The Lone Ranger rides into theaters today, amid a bit of excitement for the reunion of Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp, a decent helping of controversy over Depp's casting as Tonto, and a hail of brutal reviews. Here's what critics are saying:
- It's so bad, it has to be seen to be believed, writes Mick LaSalle at the San Francisco Chronicle. "But better yet, no. Don't see it, don't believe it, not unless a case of restless leg syndrome sounds like a fun time at the movies." The Lone Ranger himself is "a contemptible idiot," and "the filmmakers have no non-mercenary purpose" in reviving him. Depp is fine "within the limitations of the miserable script," but he "can't borrow a laugh."
- Depp may say he wants to move Tonto past the "noble savage" cliché, but "the portrayal is nonetheless bothersome," observes Tim Grierson at Screen Daily, because he's "still a bit of a buffoon," possessed of Depp's cutesy deadpan ticks. The action set pieces, meanwhile, wind up being mind-numbing, because Verbinski keeps "increasing the stakes without much thought to the laws of gravity or the limits of the human body."
- The movie "will unite generations in bafflement, stupefaction, and occasional delight," writes AO Scott at the New York Times. "Atrocities are followed by jokey riffs and sight gags, and what links them is .. a carnival barker's desperate need to hold on to a distracted audience's attention. Look kids, a man eating another man's heart! A horse in a tree! A genocidal massacre! Bunny rabbits with sharp teeth!"
- "I halfway believe that the discordant qualities of The Lone Ranger are intentional," writes Alex O'Hehir of Salon, one of the few fans, who thinks it's a smart movie "overstuffed with imagination and ideas." It delivers fun and adventure, but "never lets you forget that the Manifest Destiny that drove Anglo-American society across our continent was a thin veneer pasted across a series of genocidal crimes."