The Lone Ranger is a character that enjoyed massive popularity from the 1930s through the 1950s...and that's the movie's first major problem. In trying to tackle a character in no way relevant to modern values and sensibilities, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean 1-3) have already put themselves at an extreme disadvantage in trying to produce an impactful movie that can please enough viewers to make back the enormous budget spent on this Summer blockbuster. So, instead of just the basic concept, it would be best to rely on a story that both pays homage to the classics, but also offers a fresh spin on the concept, along with a compelling cast and witty writing. Apart from Johnny Depp's mildly entertaining, but disappointingly familiar, supporting role, The Lone Ranger fails miserably at trying to fulfill any of these requirements, ensuring The Lone Ranger is still, and will likely remain forever, a dead icon.
I will say that Johnny Depp, like most roles he plays, completely steels the show from what is otherwise a lifeless experience. He doesn't simply copy Captain Jack Sparrow, but brings a slightly more toned-down screen prescence. He's funny at times, but the script provides so many comedic moments for him that he totally lacks the charm that he boasted when simply improving through a straight-faced script as the good Captain. To say that Johnny Depp is the only remotely interesting actor is an understatement. There is not a single actor that brings anything intriguing or unique to their respective roles. Granted, they were not given much with extremely wooden writing, but even then there are very few moments of someone breaking from agonizing monotone line-reading. Even the last Pirates movie, despite its TV movie-like production values, could claim it had a few fun characters with actors who obviously had fun in the role, but Verbinski's latest simply lacks an interesting cast to hold up such a needlessly complicated and bloated story.
Speaking of story, it becomes very obvious early on that this disaster of a film began its downfall during production: constant stops and starts, leading to various writers coming and going as Disney alternated between the red and green lights. This is painfully apparent in film itself, as repetition, aimless subplots, and pointless characters plagues the movie. There are characters whom the audience has only seen once or twice that get their own meaningless "emotional" scene. There are storylines that go completely forgotten in the cluster of other films. We have multiple train robbery/chase sequences grouped with two standoffs between the villain and hero (both have almost the same dialogue). It's blatantly apparent that there was no truly consistent vision to drive this movie forward, so they decided for the worst storytelling alternative possible: repeat scenes that they think audiences will enjoy.
It's the crowd-pleasing aspect that leads to the movie's ultimate sin and the final nail in the coffin: the pacing. Despite the promise of adrenaline-infused action that ultimately allowed this movie to get greenlit in the first place, there is very little momentum to any of the suspense or thrills. Much of the film's excessive runtime comes from the simple build up to some big fight or chase, but the editing tends to make the tension so drawn out that the suspense ends up breaking before the action even begins, causing the entire scene feel more like a tedious grind to get from point A to point B.
Overall, I'm glad to see The Lone Ranger fail at the box office. This proves that audiences, despite the inclusion of Johnny Depp, will not just take any kind of garbage that Disney tries to feed them. After last year's colossal failure that was John Carter, hopefully Disney will focus more on animated films (Wreck-It Ralph proved they have the right stuff for it) and let LucasArts and Marvel construct better stories and provide us with more immersive live-action escapist spectacles than what the House of Mouse has been trying (and failing) to give us for the last several years. For me, not even Johnny Depp could save this movie from being the worst of 2013 so far.