Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer

HOLLYWOOD—The Western genre is a difficult one to master.  It has to have the right mix of character, plot direction and scenic backdrop.  I’m not a Western type guy, I just do not get all the hoopla behind this genre that has fascinated so many people for generations.  Disney’s new epic, “The Lone Ranger” falls flat in so many ways it impossible to describe them all.

The first problem with the picture is perhaps the casting of Armie Hammer as John Reid. Yes, he has the good lucks, but he doesn’t have the charm and that edge that so many have come to expect from ‘The Lone Ranger’ from the television days.  The movie actually has a fascinating back story of Reid wanting to avenge the death of his brother.  It appears most Western’s have that aspect to some degree.

Perhaps the big issue is that Reid’s character is outshined by his counterpart Tonto (Johnny Depp).  I have said this time and time again; Depp is one of the most versatile actors inHollywood.  You give him any role and this is an actor who will make you believe it.  No actor comes close to pulling off what Depp can do on the big screen, but perhaps Leonardo DiCaprio, but I would say even Leo has limitations that Depp doesn’t.  Depp brings a charm, a mystery to Tonto, that is fascinating to watch on the big screen.

The movie has a tantalizing villain in Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner), but is not as fully developed as one would hope.  When it comes to any great movie the hero has to have a villain equally if not more compelling than the hero itself.  It draws the audience into the picture that much more.  The biggest sin “The Lone Ranger” commits is a dry script.  There is not much going on, and boredom will sink in fairly quickly for the audience when it’s a movie that clocks in close to 150 minutes.

The opening is quite frenetic and intriguing, but after that it becomes a long journey of soul searching and odd couplings that do not pay off.  I will admit the big climax on the train towards the end of the picture was thrilling to watch on the big screen.  It’s captured on camera with such precision and detail the spectator is unable to take their eyes from the screen. With Jerry Bruckheimer tagged as producer of the flick, audiences may have high hopes going into the multiplex that will be dashed.

To make a good western requires the screenwriter and director to not only understand the rules of the genre, but not be afraid to deviate from them. It’s all about a compelling story, which “The Lone Ranger” lacks quite a bit of. When I think of a good western, its all about revenge, unfortunately this tale is about revenge, but from a comedic point of view which is too confusing for die-hards of the genre to grasp.

By LaDale Anderson