6 Ways to Fix The Lone Ranger
I had the unpleasant opportunity to watch The Lone Ranger on DVD last night. For those of you who have had a colonoscopy done using a video guidance system, get out the buttered popcorn: your video is more entertaining. It might actually have a plot. There are films done by third graders using a feature phone in a dark room blindfolded while eating Fruit Loops that are more character-driven and suspenseful.
As a journalist, I live on the cutting edge of “research” and “writing” about current events. It’s a hairline fissure, let me tell you. I am constantly analyzing everything in life, including how much I analyze things. As I watched the complete lack of story unfold and listened to the unusually stunted dialogue, I came to the conclusion that the movie is almost completely unwatchable. That was during the opening title sequence when the comma next to the date appeared like it was a plot point. Guys, that’s not suspense – it’s grammar.
By the end of the first unconsciprehensible scene (something so inexplicable it requires a conjoining of the two words unconscionable and incomprehensible just to make a point about how stupid it is) involving a little kid at the county fair, I felt like I needed to a) puke, b) put a bag over my head and cry, and c) go on record with a few ideas for the filmmakers, should they ever revisit the topic again.
So, here’s what I would have done to fix The Long Ranger:
1. Get rid of Johnny Depp
Send him to Canada, at least on vacation. That first scene with “crusty Johnny” playing an aged Tonto doesn’t make any sense. I know some pieces of burned toast that can act better and relay a stronger sense of character development. Depp stares deadpan into the screen throughout the movie. That’s not acting, that’s Pepto Bismal.
2. Have a story
You sit a bit dumbfounded for the first 15 minutes of the movie because you realize there isn’t a story. Like, at all. There are people doing things in scenes. It’s Transformers on horses. I’m still not sure what the movie is about – something related to trains and silver. Have the filmmakers not seen Batman Begins or Lost? Put the little Lone Ranger in an early childhood scene wearing a rag over his face and shooting the bad kids with a gun. Tell us why Tonto is wearing a crow on his head and can’t seem to stop staring at the screen like he has smoked the crow recently. When there is a story, we can put up with mindless action scenes involving trains and horses. When there isn’t a story, we dream of colonoscopy footage.
3. Make The Lone Ranger a superhero, not a dufus
I was surprised to find out The Lone Ranger is an inept klutz who won’t use a gun for the first part of the film. What? Have the filmmakers still not seen Batman Begins or Lost? We want our champion to be an ace sharpshooter who rides into town riding a white horse and shoots the bad guys – or at least makes them feel slightly awkward. I think Armie Hammer (the guy from The Social Network who played the Winklevoss twins) could have pulled this off, especially if Johnny Depp was still on vacation in Canada.
4. Not so many trains!
Most of us equate trains to those things that cause the railroad crossing sign to go ding-ding-ding so we’re late for work. If you are under 50, you probably don’t have a strong emotional connection to trains and perhaps don’t know what they are. I’m okay with one train scene but not 14. The problem is that we know they are slow – most of them sort of inch along as they make us late for work. A driving force of plot advancement? Not so much. Plus, if you are a criminal and you do decide to pull a bunch of boxcars full of silver, you are going to stick out. People will notice. There is something spatially wrong with the final train scenes in particular, as though it’s possible to have one train on a hill and another down in a valley and cross over on a ladder without falling off after you have smoked a crow. Also, if a megaton train falls off a track and you are skywalking through the air after being jettisoned it’s kind of unlikely you will land in front of the same train and then almost get hit by the same train. It’s a big: what the crow?
5. Fix the dialogue
The dialogue seems like it was written out on a napkin at Five Guys over lunch. Most of it was worse than that one scene in the Phantom Menace when the African-American character turns to the princess or her double (or maybe it was Chewbacca) and says something so inane it should not be repeated here. You think: George Lucas was smoking Chewbacca meat when he wrote that line. Same thing here, but much worse considering there is a western superhero who can’t shoot a gun and a guy wearing a crow on his head. You end up rooting for the bad guys to shoot the good guys dead so they don’t say any more lines.
6. Don’t shoot anything out of your leg
I knew the Rotten Tomatoes score before watching The Lone Ranger, but nothing prepared me for the character who shoots with her wooden leg. I have a moratorium on watching late period Quentin Tarantino movies (mostly because they seem gross), but the guy should probably sue the filmmakers for wooden leg copyright infringement. Which is a legit thing in Hollywood.