywhere this weekend bringing a updated take on the classic TV show masked avenger to modern audiences. The film is a success and a failure to varying degrees. How much you feel of one or the other probably depends on your ability to just let go and have a good time. Although dark at times, the film isn’t meant to be taken too seriously and certainly pokes fun at some of the conventions we expect in a Lone Ranger story. Once you figure out who the villain is, and he reveals himself fairly early on, the pieces fall into place and the rest of the film is a can be enjoyed for what it is – well produced Hollywood fun.
Like Johnny Depp, I grew up watching reruns of the classic TV show edition of The Lone Ranger. The villains were inevitably corrupt businessmen and politicians or the standard mustache twirling dreamer up of evil plots. Tonto did his best to keep the outlaw lawman John Reid out of trouble and often swooped in for a well timed attack to save the masked avenger’s life. It was inspiring stuff to an 8 year old.
Sadly, I can’t recommend today’s 8-year olds watch this new edition of The Lone Ranger. The PG-13 rating is to be taken seriously for both violent scenes and fairly heavy subject matter.
Frankly, I don’t get why Disney is marketing The Lone Ranger to young kids with Halloween costumes, action figures, and the like. Was the part about cutting out and eating the still beating heart of one of the heroes not in the script when merchandise got their hands on it?
On the other hand, I recent sat through World War Z, a fairly graphic and bloody zombie attack movie, with a young kid right in front of me. He suffered no ill effect and was even suggesting dinner options on the way out of the theater (he must have had an iron stomach to go with his tolerance for horror and gore). But I digress.
Ostensibly about the journey John Reid takes to become The Lone Ranger, the movie actually dedicates more pages of the script to Tonto’s backstory. It makes sense since a large portion of the plot is driven by elements in Tonto’s life. The two start off as adversaries, but by the end of the film are ready to work together as a team to right the wrongs and bring the bad guys to justice.
Johnny Depp and producer Jerry Bruckheimer are frequent film collaborators, including the hugely successful “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise which stars Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. Bruckheimer had been intrigued with the idea of relaunching the classic TV show The Lone Ranger as their next franchise, but the project was languishing in development until Depp stepped in.
Depp figured that the best way to get the ball rolling would be to get into character as Tonto. He rounded up two close friends—makeup artist Joel Harlow and photographer Peter Mountain—and set about creating his distinctive version of how Tonto would look in the hope that it would convince Bruckheimer and the studio, Disney, to give The Lone Ranger the green light.
He based his ‘look’ for Tonto on a painting he’d seen of a Native American warrior and added his own, unique, flourishes. The result was spectacular and it convinced Bruckheimer—and indeed Disney Studios— that it was time for “The Lone Ranger” and Tonto to ride back onto the screen.
“I was doing ‘The Rum Diary’ with Bruce (Robinson) in Puerto Rico, and I had already found a painting of a Native American warrior with these stripes down his face,” Depp explained.
The Lone Ranger will ride into theaters on July 3rd and everyone will see if Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp can recapture the magic of the early Pirates of the Caribbean films. In the meantime, we get our first look at a new poster for the film today and Yahoo Movies has released a teaser trailer to the pre-game Super Bowl ad coming this weekend: