Origin stories are becoming a staple in today’s modern films, we have had some truly fantastic ones such as Batman Begins and some that simply fall flat like Green Lantern that made us, well, not give a crap. I am not surprised to say that The Long Ranger falls into the ladder half of that statement. With a two and a half hour running time, this live action cartoon tries way too hard to mimic the style of its past successors (Pirates of The Caribbean) that it just is painful to watch, at some points.
The film is told in a series of flashbacks, with an elderly Tonto (Depp) telling the story to a young boy as well as us, the audience. The film takes place in 1850’s Texas with John Reid (Armie Hammer) a cartoonish lawyer, who in the beginning of the film is against guns, all about justice, and believes that everyone has the right to their own trial. This plot point seemed rather forced given the events that take place in the film. This plot point simply used to create some sort of transformation to the beloved character that he will later turn into. I do not blame Hammer for this at all, because I feel he is a very capable actor but rather, Gore Verbinski’s shaky and convoluted screenplay.
Later in the film, Reid befriends the Indian version of Captain Jack Sparrow, Tonto. I say this because I really do feel like Depp just plays it up in every big budget film that he is in nowadays. He simply just mimics and plays the same exact characters that he has in the past. Modern day audiences might be starting to forget that Depp can actually act and has done some fantastic smaller films such as Blow, but the Hollywood big budget bug, has sadly, gotten to him.
Where the film falls flat is the chemistry between Hammer and Depp, which just felt like two actors on the screen trying to get a pay check. There was nothing terribly wrong with either performance by this film’s standard, but I just felt like they did not connect nearly as well as they should have. I will stress this again; I blame the script itself, not the actors. I would of rather have seen a strong developing friendship on-screen rather than silly performances where the characters don’t seem to really care about one another. If I had to pick a “standout” in the film, it would have to be William Fichtner as Butch Cavendish He was an over the top villain, who killed Reid’s brother early on in the film and also eats human hearts, yes you heard that right my friends, he eats human hearts.
The action in this movie looks nice and grand, yet for my taste, it is simply just way too over the top and cartoonish. There are elements in the story, which are entertaining and most of them featured Tonto. Also, it really isn’t until the final 10 minutes that we, the audience, finally get to see Hammer as The Lone Ranger. With the film using the original score from the television series and Hammer charging on a horse, it is here that we see a quick shadow of what a modern Lone Ranger film would be like, but sadly its only for 10 minutes. Was the two hours and fifteen minutes leading up to that moment worth it? In my humble opinion, absolutely not.
Final Grade: C-