The SchemeThis one began with the idea of raping the crap out of another beloved property: The Lone Ranger. The idea was to assemble a film from modern liberal clichés and stolen ideas from other films, and wrap it in the halo of Johnny Depp and the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise so no one would notice what they were really buying. The public saw through this however, and avoided the film in droves. Disney lost between $160 million and $190 million on this film and it was well deserved.
Where This Turd Went WrongWow, where do I begin? How about this: nothing about this film works. It’s unpleasant on every level. But let’s go through some of the specifics.
● Liberal Race Theory: Before we dig deeper, let me point out that this film is packed with racial identity politics and the “whites oppress minorities” garbage so popular in the 1990s in Hollywood. Not coincidentally, it’s also packed with typical liberal condescension racism. What do I mean? Observe.
Every white person in this film except the hero and the heroine are presented as enthusiastically genocidal. They want the Indians killed. The Army is stupid and bloodthirsty, and their commander chooses to wage a war of genocide rather than admit that he may have wrongly attacked the Indians. The railroad sees wiping out the Indians as the best way to go forward, as does the villain... and the pro forma "secret villain." Etc.
The film then continues its racism by making the hero into the “white man’s burden” trope. This is done by making it clear that the Indians cannot protect themselves and must rely entirely on the white hero to save them. Adding a touch more insult to this, we are assured that the white hero and heroine are pure by having the minority characters sense their purity as animals sense ghosts or earthquakes. For example, you will see this in a particularly offensive scene when a Chinese woman, from out of the blue, decides to offer a gift to the heroine on the sole basis that her purity and her beauty is something that has struck the Chinese woman with awe.
● Up Yours, Fans!: The first thing you will note is that the film craps all over the property. I love westerns, but I’m not a fan of the Lone Ranger. It always felt too campy to me, so this issue didn’t bother me. Still, I recognized throughout that the fans probably did not enjoy the complete perverting of the original property. Indeed, it is easier to see this as Jack Sparrow and His Retarded Sort-of-Outlaw Friend than it is to see it as The Lone Ranger.
And the villain is just the beginning. This film comes across like someone with a very sick mind wanting to assure themselves that everyone else is just like they are. Hence, all the whites except the hero think nothing of killing whoever gets in their way. Everyone is blood thirsty. They revel in hangings. They are cruel. And boy do they love killing Indians.
The hero is a real problem in this regard too. At one point, for example, he and Tonto find themselves buried up to their necks. Through a bit of impossible silliness, the hero’s horse gets him out of the jam. The hero then rides off and leaves Tonto buried. I can’t imagine a human being outside of a true psychopath who would do that to another person.
● Anachronisms: Further, while there is nothing in the film you can point to and say, “That didn’t exist back then,” the film keeps giving off that vibe. It almost has a steam punk feel to it at times, like Wild Wild West, and even when it doesn’t, the action and dialog all feel too modern. Examples include Helen Bonham’s fake-leg gun, parallel and crossing train tracks through the mountains, and things like the death of the Rangers. They ride into a canyon where the villain’s gang wipes them out as if they were snipers with high powered scopes that let them stand off at 1,000 yards while taking out the Rangers with extreme precision without being seen and without missing a shot. It feels like a special forces attack, not something from a western.
The love interest is bossy and conflicted. She loves the hero’s brother, but gets over that too easily. Even worse, we’re supposed to like her without ever really being given a reason. She is presumptuous cardboard with no chemistry with any other character.
The result of all of this is an offensive mess. From the opening frame until the ending, this film moves from scene to scene as unlikable characters engage in an orgy of brutality, self-righteousness, and anachronistic behavior. They never connect with each other and never connect with the audience. And by the time this film is over, you kind of wish they had all been killed. The plot is a slanderous cliché that feels more like it was assembled from expected scenes rather than a story someone wanted to tell. The director doesn’t care, though, because he’s busy inserting references to the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films throughout the film. The film is bloated. The writing is weak and uninspired. And the first 20 minutes just rush through a group of scenes that leave you wondering what else the film can do to annoy you... whining babies? cannibalistic, killer rabbits? a cross-dressing henchman in the old West? a hero who hates guns? All that's in there. Give me a break.
That’s why this one failed... and deservedly so.