There was much to be concerned about, prior to viewing The Lone Ranger.
Johnny Depp’s previous decade of performances dating back to the start of 2001 have been underwhelming and repetitive.
Director Gore Verbinski’s three Pirates of the Caribbean films felt more merchandise than meaning.
Armie Hamer has rarely been tested as a leading actor in his short career.
Its release in America was met with a muted box office, with critics leading the march over the film’s apparent failure.
But The Lone Ranger is far from flawed.
In this decade of blockbuster films, the down-to-earth simplicity and old school Western feel, is balanced nicely against digital effects that, thankfully, do not overload the experience.
Infact, there was more originality in this film, than in any blockbuster I can recall in recent memory. The scenes are dealt with a sharp wit, cut perfectly for length and never overstay their welcome. Gags that are common place in early Westerns or spoof films, are introduced with ingenuity.
Bojan Bazelli’s cinematography soars across the landscapes, with gorgeous framing and hues.
And then there is Depp.
Without a doubt, his performance of Tonto is one of the finest of his career. The solemn, longing atmosphere in the opening scene alone is one of the best of 2013.
He channels humour and sadness in his inflections and the slight changes in his face.
Despite the film’s title, it’s Tonto who leads the story. Hamer’s Lone Ranger is passable, but never gravitates to the heroic heights like early Western serials.
But Hamer’s selection is the right one. An actor who has yet to make his own ground in cinema, who doesn’t outshine the establishment.
The Lone Ranger is the companion in this film.
It’s a movie of great adventure and humour. Sorrowful and nostalgic. One of the better films I’ve seen in 2013. With shades of Little Big Man, it proves that if script and performances are strong, a blockbuster can stand on its own legs without the over-reliance of CGI.
Score: 3.5 / 5
After his epic ‘The Story of Film’ series, director Mark Cousins moved onto a shorter 100min documentary, on the role of children in film.
His structure follows videotaped footage of his nieces and nephews, acting out common traits that have been a part of children in film for decades. I found it not entirely necessary to have that structure, but it doesn’t impede on Cousins’ observations.
The wealth of knowledge and films shown, places Cousins near the top of the documentary genre. And ‘A Story of Children and Film’ is digestible in one sitting. During the film I began to wish I had bought a notepad and pen, to document the films he was talking about. Thankfully the film’s official website lists them all: http://astoryofchildrenandfilm.com/
There are films known to all cinema goers (E.T , The Kid), but the majority are hidden gems from decades ago (An Inn in Tokyo, Two Solutions for One Problem).
Cousins manages to unearth a shelf of films we’ve never heard of, and then teases us with gorgeous scenes.
He has started our journey. It’s now up to us to seek out, discover and learn.
Score: 3.5 / 5
There is a moment early on in Man of Steel, where a young Clark Kent locks himself in a school closet.
His mother is called. She is on one side of the door, he is on the other.
‘The world is too big Mum,’ he cries.
It is no surprise then that the character lives in a remote country home, works in a quiet local bar. Infact, much of the film takes place away from our world.
Man of Steel is about our anxieties. Sometimes the world is far too big. Our strengths can be our weakness. Should we follow our heart?
And the lack of identity in the film’s title is an indication that the ‘Man’ with the anxiety is not only Superman. It’s also Kal-El and Clark Kent. And ourselves.
Of course Henry Cavill is a fine choice for the role. His physique is what we expect of ‘Superman’. But Cavill’s strength has never been his acting. In The Tudors where I first came across him, his role never encouraged deep acting, and relied alot on his charm and seduction. Man of Steel offers him little.
And perhaps that blame lies with Zack Snyder’s direction. A bombastic display of CGI, lens flare, shaky and swift camera movement.
The film’s title may be about a man, but the film’s style is about Snyder.
There’s little from Russell Crowe and Amy Adams to be impressed with. Crowe’s fault is not his own, all his lines are constructed as though they are pivotal speeches in history. More grandiose than required.
Adams never really stands out in the film. She’s lost amongst the dark, gritty, dull, CGI, mechanical backgrounds and colours. And isn’t that what ‘Man of Steel’ is. A poster child of what blockbuster films have become. Machine over man.