Mr. Movie

The Lone Ranger: Unmasked and funny

Gore Verbinski unmasks The Lone Ranger. Verbinski casts Johnny Depp as Tonto, and Armie Hammer plays the Lone Ranger. Verbinski and his Pirates writing team explain how John Reid became the fabled masked man.

Most of us know the short and sweet Clayton Moore/Jay Silverheels TV version, but Verbinski -- as he proved in his The Pirates of the Caribbean series -- can't do anything quickly. The Lone Ranger rambles along for 149 minutes. Included is more detail than you want or need, and it is a bit too long, but The Lone Ranger is, in the end, enjoyable.

Hammer's Reid is a prosecuting attorney headed home to Colby, Texas. A mogul done by Tom Wilkinson is just about done transcontinentally connecting his railroad with another. He's having bad guy Butch Cavendish brought to Colby to hang. Cavendish escapes, and the Texas Rangers, led by Reid's brother, give chase. Reid goes along. In the ambush on Cavendish, everyone is killed except for Reid.

Tonto saves Reid, and they go after Cavendish.

Like Verbinski's first The Pirates of the Caribbean film and Rango, The Lone Ranger has gobs of humor done brilliantly by the two stars and their most excellent supporting cast.

Hammer, who shined as twin Internet investors in The Social Network, is also very good as Reid/The Lone Ranger. He's superb as a straight-laced attorney out of his comfort zone. The title is the Lone Ranger. Hammer's Reid is supposed to be the main character, but Hammer mostly serves as the fulcrum that the action swirls around.

He's also the perfect straight man for Depp, who has become famous and quite rich playing characters. Few actors do quirky better. It's because Depp doesn't just play a character. He submerges himself into the part. Fictional character and actor become one.

His Tonto is part action hero, part guru and always in control. And -- typical of Depp -- low-key funny. Sometimes, very funny.

So is the movie.

In between the fun, action-packed opening and the hi-yo Silver away ending, Verbinski's The Lone Ranger drags here and there. Sometimes it isn't that funny. Or even that interesting. But at least most of the time, it is entertaining.

Director: Gore Verbinski

Stars: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, Barry Pepper, Helena Bonham Carter, Ruth Wilson

Mr. Movie rating: 3 1/2 stars

Rated PG-13 for mature themes, some violence. It is playing at the Carmike 12, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.