erik lundegaard

Understatement of the Year

“So the notion that the public, which is generally happy to ignore critical opinion when it comes to big commercial releases, was suddenly compelled to obedience in the case of 'The Lone Ranger' seems a bit dubious.”

-- A.O. Scott, responding to charges, mostly from the movie's principles (Depp, Hammer, Bruckheimer), that all-powerful movie critics killed “The Lone Ranger” at the U.S. box office in a way they couldn't with ... take your pick: the “Transformers” movies, the “Twilight” movies, the latter “Pirates” movies. It's such an absurd charge you want to slap Depp across his pretty, privileged face.

Scott's article, “Maybe 20 Years From Now, Tonto: Reconsidering Box Office Bombs Years After the Fact,” which is unnecessarily careful, uses “Ishtar” as an example of a critical and box-office bomb that is getting a modern-day rehearing and possibly parole, and wonders which critical and box-office bomb this summer, in what is now officially called the summer of box-office bombs, might be rehabilitated 20 years from now. Scott picks “Lone Ranger,” since revisionism has already begun. But the French critics (and British critics, unnamed by Scott) who hold it up still need to answer, for me anyway, the following matters:

  • If Tonto and the Lone Ranger are both created from tragedies of their own making, why are they treated like comic relief?
  • Why further juxtapose the comic (Tonto and Lone Ranger getting away via railway handcar) with the genuinely tragic (the slaughter of the Commanches)?
  • If the point is to upend the heroic myth via the comic and tragic, why buy into the heroic myth (complete with Wm. Tell Overture) in the final act?
  • What the hell is Helena Bonham Carter doing here with her rifle leg?

Revisionist critics tried to do this with “Sucker Punch,” too. They tried to turn the stupid into the subversive. Best argument I've heard in this regard is still this reader's comment to my review of 2012's bomb, “Battleship.”

But “Lone Ranger”? Hi yo.

Johnny Depp's Tonto

Apparently Johnny Depp believes that a powerless, dying race (movie critics) is secretly all-powerful.


Posted at 09:30 AM on Wed. Aug 28, 2013 in category Quote of the Day  
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