I am a fangirl—a fangirl of certain tv shows (I AM NOT COUNTING THE BACHELOR), movie series, etc. Specifically, I have a specific league of gentlemen who I am a fan of above the rest. These are five “Fantastic Fellows,” as I call them. They thoroughly entertain me, and I find myself enthralled with their films as well as the good they do for their communities. What’s so special (and completely coincidental, as it were) about these fellows is that they are five leading, prominent actors in the community that have never worked with one another. The league includes Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and the most recent inductee, Hugh Jackman. But the man who started it all was Johnny Depp. When I was 13 was where it all began. Depp was in my childhood starting with the Pirates of the Caribbean film series, which quickly became and remains to this day some of my favorite films, as well as Corpse Bride and that abomination of a remake, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (more on that weirdness another time). But then I saw Secret Window, a simple psychological thriller that for some reason wowed me. That’s when I really got to appreciate Depp’s work, especially since up to this point for me, he was a British comedian. Now, an American with a very wide emotional range! The talent amazed me! And soon I wanted to see all of his films (a mild obsession).
Depp set the bar for The League, and while he no longer is a source of fascination for a creative mind, he still holds a special place in my little aura of entertainment. Hence the reason why I never miss a midnight premiere of his films. Public Enemies, Alice in Wonderland, Pirates 4, Dark Shadows…I’ve made it to them all! And The Lone Ranger was to be no exception.
Buzz about The Lone Ranger was negative from the start. “Depp is just rehashing his Jack Sparrow performance.” “Wow. Verbinsky directing, Elliot and Russio writing, Bruckheimer producing, Rose on costumes, Depp acting, and Zimmer on music—what is this? An exact copy of Pirates set in the wild west?” “The Lone Ranger gets a rewrite! Disney cuts down the budget!” “Ooh Helena Bonham Carter was cast? You kidding me? Can she be in a movie without Tim Burton or Johnny Depp?” “The Lone Ranger is delayed!” “Its $225 million budget for The Lone Ranger!” “Armie Hammer cast as the masked man? Bad choice!” It was EVERYWHERE. And yeah, I did smile, unsurprised when I saw Helena in the trailer, I was upset when Hammer was cast in the title role and doubted he could hold his own against Depp, the supposed supporting actor, and was a bit concerned when I heard the film was in 3D and included a plot about werewolves, and was relieved when Disney said no to both. But the film seemed doomed from the get-go.
Receiving a 25% rotten on Rotten Tomatoes, I was incredibly skeptical, but seeing as it was a film of The League (and specifically Depp), I had to attend the midnight premiere. The film opened on July 3 (a Wednesday, an odd day for an opening anyway), so I looked at film times for July 2, expecting to see one time-12:01 am. Not so. There was a 7:00, 8:00, 9:00, 10:00, 11:20, and 12:01. …….pardonne? So I get to the theater at 6:50, expecting to be waiting in line for the 8:00 show. I ask the manager who is selling tickets if the 7:00 is full. He laughs in my face and says, “That?? Nooo!” So I get tickets for the 7:00 movie….not exactly a midnight premiere but…okaaaay.
The film is in the second smallest theater and is about 1/3 full. No one, and this is something I noticed the second time I saw the movie as well, under the age of 16 is in the theater. The movie begins, and three minutes in I’m saying to myself “I’m lost.” As the plot goes on, however, things become clearer and I don’t feel quite so lost (this IS Ted Elliot and Terry Russio, mad geniuses behind Pirates 3 and National Treasure). And after minute 5, when we are first introduced to Armie Hammer’s Lone Ranger character, the most hilarious moment onscreen that I have seen in years happens. We’re off to a good start!
NO SPOILERS, I PROMISE! I leave the theater pleased. The music was great, it was a great homage to a classic story, a generally positive portrayl of Native American culture, well-paced action, and Armie Hammer was INCREDIBLE. The BEST role that I have ever seen him do! He was so genuine to the spirit of the kind-hearted and noble ranger, while retaining some absolutely FANTASTIC comedic moments that make him look less than noble! Johnny was great, as usual…and the only reason why I saw Jack Sparrow-isms is because I was looking for them. Otherwise, there is no comparison.
My issues with the movie—yes, it is too long. And although I simply adore Helena, her character is completely unnecessary to the plot and probably would have saved the production company millions. Some of the dialogue was too modern, as if the jargon would appeal to younger children. It doesn’t. It sounds out of place and odd. Tonto’s crow connection was attempted, but not completed. It feels too underdeveloped. Maybe the time it took to develop Helena’s character could have been used to refine Tonto. Also, I think it is a CRIME that Armie Hammer is not before the main title of the film and Johnny is! He’s the title CHARACTER for god’s sake! I get why Johnny gets top billing—he produced the film and is pretty much the reason why the movie got off the ground at all. But just give the kid a higher billing than the rest of the supporting cast! And the cannibal bunnies need to go. Just sayin’.
Otherwise, I don’t understand. Critics have just attacked this film mercilessly, as if the negative buzz influenced them, and their minds were made up against it before a single frame was shown to them. And Disney is doing nothing to fight back! It’s like they built the movie a nest, encouraged it to fly, and as it’s struggling to get by, they have turned their back to it. Ever since John Carter, a hole that could never be filled seems to have infiltrated the studio—a hole made of doubt that their live action movies still have an audience. They DO. The Lone Ranger only appeals to older audiences because A) teens and young adults like myself love Johnny and Armie and the high speed action, or B) the seniors grew up with Clayton Moore, or some even listened to the original show on the radio! I saw a news ad that read “Despicable Me 2 Tramples Lone Ranger!” NO KIDDING! The Lone Ranger has no attraction for small kids! Despicable Me is bringing in little kids AND their parents!
The Lone Ranger cost $225 million to make, and has absolutely NO chance of making a profit. But please at least help it make what it cost. Give your three hours and ten dollars to them. I have seen the film twice and will see it at least two more times in the theaters, to support my Disney brethren and The League. You WILL be entertained! I promise you! Don’t let the negative buzz dissuade you, be it your own negative buzz or buzz from the tabloids!
If not for yourself, DO IT FOR THE LEAGUE!!