The Lone Ranger (2013)

The Lone RangerRelease Date: July 3, 2013

Director: Gore Verbinski

Stars: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, William Fichtner

Runtime: 149 min

Do you remember the days of your childhood when you’d invite some friends over, and play a good old game of Cops and Robbers? Or maybe you played Cowboys and Indians. Either way, it’s the same thing. Well, that’s precisely what Verbinski’s latest “The Lone Ranger” feels like. A 149-minute game of Cops and Robbers – only it’s about as entertaining as two friends bickering and saying “No! I shot you first!”

Native American warrior Tonto (Johnny Depp) recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid (Armie Hammer), a man of the law, into a legend of justice.

This isn’t a terrible movie. I’ve seen quite a few terrible films in my day, and I would never call this a terrible movie. However, I wouldn’t say that it’s good or worth anyone’s time, either. It’s an old-school Westerner that has lots of action and humour. But the movie’s purpose is never crystal clear. It tries to be fun and serious all at once, and that muddles its themes of vengeance, justice and greed. It’s a comedy, a dull actioner, and and old-school Westerner all in one. Since it doesn’t seem that even the film-makers themselves know what type of movie they’re trying to make; it surely won’t be clear to the audience.

There aren’t many surprises in this plot. At all. It’s one of those stories that, if you nod off for ten minutes, you won’t miss a damned thing. All of the action scenes are Cowboys and Indians/Road Runner & Wile. E. Coyote styled. By the time the Lone Ranger shouts “Hi-yo, Silver!” I expected him to say “Meep-meep!” instead. This is an exhausting movie that never feels as if it’ll end. The finale could be a romping good time if it would have happened an hour earlier. But by the time the 90-minute mark comes by, it shouldn’t be called the “The Lone Ranger” any longer. “The Long and Boring Ranger” is a more appropriate title. (And that folks, is why I don’t have a future in coming up with movie titles.)

Johnny Depp delivers that same sort-of eccentric shtick he’s been handing out since his Jack Sparrow years. That isn’t saying it won’t be amusing. It’s quite hilarious and he gets some big laughs – and as much as they are wedged in, the laughs become welcome in this overly dull screenplay. The five big laughs that he produces isn’t worth two and a half hours of your valuable time, however. Depp’s performance is becoming less effective since he’s played Jack Sparrow four times, and Tonto once (but it feels like he’s just felt Sparrow five times). He breaks the fourth wall once or twice by recounting his tale to a small boy at a carnival he’s at. He’s in an Old-Western themed attraction, standing in a Native American cubby. Some carnivals like to use wax figures, but apparently others like to use real, ancient-looking Native Americans named Tonto to scare the shit out of kids.

The kid portrayed by Mason Cook (“Spy Kids 4”, “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone”)  is annoying. I don’t know how this kid keeps getting work. I may be biased because I’m not a fan of anyone under the age of ten (except if they’re related to me, or really cute, or animated), but when a child delivers a stellar performance, I’ll praise the hell out of it. (Like Haley Joel Osment in “The Sixth Sense” or the little Pierce Gagnon in last year’s “Looper”.) But if the kid just stands there with a “Oh no mister, say it ain’t so” kinda look on his face, I’ll trash the hell outta it. He didn’t really have to be in the movie at all – and Disney could have saved a lot of money by taking a different route with the story, and not have to use the CGI-aging technology for Depp. (They could have used lots of make-up, though.)

Armie Hammer is nothing to praise. He doesn’t have enough oomph to either make an iconic character feel iconic again, nor does he have enough star power to co-carry a $215-million blockbuster. Depp helps a lot, but even he cannot make this dull screenplay come to life very well; no matter how hard he tries. James Badge Dale feels as if he’s the real star here – but he’s not in enough to make this worthwhile. William Fichtner portrays the shockingly forgettable Butch Cavendish. Tom Wilkinson, Stephen Root and Barry Pepper are ay-okay in supporting turns; and Ruth Wilson is mostly just eye candy.

Gore Verbinski needs to learn the definition of an editing room. I hate mediocre movies that dare run past the 120-minute mark. Quentin Tarantino is easily forgiven for not having stepped into an editing room since 1992’s “Reservoir Dogs”, because his movies are so, so entertaining. Speaking of filmmakers somewhat similar to Tarantino, I could have sworn Helena Bonham Carter stepped onto the wrong set. As soon as she shoots her one-shot pistol attached at the end of her ivory leg, that woman with the machine gun leg from Robert Rodriguez’ “Planet Terror” immediately comes to mind.

One last thing before this review comes to an end, here are just a few theories of where I think the hefty $215 million buckaroos went. All of the big names have to be paid; two trains get destroyed; and there’s an unnecessary usage of CGI-aging technology that could be avoided with rewrites. But I think this where most of the money went: The bird seed needed for the dead bird on Tonto’s head. Seriously, he feeds it and feeds it, and its appetite is never going to be satisfied because the bird’s pretty freaking dead. And do you know how else Disney could have saved a bunch of money? By just not making this mess of a film.

If this is good for anything it’s an eccentric and particularly hilarious turn from Mr. Depp, but it’s nothing you haven’t seen in the “Pirates” universe. There’s also a great score by Hans Zimmer. I’m struggling to think of anything better; and whenver I liked a character, they just got killed off. When this feature gallops on generic blockbuster territory, there’s no saving Reid and his fashionably-challenged pal, Tonto. This could be good fun for the casual movie-goer, but to me, it’s somewhat boring and torturous.

44/100

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Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World review.

Spy Kids: All the Time in the World (2D TV Screening)

Release Date: August 19, 2011

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Stars: Jessica Alba, Jeremy Piven, Joel McHale

Runtime: 89 min

Tagline: Saving the world is their idea of family time.

 

Robert Rodriguez: Director, often great screen writer, some of his best work  includes Sin CityGrindhouse, Planet Terror, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, those sort of darkly atmospheric flicks. He has also entertained children and adults alike with the first two Spy Kids films – they’re sort of like the James Bond for kids. Though, he also is capable of inducing torturous films for adults, that pass itself as entertainment – and even some kids may not enjoy. The prime example is The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl. I’ll give him that Spy Kids 3-D was bearable in most areas, but it wasn’t anything special. This film is just one of those movies where you can say confidently: “Oh, this crap is just terrible.”

Marissa Wilson (Jessica Alba) has been married to Wilbur Wilson (Joel McHale) for about a year now, and they have had one baby together. There’s a nuisance for Marissa: Wilbur’s twins. Cecil (Mason Cook) isn’t all bad, but the real trouble is the daughter, the pranking Rebecca (Rowan Blanchard). She has a sore spot for her [Marissa] because Rebecca thinks she’s trying to replace her real mother, and most of all – she thinks Marissa is hiding something. She is correct, Marissa is a retired OSS agent. After the Timekeeper escapes from prison, he threatens the world with an upcoming apocalypse. He’ll do this by speeding up time to the point where there isn’t any time left in the day. Marissa is called back to action to stop the Timekeeper, and her new family is tossed into the mix in the process.

This film is predictable from the get go, or at least when you meet the central characters. I don’t know how good the 3D was, but it was fairly obvious what could have been in 3D – and it didn’t look like it would have made any good 3D effects.

The film bares the same message as the first three: family is the most important thing. The first three did this well, so this film is just so unnecessary. Also, the fact that family comes first is practically just generally believed to be true.

Some good things about it… I guess it offers a fairly nice sense of nostalgia. Some of the gadgets are sort of cool, but they weren’t as cool as in the other films. Alexa Vega’s cameo was good, but she has gotten a bit too old to play her character.

It was nice to see Danny Trejo in this, in his extremely brief cameo as Uncle Machete, but I didn’t care for it very much. Nor did I care for the extended cameo by Daryl Sabara as Juni. He just didn’t work very well.

The story is just really stupid. Who cares about this guy taking over the world? Did Rob Rodriguez not learn anything from having Sylvester Stallone play numerous roles? The villain is just so ridiculous.

The film is just rather unbearable, the acting is horrid and the attempts at comedy or any sentimental moments fail miserably. How this did not get nominated for a Razzie, I have no idea.

Alexa Vega was really the only person in this film I could tolerate. All the other performers are awful, and the children are mighty annoying. The performers do horribly: Jessica Alba, Joel McHale, Jeremy Piven, Rowan Blanchard, Mason Cook and Daryl Sabara. Though, the voice work from Ricky Gervais as the sarcastic mechanical dog, Argonaut, was decent.

Spy Kids 4 is a completely unneeded sequel that offers no entertainment value, has a stupid plot, and should not be seen by anyone who appreciates a good movie. Watch it only if you’re curious to see how bad it really is.

25/100