Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment continues its holiday season with the Blu-ray release of the new movie version of The Lone Ranger on December 17th, 2013.
The film is based on the radio series of the same name, and relates the origin story of the Lone Ranger and Tonto.
It is the first theatrical film for the Lone Ranger and Tonto in more than 32 years, and being plagued with production and budgetary problems, faced possible cancellation.
The Lone Ranger the Movie
The film opens in San Francisco 1933, where a boy who is a fan of the Lone Ranger discovers Tonto in a Wild West side show.
Tonto recounts the story of how he met the Lone Ranger and teamed with him to bring justice to the Wild West.
Back in 1869, lawyer John Reid is returning home on the Transcontinental Railroad, which is still being built across the country.
The train is also carrying a pair of prisoners – infamous outlaw Butch Cavendish and the Native American Tonto.
Cavendish is being transported for his hanging after being captured by Texas Ranger Dan Reid, who happens to be John’s brother.
The Cavendish gang both robs the train and rescues Butch, which results in the train derailing.
Tonto ends up in the local jail and Dan deputizes John as a Texas Ranger.
The brothers and six other Rangers form a posse and go after the Cavendish gang.
When the Rangers follow the trail into a canyon, Cavendish’s men ambush them and kill them all, with Cavendish taking a personal interest in killing Dan Reid.
Tonto escapes from jail and starts tracking Cavendish himself, which leads him to the dead men.
When he is burying the murdered Rangers, a white spirit horse awakens John, and Tonto believes that he is a “spirit walker”, and cannot be killed in battle.
John is believed to be dead, so he wears a mask to protect his identity.
Together, the Lone Ranger and Tonto work to bring Cavendish and his gang to justice, but just how deep does the corruption go?
While The Lone Ranger was a highly anticipated concept, the execution ended up being a bit of a disappointment for many.
The film makers behind the Pirates of the Caribbean movies were set to kick of a new manic adventure set in the Wild West, but that was not to be.
Even before release, there were concerns from Disney about the budget and the main cast and crew took a pay cut in order to reduce the costs.
All that said, for me the issues lie squarely with the movie that they ended up with.
Firstly the movie took a very long time to get to the main guts of the story, and a shorter version of the film would have been a big improvement.
Then the Lone Ranger character’s adamant allegiance to proper legal process. even in the face of corruption at all levels, defies disbelief.
While I can understand the need for the Lone Ranger to not resort to the brutal violence of the bad guys, his almost constant drive to discard any gain made by Tonto just becomes annoying.
With the Tonto character being the most capable and the title character as pretty inept, the film almost loses its purpose.
As one who watched re-runs of the Lone Ranger back when I was a kid, I really wanted to like this movie, but for me it was somewhat of an opportunity squandered.
On the plus side, the film is technically well executed and is loaded with action sequences that employ the latest technology to ratchet up the excitement.
There are a number of scenes that are certainly entertaining and funny, though as a whole, the movie just doesn’t live up to the quality of the earlier Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
I think that the movie will appeal to a younger or less critical audience, but the wide appeal of the Pirates films was not repeated here.
The cast includes Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as the Lone Ranger, as well as William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, Barry Pepper, James Badge Dale and Helena Bonham Carter.
The Lone Ranger was directed by Gore Verbinski, who directed Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, as well as Rango, and The Ring.
It appears that I was not the only one who took issue with the movie.
The movie received predominantly negative reviews, with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 31%, though did better at the IMDb with a score of 6.6/10.
The Lone Ranger went on to earn $89.3M at the US box office, which was no doubt a disappointment due to its extensive budget.
The Lone Ranger on Blu-ray Disc
The video on the disc is an AVC 1080p encode at 26 Mbps, and is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.40:1.
The movie was for the most part shot on film, and while there is certainly some level of effects, it looks great.
One of the advantages of these high budget titles is the excellent image quality, and this movie is no exception.
Find full resolution PNG screen captures taken directly from the disc at the details page for The Lone Ranger.
The main audio is lossless DTS-HD Master Audio with 7.1 channels – 24 bits resolution at 48 kHz.
The disc is a dual layer BD50, with 49.2 GB used and is coded for All Regions.
The Lone Ranger on Blu-ray Disc – The Bonus Features
This release comes with a small collection of ‘behind the scenes’ featurettes and additional footage.
Armies’s Western Road Trip follows the cast and crew to the various shooting locations for the movie in this 14 minute featurette.
The movie was largely shot in New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Arizona, where the film crew rebuilt the ‘Wild West’ for the shoot.
Armie Hammer narrates as he leads us around the lands that have been left somewhat untouched by man over the years.
The film makers certainly chose some great locations to shoot in and paid careful attention to detail in order to maintain a level of credibility.
Becoming a Cowboy is a shorter segment that covers the boot camp that the actors went on to learn the skills of the cowboy.
The cast members learn to load and fire guns as well as riding and working with ropes.
We are also introduced to the equine members of the cast.
The most important skill to learn was to stop a horse on the camera mark so that the shot is in focus.
Gun handling was of course another major part of the training, with the goal of ensuring that the cast appeared comfortable with their weapons.
Train buffs and action fans alike will enjoy the Riding the Rails of the Lone Ranger featurette.
The film crew built a 5 mile oval of track in the desert from scratch for the main railway sequences.
The locomotives were like-wise built especially and became characters in their own right.
The trains were also geared for safety in the stunt work that was performed at speed.
There were also some ‘fake trains’ that didn’t need rails and could be taken over a wider range of locations.
This segment is a lot of fun and certainly worth checking out!
There is a deleted scene featuring a swarm of locusts that is presented in computer generated pre-vis and storyboards, and a 4 minute blooper reel with your typical out takes and mistakes.
This release includes a DVD Copy for legacy players and a Digital Copy for iTunes.
The Lone Ranger on Blu-ray – Final Thoughts
The Lone Ranger is perhaps a bit of a missed opportunity film-wise, though stands strong for action fans who don’t demand too much else.
This Blu-ray release from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment looks and sounds superb and has a modest collection of supplements.
The retail price is $39.99, or order it right now at Amazon for $24.96, saving 38%!
- Blooper Reel
- Deleted Scene
- Riding the Rails of the Lone Ranger
- Armies’s Western Road Trip
- Becoming a Cowboy
Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer star in The Lone Ranger, from Jerry Bruckheimer Films and Director Gore Verbinski. It’s a wild ride of high velocity action, explosions and gunfights that brings the famed masked legend to life through brand-new eyes. The Lone Ranger (Hammer), the last of his kind, teams with Tonto (Depp), a dark and mysterious vigilante, to seek vengeance after justice has failed them. It’s a runaway train of epic surprises, as these two unlikely heroes must learn to work together before the ultimate showdown between good and evil explodes.