Even if you decided to completely ignore the fact that shouldn't be playing Tonto in The Lone Ranger, it's still a bloated, bad, boring film. If you're like me and can't ignore the fact that Depp shouldn't be playing this character, it makes it even worse. It's true that he's ambiguously Native American in real life and managed to snag an honorary pass from the Comanche people. However, it's hard to deny that his "in" was Disney's cultural advisor. You know, the person who just so happened to be a relative of LaDonna Harris, the president and founder of Americans for Indian Opportunity.
The whole thing reeks of bad ideas, especially since the movie is currently failing at the box office. In the end, resurrecting a morally antiquated TV series to begin with is difficult. Director 's 2 1/2 hour opus' heart is totally removed due to insane amounts of CGI, 's hollow representation of the masked crusader, and Depp's inability to play anything but himself being a caricature of something else. However, there's got to be some kind of kitschy art in that, right? Maybe.
One movie that also arrived DOA in 1999 was 's Wild Wild West, starring and a cross dressing . Like The Lone Ranger, its director had just come from a highly successful big budget blockbuster (Sonnenfeld had Men In Black, Verbinski had Pirates). Somehow, the modern adaptations of older TV series were complete misfires that embrace - intentionally or not - boring set pieces, obvious questionable commentaries about race, and very talented people that manage to avoid connecting with each other or the audience. It's surprising that something so orchestrated could turn out so empty. That's why, if you make the brave decision to watch The Lone Ranger, you should dive deep and watch both of these movies back to back.
In retrospect, I almost applaud WWW in its ability to take a completely obscene premise of villain Dr. Arliss Loveless (a man who essentially just a Confederate torso) who makes a mechanical, 60-foot tall tarantula that's meant to assassinate the 18th President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant.
What's so interesting about these two pictures is how they both deal with race. Obviously in TLR, Armie Hammer's character proves to be the saving grace for all Native American people (yawn). In WWW, Smith is a black man in 1869. Like Sonnenfeld's more recent time bending, sci-fi flick, MIB3, Smith's Jim West (desperado, rough rider, no you don't want nada) is addressed in very specific ways. At one point, he's attacked by a lynch mob and dissects the word "redneck." Seriously. Dr. Loveless, mad Confederate flag-waving genius that he is, throws his fair share of racial slurs at him. Naturally, in less politically correct times, Smith's response is to make jokes about how Loveless is disabled.
Watching these films back-to-back, however, show how obvious these tropes are. It should us how far and how little we've come with big budget summer blockbusters, particularly ones that want to shake off the dust and sand of old TV westerns. The gadgets, the interpretations of classic characters (that honestly only your grandparents are probably really aware of, unless you had relatives educating you in pop culture) make most people shake their head. Unfortunately, most of the head shaking comes from dozing off, as both of these movies are just mediocre. It's better to be really good or really bad, as opposed to something in between.
The major saving grace of WWW over The Lone Ranger is the fact that it comes in at 107 minutes and gave us a Will Smith jam with Sisqo, as opposed to the latter's eye gouging run time that really gave us nothing.
Watch the trailers for The Lone Ranger and Wild Wild West: