Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger is one of the most schizophrenic of recent movie releases. It’s a western comedy with an uncommon amount of realistic mayhem and carnage (an entire Comanche tribe is wiped out). For Baby Boomers who grew up fascinated with and entertained by the legends of the masked ranger of the west, the movie offers some respect for the character and a nod to that famous derring-do (and the familiar “William Tell Overture” at climactic moments), but it just as often dumps on the character’s square-jawed, sober approach to law and order and makes him the target of quite a few mocking japes and jests. So a comedy dominated with real-world tragedy featuring a hero who’s alternately praised and mocked: it’s hard to get into the right frame of mind for whatever the director and producer Jerry Bruckheimer wanted to make of this renowned symbol of the righteous west.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Run Time: 2 Hrs. 29 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copykeep case in a slipcover
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 12/17/2013
When his brother Texas Ranger Dan Reid (James Badge Dale) and his fellow rangers are wiped out by notorious outlaw Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner), sole survivor John Reid (Armie Hammer) on the advice of Comanche outcast Tonto (Johnny Depp) takes up a mask and becomes the Lone Ranger, an almost solitary presence for justice and truth in the West. On the trail of Cavendish to even the score, he learns that one of the heads of the oncoming railroad, Latham Cole (Tom Wilkinson), has an elaborate scheme to break all the peace treaties with the Comanches so the rail line can go right through their territory, a plan that involves not only Cavendish and his gang but also a squad of U.S. Cavalry led by Captain Fuller (Barry Pepper). Despite his eccentricities, Tonto proves a valuable resource for Reid who's going to need all his skill and more than a little luck to defeat such overwhelming odds and bring down these illicit individuals.Told in a flashback motif by an aged Tonto in 1933 relating the events of 1869 to a youngster garbed in Lone Ranger gear, the screenplay by Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott, and Terry Rossio is chock full of the mix of comic and action elements that made the Bruckheimer-Verbinski duo so successful in their Pirates of the Caribbean films, but this isn’t Pirates of the Caribbean. We’re dealing here with an iconic and cherished title character at the center of this story (though, of course, Tonto steals the show as he must with the top-billed Johnny Depp conducting the games that are afoot), so kicking dirt on the boots and flinging sand in the face of such an esteemed emblem seems rather easy and cheap, as if to say that those old-fashioned virtues are just as easily snickered at as celebrated. Yes, the good guys eventually win, and yes, the gags that go against the masked man can sometimes bring a smile to one’s face (though running gags about the Ranger’s mask and Tonto’s feeding the dead bird decoration on his head get old quickly), and the stunts range from awe-inspiring to mind-boggling. The production is as it should be: a big, showy epic of the Old West with cowboys, Indians, desperadoes, buffalos, train robberies, gunfights, bank holdups, chases (the film’s first set piece is a dilly onboard a runaway train, and the climactic trains-on-parallel tracks-chase is one for the ages), ambushes, quick getaways, and narrow escapes. The film’s two-and-a-half hour running time gives us backstories on both the Lone Ranger and Tonto (otherwise, such epic length would be unconscionable for this film’s basic plot), and the plot strands do finally come together in the last half hour when all of the sides have been aligned.Armie Hammer is picture perfect casting as the title character and has the acting chops and square jaw to pull off the role whether played straight or with a twinkle in his eye, but he’s forced to play second fiddle to Johnny Depp’s machinations as Tonto, a performance of such deadpan predictability that it’s what we now expect from him in these monumental epics rather than with his offering us anything that might be something of a surprise with its freshness or invention. He’s a singular talent, but he’s been to this weird comic well once too often. William Fichtner practically reeks of sadistic evil as Butch Cavendish while Tom Wilkinson masks his true nature with an edifice of gentility and decorum. James Badge Dale doesn’t get quite enough time to establish true audience empathy before he meets a grisly death, and Ruth Wilson as his widow Rebecca hides her native accent well as she spends the movie trying to escape the clutches of one villain or another. Barry Pepper has some strong scenes as the traitorous Army captain while Helena Bonham Carter has some funny moments as a bawdy frontier madam with a wooden leg that offers more than one kind of kick.
The Production Rating: 3/5
The film’s 2.40:1 theatrical aspect ratio is presented in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Sharpness is razor-edged throughout with lots of details in facial features, clothes, and the western landscapes. In the 20th century scenes, color is robust with realistic flesh tones. The 19th century scenes (the majority of the movie) feature slightly desaturated colors which one becomes accustomed to after a short while. Black levels are superb throughout, and perfectly realized contrast makes sure the image is consistently appealing. The film has been divided into 24 chapters.
Video Rating: 5/5 3D Rating: NA
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix does exactly what one would expect from a big budget (some estimates say $250 million) action film such as this one. There are lots of split effects and pans through the soundstage, and Hans Zimmer’s score gets the full symphonic treatment in all available channels. When “The William Tell Overture” strikes up on two separate occasions, it’ll practically bring you out of your seat with the thrill and incessant drive of its tempo being filtered through the soundscape. Dialogue is always discernible and has been placed in the center channel.
Audio Rating: 5/5
Armie’s Western Road Trip (14:37, HD): star Armie Hammer guides the viewer through location shooting in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah.Becoming a Cowboy (8:03, HD): various actors on the shoot discuss the month-long cowboy boot camp they participated in to learn in the ins and outs of riding, shooting, and using a rope.Riding the Rails of The Lone Ranger (10:39, HD): director Gore Verbinski, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and various members of the cast and crew comment on the five miles of railroad laid down specifically for the film to shoot on. Behind-the-scenes looks at other ways the railway stunts were accomplished are also shown.Deleted Scene (3:49, HD): another scene of peril for the Lone Ranger and Tonto is shown in computer-generated form.Gag Reel (3:51, HD)Promo Trailers (HD): Saving Mr. Banks, Muppets Most Wanted.DVD/Digital Copy: disc and code sheet enclosed.
Special Features Rating: 3/5
Though it was probably the most notorious box-office failure of the summer, The Lone Ranger has quite a lot going for it: a mammoth production where impressive stunts and solid gags can make for an overall entertaining movie experience. Those with fond memories of the stoic, straight-laced radio and television character from their younger days may find the film pulling in different directions at the same time: wanting the heroic character while also making fun of his own sincerity. For those, the film may be more of an irritant than a bracing movie experience.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
Support HTF when you buy this title: