Home Movies Johnny Depp “Lone Ranger”: Early Bad Reviews Signal Disney Disaster

Hi ho and away we go. Is “The Lone Ranger” going to be Disney’s “John Carter” of summer 2013? Yikes. Breaking the review embargo, both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter savage the $200 million plus blockbuster starring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, directed by Gore Verbinski.

Variety: “…this over-the-top oater delivers all the energy and spectacle audiences have come to expect from a Jerry Bruckheimer production, but sucks out the fun in the process, ensuring sizable returns but denying the novelty value required to support an equivalent franchise…”

That’s not all. Variety also has a lot of criticism for Depp and for Hammer. On Depp:  “With his bone-white face separated by four vertical black streaks, Tonto certainly looks distinctive, though his very appearance is what disguises the inherently Depp-like appeal of the character. Whether offering birdseed to his crow-hat or conning gullible white men into unfair trades (an amusing reversal on history), the actor’s bow-legged, pidgin-speaking Tonto needs more dynamism to register through all that makeup.”

Hammer is described as a “vanilla protag[onist].”

The Hollywood Reporter says Depp “looks like a mummified Christopher Walken.” And it gets worse from there.  Todd McCarthy calls “The Lone Ranger” a work that wobbles and thrashes all over the place as it attempts to find the right groove.” Both reviews suggest that a sequel is unnecessary.

This hasn’t been a good summer for tentpole movies. While “Man of Steel” has made money, it’s gotten poor reviews. Both “After Earth” and “White House Down” are duds. Early release “Jack and the Beanstalk” was brutally forgotten. It does seem like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas’s recent dire predictions are coming true about these $200 million colossuses.

“The Lone Ranger” screens tonight for most media. Here’s hoping the trades were overly critical. But it’s already scoring very low with critics and bloggers– 25%– on RottenTomatoes.

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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
78 replies to this post
  1. as a theatre projectionist let me out of the booth,at 2hrs ,so ican go home! hate too long movies.i f it aint a good story in 2hrs, longer dont make it better. and,hollywood,has run outa ideas,get,some new,and funny ones!l i like mgm, musical ones, of the 50’s,etc.,i love to show them,but not over one and a half hrs.,please! mk

  2. All the new critic bashing has gotten me even MORE psyched to see this movie – agree with Patty Henry – I want my summer blockbusters to be FUN, long, and stuffed with stuff. Not to mention Depp is one of the finest scene-stealing male actors of our time, and this article makes it sound as tho the reviews (for what they are worth) are universally poor. Depending on what you read, they are all over the place, about Depp, about the amount of action, whining about the violence (you’ve got to be kidding me). Even more intrigued by all the spoilerish reviews. And I’ve NEVER trusted critics who painted Indiana Jones 4 with rose-colored glasses and that one was FLAT, sad, and 2 hours of my life I won’t get back. A lot of this sounds like bashing just to sound sophisticated. But Depp can make any movie better, Verbinski is an incredible director who fought for this film – hope folks blow off the critics and make up their OWN minds. Geez, a lot of these critics don’t even have a degree in film – pffft. Heard there was a lot of GOOD buzz about this movie at pre-screenings too, funny that isn’t getting written about.

  3. The Lone Ranger was a hero of mine. Tonto was a companion! Not a dip s$it looking buffoon acting like a dip s$it buffoon!
    Ain’t going! Just like dead people, I want to remember them as they WERE not how they look now!

  4. The first mistake was making Tonto ( a sidekick ) the star. The second mistake was the dead bird on Tonto’s head.

    I’ll wait for it on HBO.

  5. Its the Lone Ranger and tonto. Not a weird Tonto and the lone ranger. Totally bad casting. As a big time Lone Ranger fan I’m disappointed.

  6. Just watched True Grit for the third time. Sure was satisfying to watch a good western! Don’t see myself watching this three times.

  7. I loved Depp as Willy Wonka, don’t know what you are talking about there. And Alice in Wonderland being a trifle blah was the fault of a mediocre plot, not Depp’s acting. I am definitely going to see the new Lone Ranger movie. John Carter of Mars owned, by the way, aside from being a bit slow at the start, and the critics are wrong more often than they are right.

  8. “Hollywood makes films hollywood wants to see, no one else.”

    I think a serious western movie, whether this (Lone Ranger) or something new entirely and not a re-invention of old TV or movies might actually do well. No politics, just good drama, plot and characters. May not be the monster blockbuster for which they are looking, but could be done with far fewer special effects and at a much less expensive price tag.

  9. So sad to see them screw up the work of Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels, should have stuck with the original format and scripts to retell the story.

  10. These days, most of the movies rely on special effects which is fine, but they have a place and time. People are bombarded with technology and almost saturated to the point where they want to see humans in realistic situations and lifelike scenery instead of bubble captions and unrealistic feats only cartoon characters can achieve. Movies are better when they bring life to the screen, not cartoon characters to life!!!

  11. Just from my personal point of view, I have not been to the movies for about 5 years. American movies have long been miserable. If not for the special effects, they would never make any money. One of my favorite directors, M. Night S. ( sorry, I can’t spell his name correctly.) has been essentially black-balled in Hollywood.
    Needless to say, Hollywood continues to struggle to be relevant. What more can you expect from a group of people who constantly need validation?

  12. he has just been doing why too much heron.. He should be a poster boy heron abuse see kids this is what happens when you move to paris and become a heron addict

  13. We just watched Don Juan de Marco on Netflix, loved Depp’s performance, and gave the movie 4 stars. Depp has shown himself to be a very versatile actor, imho, and we are looking forward to seeing him as Tonto, the Shaman.

    Joan G. in Hawaii

  14. I could understand it if he was just getting typecast as “insane guy in whiteface,” but I’m pretty sure that at Depp’s level you get to pick and choose your own roles. Stick with what you do best, I guess.

  15. I’ll wait to see The Lone Ranger on pay-per-view, since its getting horrible reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. I’ll go back to the theater and watch Man Of Steel for the second time, since its the only movie I enjoyed this Summer.

  16. The only way I would pay to see this movie is if there were no guns in it and all the characters were black, muslim, gay and lesbian and No american actors in it

  17. Sadly Johnny is another high school drop out leftist. Nice guy but he supports liberal fascism. O-Hollywood can F off.

  18. Johnny Depp, LIBERAL MORON, was trying so hard not to sound like the stereotype of an Indian, that he ended up sounding like the lady in the SOUND OF MUSIC. Speaking of politically correctness, they probably should have done something with his characters NAME since TONTO means STUPID.

  19. the commercials showing a horse riding on buildings and a train, just look stupid! Depp looks stupid…when has history ever shows an American Indian looking anything like that? Sad when a classic is just drawn and quartered as a horrible remake. and the problem with superman is the horrible directing… you can blame the bourn directory for that! what’s the point of watching movie if you can’t watch it?

  20. Depp basically ruined Dark Shadows with his ridiculous take on Barnabas Collins. Here, it’s more of the same stupid make-up. He hasn’t made a quality movie for YEARS.

  21. Well, since the critics hated it – I’ll probably like it. Hadn’t intended to see it (till it’s available on Netflix). But, now I will. Thanks, Hollywood Reporter and Variety.

  22. The Lone Ranger is NOT supposed to be a comedy. I’m sick of this trend to take dramas or action stories and making comedies out of them. The recent “Green Hornet” comes to mind.

  23. Armie Hammer doesn’t have the pelotas to dress in the blue jumpsuit and white hat of the original Lone Ranger. And Johnny looks like Tonto on peyote.

  24. The problem is Hollywood is making crap in the hopes of it catching on so they can churn out crap sequels. Tell an ORIGINAL story and let it catch on. And for Christ’s sakes STOP making Childrens stories into movies! Jack and the Beanstalk? Someone thought THIS was a good idea? Hansel & Gretel? C’mon! How about we make a movie about Humpty Dumpty Next? Or maybe the Old Woman in the Shoe? Or oh I know.. Little Miss Muffett, that would be awesome!
    Man of Steel was crap, Superman has been plaaaayyeeddd-OUT. I liked White House Down, the first time I saw it, 4 months ago when it was called ‘Olympus has Fallen’.

  25. Johnny Depp’s get-up as Tonto is ridiculous and insulting, and I don’t think that today’s targeted youthful audiences will be interested in a retrofitted version of a very charming old TV series, no matter the sound and fury of the film version.

  26. You don’t take a Western Hero that we grew up with and turn him into a Johnny Depp comedy. What’s with the face paint and dead bird on his head?

  27. Maybe it’s my unhappy career experience, but the more movies I watch I become convinced that they’re all sent through some really long committee approval process that kills anything spontaneous or original. My kids watch a lot of movies at home and we go to some in the theaters too. I saw the trailer to this one at the theater last weekend (Monster U was cute…), and my first thought was “is this a comedy?” because the trailer was just stupid. No one laughed. Not even the kids. And the Johnny Depp’s paint strikes me as highly offensive…

  28. From what I have seen of the trailers this is another movie to pass up to do something more worthwhile. Naval gazing for example.

  29. I saw an early preview hosted by Disney and I thought the film had some fantastic moments … as well as terrible ones. It was very odd — as if they couldn’t decide between making a good western or a bizarre comedy. Personally, I wish they had gone for the good western. There was so much potential there, but a tree-walking horse, wild rabid rabbits and a scorpion-licking “rescue” took it WAY off into the deep end! I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

  30. It’s the LONE RANGER, not Citizen Kane or Lawrence of Arabia. It’s supposed to be fun. I have not trusted in “journalists” reviewers…ever.

  31. If you go to see a Lone Ranger movie you’re going to see the Lone Ranger. Tonto’s great and all, but he’s the sidekick, not the main course. It shows a basic lack of understanding of the material.

  32. I’d rather watch a Johnny Depp interview than one of his films recently. Jack Sparrow was great as were many of his earlier characters but in the last 10 years he has just started putting on silly voices and dressing up weird to form a character. His character in Dark Shadows was somewhat of a return to form but I still can’t forgive him for Willy Wonka or the Mad Hatter. Up until now I thought it was Tim Burton’s fault for being a terrible story teller but from what I have seen of Tonto I think we are in store for another poorly developed character that looks the part but doesn’t necessarily fill the part. The voice is awful, really awful.

  33. Depp has been in a lot of poor movies recently. All of his blockbusters have fallen on their ass since pirates. The biggest mistake he has made is jumping into too many Jack Sparrow type roles that in the end don’t live up to his original character. Tim Burton has also vastly lost any credibility. Dark Shadows was his only half decent film in 10 years. They are like a really great band who just get continuously worse with each album and never really change up the process.

  34. Depp is not a very good actor. His pirate movies were pretty good INSPITE of his fagy pirate
    acting. The old pirate Barbosa looked and acted waaaay better than johnnie boy. Just waching the short tv comercials about his new movie, I decided to NOT waste my money. I love westerns,
    but this movie seems like a joke.

  35. Dude, Depp could read the phone book and I’d be there watching. This is SUMMER TIME. Some of us still have FUN. I love the over-the-top action and outrageous behavior. Disney messed up the Pirates 2-3…if ‘one rubberized squid was good…10K would be better’ but left
    alone, no one is better than DEPP. HE is worth the price of admission. You take yourselves way too seriously…PS ANYTHING that VARIETY and REPORTER diss is a good clue that we’ll enjoy it.
    They are paid off by competitors…don’t you know anything???!

  36. Another example of a complete lack of creative talent in Hollywood. With no original ideas, they just use a formula of taking an old American kid’s favorite and exploiting it with bizarre schtick. What’s next, Barney Google or the Katzenjammer Kids battle Serial Killers from Mars?

  37. Looks like a $200 million train wreck for Disney. They should have spent that on a new E-ticket ride at Disneyland. Their ROI would have been much better.

  38. I won’t spend another cent to support the American-hating Depp. Stay in France and make movies for the snobbish, superior French, Johnny.

    Oh, how old do you have to be to drop the Johnny?!

  39. I won’t see j the movie ust because of the crow on Tonto’s head. It’s the most ridiculous costume I’ve ever seen in a movie. Why couldn’t they use a real Native American portrayed in tradtional dress instead of a cartoon character?

  40. The anti-male, anti-American values Hollywood is steeped in whipsaw almost every attempt to revive our classic boyhood franchises. “Edgy” spins against the drive of “once-mainstream.” And so these lame, over-produced, campy shows disappears up their own fundament — as they say in LA.

  41. Only one place worse than D.C. That’s Hollywood. The Lone Ranger is exhibit A, your honor. The only thing they could have done worse is debuted it on CNN.

  42. Depp couldn’t touch Silverheels on his best day. The original Ranger was actually pretty low budget stuff, but Jay carried the show by himself. I knew it would fail when I learned it was going to be a Disney project…..

  43. Just watching the trailer made me want to turn off the TV, not go see the movie. I grew up watching the Lone Ranger TV show. The Lone Ranger was every bit a strong and wise man. Hammer looks like a wimpy dude who doesn’t know which end is north or south until the “Noble Savage” Tonto shows him the way to be a man. Please. Enough of this PC crap. Let the Lone Ranger and Tonto be who they are; don’t ruin everything.

  44. You can’t make a movie called The Lone Ranger and then focus the marketing on Depp as a side character. It shows a total lack of confidence in your basic premise which audiences will pick up on.

  45. After I saw Johnny Depp looking like a cartoon of an Indian I knew I would never want to see the Movie. Maybe next they will dress him up in black-face and have him play Martin Luther King.

  46. I feel like a sitting duck at a theater now. I never hear any acknowledgment that half of America might feel the same way. I think the whole expectation of Americans having to rush out to see a movie the opening weekend or it is considered a “dud” needs to change as well. Movies need to be made with the expectation that revenue is going to take much longer to recoup, and eventually MOST profits will be from streaming at home.

  47. Whoreywood likely portrayed a American favorite, the Lone Ranger,
    as a base and degrading vulgarity.
    Typical whoreywood behavior.

    So, have just finished my first decade of NOT going to the movies,
    and, I haven’t missed anything..

  48. Didn’t the producers have any expert consultants? Pick up any history of American Western art, the stately majesty of the SouthWest Native Americans attracted quite a few famous European Impressionists in the period 1890-1930. The Lone Ranger is from Texas.

    Get a load of what Tonto looks like in this movie ! Embarrassing to a video game designed for pre-teenagers, let alone a movie for adults.

  49. All you have to do is see the 5 seconds of Johnny Depp’s awful acting in the commercials they are running to know that this will be an epic failure.

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