The Lone Ranger: Reboot or Redo?

The latest in Disney’s summer blockbusters has been declared a bust.  And, while there is no denying the economics (there is a consensus that too much was spent and that worldwide revenue will not come close to matching costs), the failure of the movie is of some interest.  How could a film with proven producers and director, a longstanding title, and one of the most popular and talented actors in the world be a bust?

There was the basic set up.  Metamorphosizing a beloved hero into a simple straight man, and converting an almost silent sidekick into a comedian in this reboot likely did not appeal to long time fans.  The use of an ancient Tonto (Depp) to narrate the story didn’t work either.  The dialogue was done poorly and Depp’s timing was way off.  He also never seemed to connect with the kid.

Still, the plot was interesting and the signature traits of the Lone Ranger were present – integrity, no killing, and ridiculously good marksmanship.  These have been present in every incarnation of the character in the radio, movie, comic, and even cartoon versions and they were present here.  To me that was all that mattered.  Tanto’s more visible presence did nothing to diminish that, and in fact made the Lone Ranger more interesting.

The problem, I think, is the popularity of the Pirates movies.  Sure the producers gave a nod to Pirates fans early on with the watch that Tanto seemed enthralled with, but it was not enough.  In every scene the audience was expecting Johnny Depp to slip into a buccaneer outfit and begin slurring his speech, or run in that unique style of his.  And he didn’t.

And that was the audience’s fault.  Johnny Depp is a phenomenal actor with great range who has played many different and diverse characters during his career.  To pigeonhole him into the limited role of Jack Sparrow or some similar character is to forget much of what he has accomplished.  Certainly the Tonto figure had to be given a more developed role in a modern remake, but to expect the actor playing him, a man who believes he is of Native American descent, to play such a revered role comically was unrealistic.  To do so would have been a disservice to the role, not to mention to Native Americans as a whole.

About Cian Beirdd

I live with my kitty, and encourage his tuna and catnip addictions. I have a website as well;
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5 Responses to The Lone Ranger: Reboot or Redo?

  1. Dave Loeff says:

    I really enjoyed The Lone Ranger. In fact, I went home afterward and downloaded the William Tell Overture. I continue to play it when I feel in need of a boost. The Tonto character seemed comic because he took himself seriously while the other characters treated him like a kook. In a sense, the introduction of the railroad symbolizes a changing west, one in which even the Indian elders no longer take the old ways seriously. Tonto is a shaman, and like traditional shamans his spiritual authority is entwined in his holy insanity. It seems fitting that people respond to him as if he were an oddity; for in a machine age the transcendent is misunderstood.

    • Cian Beirdd says:

      Considering Johnny depths acting abilities and his vested interest in the part that line of thinking may very well have played a part in his approach. Too bad it flopped, I would like to have seen where a series went.

  2. Loki says:

    Not sure if the problem was audiences expecting Jack Sparrow so much as it was the producers and/or the marketing campaign trying to make them expect that. Regardless, I quite enjoyed the film. My main objection to it was it was slightly overlong (Bonham Carter’s character’s sequences in particular were highly superfluous and should be cut — though that would leave the show with one single speaking female character, so that’d not be good either) and that Armie Hammer (who is great) didn’t quite get to go beyond the Straight Man role (as you point out).

    I’m not sure if the framing story was an issue (it wasn’t for me), but clearly something was, so perhaps you’re right there too.

    And the William Tell Overture finale totally sold me as well as Dave Loeff. My total impression of the film would be a couple of notches lower if they’d used any other piece of music over the finale.

  3. Cian Beirdd says:

    It was a bit straying at times, and Bonham Carter’s role should have been more succinct (the actress is great, the role should have smaller). Still, I’ve seen movies with many more flaws succeed. And the Overture, before I realized it I was grinning from ear to ear. I really wish there was a sequel in the works.

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