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The critics were wrong about "The Lone Ranger" (Blu-ray review)

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The Lone Ranger

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The Lone Ranger (2013)

Starring: Armie Hammer, Johnny Depp

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American/Indian relations are about to reach a boiling point in 1869. Colby, TX, is sent into an upheaval of chaos as six local deputies are tragically murdered in pursuit of long-time outlaw Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner). John Reid (Hammer), a district attorney and the last of the Texas Rangers, is left to hunt down the cannibalistic Cavendish and bring him to justice, solely relying on his legal instincts and the help of an oddball Native American named Tonto (Depp). But with American/Indian relations reaching a fevered pitch in the region, the unlikely companions will need to learn to trust each other along the way if they hope to restore peace in the land. While their adventures along the way could form the foundations of a bona fide American icon, failure to succeed could be absolutely catastrophic. Explore the great American West in 2013's film adaptation of the classic tales of a television hero - the Lone Ranger.

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The Breakdown:

The Story: The story is told, in the film, by an older version of Tonto, living in early-1900s San Francisco. Why the elderly Tonto exists in the movie or what his point actually is isn't ever really established, so that aspect is pretty strange. Tonto is a little goofy to begin with, but the storyteller aspect isn't much touched on and could have been done without. Much of the story focuses on railroad development and the discovery of silver, which have both created an intense cultural rift in Texas. With that being said, the issue of race plays a prominent role in the movie and it may make some viewers uncomfortable. The part of the story about nature being "out of balance" is a little odd and will raise an eyebrow or two along the way. It doesn't play an integral part in the plot and is more strange than interesting or intriguing. Another main part of the story includes talk of cannibalism, which is a creepy and dark and probably not great for children. More on that later. Also, it is of note that Promontory Point (or "Promontory Summit," as it's called in the film) is not in Texas. It's in UTAH.

The Acting: The elephant in the room: Johnny Depp playing a Native American. Jack Sparrow comparisons are inevitable and Depp's take on Tonto does come off awfully Pirates-like, but what is the big deal with him playing an Indian character? To be terribly politically incorrect, perhaps if there more blockbuster-quality Native American actors, Johnny Depp wouldn't have to had taken this role. Tonto's character is largely there for comic relief and you've got to realize that going in. Tonto is supposed to be a goofy sidekick that speaks in broken English, so saying that Depp's portrayal is insensitive or offensive is closed-minded. It's a movie, people! It's called acting! He is acting out his role as an interpretation of the character, not forming some insulting stereotype of Native Americans as a whole. If anything, Depp's Tonto makes the movie more light-hearted, funny, and enjoyable. Moving on. Armie Hammer is wonderful as the Lone Ranger, with charm, charisma, and a heavy Southern accent to boot. William Fichtner is totally creepy as Cavendish and is easily despised as his character develops throughout the movie. If you can move past all the negative feedback about Tonto given by critics this summer, the cast is mainly enjoyable and pretty solid from top to bottom, including one young actor (Bryant Price) who amazingly manages not to single-handedly ruin the film by playing a child with a somewhat-important role in the plot.

The Genre: "The Lone Ranger" stands out as being uncharacteristically violent for a Disney movie and definitely deserves PG-13 rating, thanks to the aforementioned inclusion of racism and cannibalism. However, as far as modern-day Westerns are concerned, the movie gives a great amount of bang for your buck, featuring tons of Wild West gunplay, big explosions, and many a scene on a moving train. Despite its historical fidelity to the classic TV series, the William Tell Overture doesn't seem fitting (and, in fact, almost seems completely out of place in contrast to the rest of the soundtrack). A majority of the action in the film is improbable and often borders on downright silly, which typically isn't resounds negatively with movie critics who make preposterous assertions, such as, but not limited to, "There's no way that could actually happen in real life." It's a MOVIE! It's not real! The action is wild and wooly, especially as the show rounds the bend and comes down the home stretch. What ever happened to the days where people could just sit down and watch a movie without basing everything they saw on physics and logic? If every movie was completely realistic and 100% logical, most action movies would be about 15 minutes long.

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The burning question on the minds of movie critics across the nation this summer was whether a 1950s TV show about cowboys and Indians was still relevant to an audience of moviegoers in 2013. To answer their question, if we're being honest with ourselves, no. It's probably not relevant anymore. But the Salt Lake DVD Examiner contends that that precise reason is why "The Lone Ranger" was a success. Bruckheimer and Verbinski were able to take a 1950s TV show about cowboys and Indians that no kids these days had any interest in, whatsoever, and bring it to the big screen. If we had to bet, most of the young people that saw this movie over the summer and later picked it up on Blu-ray probably would never have even thought twice about "The Lone Ranger" TV series. Probably hadn't ever seen it, probably wouldn't have ever considered it. But, thanks to what critics deemed a box office flop, a new generation of dreamers has been introduced to one of America's most iconic legends. No, it's not perfect, but you go in just looking to have some fun and relive your childhood adventures of playing cowboys and Indians, "The Lone Ranger" is a movie you should check out.

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Similar movies: "True Grit" (2010), "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (2011), "The Mask of Zorro" (1998)

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Blu-ray bonus features:

- Audio in English, French, Spanish, English Descriptive Audio

- Subtitles in English, French, Spanish

- "Armie's Western Road Trip": A brief documentary about Armie Hammer and some of his on-location exploits, featuring footage from Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and the glorious red rocks of Southern Utah. The segment really showcases the gorgeous geography in America's dusty deserts.

- "Becoming a Cowboy": The production team wanted "The Lone Ranger" to look as authentic as possible - and they did a pretty good job of it. This feature is gives a look at the actors' "cowboy boot camp," as they call it.

- "Riding the Rails of the Lone Ranger": Explanation of how they created a realistic railroad, how the actors got accustomed to being on the moving cars, and a glimpse into the production of a big-time railroad chase scene.

- Deleted scene - "Locust Story/Great Warriors Must Adapt": A deleted scene involving that crazy "nature is out of balance" storyline. Much of it is either storyboard or a pre-rendering.

- Blooper reel: And it's surprisingly pretty funny.

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Directed by: Gore Verbinski

Studio: Walt Disney Pictures

Running time: 149 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13 for "sequences of intense action and violence, and some suggestive material," including racism, a couple scenes in a house of ill repute, women and children in peril, and some cannibalism-related gore.

Costars William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, Ruth Wilson, Helena Bonham Carter

Blu-ray release date: December 17, 2013

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Looking to find "The Lone Ranger" on DVD or Blu-ray in the Salt Lake area? Check out these suggested links:

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