DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

The Lone Ranger, Blu-ray (2013)

An epic-looking film with a weak script but reference sound and video.

Published on December 27, 2013

The Lone Ranger, Blu-ray (2013)

The Lone Ranger, Blu-ray (2013)

Cast: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer
Director: Gore Verbinski
Studio: Walt Disney (12/17/13) Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Copy
Video: 2.40:1 anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9 1080p HD color
Audio: English DTS-Master Audio, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Length: 149 minutes
Extras: “Armie’s Western Road Trip” (14 min.), “Becoming a Cowboy” featurette (8 mins.), “Riding the Rails of the Lone Ranger” (10 min.), Deleted scenes, Bloopers
Movie rating: ***       Video: *****      Audio: *****

After the failure of John Carter, the Disney Studios needed a big hit. The Lone Ranger wasn’t it. I passed on the movie based on the uniformly bad reviews, but actually kinda, sorta enjoyed the movie in its Blu-ray incarnation.

I grew up with the original TV show, played ably by ex-Republic stuntman Clayton Moore. This new Ranger, played by Armie Hammer is pretty dull. He’s hemmed in by a weak script and he plays second fiddle to Johnny Depp as Tonto. Depp is over the top, and basically this film is structured like the Pirates of the Caribbean movies which share the studio, director, Depp, and some of the writers.

The movie is told in flashback, and pretty much sticks to the Lone Ranger origin story that was invented for the radio drama and then used in the TV show in the fifties. Of course there’s a lot more action, and it is the spectacular action sequences and the stunning scenery that sells the movie.

The first half of the movie drags, while the highlight is the massive train chase which is flawlessly executed with a lot of real stunts and a healthy dose of CGI. While the case is thrilling, this is a two and a half hour movie with 20 minutes of terrific action. I did enjoy the William Tell Overture (just as on the radio program) in an interesting Hans Zimmer arrangement that makes you want to cheer.

The film looks great. I watched it on a 46” flat screen and on an 85” projection screen. It just couldn’t look better. Scenes filmed at iconic Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly are stunning to look at. In terms of audio, this is a state of the art 7.1 soundtrack. There are pinpoint surround cues that really put you into the scene. The 5.1 mix is equally persuasive.

The overall craftsmanship on display is of very high caliber. Video, production design, audio, costumes and sets are done with great care. If only the script had been better, and the movie could decide if it is a violent western (one character has his heart cut out) or a comedy for Depp to do his irreverent mugging.

I actually liked The Lone Ranger more than I thought I would based on the rotten reviews. It’s fun, but slow. If you can wade through the extended setup and make it to the train chase, you’ll be well-rewarded. On the other hand, I doubt there will be a sequel (same as John Carter), which the producers had surely hoped to have.

—Mel Martin




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