Posts Tagged ‘The Lone Ranger’

You’re NextThe ConjuringFrances HaThe Worlds EndOnly God ForgivesThe Lone RangerElysiumAbout TimeThe WolverineRush

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From gratuitous violence to clever satire via a couple of young adult novel adaptations it has been another varied month, this is what I watched:

Only God Forgives: Revenge thriller set against the backdrop of Bangkok’s underworld. An oppressive and overpowering film that tonally shares more with director Nicolas Winding Refn’s earlier film Valhalla Rising (2009) than with the film it is constantly compared to Drive (2011). Ryan Gosling is good but overshadowed by Vithaya Pansringarm and Kristin Scott Thomas.Only God Forgives

The Conjuring: A surprisingly old fashioned horror movie from James Wan the director of the first Saw movie. A great cast including Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson and Lili Taylor combined with a good balance and suspense and jumps make a surprisingly enjoyable horror movie.The Conjuring

RED 2: The team from RED are back and are joined by Anthony Hopkins, Byung-hun Lee and Catherine Zeta-Jones. More of the same disposable fun. If you liked the first one, you will like this.RED 2

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa: After more than twenty years on TV and radio, Steve Coogan’s alter ego Alan Partridge makes his movie début. Very silly and very funny.Alan Partridge Alpha Papa

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters: The second instalment of the reinvention of Greek mythology series. If you like the first movie you will probably enjoy this as it is basically more of the same. There are less cameos than in the first movie but this is made up for by a very funny Nathan Fillion.Percy Jackson Sea of Monsters

The Lone Ranger: Directed by Gore Verbinski, starring Johnny Depp as Tonto, panned by the press and ignored by audiences, it actually isn’t bad. It would have been a lot better if the 150minutes had been trimmed down to 95.THE LONE RANGER

2 Guns: Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg bounce off each other well in this action buddy movie that is reminiscent of movies of the 80’s and 90’s like Lethal Weapon. Surprisingly good fun.2 Guns 10

About Time: Time travelling romantic comedy drama staring Domhnall (Brendan) Gleeson, Rachel McAdams (who interestingly also starred in The Time Traveller’s Wife). As fun, funny and charming as you would expect from a Richard Curtis. Bill Nighy is great plying his favourite character, Bill Nighy.About Time

Kick Ass 2: Containing all the elements that made Kick Ass great (except Nicolas Cage) but it all falls flat. There a few good moments but overall the film is a disappointing mess.Film Title: Kick-Ass 2

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones: Based on a popular series of books about a girl who discovers she may be a daemon hunter. It doesn’t have anything new or original to say but it is enjoyable enough fluff. A sequel, City of Ashes is set to start filing in a couple of weeks.The Mortal Instruments City of Bones

Elysium: Following District 9, his satire on race and xenophobia discussed as a sci-fi, Neill Blomkamp does the same for social equality and the poverty/wealth gap in the world today. Matt Damon is a dependable star, Jodie Foster makes a good villain (despite a distracting accent); Alice Braga and Diego Luna are sadly underused but Sharlto Copley and William Fichtner do exactly what you expect from them. The film looks stunning and the near two hour runtime flies by.Elysium

As is often the case, the movie of the month isn’t necessarily the best film of the month, but the most pleasantly surprising:conjuring-bannerThe Conjuring

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The greatest revelation of the month; The Lone Ranger isn’t a bad film, in fact its actually quite enjoyable. Armie Hammer’s deadpan, fish out of water portrayal of the Lone Ranger is good. Johnny Depp does some great physical comedy in the vain of Chaplin and Keaton. It’s great to see the brilliant Ruth Wilson on the big screen and she makes what she can of the thinly drawn clicked character. And William Fichtner is William Fichtner which is all you ever want him to be in a movie! There are some great sets used for real set pieces and physical special effects rather than overused CGI (doubly a good thing because the CGI is shaky at best). So why am I glad the movie is “underperforming” ? Lots of reasons:The_Lone_Ranger_Banner

The runtime is a few minutes short of a week, well actually it is only 149 minutes. This doesn’t even feel that long when you are watching the movie especially when you compare it to Gore Verbinski’s oh so long and dull Pirates of the Caribbean sequels. But, at 100 minute movie would have been so much better. I have often said that the greatest art comes from overcoming constraints, if you have creative freedom to make a film on as bigger budget as you want and no real constraints on the runtime you will become lazy as a filmmaker and that is what Verbinski has become, lazy. To such an extent that I don’t even remember why I loved the original Pirates of the Caribbean movie, but I do remember loving it. Had they taken all the little quirks that do nothing to progress the plot or develop the characters out of the movie, it would have been so much better. Had they been restricted on running time we would have seen the best bits of the chain chase and not the whole convoluted thing.The Lone Ranger and Pirates of the Caribbean

And this brings me onto the next thing. The budget, it is estimated at $250,000,000. What could they possibly have spent $250million on? Could they have told the story for half that amount? Had they done so the movie probably wouldn’t have gotten the backlash it has got from audiences and reviewers, it would have turned a profit and Verbinski would have been given the opportunity to do what he appears to like doing more than anything. Make a sequel or three. It’s not my place to tell Disney how to spend their money, but someone please tell them this does not make good business sense, did they learn nothing from John Carter? Before either Gore Verbinski or Andrew Stanton (director of John Carter) are let lose with another multi million dollar budget they should be made to prove they can remember how to work within constraints. I suggest something like “The Duel Project”. for those who don’t know, producer Shinya Kawai challenged Ryuhei Kitamura and Yukihiko Tsutsumi to make a movie each using just two principal actors/actresses and one location. They had a week to complete the project and came up with Aragami and 2LDK (both 2003).The Lone Ranger John Carter

I have more of a problem with the Monument Valley location than I ever thought I would. The real issue is John Ford, he famously used Monument Valley as a location for his westerns from his early silent days working with actor Harry Carey through his seminal movies including Stagecoach (1939), the “Cavalry Trilogy” (1948-1950) and The Searchers (1956). The first problem is where Monument Valley is (over 500 miles from any part of Texas). This really wasn’t a problem in the 1920’s and 30’s when ford first started using the largely unknown location as it was no less authentic than the Hollywood back lots that other filmmakers were using. It was new to audiences, where as today it is familiar and distracting. Ford was famous for his epic widescreen landscapes, Monument Valley was the most iconic of these but it was more than just a pretty backdrop. Located on the Utah, Arizona border Monument Valley represented freedom, freedom for the studios 650 miles away in Hollywood. It was also home to a Navajo Reservation that gave for access to extras for his films as well as helping fuel his interest in Interest in Navajo culture. This location along with a few others including the Colorado River became mainstays of Ford’s movies representing many different parts of the old west. Ford wasn’t just telling stories, he was creating a legend that endures to this day, Ronald L. Davis said it best in his book John Ford, Hollywood’s Old Master “He captured the nations creation myth on film”. this spirit of freedom and independence is trampled on by a movie made by Disney with a budget somewhere north of $200million. Then you have the biggest issue. If you are going to film a western in Monument Valley, whether you intend it or not you are invoking the spirit of Ford and his movies, and that is something that should be done with care. The silly tone of The Lone Ranger can be overlooked for the positive portrayal of Native American’s within the culture but that is one tick in a positive box against a lot of negatives.The Lone Ranger and Stagecoach

Finally, the real issue, the film is a mess. Although it condemns genocide, it does it in an almost cheerful and off hand way. Does the film wish to be a hard hitting commentary on the poor treatment of the native Americans, or does it want to be a fun romp? Unfortunately I can’t help thinking it wants to be the latter but pretends to be the former in defense of Depp’s casting as a Comanche.  To put it simply although an okay movie, its failure might just prompt film makers to think a little more and work a little harder to make good movies not just okay ones. Steven Spielberg and Christopher Nolan have proved that big budget movies can be fun and intelligent at the same time and still make a profit.

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