Whatever You Do, Don't See The Lone Ranger This Weekend. It's The Worst.
The Lone Ranger.
Director: Gore Verbinski
Writers: Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio.
Cast: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, William Fichtner
Where's it playing? Metroplex megaplexes
Considering its widely-reported budget problems, numerous rewrites (one of which supposedly included supernatural elements and werewolves) and various other production problems, The Lone Ranger seems as if it's been cursed from the beginning.
And, unfortunately, it lives up to that legend. So consider it fitting, then, that this film features not one, not two, but numerous over-the-top train wreck scenes.
Listen: It's no secret that Disney was aiming here to capture the same lighting in a bottle with The Lone Ranger that they did with their Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. They followed the same formula to a T. Gore Verbinski at the helm. Jerry Bruckheimer producing. A script from Terry Rossio and Ted Elliot. A score by Hans Zimmer. And, lest we forget, Johnny Depp playing what Disney hoped would be yet another instantly iconic character ready-set to fill the shelves at Hot Topics everywhere.
Sure, those films eventually crashed onto the rocks too, but never forget: The first Pirates film was a blockbuster beyond what anyone anticipated. And while The Mouse House had high hopes that The Lone Ranger would be a new formidable franchise for them. But its measly $9.6 million dollar opening — right before a major holiday, no less — proves that this horse is likely to be put out to pasture. And soon.
Lighting only strikes the same place once even if Hollywood has yet to learn this.
So where does this film go wrong? How much time do you have? Its issues are vast and varied — to the point that my notes became a laundry list of moments I immediately wished I could forget.
At 2 hours and 29 minutes, the film is about 29 minutes too long and then some, with numerous sequences that feel as if they are ghosts of other plot devices forgotten along the way of this script's multiple drafts.
And the there are those train wrecks. Actually, don't get me started on those train wreck scenes. They're horrible. The whole film is. Its graphics are over-CGI'd and its script is underdeveloped. It's all set-up and no pay-off.
There's also a weird balance in the film between our titular hero (played by Armie Hammer) and Depp-played sidekick, Tonto. Clearly, Depp is the bigger name of the two, and a shadow looms over Hammer for the entire film as a result. I'm not sure if this is because Hammer was miscast as a leading man or if it's because anyone put next to Depp looks second-rate. Depp does here what he does best, no matter how good or bad the film itself may be. He's interesting, fun and fairly captivating.
But it's not even remotely enough.
Book it now: The Lone Ranger will go down as one of the all-time summer blockbuster flops — an example of how not to make a big budget movie. As we learned before with this films close relative, Wild Wild West: Hype, star power, inflated budgets, over-the-top graphics and forced expectations only take a movie so far.
Want to see a fun action-adventure western directed by Gore Verbinski and starring Johnny Depp this week? Save your money, stay home and watch Rango.
Score: 2 out of 10 mildly racist casting decisions.
Also in theaters this week…
Despicable Me 2.
Directors: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
Writers: Ken Daurio, Cinco Paul.
Cast: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt
Where's it playing? Various Metroplex megaplexes.
Those little yellow Tater Tot minions are back with their once-evil genius leader Gru, who's now a good guy that's been recruited by the Anti-Villain League to help defeat a whole new evil mastermind. The film looks like it lives up to the hilarity of the first one — assuming you aren't already tired of the minions due to the fact that you canâï¿½ï¿½t walk around the State Fair of Texas without bumping into a giant plush one.
The Way Way Back.
Directors: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash.
Writers: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash.
Cast: Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney.
Where's it playing? Magnolia Theatre, Angelika Plano.
Fun fact: The dean on NBC's Community is played by a guy named Jim Rash. Rash also happens to be a screenwriter — and quite a good one at that. He's so good, in fact, that he won an Oscar for his first screenplay, a little indie you might have heard of called The Descendants. Now Rash is back with his sophomore effort, which he also directed, called The Way Way Back. And it too is already getting Oscar buzz. You might want to check this one out so you can say “Hey, I saw that before everyone else was jumping on the station wagon!” (That joke will make sense once you've seen the film, promise.)
A Band Called Death.
Directors: Mark Christopher Covino, Jeff Howlett.
Where's it playing? Texas Theatre.
Before Sex Pistols. Before The Ramones. Before punk in general. That's when three African-American teenagers in Detroit cleared out a spare bedroom in their parent's house and started playing music that sounded unlike anything anyone had ever heard before — and when everyone else in their scene was playing Motown, no less. Their name? Death. And this movie tells the true story of of these siblings that played punk before punk was punk, only to have their unfinished record stored away in an attic and discovered decades later. It's a rockumentary so inspirational and moving that you won't believe itâï¿½ï¿½s not a well-scripted story. If you see one film this weekend, see this one.
National Lampoonâï¿½ï¿½s Vacation (1983) in 35MM.
Director: Harold Ramis,
Writers: John Hughes.
Cast: Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Imogene Coca.
Where's it playing? Texas Theatre.
We may not be able to visit Walley World. But we can visit the Texas Theatre this weekend and relive the best — and worst — summer vacation ever with everyone's favorite dysfunctional family, The Griswolds.
Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade (1989).
Director: Steven Spielberg.
Writers: Jeffrey Boam, George Lucas, Menno Meyjes.
Cast: Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Denholm Elliott.
Where's it playing? Inwood Theatre.
If you chose to check out Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade this weekend at the Inwood, the Grail Knight says you'll have chosen wisely.