Critics slam Lone Ranger film as 'one hot mess'

Critics have laid into a $250 million blockbuster remake of '50s TV show The Lone Ranger, calling it "a scrap heap of train wreckage" and "one hot mess".

The film, created by the Pirates of the Caribbean team director Gore Verbinski and actor Johnny Depp, is due for release in New Zealand on Thursday.

But overseas reviewers have already savaged the film, with an approval rating of just 38 per cent on review aggregate site Metacritic, and 26 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Critics attacked the film's tone, pace, length, action scenes and directing.

In a review for the news agency Associated Press, critic Jake Coyle called it a "runaway train".

"Verbinski's film, stretching hard to both reinvent an out-of-date brand and breathe new life in the Western with a desperate onslaught of bloated set pieces, is a poor locomotive for Depp's eccentric theatrics," he wrote.

"For 2½ hours, the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced Lone Ranger inflates, subverts and distorts the conventions of the Western until, in an interminable climax, the big-budget spectacle finally, exhaustingly collapses in a scrap heap of train wreckage."

Hitfix reviewer Drew McWeeny agreed, calling the Lone Ranger "a misfire on every level".

"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."

McWeeny also criticised the Disney film for a scene in which a villain cuts a man's heart out and eats it.

"Someone needs to drag this thing out behind the barn and put a silver bullet in its brain. It's the only kindness this movie deserves," he wrote.

The Hollywood Reporter reviewer Todd McCarthy said the film "wobbles and thrashes all over the place" and called it a "vastly overlong extravaganza".

"(It) 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."

Time Out New York reviewer Keith Uhlich called the film's over-the-top action scenes "relentless".

"It's all too much and not enough-a succession of disparate, can-you-top-this episodes inelegantly piling up like skidding cars on a freeway. And that's not even taking into account the action scenes.

"Lord, those action scenes: Monotonous, loud and relentless, they're a punishing example of the self-satisfied, digitally augmented ephemera that typifies modern Hollywood moviemaking, and House Bruckheimer in particular."

Louise Keller from the Urban Cinefile website had some kind words to say about Depp's performance.

"The plot is rich and colourful and with a hi-ho Silver, non-stop humour and fast action; there is much to enjoy in the company of the incongruous trio of an in-form Depp, dashing Armie Hammer and a scene stealing white horse."

And Charlie McCollum from the Mercury News gave it 2½ stars, calling it "one hot mess" and saying it was "way too long, incoherent at times, loaded with clumsy dialogue and less than sure-footed in its tone".

But McCollum said it was still entertaining.

"Despite all its not-inconsiderable failings, it's surprisingly entertaining for its two and a half-hour running time. Every time it threatens to go completely off the rails, there's a spectacular action sequence or, more often, a dazzling bit of business from Johnny Depp as Tonto that pulls you back into the film."

The Lone Ranger is released in New Zealand on Thursday.

- nzherald.co.nz

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