Monday, February 10, 2014

Kemosabe, It Turns Out, DOES Mean "Honky"

Yes, we saw The Lone Ranger (2013) with Armie Hammer as John Ried and Johnny Depp as Tonto. Yes, it was odd. But we kind of liked it in the end.

It has an interesting frame - a kid at a fair goes to a Wild West tent show and stops at the Indian diorama. The ancient Indian is no dummy, it is old man Tonto, who tells the kid the legend and how it came to be. In short, Depp and Hammer are both chasing Big Bad William Fichtner. When he ambushes and kills all the Texas Rangers following him, Tonto witnesses a white spirit horse revive Reid - although Tonto would have chosen someone smarter.

So now Reid is officially dead, and the Lone Ranger comes to life - the movie takes a while to get here, but it isn't really that slow. Throughout, we get two things:
  • Cool action sequences - fights on train top, fights on horseback on train top, gunfights, chain fights, etc. Since action scenes is a known science for director Gore Verbinsky and crew, these are a blast.
  • Tonto acting mysterious, Native-y and/or crazy, making trades with the dead and feeding the dead crow in his head-dress. This is handled surprisingly well, in my opinion. His spirituality is both deep, real, fake and crazy. - SPOILER - His tribe considers him to be insane. 
This movie was not the embarrassment that it was branded, but I can't say it was a masterpiece. There were some truly interesting things going on, about legends, story-telling, revenge and spirituality, and there was some fun action, but they didn't really come together. I think their worst problem was trying to do too much. Now John Carter was trashed in a similar way - cost too much, nobody will be interested in that old story, etc. But JC stuck to a more-or-less simple adventure story, without too many themes and flourishes.

Somehow, I wonder if this movie isn't what Verbinsky and Depp wanted Rango to be. It had the same love for and subversion of the Western myth. But in Lone Ranger, they got to film in the real Monument Valley.

In conclusion, no one asks who that masked man is.

No comments: