Saturday, 10 August 2013



Wild, Wild, Depp.

149 Minutes. Starring: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, Ruth Wilson, Barry Pepper & Helena Bonham Carter. Director: Gore Verbinski.

OK Kemosabe, forget everything you've heard. So what's supposed to be the biggest flop of 2013 is a terrible movie right? Other critics wrong! With the Summer blockbuster season coming to a close it's only fitting it's given one last wild ride by the man and director, two horseman show that owned the Summer season of cinema for the last decade with the thrilling and buckwild 'Pirates Of The Caribbean' franchise. Johnny Depp and director Gore Verbinski are back in the saddle together to give cinema-goers it's oldest, most traditional favourite American story a modern twist. As we take a look at the man behind 'The Lone Ranger' mask we see a cowboys and indians tale that's worth your watch. Sure this isn't a classic update of a western like 'True Grit', 'Tombstone' or all those Clint Eastwood pictures...but you best believe it's no 'Wild, Wild West'. Take this with a pinch of 'Cowboys & Aliens' as one of the Summers more fun and entertaining pictures, earning it's place next to the darker 'Star Trek', 'Fast & Furious', 'Iron Man', 'Man Of Steel' and 'Wolverine' franchises. Like 'Despicable Me' this ones for the kids and before they go back to school, they get to live the dream of being a cowboy for real on the big screen.

But just who is the Lone Ranger? Behind the mask and the awesome ranger suit you'll find the arm and hammer talent of Armie Hammer. The man who made us see double while playing twins in 'The Social Network' and could have seen an Oscar for his role alongside Leo DiCaprio in the Eastwood directed biopic of 'J. Edgar' and of course who could forget...erm 'Mirror, Mirror'. On reflection here however, Armie is the out for justice, fairest of them all to play the iconic lawman. With the 26 year olds mature and character growing, developing perfomance it's clear to see co-headling his first big picture that this stars future and new franchise are in safe gun-totting hands. Hammer nails it even alongside everyone's favourite sideshow draw turned feature presentation. Who else to play the iconic Tonto but Johnny Depp? The man with many hats yet again helps make up a classic character into his own. You can put this outfitted style into the classic Depp museum alongside the best of the rest. Some have seen this as a 'minstrel show' like performance, but Depp brings the diligent respect as well as the hilarious humour. The king of the one word or visual gag brings more rib-tickles here to this railroad and keeps everything on track. The director/actor combo that brought you Jack Sparrow have done it again. Tonto Unchained!

From the old west train running through the production logo beginning, Disney have started another hit for the Mickey Mouse generation. Verbinski's vision brings us a big picture that is framed like a 90's great (think 'The Mummy' etc, when movies where fun instead of dark). All guns blazing for one wild ride and with some great cinematography from the grand deserts and canyons of Utah to the traditional look, sound and of course score of a classic western like 'The Lone Ranger'. The film opens with a dark uncomplete Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco with a balloon floating away from the outstretched arm of a kid riding a ferris wheel with his mother. It's these type of moments that make this film look and feel like it's done the right way. Attach that to some epic, scintillating, puncuated set-pieces from four legs to iron ones and you've got some great action scenes with horses, trains and automatics. This film may be long but, it's thrilling, tense and most of all fun. There's more jokes here to add the light relief to not only this picture but the darkest Summer in Hollywood record. Don't believe me...check the names. As good as the depths of many Hollywood, science-fiction blockbusters and franchises have been this year it's refreshing to have something light and friendly that doesn't take itself too seriously. After all the Summer season is for the children. Critics may be calling time on this and Depp but just like 'The Tourist' they fail to see through the Hollywood blood lust for just darkness. Just like 'The Tourist' is not an action, but a classic crime caper adenture fit for the Cary Grant 50's, 'The Lone Ranger' will one day serve as the perfect Sunday afternoon matinee movie...which there is a big-albeit motherly-market for.

If that isn't enough than the supporting cast reads like the Wanted poster of a Hollywood roll call. From the rising talent of Ruth Wilson to the veteran great Tom Wilkinson. The man who was born for Westerns-or maybe for the Wayne era-Barry Pepper put his spurs back on for a captain role that just clicks, while the usual slick William Fichtner looks truly sick as a disformed disgruntled villain. The man who ignited season 2 of 'Prison Break' and the first couple of minutes of 'The Dark Knight' (what a blunderbuss entrance of a cameo) was just born to play the bad boy. Even Helena Bonham Carter is in a Johnny Depp picture that doesn't have anything to do with Tim Burton. The woman who is having another incredible year from 'Les Mis' to Liz Taylor, steps it up here with a great American accent and an ivory pistol. This is one strong cast and those wishing Johnny Depp would just take off the mask and play "normal characters" (did you not see 'Public Enemies' or 'The Tourist'?), need to see just how deep this platinum chracter actor can take it. And to those calling for Depp's featherd head in playing a Native American may need to check his roots. As the man said he's trying "right the wrongs of the past", and with a respectful and real performance in a film that isn't half as downbeat as those writing it's a start. Today the west has won. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

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