News Column

Depp, Hammer, Bruckheimer blame critics for failure of 'Lone Ranger'

August 8, 2013


Aug. 08--No, it wasn't the lousy movie itself. It was me and my movie-critic pals reviewing movies before we even screen them.

I had to laugh at the collective mindthink of actors Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, all of whom now appear to be on the same page: Their movie "The Lone Ranger" failed because American critics pre-judged the film.

Reports surfacing on Tuesday, as the film opens in Great Britain this week and the stars face the press in promoting the picture, quote Depp as saying: "I think the reviews were written seven to eight months before we released the film," before adding, "I think the reviews were written when they heard Gore (Verbinski) and Jerry (Bruckheimer) and me were going to do 'The Lone Ranger,' " according to a story in Variety.

Then this from Bruckheimer: "I think they were reviewing the budget, not reviewing the movie....It's unfortunate because the movie is a terrific movie, it's a great epic film. It has lots of humor. It's one of those movies that whatever critics missed in it this time, they'll review it in a few years and see that they made a mistake."

And finally this from Hammer: "This is the deal with American critics: they've been gunning for our movie since it was shut down the first time," he said in reference to when Disney backed off on making the film until Depp, Bruckheimer and Verbinski took pay cuts. "That's when most of the critics wrote their initial reviews."

He went on to say that critics "tried to do the same thing with 'World War Z,' " but "it didn't work."

Oh. My. Side.

I go into every movie screening with the same thought: I hope this is going to be good. It would be wonderful if a comedy made me laugh. I would be thrilled if a drama made me think. I would love to be entertained.

This is obviously not as easy to do with some films -- sequels like "The Smurfs 2," for example, after the first film was a bad experience. But I still go in hoping for something good to happen. Seriously, even with "The Smurfs 2."

Hammer's comment, comparing his film's production problems with those of "World War Z" and saying that critics tried to gang up on that film and failed, is utterly ridiculous.

I gave "The Lone Ranger" a rating of 1.5 stars out of 4 as to quality based on the fact that it's not good. I gave "World War Z" 3 stars based on the fact that it's quite good. My reviews were based on what I saw on the screen, not on what I read about either movie's production missteps.

Similarly, the Rotten Tomatoes aggregate movie review site (of which I am a member) gave "The Lone Ranger" a 28 percent positive rating averaged from 192 critic reviews, while "World War Z" received a 67 percent positive rating from 236 critics.

Yes, critics certainly failed to destroy "World War Z" with that "Fresh" Rotten Tomatoes rating.

As a reminder, here's what I thought was wrong with "The Lone Ranger" that had nothing to do with its budget:

It was yet another of Johnny Depp's quirky flights of fancy, and it was a bad fit for the character of Tonto.

It attempted to tell four stories, poorly, when it should have tried to tell at least one story well.

It had no sense of history regarding the characters or Westerns.

It was the summer's longest movie and felt like it at a bloated 149 minutes.

It was "Pirates of the Caribbean" set in the Old West, a style that didn't connect with summer movie-loving teens or with Western-loving older audiences.

It featured one cowboy who was a cannibal. It featured another cowboy who was a cross-dresser. It featured few characters who seemed like real cowboys.

Depp, Bruckheimer and Hammer are more than welcome to offer their opinions on the situation. I just hope they will realize how misguided those opinions sound and, one day, see that they made a mistake.

Michael Smith 918-581-8479


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