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Review: ‘The Lone Ranger’

Pirates’ In The American Southwest

"The Lone Ranger" opens in San Diego July 3. Guest critic Nate John has a review of this classic remade.

I sat down in the theater for "The Long Ranger" with low expectations. I left after the final roll of credits feeling the film hits above its mark -- just a bit above. It is better than the last three "Pirates of the Caribbean" films, for whatever that's worth.

Johnny Depp, leading actor/sidekick/narrator Tonto, is an imbalanced, trippy Comanche tribesman with a lot of one-liners in the chamber. Armie Hammer is a handsome, law-abiding gent who turns from his non-violent ways to seek vengeance for his brother's death. And that's pretty much it.

It's a mix of light Western movie fun, wonky Depp style, over-the-top stunts and chase scenes, and a "Lone Ranger" episodic finish to it all, complete with the unmistakable William Tell Overture made famous by the TV series of the same name.

"Lone Ranger" is the predictable summer blockbuster remake we should expect from director Gore Verbinski, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and ultra-mega-superstar Depp.

The landscape is beautiful and at least that makes the film substantially more enjoyable.

Begin Obligatory Native Americanism Rant:

Johnny Depp as Tonto next to the painting that inspired his makeup, titled "I Am Crow." by artist Kirby Sattler.

Depp seems to have the right credentials to play American Indian sidekick Tonto. But some argue Depp's performance gives off a racist-y vibe -- a distorted view of Native Americanism -- a caricature that many American Indians wish to stifle after their long history of oppression by white dudes like Depp and the Disney execs.

These arguments are not unfounded. While I understand Depp's Tonto has to be outlandish to pull a 140-minute film along, his performance as a mystical, brain baked Indian evokes those unmistakable feelings of racial discomfort (like when I saw the black face routine in "Holiday Inn" [1942] for the first time).

Less cartoonish Natives in the film describe Tonto's madness and its origins. It is important to note we do see these more grounded representations of the North American's indigenous, but their parts are forgettable and short. It is certainly arguable that Depp and Disney, being highly influential social entities, have responsibility to not be this whack, and present more realistic and respectful images of an already damaged culture.

Note: Director Gore Verbinski did hire Comanche consultant William “Two Raven” Voelker to ensure cultural correctness.

Sidebar to Note: Could have fooled me.

Read more on this matter here.

End Rant.

"The Lone Ranger" is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence, and some suggestive material.

See more about "The Lone Ranger" (and its cult following) here.

Johnny Depp as a powder-faced version of Capt. Jack Sparrow and Armie Hammer being unquestionably handsome in Disney's remake of a remake, "The Lone Ranger."

Companion Viewing:

"True Grit" (2010 & 1969), "The Wild Bunch" (1969) features one of the bloodiest battles in film history, "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969), "Tombstone" (1993), "Shanghai Noon" (2000)

Other "Lone Ranger" works:

Here is a link to the first episode of "The Long Ranger" for those who never saw the original TV series.

"The Lone Ranger" (1956)

"The Legend of the Lone Ranger" (1981)

TV Series (1949-1957)

Comments

Avatar for user 'Dillon Scalzo'

Dillon Scalzo, KPBS Staff | July 4, 2013 at 3:46 p.m. ― 9 months, 3 weeks ago

!

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Avatar for user 'Dillon Scalzo'

Dillon Scalzo, KPBS Staff | July 4, 2013 at 4:37 p.m. ― 9 months, 3 weeks ago

hmmm.... yeah, this kind of overt, unmediated caricature"izing" does a really great job of showing just how little we as a culture understand about North American ( and ALL "American") Indigenous Cultures --it makes sense because our government did their best to eliminate them and all information about them. Rant continued I suppose, but honestly we've watered down immensely diverse "tribes" into an umbrella-ed singular classification--"Comanche"-when they have so many distinctions and expansions as a culture throughout history. Not to mention that the terminology applied to classify the culture was invented by Colonizers, as even Wikipedia can tell you--
"All these division names were spelled in many different ways by Spanish and English writers, and spelling differences continue today. Large-scale groupings became unstable and unclear during the 19th century. The Comanche society was slowly overwhelmed and ultimately subjugated to the United States.[21]"

And it leads me to what I've always wanted to remind everyone about this character : the word "TONTO" in Spanish means a lack of, or scarcity of understanding or reason--- basically stupid. The naming is of course no mistake, the character's written precisely & literally to be the caricature of a "stupid Indian". This may have went below the radar for most white english only speaking audiences, but perhaps explains why the character's name is changed to "Toro" in Spanish Language versions---(wikipedia for fact check)

Anyway this just goes too deep to address in anything else besides a PhD Dissertation and though I'd love to, I can't write it right now.
But great Job Nate John on the review and for approaching this inevitable topic in a provocative way w/ some neutrality and good links so that people might actually think about this for themselves !!

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | July 8, 2013 at 12:13 p.m. ― 9 months, 2 weeks ago

"a caricature that many American Indians wish to stifle after their long history of oppression by white dudes like Depp and the Disney execs. "

Maybe rewrite this sentence. It makes it sound like guys with the charcterics of Depp and the Disney execs were responsible for the various wars, massacres, and forced relocations. Surely they were much harsher and viler men.

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