Favorite

Wild West dud 

'Lone Ranger's' time has come and gone.

click to enlarge 'THE LONE RANGER': Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer star.
  • 'THE LONE RANGER': Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer star.

The Western as tent-pole picture died last weekend under a barrage of exploded locomotive parts and dead Indians and general cluelessness. Gore Verbinski directed, Johnny Depp starred, Jerry Bruckheimer produced, Disney financed. On paper, "The Lone Ranger" could've been a frontier-times "Pirates of the Caribbean," which is presently spawning a fourth (!!) sequel. Instead it's a copycat crime to "John Carter," a property Disney dug up from the 1930s and tried to repackage for the 21st century. Disney has now blown more than half a billion dollars to get kids of the 2010s as geeked about a barbarian on Mars or about a masked Texas lawman as their great-grandparents did 80 years earlier.

Both throwbacks were thrown back. Audiences didn't turn out for this 2.5-hour literal train wreck, and those that did were uncommonly old for Disney movies. The title character, played by Armie Hammer (the Winklevoss twins in "The Social Network"), brings an aw-shucksism best suited to either a prewar radio drama or a film in which the following do not happen: mass battlefield slaughter, the removal and consumption of a dying man's heart, a scalping, thinly veiled rape threats, a child finding his village plundered and burned, and other assorted atrocities that stretch the confines of a PG rating. This is in many ways a hardcore "Lone Ranger" without a hardcore Lone Ranger, and if kids aren't inspired to emulate a hero with a six-shooter these days, perhaps the better on 'em anyway. It isn't the '50s anymore, and any kid who unholsters a plastic Colt .45 at recess is asking for grown-up trouble.

The filmmakers were under suspicion of tone-deafness since casting Depp, who is a white dude, as Tonto, who is not a white dude. There's a long history of white dudes playing non-white dudes in movies, and to cast yet another white dude in a role of a non-white dude not only takes a job away from a non-white dude, it puts everyone in a position of watching a white dude do an impersonation of a non-white dude, which carries so much cultural freight in the United States of America that you never really shake the icks. Why, you could reply, we don't have a Native American actor with the wattage that Depp brings, so of course they cast the bankable star. To that I would reply, yes, that's true, but one reason we don't have such a star is that long ago white dudes killed many of the Indians whose great-great-great-grandchildren would've made a great Tonto. Seeing white people cast as Indians reminds me of those suburban subdivisions where developers cut down all the trees and then name the streets after them.

For what it's worth, Depp plays a fine Tonto, kind of a Jack Sparrow crossed with a mime. Tonto is designed as a character out of place and out of sorts — mystical, vengeful, absurd and aware. He's the perfect embodiment of "The Lone Ranger" at its madcap high points, but neither he, nor the canny casting of William Fichtner and Tom Wilkinson as dark foils to Depp and Hammer, manages to salvage this hot mess. The story arc clearly aimed for this movie to work as an origin installment; we don't even hear the iconic "Hi-Yo, Silver! Away!" until just before the final credits. But barring some sort of miracle revival, this is probably the last we've seen of the Lone Ranger and Tonto for quite some time. The cowboys' time has come and gone, and the world again belongs to pirates.

Favorite

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Sam Eifling

  • Fear and wonder

    'Arrival' makes room for 'linguistic relativity.'
    • Nov 16, 2016
  • Sip it, grip it, rip it

    Dardanelle golf legend John Daly's story next up in ESPN's '30 for 30' series.
    • Oct 27, 2016
  • 'Seven' keeps it simple

    Antoine Fuqua's remake formulaic, but still a crowd-pleaser.
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Gay diamonds

    Scenes from Rodeo in the Rock.
    • May 7, 2015
  • Not much to 'Love'

    In Judd Apatow's new Netflix original series.
    • Feb 25, 2016

Most Shared

  • World leaders set to meet in Little Rock on resource access and sustainable development

    Next week a series of meetings on the use of technology to tackle global problems will be held in Little Rock by Club de Madrid — a coalition of more than 100 former democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world — and the P80 Group, a coalition of large public pension and sovereign wealth funds founded by Prince Charles to combat climate change. The conference will discuss deploying existing technologies to increase access to food, water, energy, clean environment, and medical care.
  • Tomb to table: a Christmas feast offered by the residents of Mount Holly and other folk

    Plus, recipes from the Times staff.
  • Rapert compares Bill Clinton to Orval Faubus

    Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway)  was on "Capitol View" on KARK, Channel 4, this morning, and among other things that will likely inspire you to yell at your computer screen, he said he expects someone in the legislature to file a bill to do ... something about changing the name of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.
  • Fake news

    So fed up was young Edgar Welch of Salisbury, N.C., that Hillary Clinton was getting away with running a child-sex ring that he grabbed a couple of guns last Sunday, drove 360 miles to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., where Clinton was supposed to be holding the kids as sex slaves, and fired his AR-15 into the floor to clear the joint of pizza cravers and conduct his own investigation of the pedophilia syndicate of the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
  • Reality TV prez

    There is almost nothing real about "reality TV." All but the dullest viewers understand that the dramatic twists and turns on shows like "The Bachelor" or "Celebrity Apprentice" are scripted in advance. More or less like professional wrestling, Donald Trump's previous claim to fame.

Latest in Movie Reviews

Visit Arkansas

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Resurrection, reflection

    • http://hairtransplantncr.com/ hair transplant in delhi hair transplant ncr hair transplant cost hair transplant cost in…

    • on December 8, 2016
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation