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The Lone Ranger: My Review

I went into this movie with low to medium expectations. The trailers looked good to me yet the overwhelming negative reviews did concern me. I did end up really enjoying this movie although I do have mixed feelings about some of it. I had been a big fan of the Lone Ranger TV show starring Clayton More and Jay Silverheels as the Lone Ranger and Tonto respectively. If people had expectations that this new film would mirror the iconic TV show then they are in for a disappointment. The times certainly have changed since the 40s-50s and the clean cut wholesome Lone Ranger of that era would not work on the big screen today.

On with my review as I list the pros and the cons:

Pros:

1. Tone of the film. This one positive aspect of the film is actually a mixed point for me. Today the trend in Superhero type movies, and many other movies, is gritty realism.  There are times when gritty realism works and times when it does not. I am also a fan of the more lighthearted approach to these types of movies. The Lone Ranger does take the lighthearted approach for the most part, yet there are moments that are very serious making the overall tone of the film a bit uneven.

2. Johnny Depp. This is his movie. I really think the movie should have been called Tonto and the Lone Ranger. Some people have complained about this point but for me Depp’s performance really make the picture very enjoyable and worth watching. Honestly, had I not know Johnny Depp was playing Tonto (I was very surprised he was cast in the role) I would never have recognized him in the part.

3. Armie Hammer.  I have read that many did not like the fact that he was a bit of a complaining, whinny and wishy-washy and a  reluctant Lone Ranger…at first. This is an origin story so his character is not clearly established. We watch John Reid grow into the iconic role of the masked man and by the end of the movie he is the Lone Ranger.

4. The Plot/the story. The movie does have an interesting story. We learn much of Tonto’s back story which does explain his motives and behavior. The same for the Lone Ranger who has to overcome some of his stiffness and sibling rivalry to really become the Lone Ranger. John Reid as a new lawyer fresh out of law school has lived his life in the shadows of his Texas Ranger warrior brother, Dan Reid. When his brother is killed by the Cavendish clan John has to find the strength and courage within himself to bring Cavendish to justice. Within that part of the story is the plot of greedy silver barrens who are using the new railway system to take control of the territory.

5. The villains. There are two main villains in this movie. Tom Wilkinson as Latham Cole, a burly and unscrupulous railroad tycoon and William Fichtner as Butch Cavendish, a ruthless and cannibalistic outlaw, who Tonto believes is a wendigo. Fichtner is really great in this role and like Depp, is well disguised almost unrecognizable in the role. I always love to see Tom Wilkinson play a bad guy, he does so well in these types of parts.

6. Scenery and Cinematography. The film is pure eye candy. It was filmed in six western states: Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Texas, New Mexico and California. These locations all provide for terrific views of magnificent vistas that captures the iconic old west.

Cons:

1. Tone of the film. Yes, it is both a positive and a negative. While I do like the more lighthearted touch there are moments when the movie goes into extremes on both ends of the spectrum. There are some moments where the comedy is not subtle but over the top and hits you on the head. Then there are moments that are almost too dark and serious for the film.

2. Length of the film. At two and a half hours the movie is a bit too long and could have used more editing.

In my opinion the Lone Ranger is an overall fun lighthearted movie that is enjoyable despite its flaws. Some of the positive things I have listed are the negatives things others have listed and this reminds me of the subjective nature of analyzing movies. The best part of the movie is the last 20 minutes which contain the best of the action and adventure.

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The Lone Ranger: My Expectations

Since I won’t see the Lone Ranger until it comes out on DVD and the movie is just about to hit theaters I wanted to give a brief review of my expectations based on the trailers and the reviews I have read.

I grew up watching The lone Ranger TV series with Clayton More as the Lone Ranger and  Jay Silverheels as Tonto. To me they will always be these characters and they are iconic. That doesn’t mean that I am not open to other portrayals of the character. I am very open to this movie.

I have loved the trailers for this movie. It looks like a fun western with great visuals and special effects. At first I questioned the selection of Johnny Depp as Tonto! I don’t believe he is Native American so why not cast a Native American in the role? Those were my thoughts. However, after seeing him dressed as an authentic Native American and viewing the trailers, I am sold with Johnny Depp playing Tonto.

I like Johnny Depp but he is hit or miss for me. Loved him in Donnie Brasco, hated him in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. While I am not a fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies I do like his portrayal of the pirate Jack Sparrow. From the reviews I am reading it seems we have a similar situation where Depp is really playing Jack Sparrow once again but this time dressed as Tonto.

As I type this blog post the reviews are pretty awful. On Rotten Tomatoes.com it has an abysmal 16% rating with only 6 fresh ratings and 26 rotten ratings. Now in context all of these negative ratings are mixed and very few say the film is down right terrible. But some of the complaints are that it is too long, Johnny Depp is too much of a focus, that Armie Hammer, who looks great in the part, plays an unwilling, too square and weak Lone Ranger. Some reviews complain that the tone of the film and the plot are both a mess. They say that there are some lulls in the story where it drags. There are times when it is serious and times when they say it borderline on parody.

I still want to see this movie. I don’t mind if it is a mindless action popcorn movie and the mixed tone doesn’t concern me at all either. I am a little concerned that Johnny Depp as Tonto is more of a focus than the Lone Ranger. It does seem more like  Depp/Tonto movie. What concerns me the most is that it seems that the character of the Lone Ranger himself is not done well or done right. From the reports is that he is at first a wimpy reluctant hero. Now since this is an origin movie I can excuse that if it done as character development and we see the Lone Ranger evolve into the self-confident hero.

All of this has lowered my enthusiasm just a bit. So I will watch this movie on DVD with slightly lowered expectations. My bigger concern is for the Lone Ranger franchise itself. The last big screen Lone Ranger movie was in 1981 and that too was a critical and financial flop! If this fails I fear it will be another 30+ years…or if ever…we see the Lone Ranger on the big screen again.

 

Summer Block Busters: Part 3

There were just a few movies I overlooked in this series so allow me to post them today.

White House Down (June 28, 2013)

This is the year of two movies about the White House being taken over by terrorists. Olympus Has Fallen is in theaters now while White House Down is coming in June. This movie stars Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, Richard Jenkins & James Woods.

Despicable Me 2 (July 3, 2013)

I really liked the original and I hope this one will be just as good. No plot synopsis as of yet. This movie stars Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Miranda Cosgrove, Russell Brand, Al Pacino, Steve  Coogan, Ken Jeong

Hammer of the Gods (July 5, 2013)

This movie takes place in Scandinavia in the year 871. A young Viking warrior, faces hostile conditions and tribes to bring back his estranged brother to the kingdom he will one day rule. The movie stars Charlie Bewley, Elliot Cowan, Clive Standen, Guy Flanagan, Michael Jibson

The Lone Ranger (July 3, 2013)

The Lone Ranger has not done well on the big screen. In 1980 or was it 81 the last time he was on the big screen and it failed miserably. Johnny Depp stars as Tonto (can he pull it off?) with  Armie Hammer as the Lone Ranger. From the looks of the trailer the tone of the film looks like the movie will be an action adventure with somje fun mixed in. My type of movie! These stars round out the cast. Tom Wilkinson, William Fichtner, Barry Pepper, James  Badge Dale, Ruth Wilson, Helena Bonham Carter.

The Wolverine (July 26, 2013)

The X-Men’s favorite superhero is back with another solo film. His first solo film, 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, did pretty good at the box office but reviews are mixed. It was an alright film but not the ones fans really wanted. Here is hoping that this one will be it! It stars Hugh Jackman, Will Yun Lee, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Hiroyuki Sanada, Hal  Yamanouchi, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Brian Tee

300: Rise of an Empire (August 2, 2013)

This is the sequel to 300. With Zack Snyder, who directed 300, now directing Man of Steel, Noam Murro is sitting in the directors chair. Based on Frank Miller’s latest graphic novel  “Xerxes” Greek general Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) attempts to unite all of Greece  by leading the charge that will change the course of the war. The movie stars Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, Hans Matheson, Rodrigo Santoro,  David Wenham, Igal Naor, Callan Mulvey, Jack O’Connell, Andrew Tiernan

Kick-Ass 2 (August 16, 2013)

Kick-Ass  & Hit-Girl are back to fight crime. Jim Carrey also joins in on the fun. This movie looks like a raunchy fun action and adventure! Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chlo Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Morris  Chestnut, John Leguizamo, Donald Faison, Jim Carrey

The World’s End (August 23, 2013)

This movie stars the wonderful comedy team of Simon Pegg, & Nick Frost (Paul, Sean of the Dead) and it is about drinking parties and the end of the world…what more could you ask for? As they re-stage an old drinking marathon and decide what they need to do for their future, they must also face the world as it comes to an end. The movie also stars Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike

There you have it….I knew there were more movies coming out that I wanted to see. Keep posted to this blog for further reviews!!

2012 in Review: Part II

Today I am going to review the worst of the science-fiction/fantasy movies of 2012. I always say that I am a pretty easy to please movie viewer. I think that is true. My empirical evidence for that is the three movies that made my top 10 list of my favorite of the year. Battleship,  John Carter and Wrath of the Titans, made many reviewer’s list of some of the worst movies of 2012. Battleship and John Carter did not do well at the box office. Wrath of the Titans earned $83 million domestically and $218 million internationally for a worldwide total of $301 million. This was a pretty good return on a $150 million budget. However, Wrath of the Titans took in about 100 million less than its predecessor, 2010’s, Clash of the Titans, another movie the critics ripped to shreds. But I liked them both. I enjoyed Battleship and John Carter (both starring Taylor Kitsch) for what they were; fun action adventure movies. Sure, they were not perfect but I think they told good stories, had characters that were interesting, great eye candy in wonderfully produced special effects, and most of all, I found them entertaining. I find myself as I have gotten older that I am gravitating toward movies that are fun and do not take themselves all that seriously and these three fit that bill.  Sure, I still like some serious “makes you think” type of science-fiction and fantasy films but they have become the exception rather than the rule.

Now, on to the worst movies of 2012…of those that I have seen.

Snow White and the Huntsman. I really wanted to like this movie. It had Chris Hemsworth (Thor and George Kirk) and also Kristen Stewart (Twilight) and Academy Award winner, Charlize Theron. The movie also had great special effects and was telling a time-honored German tale that had become famous through the pens of the Brothers Grimm. So why didn’t I like it? First of all it was too dark and gritty for my taste and it tried very hard to be like The Lord of the Rings with epic battle scenes. While I enjoyed the performances of Hemsworth and Theron (who was deliciously evil as Queen Revenna) it was the performance of Stewart that put me off of the film. Her one note wooden portrayal of Snow White literally put me to sleep. I did lightly doze off for a few moments. So it is difficult to root for a heroine who seems like she is sleep walking through the movie. Maybe this should have been called Sleeping Beauty and the Huntsman!?

Another film I saw and didn’t care for was The Watch. This movie starred Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn &  Jonah Hill. It was a science-fiction comedy about a neighborhood watch that discovers an alien invasion. I generally like these comedians and have seen them in movies I have enjoyed. I also liked the premise because alien invasion movies are among my favorites in the genre. But this one left me flat. Sure, it had some laughs, good special effects and a great alien creature design, but the majority of the jokes fell flat and seemed forced. I ended up not caring too much about the characters and the plot itself proved uninteresting.

The other bad movie I saw was Dark Shadows. I enjoyed the Gothic/Horror soap opera of the 60s and 70s so I wanted to give this a chance despite not being the biggest Johnny Depp or Tim Burton fan. I was disappointed. It started out well but the tone was so uneven. It couldn’t decide if it was a serious gothic horror tale or a dark comedy. As the third act of the movie devolved into wacky chaos, as third acts often do, I decided I didn’t like it.

The last two movies I want to discuss are two that I have not seen and have ended up on many reviewers “worst of” list for the year. They are both remakes of 1990s films. They are Total Recall and Dredd respectively. They both performed very poorly at the box office and are considered to have bombed. Dredd, starring Karl Urban (Star Trek), was a remake of the 1995 film, Judge Dredd, starring Sylvester Stallone playing the iconic comic book character. The 1995 film received a paltry 18% negative rating on Rotten tomatoes but did better at the box office with a domestic total of $34 million and a world-wide total of $113 million. The 2012 offering, simply called Dredd, did much better with the critics and received a 78% positive rating on Rotten tomatoes but did miserably at the box office, bringing in only $13 million domestically and world-wide total of 30 million. Quite the bomb! Dredd is rated R and is very gritty, dark and violent. The 1995 version was also rated R and although it is violent, the violence is not as graphic as the remake. The 1995 original also had some humor and is enjoyable. Due to its graphic violence and gritty tone I will watch this movie to see if it is one I would like to own.

The other remake was Total Recall starring Colin Farrell. The 1990 original starred Arnold Schwarzenegger. The original has an 84% positive rating on Rotten tomatoes and did $119 million domestically and a world-wide total of $261 million making the original a certified hit and classic film! The remake didn’t do as well. It received a 31% negative rating on Rotten tomatoes and its box office totals were $58 million domestically but a better over seas performance brought the world-wide total up to a respectable $198 million. The studio still considers this a bit of an underperformer. I am actually going to purchase this movie before seeing it. It does look good and some friends who have seen it tell me that I would like it. I am a bit disappointed that the movie doesn’t depict the journey to Mars like the 1990 original did, but I am told that is plays a lot like the movie Minority Report which is another movie I liked (and own). Both Total Recall and Minority Report were based on short stories written by science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick.  

All in all it wasn’t a bad movie watching experience and I didn’t see too many duds.

What’s in the hopper?….the Lone Ranger!

I was a big fan of the 1950s Lone Ranger TV series starring Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels. Every Saturday it was on I didn’t miss it. The last attempt at a big screen film of the Lone Ranger was in the 1981 movie, The Legend of the Lone Ranger, which was a huge disaster. I remember reading about Johnny Depp being cast as Tonto and just rolling my eyes thinking what a huge mistake that was and further thinking that Hollywood must really want to see another Lone Ranger movie fail.

However, seeing the above picture, which is shocking because it is an authentic depiction of a native American and not the usual sanitized Hollywood version, I began to have higher hopes for this movie. Now after seeing the trailer which was released yesterday, my enthusiasm and hopes for this film has increased. Other than Johnny Depp, the movie stars, Armmie Hammer as the Lone Ranger and Helena Bonham Carter and Tom Wilkerson. Sounds like a great cast and the movie does look good! My expectations are up for this one! 

The movie hits theaters on May 31, 2013. 

Dark Shadows

Dark Shadows
Starring: Johnny Depp, Chloe Moretz, Helena Bonham Carter, Michelle Pfeiffer
Director: Tim Burton
Release Date: 11 May 2012

This movie is based on the Gothic soap opera which ran weekdays on the ABC television network, from June 27, 1966 to April 2, 1971. I really enjoyed this show as a kid and found it real scary. Although as an adult I find it a bit cheesy. I am not a real big Tim Burton fan and there are only a couple of his movies that I really enjoy, namely, the two Batman movies from the 90s and Beetlejuice. Oh, and his re-envisioning of the Planet of the Apes is not as bad as some claim in my opinion. Once again collaborating with Johnny Depp, Burton takes on Dark Shadows. When I first saw the trailer above I was surprised by the comedic tone of the movie. I wasn’t disappointed just a little surprised thinking Burton was going to do a straight retelling of the story. However, this trailer does look like a lot of fun. It contains two of my favorite time periods, the nineteenth century and the 1970s. After reading a couple of early reviews I have come to learn that the trailer may be a little misleading in that the entire movie does not have a comedic tone and that there are more serious elements to the story that reflect the original series.