As I learned a long time ago, what the critics say is totally irrelevant to whether or not a movie is going to hit my personal buttons. I liked Lone Ranger a lot on the first viewing, loved it by the third viewing. Yeah, I've been back to see it a few times. It was much better the second time, as I'd accepted the things that bugged me, and I could just sit back and enjoy it for what it is. Which is a highly amusing and enjoyable Western, with characters I loved, dialogue that made me laugh out loud, and that all important piece of the puzzle for me -- a very good score. And considering the composer is Hans Zimmer, that is super high praise from me. This is the first score of his I've truly liked since... well, since Black Rain. It works perfectly in the film and I've been listening to it on repeat at home.
If you want to read a great review of this movie, one that is fair and hits the faults as well as the good, this review sums it all up perfectly. He addresses all the critics' points, and his analysis is fascinating. There's not much I can say about the good and bad of this film that he didn't say better. Go read it if you want to see what Lone Ranger is really like. It's well worth the read.
I should say I come to this film with no Lone Ranger baggage. I did not watch the old series. My parents did, avidly, so the Lone Ranger was something I was always familiar with, but not intimately so. When the 1980 movie, The Legend of the Lone Ranger, came out, we all went and saw it. And it stunk. And that was the only Lone Ranger I ever knew. (I recently re-watched Legend... and it was pretty much as bad as I remember. Not terrible, just so cheesy that it was hard to sit through and not continuously roll my eyes.)
I love how the story is told by old Tonto. For me, it's a great framing device that allows the story to be a little wacky and off. It's the prerogative of storytellers throughout the ages to make up whatever they want. And I love that there are questions the boy asks about the story, that Tonto doesn't answer. This is the kind of stuff my writerly half digs to pieces.
And I absolutely love Tonto. Johnny Depp, for me, is perfect in the role in this particular version. And I think he looks great. Even on first viewing, this instantly became my favorite Depp character. I loved the first Pirates movie, but could do without the sequels. Tonto is a hundred times more interesting and awesome than Jack Sparrow, with a far more interesting personality.
But I was also impressed with Armie Hammer as John Reid. Sure his version of the Lone Ranger may not be the ideal strong hero type out the starting gate, but he's so earnest and determined and full of high values and ideals, that I really liked him. And I thought his growth worked well here. And he sure does wear that suit, hat, and mask well.
I also loved James Dale Badge as Dan Reid. I had seen him earlier this summer as the main henchman in Iron Man 3, but I didn't even recognize him in Lone Ranger until after I read his name. He is so different in this, in looks, voice, actions, and he's perfect as a Texas Ranger and John's older brother.
The bad guys all work for me too. Hard to recognize William Fincter under that ugly makeup, but he's there.
And the horse... can't leave without mentioning that the horse is hilarious.
I also love that the script is quite smart, in that it doesn't dumb things down for the audience. There are many subtle touches and moments in this film that I appreciated immensely.
A lot of the scenery is Monument Valley, which is beautiful, though I wish the colors weren't so washed out. That's one of my biggest complaints, which is really a minor thing overall. I didn't find it too long, and didn't want to leave the theater. I came out of the movie wanting to look for my horse, not my car... and that's what I want out of my movies... to escape, to immerse in another world, and to come out still in that world.
This one works for me.
For another review, check out Hamlette's take on it. She comes from a very strong love of the Clayton Moore/Jay Silverheels versions, so I enjoyed reading her perspective. I admit, the previews for Lone Ranger weren't that good, and I might have passed on this one if she hadn't recommended I go. I'm so very glad I did.