Best Films of 2014

2014 was an amazing year at the theater. Whether it’s a struggling actor trying to make it big on Broadway or a seemingly guilty husband trying to make sense of his wife’s disappearance, 2014 offered up bold, risky and innovative films to be remembered. Yes, Boyhood will be eyeing Oscar gold come Feb. 22, but the year was at it’s best when its films grabbed you by the brain and wouldn’t let go.

10. The Grand Budapest Hotel Wes Anderson’s quirky, surprisingly violent, but no less charming tale of a hotel concierge and the lobby boy who becomes his best friend was released way back in March. Yet it’s a top contender in the awards race (it has a shot at best original screenplay and Anderson is finally in the picture and director fight) which says a lot for its staying power.

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9. Guardians of the Galaxy One of two summer blockbusters to make the list, James Gunn’s Guardians is the less Marvel-y of all the Marvel films released thus far (apart from maybe Iron Man 3). Yet its mega-popular. Why? Apart from the fact it introduces Marvel’s full-fledged cosmic universe, it’s just a damn good, entertaining film you can watch over and over again without getting bored (I know I have). Who needs Iron Man when you have Groot?

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8. Nightcrawler While Jake Gyllenhaal came up empty handed when it came time for Oscar nominations, he still gives one of the best performances of the year as the dangerously obsessive Lou Bloom, who, once he’s roped into the world of crime journalism, will do whatever it takes to get the perfect footage. Its dark satire on the way we perceive news…and the way its given to us.

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7. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Yep, it is that good. Say what you want about the Planet of the Apes franchise, it’s come back in full-swing thanks to the vision of Matt Reeves. Not to say that Rise of the Planet of the Apes hadn’t already pushed it towards success (it was surprisingly good), but Dawn take it to another level and lands in the pantheon of sequels to top their predecessor in every way.

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6. Interstellar Christopher Nolan’s space opera is sometimes too ambitious for its own good. Nevertheless, it is a mind-boggling, emotion-heavy epic, one that pulls at both the mind and the heart in ways few films can achieve. Only Nolan can be so frustrating, yet so genius, as a filmmaker.

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5. Whiplash The most “normal” film on the list, Whiplash is simply about a young guy trying to be one of the best drummers in the world (an ever-growing Miles Teller), while an emotionally–and sometimes physically–abusive instructor (a never-better J.K. Simmons) berates him every step of the way. The film hangs on its stars’ performances, but its also the energetic style of a young filmmaker that raises it to greatness.

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4. Snowpiercer Maybe I’m cheating a little, but this South Korean film–set in a world where remaining survivors of a climate-change apocalypse live on a globe-trekking, class-based train–made it’s official release in the U.S. in 2014, so don’t mind me if I put this insanely inventive film on the list. One of the most visually stunning and creative films I’ve seen, Snowpiercer reels you in from the start and never lets go.

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3. Foxcatcher Foxcatcher is a tough film to watch. It’s even harder to accept that it’s all true. All the more reason to put it on the list. The real-life story of delusional multimillionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell in a shocking turn) and the Olympic wrestler he recruits to lead his team to gold (Channing Tatum at a career-best), Foxcatcher sticks with you. Research it after you see it and you will appreciate it even more.

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2. Gone Girl It seems like a film only David Fincher could pull off. Thankfully, that’s exactly what happened. Ben Affleck plays a husband who’s the prime suspect in his wife’s disappearance, but it can’t be that simple right? Rosamund Pike it Oscar worthy here, and the power in the film is in its almost darkly comedic deconstruction of love, marriage and the roles of men and women in society. Gillian Flynn, who also wrote the novel, was robbed of a best Adapted Screenplay Oscar nomination.

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1. Birdman Birdman is cinema at its finest. The majority of the film from start to finish is all one shot and if that doesn’t pull you in, how’s this: Michael Keaton may be on his way to an Oscar in the best performance of his career. It’s funny, insanely cool (Edward Norton embodies cool) and an all-around commentary on society’s obsession (and then castration) of celebrities. All the more reason to be obsessed with Birdman.

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Thoughts? Agree? Disagree? Wonder why Boyhood didn’t make the list? Comment!

The 20 Best Summer Movies of the Last Decade

With possibly two of the best summer films ever on the horizon-Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Guardians of the Galaxy-I want to take a look back at the last 10 years (not counting this year-2004-2013) of summer films. Some summers stood out with memorable pictures (thank you, 2008) while others fell into the best-left-forgotten zone (I’m looking at you, 2006). To form the list, I factored in, to a degree, popularity and summer movie-ness-as in, whether it has all the necessities to be a great summer movie and uses them effectively. But the best ones will be the films that transcend being just a summer flick. So, here are the 20 best summer movies of the last decade.

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20. Pineapple Express (2008)
The start of a beautiful on-screen friendship, Seth Rogen and James Franco’s Pineapple Express isn’t just the pothead’s comedy (even though it does cater to a specific demographic). It’s arguably the film that propelled Franco into his current “bad boy” persona (even though it was probably only the cheery on top). The duo has since starred together in This is the End (we’ll get to that later) and will be featured in this year’s The Interview, the movie that may take us to war with North Korea. But when the bombs drop, lets not forgot about this little gem that started it all.

19. Tropic Thunder (2008)
Another fantastic comedy from 2008, Tropic Thunder was a surprise smash, garnering Robert Downey Jr. an unexpected Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his turn as an Australian actor portraying a black man. While Downey is the highlight of the film’s main cast, it’s the supporting players that really stand out. Matthew McConaughey, pre-Oscar, is hilarious, channeling his “Wolf of Wall Street” character five years before he knew it would even exist. And then there’s Tom Cruise, who absolutely kills it in a cameo/supporting role that has to be seen to be believed.

18. Pacific Rim (2013)
Before Garreth Edwards tried infusing Godzilla with a much more serious tone in this year’s reboot, Guilermo del Toro last year wanted to create his own take on the monster genre, taking it back to basics. This became Pacific Rim, a giant monster vs. giant robot extravaganza that is everything you could ever want from a movie with that kind of description. As far as summer bloackbusters go, Pacific Rim embodies everything you could ever want out of one, and never takes itself too seriously. The phrase “leave your brain at the door” usually has a negative connotation when it comes to films (Bay’s Transformers for instance) but in the case of Pacific Rim, it’s okay because the film never tries being anything more or less than what del Toro’s vision promises.

17. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
Its sequel, out this weekend, is already getting rave reviews-the Hollywood Reporter called it the “Empire Strikes Back” of the franchise-but lets not forget the stand-out film of the summer in 2011, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It was a surprising critical success, garnering positive reviews almost across the board. The highlight? The amazing visual work on the apes and Andy Serkis’ fantastic motion capture performance of their leader, Ceasar, who many raved should garner him an Academy Award nomination. Seeing him return in Matt Reeves’ follow-up will be a delight.

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16. Superbad (2007)
The film that shot stars Michael Cera and Jonah Hill into super stardom, Superbad is the epitome of the teenagers-trying-to-have-sex movie. More quotable, memorable, funny, and even heartfelt than most in its genre, Superbad was to many teenage guys their life put on screen. It captured desperation and awkwardness in a way that hadn’t really been captured in quite some time, and remains one of the funniest movies of the last decade.

15. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
The first of many super hero (and Nolan) movies to make the list, TDKR is the conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s epic, genre-lifting Batman trilogy. It’s a film that, in time, has garnered mixed reactions among fans. It’s full of plot holes that one wouldn’t expect from a film this substantial and has a plot twist that kind of reduces an otherwise fantastic villain. But despite its negatives, TDKR is still one of the best summer, and super hero, films of all time, thanks in large part to its epic scope, strong performances and Nolan’s signature vision.

14. Star Trek (2009)
While the 2013 sequel may have been kind of lackluster to most, J.J. Abrams’ 2009 film was a solid reboot to a beloved franchise that sky-rocketed the Trek franchise into a “cooler,” sleeker, more modern era. While it may resemble Star Wars more than what Trekkies are accustomed to, it’s a smart, great looking sci-fi adventure. While Abrams won’t be returning to the franchise for a third outing due to his ties with Star Wars, we can still thank him for giving us an actual positive reboot.

13. Iron Man (2008)
It was a surprise juggernaught at the box office and even more of a surprise with critics. But Jon Favreau’s Iron Man was a smart, funny, cool and overall great super hero film that kick-started Marvel’s Avengers franchise. We didn’t know that at the time, though, until the infamous after-credits scene. But before there were the Avengers, there was only Iron Man, personified perfectly by Robert Downey Jr. (it was a good year for him).

12. This is the End (2013)
Another strong outing for Rogen and Franco, This is the End is a creative and hilarious take on the “world-ending” genre. The stars, along with Michael Cera, Jonah Hill and others, star as themselves and it is amazing. It is a tour de force in celebrity cameos, from Rihanna to Emma Watson, and features a fantastic ending featuring a very nostalgic boy band.

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11. Batman Begins (2005)
The beginning of Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy is to many considered to be the best in the series. It’s not without its merits: everyone knows Batman’s origin story but it’s never really been told properly on the big screen. Nolan does it justice in a mature and sophisticated way, and gives birth to a Batman we’d never seen before. It more than made up for Joel Schumacher’s terrible mishandling of the franchise that almost destroyed it.

10. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
Because a Harry Potter film obviously had to be in the top 10. But more than that, the third outing for Harry and friends is considered by many to be the best in the franchise, thanks to Alfonso Cuaron’s (a decade before his Oscar win) impeccable vision. The film takes the franchise into bold new territory, stripping away the childish ways of the first two installments for a more mature, darker story that the rest of the franchise would be modeled after.

9. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
It was hard choosing a top comedy for summer movies. This is the End is a strong contender, but Anchorman, now a decade old (can you believe that) takes the edge, not only for its timelessness (its well-intentioned sequel couldn’t match it) but it’s superb quotability and great comedic performances. Will Ferrell is at his best here.

8. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
While it often feels like an after-thought now in the wake of Marc Webb’s reboot, Sam Raimi’s original trilogy had its merits. The biggest being his superb second installment, which, at the time, set a new standard for super hero films. Having recently watched it, it has admittedly aged, but 10 years will do that to a movie. It’s still one of the best super hero movies ever, with a villain in Doc Ock (perfect casting of Alfred Molina) that has actual true motivations, camp in all the right places, and one of the best fight scenes ever in a super hero movie. Whatever you do, don’t forget this gem when Sony is rebooting Spider-Man for the third time years in the future.

7. Wall-E (2008)
The first Pixar film to make the list, Wall-E is a heartfelt achievement in animation that I believe could have been the first Pixar film nominated for best picture had the Academy changed the rule a year in advance. It is a splendid film about the dangers of pollution and over population with a cute robotic love story at the center.

6. The Avengers (2012)
Nothing quite says summer these days like Marvel, and in 2012 everything Marvel had been leading up to was released. Joss Whedon was a surprising pick to helm the crown jewel of Marvel Studio’s achievements, but it worked to near perfection. The film harnesses Whedon’s witty charm and balances all of the individual characters quite well. Sure, poor Hawkeye may not have gotten his due, but besides that, it’s a well-made summer blockbuster that was a critical and financial success. No one could have guessed that an Avengers movie could work so well. Whedon proved everyone wrong.

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5. Toy Story 3 (2010)
Another Pixar favorite, Toy Story 3 was a long time in the making, but some times the best things are the ones you wait for. It was everything fans could ever want in the conclusion to Pixar’s beloved trilogy, with a tear-jerker ending and moments that make us remember why we feel in love with these characters in the first place.

4. District 9 (2009)
District 9 was the little engine that could. No one really knew anything about it at the time. It seemed like an interesting sci-fi movie but until its release kind of flew under the radar. But once it came to theaters, the positive response was astounding. First time director Niel Blomkamp created a visually terrific, insanely unique sci-fi film that is not only entertaining, but a metaphor for genocide and other acts of violence. It went on to be nominated for best picture, and rightly so.

3. Inception (2010)
Nolan appears on this list quite a few times, but this non-Batman movie is a true creative work of art. Part heist movie, part sci-fi action film, part character drama, Inception, like District 9, is a rare breed of summer film that infuses Oscar level craftsmanship with the right dose of summer entertainment. Every time I watch it I pick up on something different, and that’s the beauty of this mind-boggling thriller.

2. Up (2009)
Up, the final Pixar film on the list, is an emotional roller coaster. It tells the perfect love story in its first 10 minutes better than most romance films can do in an entire two hours. Its characters are fun and its story is heart-warming. Up was the first Pixar film to be nominated for best picture, and in a perfect world, maybe it could have won. But the world isn’t perfect, you just have to make the best of it-that’s what Carl learns.

1. The Dark Knight (2008)
It might be the cliche choice, but Nolan’s follow-up to Batman Begins is a near-perfect film that remains arguably the best comic book based film ever. When one thinks of “summer” they may not necessarily think of The Dark Knight. But that’s why it’s the best. It breaks down the doors to its genres and doesn’t look back. There isn’t much more to be said about the film and Heath Ledger’s Joker that hasn’t already been said. I don’t even consider it a comic book movie so much as a crime drama. That’s how good it is.

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Agree? Disagree? Any that could have been added? Let me know!

Nine Directors Who Should Direct Star Wars: Episode IX

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With the announcement that Looper’s Rian Johnson is directing Star Wars: Episode VIII, it looks like Disney/Lucasfilm are open to making risky moves in the development of their reinvigorated franchise (even though J.J. Abrams, an obvious choice, is directing the seventh installment). The announcement got my imagination running, and I can’t help but think about the future of the series post-Episode VIII…Episode IX, of course. Here’s nine directors I wouldn’t mind seeing travel to a galaxy far, far away.

9. James Gunn

Gunn may be higher on the list after I see Guardians of the Galaxy (or not on it at all, but I feel like Guardians will be a treat), but for now, I’ll hold off on that. However, Guardians looks like a blast, the perfect summer film, a surprise hit, and a refreshing take on the Marvel cinematic Universe. With Disney owning Marvel and Star Wars, Gunn already has an in with the company. It may just be a matter of whether Guardians does well financially on whether they consider him for such a huge franchise.

8. Drew Goddard

An unlikely choice, but with the Rian Johnson announcement, it feels like anything unlikely could indeed happen. Goddard is responsible for 2012’s surprise hit The Cabin in the Woods, which was his directorial debut. While that “lack of experience” may sound worrisome, fear not: Cabin in the Woods is a great film, jam-packed with the kind of thrilling energy a Star Wars movie desires. Goddard is set-up as the director of the Amazing Spider-Man spinoff Sinister Six, but that should be wrapped up by the time the conclusion to the new Star Wars trilogy had to get underway.

7. Doug Liman

Liman is the director of The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Jumper and most recently, Edge of Tomorrow. While Jumper didn’t fare well critically, Edge of Tomorrow is the surprise of the summer, an entertaining-as-hell and creative effort, with even some nice character work, that speaks to his potential to create a Star Wars film. The only problem may be that we didn’t have expectations set for Edge, while Star Wars would have plenty to live up to.

6. Neill Blomkamp

In 2009, I would have said Blomkamp can direct anything he wants to, because at the time District 9 had wowed us. Since then, his reputation has declined a little. Not much, but enough where he’s not at the top of this list. Last year’s Elysium, his follow up to District 9, proved to be a tad disappointing. A good film, but an overall forgettable one, thanks to its setting that resembled District 9 a little too much and characters that well, we didn’t really give a shit about. But I’m still putting Blomkamp on the list. It’s probably mostly due to the fact I still believe in the guy, but if he were to direct a Star Wars film, I’d be at least intrigued. It would be a much different style than Abrams, but so will Johnson I think we can expect.

5. Brad Bird

Bird is the director of some of the best family-friendly, but mature, animated features out there: The Iron Giant and The Incredibles. He already has more than an in with Disney with the latter film mentioned and Ratatouille. He also directed Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, a high-octane joy ride that showed he can direct live-action with the best of ’em. He already has a couple projects lined up, but maybe by the time he had to direct Star Wars 9, his schedule would be free. The Star Wars films have always been family-friendly in nature, but with mature themes. Bird’s style would fit that mold quite well.

4. Matthew Vaughn

Vaughn made waves with his comic book adaptation Kick-Ass, which proved to be the little engine that could. His next project was another super hero film, but this time he toned down the violence and suggestive content and took on the X-Men universe with X-Men: First Class. It was a movie that reinvigorated life into a series that needed it after abysmal movies like X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Both of these movies show Vaughn’s knack for high-energy and excitement, and also his ability to create fun and engrossing characters, something the Star Wars franchise (used to be) all about.

3. Matt Reeves

At first, Reeves may seem like he would be out of his element if he directed a Star Wars film. But I’m sure we’ve thought that of Johnson as well, and I’m sure he’ll bring a creative vision to the series. Reeves sprung onto the scene with Cloverfield, which, love it or hate it, was at least a unique (at the time) take on the monster genre. Then came Let Me In, a film that had so much going against it (being the American remake of the beloved vampire Swedish film Let the Right One In), only to shock critics when it turned out to actually be pretty damn good. Now Reeves is releasing Dawn of the Planet of the Apes soon. It remains to be seen whether the film will be good, but it looks promising and shows Reeves may be able to handle an effects-heavy sequel in a popular franchise. While some would say his style may be too “dark” for a Star Wars film, I think he could bring a unique take on the franchise.

2. Alfonso Curaon

So yes, Cuaron seems like the obvious pick at the moment, having just won the Oscar for best director for Gravity. But think about it: if Cuaron got his hands on a Star Wars movie, it would be unlike any Star Wars movie we’ve ever seen. Cuaron’s vision for things is uncanny, and there’s no doubting the film would be a visual spectacle. And if you’re worried it would be style over substance, remember he also directed Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which many say is still the best in the series. Depending on the direction they take this new trilogy, Cuaron would be an excellent addition to the array of Star Wars directors. Oh, and tracking shots. Those tracking shots.

1. Michael Bay

Yes, I know what you’re going to say. “What?? That hack? No way!” But hear me out. Bay, despite being known for his explosive, special effects-riddled tendencies that are devoid of plot, has made plenty of memorable movies. The Transformers trilogy shows he can handle an entertaining franchise and–

Okay ya got me. Yes, I am joking. Can you imagine what this shit stain would be like if Michael Bay directed it? Pearl Harbor with space ships. No thank you.

Well, there you have it. Who do YOU think should direct the ninth Star Wars movie following Abrams and Johnson? Sound off in the comments below.

Out of the Furnace Review

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It seems to have all of the tools necessary for fixing up a great movie. An A-list cast in a revenge tale from Scott Cooper who directed Jeff Bridges in his Oscar-winning “Crazy Heart” role. But “Out of the Furnace” is missing something. Perhaps it’s the fact that the trailers mislead it as a heart-pounding revenge tale; half of that statement is right. “Out of the Furnace” IS a revenge tale, but in very few aspects is it heart-pounding. Rather, it’s an illustration of moral complexity, a very somber one at that, which is both good and bad.

The film takes place in a small, economically troubled town, where it’s inhabitants struggle to make ends meet. Russell Baze, played with quiet intensity by Christian Bale, works at the local steel mill, while his younger, hot-headed brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) has served multiple times in Iraq. Rodney owes a lot of money to this guy named John Petty (a respectably sleezy Willem Dafoe). So Rodney gets himself tied up in the world of underground fighting (think “Fight Club” minus the political undertones) to pay back his debt. Trouble is, this puts him in conflict with this other guy named Harlan Degroat (an impressively evil Woody Harrelson). Things go horribly wrong, and Russell has to take the law into his own hands. Oh, and there’s an irrelevant love triangle between him, Zoe Saldana and Forrest Whitacker.

In fact, the main problem with the film is that many aspects do seem irrelevant to the overall story, even though they’re supposed to be big contributing factors to it. Russell is sent to prison for drunk-driving and hitting another car (killing those inside). But how does this have any payoff? He seems like the same man when he gets out as he was before he went in. Does Zoe Saldana’s character have any importance to the overall narrative? Sure, it makes us feel a little something more for Russell; losing her creates more empathy for his character and also puts his ultimate actions in the end in a different light–he has nothing more to lose. But that’s merely all she is, a story tool with no real character of her own.

At the heart of “Out of the Furnace” is a deep tale about moral dilemmas–in Russell’s situation, or any of the characters’ situations, what would we do? But the trouble is that it lacks much heart in the first place. It’s a dark and gloomy film; it broods quietly in a corner in a season of Oscar stand-outs that are anything but quiet. It’s both its strength and its downfall. It’s not the typical action-revenge movie where the main character rushes in guns blazing. It tries being a little smarter than that. But it doesn’t quite hit the mark.

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“Out of the Furnace” shouldn’t be condemned for trying to tell a more character-focused revenge story but it won’t make any waves either, and it won’t get widespread acclaim. It’s a better idea on paper than is executed. The actors are on top of their game. The idea is promising. Some scenes are even pretty intense–the ending will at least get you thinking. But the pieces don’t quite line up. It has the makings of a good cult movie, something that may be more appreciated as time passes. It’s kind of a shame, because it teeters on the edge of being a great film. But for now, it will remain out of the furnace but without most of its heat.

3 stars (out of 5)

The Lone Ranger Review

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A Lone Ranger movie today is a hard sell. Our most recognized heroes are dark and brooding (“The Dark Knight Trilogy”‘s Batman), young heroines that appeal to the young-adult book readers (“The Hunger Games”‘s Katniss) or colorful characters fighting world-shaking enemies (The Avengers). Where does the Lone Ranger fall, a character created in the 1930s and rooted in a time even earlier than that? Hollywood has recreated classic heroes for modern audiences before: Christopher Nolan did it with Batman and most recently Zack Snyder did it with Superman. Superman as a character, especially after the Christopher Reeve clone that was “Superman Returns,” was someone that needed an extreme makeover in order for audiences to embrace him. For the most part, “Man of Steel” succeeded. Despite a controversial ending, the film succeeded as a reinvention because it stripped the Superman franchise of all the familiar elements of the Richard Donner/Reeve era while also embracing who he is as a symbol. It wasn’t your grandpa’s Superman, but it was still Superman.

In the case of the Lone Ranger, the problem may be that he is, in essence, a “grandpa’s superhero.” He’s a Texas ranger in the 1860s with a strict moral code that included always using proper English and never shooting to kill. A hero worth admiring in the 1930s, even worth admiring today, but one that may not resonate as well. In an effort to bring this masked avenger to modern movie-goers, the team behind the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise infused the same type of thinking they used for those movies into the new “The Lone Ranger” movie: big, loud, far-fetched exploits and Johnny Depp. The problem is that they didn’t bring any of the fun and enjoyment from those movies over to this one. “The Lone Ranger” is an awful, tiring, obnoxious experience.

What makes it so awful? When you have a movie where the sidekick gets top billing because the studio isn’t confident in its main star, or title character for that matter, you already know you have problems. Armie Hammer plays the masked man and Johnny Depp plays his Native American savior/sidekick Tonto. Hammer fumbles and slouches his way through the movie, never appearing very heroic. His John Reid/Lone Ranger is a bumbling idiot, portrayed as a buffoon who gets lucky. Then you have Depp, white-faced to make him look less Johnny Depp-like but you never forget that it’s him. He pulls out every trick in his utility belt to give the movie an extra little sense of enjoyment, and sometimes he succeeds. But it’s hard to get past the fact that he’s basically playing a Native American Jack Sparrow. The Lone Ranger and Tonto are supposed to have each other’s back, but that’s thrown away in favor of a wannabe “buddy cop” relationship. The Ranger treats Tonto like crap, and vice versa. Even “kemosabe” doesn’t mean “faithful friend” in this interpretation.

So at it’s core, “The Lone Ranger” is a “Pirates” clone in the old west minus anything enjoyable. It tries way too hard to be a fun blockbuster and in the end isn’t fun. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer (seriously, what is HE doing making a Lone Ranger movie) and director Gore Verbinski never seem to know when to quit and with a running time of two and a half hours (already too long in itself) it feels like four. “Go big or go home” clearly doesn’t work for a film that should have never been intended to be a “blockbuster.” But despite its insistence to cram as much unnecessary story, unneeded characters, and over-the-top action set pieces, it still manages to find time to get a little “dark” in spots. Villain Butch Cavendish eats someone’s heart right out of him and there’s cannibalistic bunnies. Why? I don’t even think the writers know.

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If the movie had been stripped down and did away with its unnecessary components, it may have been a tad more enjoyable; Helena Bonham Carter’s character is the definition of a throwaway character and the film is narrated by an aging Tonto display at a fair in the 1930s. Again, why? But for it to be a truly good movie, literally everything about it could be changed. I get that Disney wanted to try and cash in on the “Pirates” popularity and do something reminiscent of that, but it just doesn’t work. At all. Not to sound cliche, but I like to think of how better the movie had been had it taken a “Batman Begins” approach to the Lone Ranger and been more realistic.

Alas, that’s not the case, and we’re left with a rather dull effort despite how bombastic it tries to be. To its credit, when the famous “William Tell Overture” (The Lone Ranger’s classic theme) begins to play, I got a little excited. It’s followed by a train-chase sequence that’s actually kind of exciting. But by that time, it’s way too late. It was clear way beyond that point that this movie is a parody masked as a Lone Ranger film, never taking itself seriously and ripping the heart and soul right out of the title character. Who is that masked man? Who knows. Nobody asks.

1 star