News Column

'Lone Ranger' a train wreck

July 11, 2013

YellowBrix

July 11--When it comes to movies, there are bad films and then there are train wrecks -- movies that, no matter how much money you spend or how many good people you attach to the project, are an epic failure.

"The Lone Ranger" is the perfect example of a cinematic train wreck.

Reuniting the "Pirates of the Caribbean" team of actor Johnny Depp and director Gore Verbinski, this attempt to reboot the popular radio series is a mess of a film. It's 21/2 hours of tonal shifts and incoherence that can't find its stride until it is way too late.

The film gets off to a bad start with a clunky prologue used to frame the film's main story -- with Tonto (Depp) telling the story to a boy of how the masked avenger known as the Lone Ranger (Armie Hammer) came to be.

At first the Lone Ranger is a lawman named John Reid, but when his brother is killed and he is left for dead, Reid slowly changes his stance on justice, teaming up with Tonto to avenge his brother's death.

Westerns are traditionally tough sells, especially in today's iPhone on-the-go society, so it is understandable that the filmmakers would try to give "The Lone Ranger" a spin to make it stand out.

The problem is it takes the fatal risk of trying to be "Pirates of the Caribbean in the Old West," leaving a film that can't make up its mind if it wants to be goofy summer fun or a serious action film. You have Depp basically playing Tonto as Jack Sparrow, delivering quips and one-liners even as bodies pile up (one man has his heart cut out; another person is scalped just offscreen).

The film drags on for what seems like forever, with lots of clunky dialogue and comedy interspersed with rather bland action.

It's not until the final sequence, which makes great use of the familiar William Tell Overture theme song, does "The Lone Ranger" finally settle into something that is slightly enjoyable.

By that point the film is long past the point of saving, but it does manage to keep "The Lone Ranger" from being one of the worst films. Instead, it's just dreadful and a failed attempt at a franchise that needs to ride off into the sunset and be forgotten forever.

Opening this week

While "The Lone Ranger" is a huge failure, "The Bling Ring" (B-), which finally opens in Bowling Green this weekend, is a modest success.

The latest from director Sofia Coppola is a baffling bit of cinema, a film that is both hard to watch and fascinating at the same time.

Based on actual events, "The Bling Ring" follows a group of fame-obsessed teenagers (including Katie Chang, Israel Broussard and Emma Watson) who break into celebrities' houses and take their cash and belongings.

The group of kids the film is based on stole about $3 million, mostly from Paris Hilton (whose home is featured prominently in the film).

Coppola, whose previous films include "The Virgin Suicides" and "Lost in Translation," has always been a filmmaker who likes to explore people searching for acceptance and intimacy. "The Bling Ring" fits into that mold, even if the theme is realized in a more unconventional way.

These are shallow people, who are not very likable. Yet Coppola and the cast (especially Watson) keep the audience engaged. They demand your attention, interested to see to what length these people would go to feel like the celebrities whose homes they invaded.

"The Bling Ring" could have easily been a cautionary tale or even a social satire, but Coppola chooses to be neutral -- with a little bit of both, yet none of either.

The result is a film that is as cold and callous as its subject matter.

It's a calculated risk by Coppola, but one that ultimately works. I liked "The Bling Ring," even if I felt dirty afterward.

"The Bling Ring" is rated R for teen drug and alcohol use, and for language, including some brief sexual references and opens Friday at the Regal Cinemas Bowling Green Stadium 12.

-- To get sportswriter/movie reviewer Micheal Compton's up-to-the minute thoughts on all things movies, visit his blog at mcompton.wordpress.com or his Twitter page at twitter.com/mcompton428. You can also email him at mcompton@bgdailynews.com.

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(c)2013 the Daily News (Bowling Green, Ky.)

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