Uh oh, Silver. Today the Lone Ranger rides again in the Gore Verbinski-directed film of the same name, but according to reviews, the Masked Man should have left his spurs on the shelf. Critics are panning the movie as overlong, overstuffed and tonally inconsistent.
The Times' Kenneth Turan says, "The real problem with the new 'Lone Ranger' is that, for those who are familiar with the multibillion-dollar 'Pirates of the Caribbean' franchise [likewise directed by Verbinski and starring Johnny Depp], there is little fresh or exciting about what we have here." Turan adds, "It's got the same jokey tone, big stunts and weird characters of its predecessors, but even at an overlong two hours and 29 minutes, it lacks any compelling reason to come on board."
Ty Burr of the Boston Globe writes that "Gore Verbinski's bloated, overlong, $250-million western comedy is like watching an elephant tap dance in your living room: Everything gets trampled and the dancing's not very good." In the title role, Armie Hammer is "a washout … bland and peevish and uninteresting," and Depp, playing the sidekick Tonto, mostly "mugs, widens his eyes, and shoots off whimsical one-liners in Injun-speak."
The San Francisco Chronicle's Mick LaSalle finds the mix of tones bizarre, calling the film "an action-movie bloodbath for a children's audience." He scathingly adds, "But put aside the notion that children shouldn't see this film. No one should. 'The Lone Ranger' is a movie for the whole family ... to avoid. It represents 2 1/2 of the longest hours on record, a jumbled botch that is so confused in its purpose and so charmless in its effect that it must be seen to be believed, but better yet, no. Don't see it, don't believe it, not unless a case of restless leg syndrome sounds like a fun time at the movies."
The Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips says, "While nominally a western, 'The Lone Ranger' is completely at sea." Pondering how that happened, Phillips says, "The evidence suggests a combination of hubris, errant revisionism, a misguided and perverse degree of violence, and a script that never worked in the first place, the second draft, or in any of the rewrites. Is it too late to shut down production on a summer picture that's already in theaters?"
A.O. Scott of the New York Times describes "The Lone Ranger" as "a very long, very busy movie that will unite the generations in bafflement, stupefaction and occasional delight." Ultimately, Scott says, "This is an ambitious movie disguised as a popcorn throwaway, nothing less than an attempt to revise, reinvigorate and make fun of not just its source but also nearly every other western ever made. In trying to balance grandiosity with playfulness, to lampoon cowboy-and-Indian cliches while taking somber account of a history of violence, greed and exploitation, it descends into nerve-racking incoherence."
And the Village Voice's Stephanie Zacharek says Verbinski has overloaded the film with "dozens of superfluous plot points, action sequences so cluttered they obscure whatever genius may lurk within, heaps of heavy-duty symbolism that ultimately mean nothing, and juvenile gags that appear to have been written by 10-year-olds rather than for them." She adds, "'The Lone Ranger' has it all, but what you end up with is not much. It's an extravagantly squandered opportunity."
The only silver lining, Zacharek says, is Silver itself, the trusty steed — "the one figure in 'The Lone Ranger' who's in touch with the natural landscape around him."