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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, April 21, 2014

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In Movies & TV Commentary

Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp star in Disney's "The Lone Ranger." The film's Blu-ray combo pack will be released on Dec. 17.

Disney's "The Lone Ranger" a runaway action, family film


Monument valley is awe inspiring, harkening to a time gone past, of not just the Wild West, but more of our love of simpler times when the nation was infatuated with cowboys on the frontier.

When Disney Studios poured millions into the telling of "The Lone Ranger," it had hoped that Hollywood magic would come back, entertaining audiences on the big screen. When expectations, and the actual box office take fell short, it's up for the home entertainment division to entice and enthrall a viewing audience who may enjoy the runaway train action to re-coop what was lost in the train wreck the first time around.

OnMilwaukee.com's Matt Mueller wrote the review of the film for the theatrical release, remarking how much of a mess the film is.

But going in with low expectations when I reviewed an advance copy on Blu-ray, I was treated with a fun ride of a film. "The Lone Ranger" is available on Blue-ray combo pack, Digital HD and On-Demand starting on Dec. 17.

Johnny Depp delivers the quirky character of his version of Tonto, sharing a story in the 1930s into his past. Armie Hammer of "The Social Network" plays John Reid, who becomes the "Lone Ranger." As the situation put the pair together in America's desert, the two learn that they need to work together. Throw in a spirit guide horse, and the story rolls on.

Shot on location of some of the most picturesque landscapes, director Gore Verbinski shares his love of of the area, saying, "There are lots of ghosts here."

The main reason I enjoy Blu-ray films, is for the extras. The ones on "The Lone Ranger" share insights into the project, and what it took to do the most recent reboot of a well-known character in Hollywood's golden age and the Wild West.

In the mini feature "Armie's Western Road Trip," we see the American Indian land that the film crew traveled to. It's a great way to see some of the greatest sites of the nation's southwest that provided the back drop of the film.

Executive Producer Jerry Brukheimer and Verbinski made the actors go through a cowboy boot camp. To keep the film authentic, the actors learned how to rope, load weapons and tighten and fit a saddle. The extra, "Becoming a Cowboy," presents the good rangers and the bad guys learning the skills needed to look effort-less on the film.

Out of six railroad shooting locations, five of them were built from scratch with tens of thousands of pieces. The rails were carrying authentic, hand-built trains that were assembled in the prop shop specifically for the movie. When you see Hammer and Depp act on top of a moving train, they are doing it for real at 30 to 40 miles per hour. Where rails couldn't be built, they put mock trains on top of semi flatbeds and shot sequences while driving down the highway. It was these large-scale set building performances that made "The Lone Ranger" the biggest western ever made.

If you are looking for a film that a family can watch with a mix of action, adventure and comic moments, then "The Lone Ranger" delivers in time for the Christmas season.

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