Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler July 3-9: Despicable Lone Ranger Leaks

In Theaters

This is one of those rare weeks where the most interesting prospect — so far as I’m concerned — is the Big Release. Of course, there are only three movies — two mainstream and one “art” — opening and the “art” title is a documentary that I’ve already seen.

The “art” title is Alex Gibney’s We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks (opening Friday at The Carolina) — and I saw this at an all-too-early hour last Saturday morning. It’s a good documentary — though definitely overlong — but, as with all documentaries, a lot depends on your level of interest in the subject. In this case, that means Julian Assange (who gives me the creeps) and Wikileaks — and my interest is fairly minimal. Yours may well be greater. See the full review in this week’s Xpress.

The big title this week, of course, is Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger. Yes, I know, the (often blistering) negative reviews keep piling up. But I have liked everything Verbinski has made from The Ring (2002) to date. I know it’s unfashionable to speak well of the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels — and they’re definitely inferior to the original — but I liked the later films fine for one-time viewings. (Full confession: I saw the last half hour of Dead Man’s Chest numerous times when I was working at a theater that was running it.)

Frankly, I expected The Lone Ranger to suffer a pretty rocky critical reception. It’s too obviously an attempt to create another Pirates-like franchise. It’s obviously over-produced. And it transgresses on a mystifyingly revered 1950s TV series. Yeah, it was part of my childhood, too, but even as a kid I realized this was quite simply not very good — and by the age of 12 I’d had more than enough. I remember seeing the 1958 feature film The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold at a drive-in in the early ‘60s and being bored stiff. In other words, I’m not in the least bothered by whatever liberties this film takes. Justin Souther managed to sneak an early peak and told me that it was “too damn long,” which I’d already figured, but he added that it was “the most inventive mainstream thing to come out in awhile. If they chopped 30 minutes off it’d be legitimately great.” That is more encouraging to me than the amassed negative reviews are off-putting. We shall see.

The other opener is Despicable Me 2, which is getting much better press, but that’s not surprising. Quite honestly, animated movies have to be pretty God-awful not to slide by with the critics, and it’s unlikely that this is God-awful. The first film was at the very least likable. In a moment of rare lucidity, this sequel retains the first one’s writers and directors. This one has the formerly villainous Gru (Steve Carell) recruited by the Anti-Villain League to track down a new villain. The critical response mostly is of the “good, but not as good as the original” variety. (Peter Debruge, writing for Variety, says it’s “not quite as charming or unique.” Since when are there levels of unique?) My guess is that it’ll be a pleasant diversion.

The only thing in the art/indie realm leaving this week is The Bling Ring (at The Carolina).

Special Screenings

The week’s special screenings are on the slack side. There is no Thursday Horror Picture Show this week and nothing from World Cinema. Both are taking the week off because of the July 4th holiday — and both will be back next week. The Hendersonville Film Society is showing Robert Aldrich’s Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964) on Sun., July 7 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society continues its month of movie musicals with Al Jolson in Lewis Milestone’s Hallelujah, I’m a Bum (1933) at 8 p.m. on Tue., July 9 in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on both titles in this week’s Xpress — with complete reviews in the online edition.

On DVD

Remarkably, there is not a single new mainstream title hitting DVD this week.

Notable TV Screenings

On Fri., July 5, starting at 8 p.m. TCM is running the entire Francois Truffaut saga of Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Leaud) from the landmark The 400 Blows (1959) through Love on the Run (1979). It’s an unusual opportunity to see all the films in one sitting — and definitely worth your time.

 

SHARE
About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

22 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler July 3-9: Despicable Lone Ranger Leaks

  1. Ken Hanke

    Hank, huh? Anyway, note that I haven’t seen it yet and have not endorsed it, but I put stock in Justin’s assessment.

  2. Justin Souther

    It is too long, and suffers from the unfortunate malady (which is Disney’s fault, not the film’s)of having its entire climax shoved into the trailer, but it’s the first thing to come out this summer that hasn’t been focus grouped all to hell. It’s trying to be more than a blockbuster at times, so it’s very much the work of one man — Verbinski — but so was At World’s End, and people hated that movie for reasons I never quite grasped.

    I will say that in the day-and-a-half since I saw it, it’s slowly grown on me.

  3. Ken Hanke

    Well, I may tackle it in the morning.

    so was At World’s End, and people hated that movie for reasons I never quite grasped.

    Don’t be expecting an answer from me.

  4. Jeremy Dylan

    I was lukewarm on THE LONE RANGER until I saw the most recent trailer, which has made me pretty excited about it.

    The last Verbinski/Depp western (RANGO) was pretty spectacular. How does this compare in quality, Justin?

  5. DrSerizawa

    It is too long, and suffers from the unfortunate malady (which is Disney’s fault, not the film’s)of having its entire climax shoved into the trailer…

    Yeah, I noticed that. It’s a real trial these daze to avoid learning too much about a movie you want to see. They used to do “Making of” documentaries of popular films AFTER the movie was through being shown. Now they rush ‘em all over the media and the internet. What’s the point of going to see a movie you already learned all about? Does this really increase viewership?

    I didn’t hate At World’s End. It was just too long. Byt the time they got to the big wooden wheel we were chanting, “End it already.. End it already…” But then just about every big release is way too long now. Just have to deal with it.

  6. Justin Souther

    How does this compare in quality, Justin?

    Right now, I’d say Rango edges it out, though that might change. I got to rewatch the climax tonight, and it’s more impressive a second time around.

  7. Ken Hanke

    What’s the point of going to see a movie you already learned all about? Does this really increase viewership?

    Apparently, it must or they wouldn’t keep doing it. It’s actually pretty ironic since it’s being turned out for the same generation that’s obsessed with “spoilers” (an idiotic obsession to me, unless we’re talking about a mystery or something that hinges on a surprise ending).

  8. Big Al

    Last week you stated that “Much Ado…” and “Before Midnight” were underperforming, yet Fine Arts is keeping both for another week, thus delaying “The Way Way Back”, much to my frustration. What’s up with this?

    Thanks.

    Hank.

    (snicker)

  9. Ken Hanke

    I am so tempted merely to say, “I could tell you, but I won’t (tee hee hee).” However, I won’t do that. They’re holding them because there’s no immediate replacement. The Way Way Back opens only in “limited” this week. “Limited” rarely means Asheville. We aren’t slated to get it till July 26.

  10. Edwin Arnaudin

    My thoughts on the Pirates franchise are similar to those on The Matrix trilogy: fresh, imaginative first film, followed by diminishing returns.

  11. Ken Hanke

    I wouldn’t argue that exactly — though I liked all three Matrix pictures about the same, which was never that much. It was a special case in which audiences seemed to think the first one was profound and the other two weren’t. The truth seemed to me to be that the other two proved the first one wasn’t profound either.

    But the whole “diminishing returns” thing seems so overplayed as criticism. So what if Dead Man’s Chest and World’s End weren’t as good as the first one? They couldn’t be expected to recapture the surprise of the first one. I mean did anybody really expect a movie based on a theme park ride was going to be good? It had nothing to live up to. The sequels did. Were they cheap cash-ins? No. Were they entertaining and inventive? I’d say yes. Were they as good as the first one? No, but they certainly didn’t disgrace that film — and I’d take any of them over this year’s crop of Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, Man of Steel and World War Z.

  12. Ken Hanke

    Okay, now it can be said that I am recommending The Lone Ranger. And you can number me among its more ardent admirers.

  13. Jeremy Dylan

    It is all kinds of terrific. A master class in how to construct an action/adventure film that doesn’t forget the adventure. The antidote to the grim and the gritty.

  14. Big Al

    Well, shut my mouth and call me Yoko!

    Turns out waiting a bit longer for “The Way Way Back” wasn’t such a bust. I actually enjoyed “In the House”, in spite of my general phobia against subtitled “ferner” films.

    Having some mature eye-candy like Kristen Scott Thomas helped.

Leave a Reply