'The Lone Ranger': What the Critics Are Saying

Peter Mountain/Disney

Disney's adaptation starring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer hits theaters July 3.

Johnny Depp reunites with Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski for the western romp that is The Lone Ranger.

The film is an adaption of the radio of and television serial that ran for a collective 24 years.  

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In Verbinski's revival, Depp plays Tonto, the Native American spirit warrior that recruits John Reid (Armie Hammer), an ex-Texas Ranger, to fight against corruption in the Wild West as a masked vigilante know as "The Lone Ranger."

In early reviews for Disney's film, which opens Wednesday, critics are saying that The Lone Ranger lacks the understated humor and franchise-launching potential of the first Pirates film. 

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The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy writes that the team behind Pirates'  cinematic debut falters as they try to create another blockbuster series.

"Floated conceptually and commercially by another eccentric comic characterization by Johnny Depp, this attempt by Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer to plant the flag for another Pirates of the Caribbean-scaled series tries to have it too many ways tonally, resulting in a work that wobbles and thrashes all over the place as it attempts to find the right groove."

But McCarthy goes on to commend William Fichtner's performance as the film's notorious outlaw.

"Fichtner (with the help of some highly creative makeup work by Depp's personal makeup ace Joel Harlow) serves up a first-rate villain, a genuinely bad guy with a messed up mouth and a brain that doesn't miss a trick."

Read what other critics have to say about The Lone Ranger below.

In his HitFix film review, Drew McWeeny wrote about his qualms with the film's script, penned by Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio and Justin Haythe

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"Let's be clear: this is a terrible film by any standards. Overlong, with a script that reads like a notes session no one ever organized into something coherent, and totally confused about what audience it supposedly plays to, 'The Lone Ranger' is grim, ugly and deeply unpleasant. One thing it fails to be, in any way, is fun, and considering who is involved behind the camera and in front of it, that is truly shocking."

Kevin Jagernauth of Indiewire notes the movie is aware that it could be the first in the franchise, and the film's story suffers from this foresight.  

"While the talent involved put their best foot forward, the movie suffers because it's ultimately preamble. By the time the origin movie stuff is wrapped up and the audience finally gets to see The Lone Ranger and Tonto on the first of their legendary deeds, it's far too late in the movie, particularly if your patience has already been drained by the simple yet over-elaborately staged plot, that struggles to be compelling."

Tim Grierson of ScreenDaily praises the film's enthralling visual composition, as well as the work put forth by the costume and makeup artists.

"Featuring locations across the American Southwest, The Lone Ranger doesn’t lack for arresting visuals, with Verbinski and cinematographer Bojan Bazelli filling the frame with beautiful shots of vast, rugged landscape. Penny Rose’s costumes and Joel Harlow’s makeup are also expert, with Harlow able to help Depp pull off his latest, albeit familiar, chameleon act."

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Grierson goes on to criticize Verbinksi's overuse of unrealistic action sequences that ultimately detract from the audience's experience.

"The Lone Ranger starts off at a fever pitch of action intensity — epic train chases bookend the movie — but because Verbinski elsewhere wants the movie to have a dark, realistic edge, these sequences simply feel phony and excessive."  

The Lone Ranger opens in theaters Wednesday.