The Lone Ranger, starring Johnny Depp as Tonto, opens tomorrow. It has been, quite easily, the most debated piece of entertainment in Indian country for the past year. But among critics, there is little debate: This, they say, is not a good movie. At the review-agregating site Rotten Tomatoes, which provides a rating based on critical consensus, The Lone Ranger enjoys a 17% approval (and falling—it started the day with 20%). Ranger's box-office competition is faring much better: Despicable Me 2, also opening tomorrow, scores 80%, while the top three earners in theaters now, Monsters University, The Heat, and World War Z, enjoy respective 78%, 62%, and 68% favorable ratings.
It seems to happen every year: Critics so gleefully attack one particular film that it seems almost a contest to see who can deliver the best zinger. Here are some of the nominees.
Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News: "Even Johnny Depp can’t save the day":
"Director Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger is for anyone who thought the Native American guy from the Village People and a western-wear model would make the perfect blockbuster-action team."
Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune: "The Lone Ranger: Western is Completely at Sea":
"In scenes such as hundreds of Natives being slaughtered by U.S. troops behind Gatling guns, we have Tonto and the Lone Ranger acting like a couple of comic-relief ninnies, screwing around aimlessly for laughs on a handcar. It's as if the movie were having a nervous breakdown. At one point the masked man gets his head dragged through horse manure. Watching The Lone Ranger, you know the feeling."
Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: "The Lone Ranger review: Lawman turns antihero":
"The Lone Ranger is a movie for the whole family … to avoid. It represents 2 1/2 of the longest hours on record, a jumbled botch that is so confused in its purpose and so charmless in its effect that it must be seen to be believed, but better yet, no. Don't see it, don't believe it, not unless a case of restless leg syndrome sounds like a fun time at the movies."
Jack Coyle, Associated Press: "The Lone Ranger is a Runaway Train":
"There's a limit, it turns out, to how much Johnny Depp and a bucket of makeup can accomplish."
Two Jews on Film, StarPulse.com: "Johnny Depp Is More Jack Sparrow Than Native American Warrior Tonto":
"At times [Johnny Depp] sounded like a bad Catskills comedian instead of a Native American warrior."
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap: "The Lone Ranger: Hi-Yawn Silver, Awaaaay!":
"Depp's presence in the movie actively undercuts our investment in the Lone Ranger as a character, much less as a hero. Imagine Christopher Nolan casting Joan Rivers as Alfred in the Dark Knight movies so she could follow around Batman and make jokes about his ridiculous outfit."
Bob Mondello, NPR: "A Familiar Wild West, But The Guy In The Mask? Who's He?":
"The script fancies itself a critique of capitalism, a manifesto on manifest destiny, and a saga about silver mines and the slaughter of Native Americans. All very admirable, if not a great fit for scenes that involve Depp communing with snaggle-toothed cannibal bunny rabbits and taking a runaway train ride or six."
William Bibbiani, Crave Online: "At Least Armie Hammer is Good":
"There’s something about concluding the massacre of hundreds of Native Americans with a cheap joke about a horse in a funny hat that rubs me the wrong way. The Lone Ranger tries so hard to be every kind of movie at once that it ends up being no kind of movie at all."
Ty Burr, Boston Globe: "Who Was That Masked Man? Who Cares.":
"Gore Verbinski’s bloated, $250 million western comedy is like watching an elephant tap dance in your living room: Everything gets trampled and the dancing’s not very good."
All harsh words—but perhaps no reviewer comes down harder on The Lone Ranger than this guy:
Drew McWeeny, HitFix: "Johnny Depp and Gore Verbinski Fail to Bring The Lone Ranger Back to Life":
"At two-and-a-half hours, it may be the single most punishing experience I've had in a theater so far this year. … Let's be clear: this is a terrible film by any standards. … When you cut from the violent genocide of an entire Indian tribe to a wacky scene with Silver the horse standing on a tree branch and wearing a cowboy hat, it's pretty clear you have no idea what story you're telling or why. … Someone needs to drag this thing out behind the barn and put a silver bullet in its brain."