Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Lone Ranger (2013)

2 Nominations, 0 Wins

Nomination: Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling - Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua Casny
Nomination: Best Achievement in Visual Effects - Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams, and John Frazier

Calvin and Hobbes comic strip

One of the challenges of the Every Oscar Ever project is that my expectations are almost always high at the start of a film.  If the Academy admired the film enough to bestow upon it one or more nominations, then I expect it will be a good film.  Thus, unless a film is truly outstanding, I often find the films I watch for this project falling short of my heightened expectations.

This was never going to be the problem with The Lone Ranger.  The film received withering reviews from critics, earning a 30% score on Rotten Tomatoes, with Rolling Stone's Peter Travers perhaps saying it best: "Your expectations of how bad The Lone Ranger is can't trump the reality."  The fact that the Academy recognized the film in two technical categories did little to raise my expectations for the film, and I turned it on with trepidation.

Well the critics did me a huge favor and made my life a lot easier, because my low expectations allowed me to enjoy The Lone Ranger far more than I could have imagined.  Yes, the framing device was unnecessary and killed the film's pacing; yes, Armie Hammer demonstrated a complete lack of charisma and is fighting several weight classes below his co-star Johnny Depp; and yes, its hard to determine whether the plot or the characters is less developed.  But because I expected every one of these things to be the case in advance of watching the film, I found myself able to accept the film's many limitations and enjoy the few things the film does well, namely the two things the film was recognized by the Academy for.

The visual effects by Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams, and John Frazier are pretty spectacular, and the train crashes, a long and proud Hollywood tradition, are the best I have ever seen.  Like Iron Man 3, which I recently reviewed, the film had no chance against the brilliant Gravity despite its wonderful effects, but they are definitely worth seeing.  Similarly, the makeup and hairstyling work by Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua Casny is notable.  The makeup used for Johnny Depp as Tonto was promoted by the studio, but it is the makeup of the old Tonto that is truly impressive.  While the visual effects team had no chance against the Oscar powerhouse that was Gravity, The Lone Ranger was nominated against Academy favorite Dallas Buyers Club and the far less auspicious Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa.  Harlow and Casny's work was impressive, but not especially breakthrough or unusual, and I am not terribly surprised that it lost out to Robin Mathews and Adruitha Lee's work for Dallas Buyers Club.

I can't recommend The Lone Ranger, as it really isn't a good movie and is a poor adaptation of a wonderful character.  Still, if you take Calvin's advice and expect the complete disaster described by the majority of critics, you might just enjoy yourself.

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