Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Observing 'Lone Ranger'

Observing 'Lone Ranger'

For more information, visit After 'Lone Ranger,' Disney may not be willing to take risks

It's the archetype that doesn't connect. An opinion sure. But the western has to be reinvented, refitted and revitalized. It's hero must have a modern appeal. 

I have not taken western film studies. At-a-glance, it's about the frontier and the contrast between country and the city. It's about lawlessness and the lawman, a metaphor for the internal war for civility. It's also about mastering a new landscape despite the ethical complications resulting from going where you are not invited - the trouble with manifest destiny is that where you're manifesting may not be the destiny pursued by all involved. Keeping an internal barometer for justice and humanity against the wilderness both without and within nails this idea. Aesthetically we define the western with the horses, the guns and the seedy towns.

The Lone Ranger might have done better if it wasn't called "the lone ranger." The fact that Johnny Depp was listed first is confusing in the first few seconds you need to apprehend interest. Focus on the style, the macabre, the danger of the frontier - focus on the story and let the 'lone ranger' title be revealed before the credits role at the END of the film. Let today's audience rediscover it. It think this is where it went wrong.

As for the internal check against external extremes I was mentioning above, the next "new" frontier is in space, but hollywood keeps making it a supernatural horror or an invasion film or a monster show. In contrast, the human element is becoming more apparent, in zombie films, as the significant threat and it's always been subtly underscored in sci-fi to be the real focus, although the visuals can confuse the matter. I'm not a Star Trek fan...yet. But even this franchise appears significantly 'western' and is successful for it. Disney should reassess the $250 mil gamble only if so to remember that buying your viewership is plain lazy.

Lets get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

[ADDENDUM: I reviewed the MPAA figures for 2012 and realized that 5% of the MPAA registered films were responsible for 50% of domestic gross.  That's the top 25 out of approximately 500 films doing carrying half the load.  So playing off of old tropes is probably smart, not lazy.  But it's certainly fearful and under the pressure of feeding the beast of a $10-12 billion industry.  Risk doesn't exactly make sense either so far as the blockbuster machines are concerned.]