A lot of films crash and burn at the box office and maybe none more so publicly than this year’s The Lone Ranger. As the budget soared, and word of mouth began to turn poisonous, it was only a matter of time before audiences could decide if the latest collaboration between director Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp would be one of the biggest box office flops of all time. Time will tell whether it was truly disastrous or not, but considering the final stated budget of $215 million and its final worldwide tally of $260 million, it definitely didn’t do well.
Sometimes films can find a second life on home video and I’m hoping that’s exactly what happens here. The Lone Ranger is by no means a bad film; in fact the final train chase is one of the best action pieces of the year. However, it is definitely not one of the year’s best films, despite what Quentin Tarantino thinks. His own Django Unchained was a far better western that The Lone Ranger could ever be, but at least there’s a sense of fun to Verbinski’s film. Even if stateside audiences didn’t feel like sitting through a bloated 149 minute film in theaters, the film is admittedly even better to watch at home on a couch where you can pause to take a bathroom break if needed. Here’s a link to my full theatrical review.
As for how it transfers to Blu-ray, I always say, “Another day, another Disney transfer.” Make no bones about it, The Lone Ranger slings its way into your living room in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio on a 50GB disc with stunning results. Every dirt particle, piece of costume, makeup effect, skin pore, and hair on every head and horse can be seen in this finely resolved picture. I swear I spotted a second of aliasing along the side of a train, but that would be nitpicking of the highest order. Blacks are perfect and inky with no crush. There’s also no other compression artifacts resulting in no banding or noise. I remember the film looking very washed out in theaters, but here cinematographer Bojan Bazelli’s choices look far superior here.
Perfect is the order of the day and the same can be said for 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Every gunshot, arrow sling, splintering wood, and explosion comes alive with one of the most aggressively alive surround tracks of the year. A deep and rumbling LFE makes everything more alive and pits you right in the middle of the action. At one point, a gunshot coming from the rear left speaker even managed to scare the crap out of my wife. Some fun directional effects keep the soundstage alive making it seem like you’re right out in the old Wild Wild West alongside Tonto (Depp) and Reid (Armie Hammer). Additional audio tracks include French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 and subtitles are available in English, French, and Spanish.
The special features department is a little lacking for a film as involved as this one. There are some huge action sequences — including the final 10 minute train chase showstopper — and it would have been nice to see. What we do get is still plenty fun: first up is “Armie’s Western Road Trip” where Hammer takes us through his adventures in the Wild West for 14 minutes. Hammer travels to Rio Puerco and Santa Fe, New Mexico; Moab and Monument Valley, Utah’s Navajo nation; Canyon de Chelly in Chinle, Arizona; and Creede, Colorado; we even get to see both the Comanche and Navajo Nations welcoming the crew to film on their territories.
“Becoming a Cowboy” is an eight-minute segment showcasing Hammer and costars William Fichtner and Ruth Wilson learning how to ride horses, shoot guns, and wrangle chairs. “Riding the Rails of The Lone Ranger” runs 10 minutes and shows how Verbinski built real trains to film with and how they had to prop them on truck beds to drive them through scenic roadways — because train tracks don’t run through the best routes anymore. Verbinski states he wanted to film one of the best train sequences of all time and he definitely succeeded.
One “Deleted Scene” consists of CGI and storyboarding for “Locust Storm/Great Warriors” and the locust sequence could have looked pretty fantastic in a completed form, but we can all agree the film is already too long to begin with so anything excised is no big loss. And finally, a three-minute “Bloopers” segment shows everyone clowning around and flubbing lines as we’ve come accustomed to. Ironically, the finished film is funnier than anything here. The main menu consists of skippable trailers for the upcoming theatrical releases: Saving Mr. Banks and Muppets Most Wanted.
The Lone Ranger will always go down as more of an oddity on everyone’s resume but is definitely worth checking out from the comfort of your own home. With one of the best audio/video displays of 2013, whether you love the film or not, at least it’ll give your home theater a workout and is definitely something to show off on your setup. While the film isn’t a masterpiece by any means, it’s still a lot of fun, even if way too long. But should find a better fit for audiences now that they don’t have to pay out the butt for admission and can take the film in at your stride. The Lone Ranger comes highly recommended for anyone looking to check it out.