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Yes, that is the question you will be tempted to ask once you have visited the theaters for the latest Johnny Depp flick, ‘The Lone Ranger.’ It was a bright sunny Friday and a (dead) bird-hat looked as delicious as the bacon on your morning breakfast. But as the great Capt. Sparrow once said: “Looks can be deceiving.” After a ‘Dark Shadows’ flop-show, you keep on guessing whether you are on the riff-raff re-visit when the credits start to roll in.
First, let’s get the obvious good part out of the way; if nothing else, we have seen these parts in the trailers only for the past couple of months a million times. The gesture of picturising the 30’s radio show seemed very novel (only the gesture, mind it). Second, after a long time, the silent red-Indian sidekick Tonto got his rightful place as the narrator in the series. And of course, how can one miss the last 20-minute action sequence including two horses, two men and a train which was boasted to be the best action sequence of the year (which also lived up mostly to its reputation).
Now, as I twist my fingers to release the oxygen from my knuckles comes the grave issue of wrongdoings. And by wrongdoings I am not speaking only about the innumerous villains coming one after the other in the plot apart from the main bad guy Bush Cavendish (William Fitchner).
Twists are good as long as they don’t turn your head away from the screen. Really, after watching for a whole long 149 minutes (with material worth one half-hour episode of the original series) you forget who was actually supposed to do what. Who, exactly, was the bipolar oater made for: may ask your troubled mind). The amount of ‘gore’ that Verbinsky used to fill up gaps of the otherwise unlimited time frame of the movie, leaves quite a bloody mess as the movie proceeds. And there comes the question once again: is Disney still thinking about children when making a children’s movie? Keith Uhlich of Time Out New York has this to say about the much-hyped movie: “It’s all too much and not enough – a succession of disparate, can-you-top-this episodes inelegantly piling up like skidding cars on a freeway.”
Then of course there is lead star cast, Mr. Johnny Depp himself. White paint: check. Black stripes: check. Dead-bird hat: check. Capt. Jack Sparrow: check. Whoops! Yes, I admit that we wanted to see more of our beloved Captain. But there doesn’t seem to be much profit in the seas anymore, is there? So here is the painted and hideously disguised pirate who has left the ships and started intruding into band wagon robberies. Todd McCarthy from the Hollywood Report went to the extent of calling this a sequel to the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ series: “This attempt for another ‘Pirates of the Carribean’-scaled series tries to have it too many ways tonally, resulting in a work that wobbles and thrashes all over the place.”
Talking out about lead-pair chemistry, Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp had an understanding as deadpan as Johnny’s expressions behind the gaudy black-and-white make-up. Even the untimely appearance of leg-shooter Lady Red (Helena Bonham Carter) is short of saving the disaster express from tipping off from its tracks. One scene smashing heads, other scene talking to goats makes ‘The Lone Ranger’ one hell of a road-runner coyote battle bang but minus the laughter. The Wrap’s Alfonso Duralde said “‘The Lone Ranger’ is a drag as an action movie, it’s not funny in its attempts at self-parody, and it feels like a Western made by people working off a checklist of tropes without ever really understanding the genre. Verbinski and his writers have taken a promising idea and put a silver bullet in its head.” Upon the death knell, there can only be a consolation for the ‘Wild Wild West’-like disaster: that it is not the first movie adaptation to the radio and television series that has bit the dust.
Image Courtesy of Jorge Figueroa