Friday, January 24, 2014

Mousey Movie Review - The Lone Ranger

Mousey Movie Review - The Lone Ranger

The Lone Ranger must be horrible!  Seriously, it was a box office bomb so it must be really really bad.  Estimates say that for Disney it was a loss of anywhere between $160-190 Million (capital M). But box office success does not mean good.  And I can thing of plenty of movies that were not good that were huge successes financially.  And others that the box office was a disappointment but a personal hit for me.  As many of you can guess, John Carter for me is a movie that I loved despite receipts.

So I was not out to get The Lone Ranger.  And I was willing and wanted to go see this western starring Armie Hammer as the masked lawman and Disney golden boy Johnny Depp as the Native American warrior Tonto.  But the summer schedule kept me out of the theater and by the time the summer was over we decided financially it made more sense to buy the movie instead of rushing into the theater while the film was on its way out (very quickly). 

  • Mrs Banks: Someone at Central Casting must really like English actress Ruth Wilson.  I first saw her in a theatrical release in Saving Mr. Banks as Margaret Goff.  And though I thought her character was very understated, I did feel sympathy for her as we experienced the Goff family troubles through her oldest daughters eyes.  What I did not realize is that Wilson had made her Disney debut earlier in the year as Rebecca Reid, wife of Texas Ranger Dan Reid, in The Lone Ranger and served as the primary romantic interest in the movie.  As both characters, Wilson in effect plays pioneer women who work on the edges of modern society.  And Wilson brings to both roles brings the air of someone who longs for a more civilized life.  
  • The Disneyland Railroad:  One of the reasons I did not see The Lone Ranger in the theater was because I was traveling to Disneyland for my summer vacation while Depp's newest film was released. When we arrived at Disneyland we entered the park for the first time on the Sunday after and sitting in front of the park right after the bus loading area was The Constitution the train from the film.  Two cast members dutifully guarded the train.  And it was really impressive to see the size difference between this train and the ones in the park.  Now I really had not listened to box office reports, because I was too busy with my family.  And I took some pictures in front of the train with my kids. But I have no family free pictures to share with you. Because on Wednesday the train was gone.  The way I remember it was we went into the park and the train was there.  And then we came out after lunch for a nap and the entire train was gone.  Seriously, it was a huge engine.  But it was gone.  It was like it never existed!  Then I knew it had not gone well for Mr. Depp and I figured The Lone Ranger was getting the John Carter treatment!   
  • Family Friendly: I do not want to sound like I am a grumpy guy, but I really do wonder if Walt Disney would have released The Long Ranger under the Walt Disney name.  I did enjoy the action adventure that the movie provided.  And I thought the moral compass was true to a Disney family film with the Lone Ranger being a champion for justice.  But, it has a huge body count!  It has to have more deaths that any of the Pirates films, maybe more than the four combined.  And this is not the A-Team where shooting happens but bullets only hit non-living things.  No, this is a movie that I would question before showing a youngster.  A day before I watched The Lone Ranger I received a text asking if it was kid approved.  I said it was Disney so how bad could it be!  I may have been wrong.  And Disney may have done their core audience a favor be releasing this film under Touchstone instead.  
  • The Old Mill:  The William Tell Overture by Gioachino Rossini has been used in a number of media pieces.  These include the Disney classic short The Old Mill which uses the "Ranz des Vaches" or "Call to the Cows" segment to open the morning.  But probably the most famous use is in the classic television show The Lone Ranger, which used the "Finale" as its theme song.  As a kid who grew up with four television stations, I saw a ton of the Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels program despite the fact it entered production nearly 30 years before I was born!  The Hammer and Depp collaboration pays homage to the classic show by using the Overture throughout the final big action segment (maybe it should be BIG ACTION).  And because of the use of this musical tribute it makes the ending sequence even more enjoyable.  Honestly, it really does show how a piece of music can set a mood.  For someone like me, I knew something exciting was happening.  For the Between Kids who have no idea who Clayton Moore is, they knew something fast paced was breaking out in front of them.  
  • Infinity: Okay, it is not part of the movie, but the Disney Infinity Lone Ranger Play Set is really really fun.  The Between Kid and I crushed it over our holiday break.  And even for me as a fairly mature adult I enjoyed playing cowboys and robbers, occasionally going out on our own two man posse on missions.  You may have overlooked this Play Set if you play Disney Infinity.  If you have I recommend grabbing it since it may be my favorite Play Set to date.  
  • John Carter: Everyone is going to compare The Lone Ranger to John Carter.  I will admit they did get the same post-release treatment.  Disney quickly washed their hands of both.  And I do not expect Disney to try a Western again soon.  But let us remember they did not get the same treatment before their releases.  John Carter was marginalized.  The Lone Ranger was included with the release of Disney InfinityJohn Carter did not have a big name actor.  The Lone Ranger had the Disney golden boy Johnny Depp.  Yes, Disney wanted this film to succeed, so its failure is even more disappointing than the film Disney wanted to forget! 

Like John Carter I enjoyed the escapist adventure in The Lone Ranger.  I still prefer  Andrew Stanton's sci-fi film on a critical level.  Which did not lose quite as much for Disney as Depp did in this adventure.  But like Stanton, Depp has a good Disney track record so he is allowed a Disney stumble, though the relationship with producer Jerry Bruckheimer is effectually at an end for new intellectual property.  I would say if you have not seen The Lone Ranger, grab some pop and popcorn and give it a chance some Friday night.  It might just be fun. 

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