THE verdict is in, and Johnny Depp won’t like it. The Lone Ranger, according to virtually every reputable newspaper, website and serious film critic, is an absolute stinker.
Some call the film racist. Others say the $250 million bomb could be the death of the blockbuster. Some are even saying it may well be the worst movie in the history of film.
The Lone Ranger reportedly cost as much as $250 million to make, but reports say it will struggle to take $300 million worldwide. Movies generally require at least double their budget to break even, so these are worrying days for the film’s backer Disney.
In fact, The Lone Ranger is doing so poorly that there are reports Disney could lose $150 million and its stock price may be affected. Perhaps Disney will need a loan arranger.
But enough with the bad puns. Here is some of the acid the critics are spitting. Let’s start with Wesley Morris, the guy who won last year’s Pulitzer Prize for criticism. Writing on leading US sports and pop culture website Grantland, Morris wrote:
“For it is awful and profligate, brainless and eternal, loud and cruel, a movie but not … Depp’s Tonto war paint speaks to the state of his stardom right now: dried out.”
Ouch. But if you read more widely, you’ll see it’s not just Depp’s popularity under threat. Gilbert Cruz, writing on vulture.com , says this movie is a perfect example of almost everything that’s wrong with the current Hollywood blockbuster system.
“In addition to being massively expensive, The Lone Ranger demonstrates the industry’s franchise obsession, origin-story laziness, over-reliance on bloodless violence, and inability to prevent running-time bloat. These are not small problems, and there is no sign that they will be riding off into the sunset anytime soon …
“It’s hard not to feel sorry for the damned film. It’s a product of a system stuck in neutral. Hollywood happened to The Lone Ranger, not the other way around.”
Yeah, that’ll hurt. But not as much as the following slap across the cheek from the normally neutral Associated Press. The Lone Ranger ends with a train wreck. AP reviewer Jake Coyle was one of many to note that the film felt like a train wreck in more ways than one.
“For 2 ½ hours, the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced Lone Ranger inflates, subverts and distorts the conventions of the Western until, in an interminable climax, the big-budget spectacle finally, exhaustingly collapses in a scrap heap of train wreckage.”
The Washington Post joined the train wreck party, writing:
“Despite its impressively staged set pieces, The Lone Ranger can’t survive the epic train wreck resulting from its own tonal clashes, wherein mournful scenes of genocide and stolen immigrant labor are tastelessly juxtaposed with silly slapstick humor.”
The touchy nature of casting a white man as a Native American has been an issue for many people. We could point to endless serious critiques of this decision, but why look further than satirical website The Onion?
“For all of Hollywood’s failed attempts to create something that accurately recounts our glorious past while also honoring the bravery and wisdom of our ancestors, The Lone Ranger does just that. And on July 3, the American people will finally know our story.
“At press time, a coalition representing the nation’s estimated 3 million American Indians had released a statement completely forgiving the United States for its systematic butchery and subsequent confinement of their people, saying that the new Lone Ranger movie ‘had made it all worth it’.”
Then again, British actor Ben Kingsley won an Oscar for portraying Gandhi, so who is anyone to say Depp can’t play a Native American?
Also, to those who say that The Lone Ranger is like eating a bucket of stale popcorn off the floor of a cinema which hasn’t been vacuumed for a month, it’s worth noting that it is generally regarded as only the second worst movie of the year.
Will Smith’s bomb After Earth wins that hands down. It scored just 11 per cent on movie rating site Rotten Tomatoes compared to The Lone Ranger‘s marginally less woeful 23 per cent.
And to think, Smith knocked back the role as Django in Tarantino’s Django Unchained for the After Earth gig.
That’s almost as bad a decision as putting a pirate on a horse.