The Lone Ranger is one of the most iconic figures in film and television history. For decades the masked stranger has maintained a special place in the hearts and minds of children and adults alike. Of course some incarnations of The Lone Ranger have been more memorable than others and vice versa. One of his least memorable outings was Disney’s lackluster 2013 offering starring Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp. That movie was a bitter disappointment. Luckily it has proven to be one of very few takes on The Lone Ranger that have ever been turned out since the masked stranger first took to the radio waves way back in 1948. One of the better installments to ever be released was the 1952 classic The Legend of the Lone Ranger. It starred Clayton Moore as the masked stranger and was released, ironically, the same year that Moore was replaced by John Hart. In 1981 that movie was rebooted with Klinton Spilsbury in the starring role. The movie was re-issued on Blu-ray late in 2015 by Timeless Media Group. While it largely follows the same premise as the movie’s 1952 installment it is still a rare reboot that is worth the watch, especially being a Lone Ranger flick. The central reason for its success is its writing. That will be discussed shortly. Another important element of this movie is the movie’s special effects. This will be discussed later. Last but hardly least of note in this movie is the work of the movie’s cast. All things considered the 1981 reboot of The Legend of the Lone Ranger proves to be a reboot that is actually worth watching and a movie that any Western fan will enjoy.
Universal Pictures’ 1981 reboot of the 1952 film Legend of the Lone Ranger is a reboot that is actually worth watching. That is in comparison to other rare reboots of the day and to all of the endless reboots being churned out by Hollywood’s “Big Six” today. The main reason for that is the movie writing. This includes both the movie’s central story and the story’s smaller elements such as its special effects and violence. The movie’s central story sticks in large part to the plot presented in the 1952 original. It is basically an origin story that starts at the Lone Ranger’s childhood and is taken from the first three episodes of the original Lone Ranger TV series. The movie runs roughly an hour and forty minutes. And the first half of that time is spent telling the Lone Ranger’s back story while the second half follows his search for the villainous Butch Cavendish. What’s important about the whole of the story is that even with such clear separation, the movie’s writing team didn’t overdo either end of the story. Just enough time is spent explaining what led John Reid to become the Lone Ranger in the first half of the movie. The story’s progression in its second half is just as surprising. Cavendish’s plot to kidnap the President and hold him hostage is laid right out rather than having a bunch of time wasted building up to its reveal. In the same vein, the writers use just as little time sending Reid on his hunt for Cavendish. In neither case does the story feel rushed either. This means that the story is that much easier to follow. Simply put both the first and second half are so expertly balanced in terms of their pacing and their general storytelling that the presentation in whole will keep viewers wholly entertained and engaged from beginning to end. It is just one aspect of this movie that makes it well worth the watch. The movie’s special effects are to be taken into consideration, too.
The Legend of The Lone Ranger’s writing team is to be applauded for their work on this takeoff of the 1952 original. This is saying plenty considering the problems usually faced by scripts crafted by multiple writers. The script is well balanced both in terms of its pacing and its general progression. These two aspects alone are just part of what makes The Legend of the Lone Ranger a rare reboot worth watching. The movie’s special effects are just as important to note here as the movie’s script. This is especially in comparison to so many of today’s overly violent, special effects laden action flicks. The gunfights are big in scale. But they never feel overpowering unlike similar scenes churned out in today’s action flicks. What’s more the amount of blood shed pales in comparison. It is kept to an extreme minimum, again by comparison to today’s action flicks. This is so important to note because it shows how much action movies have de-evolved since this movie’s release and even its predecessor. It’s really a powerful statement. The explosions that are used in the movie’s third act are just as notable. They are only used in that act and nowhere else in the story. To add to that, the explosions that are used are not the overly loud, speaker shaking explosions that are used way too much in Hollywood’s current era. More simply put they are part of the story rather than the star of the story unlike with those used in movies by Michael Bay and Zack Snyder. Because they are used so responsibly they make the movie in whole even more entertaining. When they are set against the movie’s equally well-executed story the two elements combine to show even more why Universal’s reboot of The Legend of the Lone Ranger is a diamond in the rough in the world of reboots.
The writing behind Universal’s reboot of The Legend of the Lone Ranger and its special effects are both key elements in the movie’s success. While both elements are important in their own right they are not the movie’s only key elements. The work of the movie’s cast is just as important to note. Christopher Lloyd is surprisingly impressive as the devious Butch Cavendish. It would have been easy for Lloyd to throw back to the days of the original Lone Ranger TV and radio series, going well over the top. But he opted not to go that route. Instead he portrayed Cavendish as something of a cerebral criminal, calm and collected but not overly proud of himself at the same time. Klinton Spilsbury and Michael Horse are just as impressive as John Reid/The Lone Ranger and Tonto respectively. They handled their roles with professionalism equal to that of Lloyd. They balanced the serious nature of their characters with just enough charm and ham to make both characters fun to watch. When Spilsbury and Lloyd face off in the story’s final minutes, Spilsbury delivers an applause worthy performance as he contemplates Cavendish’s fate. It is a small moment, but an important moment nonetheless. It was one of those scenes that made Spilsbury believable as the iconic character. That is not to say that Lloyd and Horse were not believable in their respective roles; Quite the opposite in fact. They are just as believable. Their interpretation of their characters and the movie’s scripts rounds out the movie’s most important elements and shows once and for all why this movie, while a reboot, is still well worth the watch.
The 1981 reboot of The Legend of The Lone Ranger is a rarity of a work. That is because while it is a reboot, it is a reboot worth watching. This is thanks in part to the movie’s expertly balanced writing and pacing, The movie holds a solid steady pace from beginning to end. It balances just as well the story’s setup and its central story present in the script’s second act. The special effects utilized in this movie were used sparingly and respectably in comparison to so many action flicks in today’s era of action flicks. The work of the movie’s cast in interpreting their characters and the story’s script adds that much ore enjoyment to the movie. It rounds out the movie’s most notable elements. Their work couples with the work of the writers and that of the special effects department and makes this movie a rare reboot that is actually worth watching. It is available now on Blu-ray in stores and online and can be ordered direct via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/film/action-adventure/the-legend-of-the-lone-ranger. More information on this and other titles from Timeless Media Group is available online now at:
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