5 Topics 30 for 30 Should Cover and the Next Slate

As I recently noted in my recent, I was glad to finally take the plunge into the Nine for IX series of docs. Aside from the online shorts I have been a very loyal devotee of the series owing both to my love of sports and my need to see more documentaries.

As this new slate shows there are a few titles where it’s about time the topic got covered like No Mas and Tonya and Nancy and some that should be eye-opening like the film on Eddie Aiku.

However, the world of sports filled with intriguing stories both off-the-field and on. Here are a few that came to mind as worthy subjects:

1. Danny Almonte

Danny Almonte

There are a few reasons I bring this topic up, none of them have to do with Almonte’s semi-pro career though. I think Little Big Men adequately covered the fact that Little League success doesn’t necessarily translate to the next level where fields match professional dimensions. However, this scandal did have a significant impact, not only on that tournament, but I feel it impacted a few to come. Furthermore, it changed, based on my knowledge, how Little League has handled some of these incidents since then. Most notably the Ugandan team’s visa issues a few years back. The media spin forces you to read between the lines to spot eligibility concerns, and when those facts came out they were consciously buried.

2. The 1994 MLB Strike

1994-mlb-players-strike

Well before all the NHL’s labor woes baseball took a huge backslide due to this strike. Its impact was a decline in popularity (only revitalized by a now-tainted era), a franchise’s eventual relocation and more. The fact that a stand-alone World Series was considered would only be one intriguing aspect of the story.

3. Colombia 86ed

El Bogotazan

If you look at the Wikipedia article on the 1986 World Cup, eventually hosted by Mexico, it glosses over the issues that lead Colombia to resign its bid four years prior to the actual tournament. It would also be enlightening to learn about the replacement process that led to Mexico being awarded its second tournament in 16 years. A very short span when you consider that other soccer powers (Brazil and England to name just two) have had to wait in excess of 50 years for a second chance. With a rise in the popularity of soccer this story would have an audience and it could be one that is layered.

4. 222-0

Scoreboard-Georgia-Tech-Cumberland

Maybe this is just a pipe dream that I’m better off submitting to Ken Burns, but, perhaps the single most fascinating scoreline I ever saw was this Georgia Tech dismantling of Cumberland in 1916. I first learned of it in the Guinness Book of World Records when I was young. I’m also glad to know I’m not alone in being fascinated by it as there has been a book written on the subject which could be the starting point.

5. 1996 Olympic Park Bombing

Olympic Explosion (CNN)

There are actually a few American off-the-field Olympic tales that could be told. I also considered the tale of the Salt Lake City bid scandal. However, this now-often-overlooked act seems like it’d be more relevant fodder for a documentary treatment.

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Batman, Superman and the Future at DC

One of the bigger stories coming out of Comic Con, though as per usual dwarfed by Marvel Studios’ slew of announcements, were the announcements by DC about the trajectory of their film universe as it pertains to their superhero properties.

There is the biggest being the Batman/Superman team-up in 2015. For a film that Warner/DC is calling Batman vs. Superman. Then there will be The Flash in 2016 and The Justice League likely following in 2017.

Now, recently just before the Con Diane Nelson, DC Entertainment Chief, sat down to talk to the Hollywood Reporter about DC’s blueprint, as much as possible, and what other characters they have could be likely headed for the big screen.

Man of Steel (2013, Warner Bros.)

What’s interesting, at least at the outset, is that DC is kind of thinking what I’m thinking at times, and in others not so much.

To start on the more optimistic side, two areas where they echo what I’m thinking are: a kind of building-block approach that occurred to me as I watched Man of Steel. Which means, and this hearkens back to how I got back into comics, and more specifically more into superheroes than I had ever been; was that I would get to know a character, or group of characters, then in finding who he/she/they associate with branch out to those other characters. Essentially, as DC builds its cinematic universe it’s doing this. It’s re-established Superman, granted not without some controversy, but certainly in a more palatable way than they tried to a few years back, and will now try to add pieces from there.

In the next film there will be both Batman and Superman. Now, to be honest I was thinking more of a cameo/dovetail approach, having Batman appear in a Superman film as quietly as possible. Then when a third character is introduced, the Flash in this case, have Superman and Batman play ancillary roles.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012, Warner Bros.)

The second way in which DC echoed my sentiments is by putting off the Justice League film. It was like they were trying to put the cart before the horse. The Avengers was gradually built-up to establishing several heroes before they all joined forces. It seemed for a time DC was going to try and shortcut that when the new Batman wasn’t yet decided.

To get to some of the not-so-great aspects of the plan you have a few in the Batman/Superman film potentially. First, Christian Bale has re-confirmed that he will no longer be the caper crusader, which is fine. However, now you’ve hitched yourself to Henry Cavill and whomever happens to be Batman next time out. Hopefully he’s a good choice as past Batman selections are a mixed bag.

The next is the title. And, yes, I’ve discussed titles not meaning much in the past, even as recently as a few days ago, but versus more likely than not means something. I hope it’s just a gimmick to get people to show up should they not like both, but I have a feeling they will be adversarial throughout most of the film. Therefore, they’re setting themselves up for a vacuous experience not unlike those in the horror genre (e.g. Freddy vs. Jason). Batman and Superman have had joint series and stories in comics for years on end, if you’re introducing them to one another on screen, OK, have them not understand each other to start. However, there is a lot of common ground and it would likely be better if they found that quick.

The Green Lantern (2011, Warner Bros.)

God forbid I wander too far in fanboy rantings but even just looking at the most basic facts about these two you can see where these character share a common bond despite their different abilities. They are both orphans who are seeking to right the wrongs of the world and help the helpless, to spare others the suffering they’ve been through. If people got up in arms about Superman smashing buildings and breaking Zod’s neck, having him and Batman duking it out for two hours prior to discovering that “We’re not so different, you and I” isn’t going to engender a lot of good will.

The other mixed bag is that having hopefully successfully launched a third character cinematically (The Flash) The Justice League is up. Now, granted The Justice League could very well re-introduce a newly-recast (or not) Green Lantern, or another character altogether, but I still feel that perhaps one more hero being launched before that film would not be a bad thing: be it Aquaman, Shazam (a.k.a. Captain Marvel) or Wonder Woman. The first and last being the most likely.

Even with some of these reservations it does look like DC is on a far more disarable course than it was. Whereas prior they seemed to say “Well, we still have Batman don’t we?” Now they’re getting their feet firmly planted underneath some stronger properties and developing ones that have a great chance to bolster their standing in the race. For if there’s one thing that Man of Steel unquestionably did is convey the speed of Superman’s flight better than renditions past and maybe, just maybe, putting the Flash on the big screen prior to this current era wouldn’t have felt right. Now it does. There is still some leeriness abut the future but DC seems to have a much firmer plan than it had for its films, and it’s about time.

Fun with Film School Thesis Generator

This was a site that came to the fore a few years ago. In a paradoxical way it can be seen as both a great boon to, and a slap in the face of, film studies. It’s a boon because odds are if you input a title you will find a thesis you would be able to argue- maybe not well, but you can give it a go. The slap in the face is that you can put any title into the generator and at time the worse the movie the more hilarious the results (Note: I do genuinely like one of the films in the examples below, it’s just funny to think of any of them in such an austere academic fashion).

I wish I had saved the first response I got for Pootie Tang because I laughed for a minute solid but can’t recall the wording.

Now, I do not endorse this in lieu of formulating your own theses, when you are permitted to, as those are more enjoyable to pursue. It really just is fun. More often than not in film school I was assigned a general topic and given films to choose from. Either way here are some examples of results I got. You should go and have some fun when you have time to spare.

As a post-script for those with an interest in true theses being explored in a more real way I am planning on a series of posts in January and/or February of next year that will deal in more serious-minded, closer examinations of titles.

Through the use of implied depth-of-field, C.H.U.D. delegitimizes pre-Oedipal anxieties.

Through the strategic use of narrative ellipses, Troll 2 conforms to colonial attitudes toward race.

Through the use of mise-en-scene, Eegah echoes the plight of the migrant worker in post-war America.

Soul Plane reminds the spectator of the subjugation of the individual in the face of the primacy of television through its conflicting duality of progress and humanity.

Through the deliberate suppression of colors meant to signify passion, Striptease reveals critical seams in stereotypical conceptions of Islamofascism.

Short Film Saturday: Fatty and Buster

As I wandered through the list of rediscovered films on Wikipedia and got into the nineteen-teens there were far more titles viewable online than the prior decades. Four of the titles, three that you can view here, feature both Fatty Arbuckle and Buster Keaton.

These are obviously two of the bigger figures in silent comedy. I know I’ve had occasion to view a few Arbuckle Keystone titles when TCM has done Mack Sennett nights, but I never really focused on him as I should have. Especially considering the fact that his star-power and acclaim were perhaps unprecedented as was his decline.

As for Keaton, the only of his films I was sure I saw of before this was Limelight. Yes, I am a Chaplin aficionado by breeding but in spite of these titles being middling you can see what both could do in glimpses. Depending on your mood you may prefer the all-out chaos of His Wedding Night, the subdued reaction Fatty has to a fire at the beginning of The Rough House or the escalating zaniness of Back Stage. Regardless, enjoy!

His Wedding Night (1917)

The Rough House (1917)

Back Stage (1919)

Film Thought: Moviegoing Solo

Sometimes the short commentary pieces are one I think of and slip my mind and crop up every so often and I need a nudge to remember that the question could use asking.

I’ve meant to discuss, hopefully open up a dialogue, about moviegoing solo for a while. It’s one of the several aspects of the moviegoing experience I feel are worth some exploration. This is due in part to the fact that not only do I actually enjoy it but quite frequently some of my favorite films of the year happen to be seen just that way. Most recently and notably number two last year.

The impetus to finally bring it up was the other day Alexander Huls on Twitter mentioned he was asked “Just one?” when buying a ticket. We had a brief discussion about this wherein I likened it to being attended to at a restaurant. What that question, in either scenario, boils down to, at the very least, is not taking into consideration its connotation and the presumptive nature. Yes, people meet up and get names in for tables ahead of time at restaurants. That’s why the question is “How many?”As with moviegoing, it should be the same.

There were then two moviegoing-related anecdotes in pop culture that came to mind; I believe it was the ‘movie-saving episode’ of Seinfeld that brought up the question, how is moviegoing inherently better in a group. I also frequently harken back to Stephen King’s comment in Danse Macabre about people attending horror films in packs, in part to subconsciously stave off being frightened.

The answer to the Seinfeld question is that it is and it isn’t inherently better. If the movie is any good, or worth discussing, you can instantly talk to your friends afterwards about what you just watched. I think I saw Sinister in a group of five (a rare pack outing for me) and there was much to discuss. However, if there’s a film I have to get in, or I really want to see, and I don’t want to have to twist anyone’s arm to do it, like say a Bela Tarr, why wouldn’t I go alone? There’s no good reason for it, and I frequently do go.

New York is one of the great moviegoing destinations in the world. Whenever I’m there now I like to partake in activities on either end of the spectrum: either fairly touristy or something more localized that I know of having been born and raised there. However, I also typically also make it an overnight excursion and take advantage of the fact that there’s plenty of films out I can only see there and for a limited time.

So those are some of my tales of moviegoing solo. And what of you? Do you like, love or hate it, and why?

Tarzan Thursday: Tarzan’s Desert Mystery (1943)

Introduction

Last year the character of Tarzan celebrated his 100th year in print. A serialized version of the story first appeared in 1912. A hardcover collection of Tarzan of the Apes first appeared in 1914. Being in the middle of the Tarzan centennial period it’s an opportune time to (re)visit many of the screen renditions of the character. Previous posts in this and other series can be found here.

Tarzan’s Desert Mystery (1943)

In many ways this was the title that inspired not only a chronological viewing of the Weissmuller titles but much of the impetus behind the entire series. I had heard good things about this and/or Triumphs so I was anxious to see this one a first time. Sure enough whether you come into the title cold, or you watch it in its rightful place in the series is a joyous revelation to behold. Not only does Tarzan’s Desert Mystery firmly embrace a B movie ethos here, and feel more firmly in an RKO mode than any other title, but if you follow the entire series it either repurposes tropes or uses them to maximum effect in this film. I lost track of how many times while watching it I saw a seemingly familiar instance or set-up not only followed-through, but done so in a beautifully satisfying manner.

One of the main sins of the series that is rectified here is that it hardly wastes a second through the entirety of the feature. The late-MGM and early RKO films were shorter as a rule but still had the same fillers, not so here. Perhaps it was destiny that this was the one that would work the best since the initial Wiessmuller trilogy. The studio took a flyer on writing Jane out: she is still nursing wounded soldiers at war, but the MacGuffin (Yes, there’s a MacGuffin in this film) is a journey by Tarzan and Boy for medicine.

One of the principal causes of wasted screentime in the past was Cheetah. However, in this film Cheetah not only comes to the rescue at a crucial point but is instrumental throughout. Rather than just being a kleptomaniac, and a bit of comic relief; Cheetah more frequently is an active participant in a Lassie-like mold and aids the heroes of the tale.

Tarzan's Desert Mystery (1943, RKO)

With some subdued conflict this film also addresses the father-son dynamic of Tarzan and Boy fairly well. Boy’s lie here is that Jane insists he go on the trip, though Jane is instructing he should not. Boy being the one who can read tries to use that to his advantage. Tarzan, knowing Jane and what she thinks is best for Boy, tries to keep him home. Eventually Boy’s will wins out and that is a great thing for the film also as it doesn’t split time having him chase down Tarzan or getting in some other bit of trouble. They start out on the same footing as equals.

Another massive boon to the film is Nancy Kelly in the role of Connie Brice. While she’s introduced in the only scene that feels it’s going to serve next to no purpose save for showing off a magic trick that, too, is quickly fixed. She plays the archetypal fast-talking dame and has other qualities that make her character, and her interpretation thereof, a wonderful addition to the film. The amount of intrigue she adds to the plot is spectacular. Not to mention that the conniving plots of the villains never really take a backseat and is always a real and present danger, and of impact in the story.

Tarzan's Desert Mystery (1943, RKO)

Nothing is out of place in this film. Even when there’s something weird and seemingly frivolous like a seemingly poorly scaled rear projection image, a turban theft or a jailing, things are paid off left and right there’s clearly thought behind everything in the writing and the performances.

Not only that but this movie is ridiculously fun to watch. It’s crowd-pleasing aspects drench it and still radiate off the screen to this very day. Having traversed the series anew my expectations were corrected, but even thinking back to where they (the expectations) had been this blew those right out of the water regardless. Can I claim it’s the definitive Tarzan film? No, probably not for a lack of Jane, but in latter-day terms of the Weissmuller era there was likely little if anything that could’ve been done to better it. It’s great and will likely stand as one of my favorite older films of the year.

Why I Won’t Boycott Ender’s Game

Quite recently a planned-boycott of the film adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game was announced by a group called Geeks Out.
 
As one who once wrote this piece about Roman Polanski, it may not surprise you that I do not plan to participate in said boycott. However, a topic of this nature cannot be discussed by simply saying I separate the artist from the person.

I can’t remember when I read Ender’s Game, but I assure you it’s before I knew anything about Orson Scott Card. As I learned, and read Speaker for the Dead, sure some of his experiences (his work as a Mormon missionary in Brazil makes itself apparent by his frequent use of Portuguese words and the like) do come through, and every so often there’d be a bothersome passage, but I still found the book to be quite enjoyable. After all, most of the stories he’s building a science fiction and have little to do with the rhetoric he espouses that I not only strongly disagree with, but find downright hateful, striking a rawer nerve with me than most other artists of dubious character.
 
Ender's Game (2013, LionsGate)
 
I got Speaker for the Dead at a library sale after I read Ender’s Game and Lost Boys, which I bought at retailers. The extent of my boycotting is wanting to read his works but having the funds go to my local library (or perhaps a reseller at some point; anyone really) rather than him.

I’ve never been one to divorce myself from the works of an artist simply because I find things they say or stand for personally are despicable. And believe me Card really even has some doozies in the non-sociopolitical arena, just look at this Oscar time rant. So, yes, I still watch Polanski, I think Mel Gibson is still a effective screen presence, and I will grant that due to what he rails against still seeking out Card is perhaps most difficult, but the movie is the wrong target for many reasons.
 
Firstly, if you’re going to boycott Card, boycott him; everything he does. Pressure Disney and Marvel to stop adapting Ender’s Game into comic form, stop buying his books, don’t visit his website. Don’t make this just about the film. And I find it interesting that as I looked into the series anew lately I noticed that Ender in Exile, the latest in the series, is only available from resellers in physical form; so maybe some backlash has already hit home, but I think Dustin Lance Black‘s comment on it come close to expressing why I won’t boycott the film:
 

“Boycotting a movie made by 99% LGBT equality folks in an LGBT equality industry is a waste of our collective energy. Making one phone call to a relative in the south who isn’t quite there yet would be 1,000 times more effective.”

 
Ender's Game (2013, LionsGate)

I would go further and say: yes, if you refuse to go see the movie that’s less royalties for Card (that is if he even has a back-end percentage, which is unlikely. The likes of Stephen King get points on the back-end. Most authors merely get the money for the option to adapt the book. In other words, he’s likely already made his money on this film.), but truth be told he’s already made his killing with this series many times over. The fact of the matter is while Speaker for the Dead might be the book he wanted to write, but he needed to put out Ender first; I’m not sure that’s as appealing as written as a follow-up. In fact, while this installment could be a great rendition of the first part of the series I’m not sure of the potential it has as a franchise without being vastly different than the books.
 
The bottom line is, removing my sociopolitical beliefs and feelings about the author, Ender’s Game is great book in my estimation one that I wanted to see a movie of since I read it and the cast assembled for it is quite and incredible one and I will have to see it. If I happen to use coupons or passes to do so even better, but see it I will.
 
Ender's Game (2013, LionsGate)

 
I read Film School Reject’s post on the boycott, which is where I found Dustin Lance Black’s quote, I think the closing is great (I suggest you read the whole article because it does touch on other things including corporate personhood and heteronormative cinema):

In all seriousness, geeks and bloggers: keep up the boycott. Geeks Out: keep holding the practices and associations of studio filmmaking accountable and transparent. Orson Scott Card: go fuck yourself. No amount of advertising and sleek promotion means that a movie deserves our money or must be seen. If Ender’s Game flops, I will likely enjoy a brief moment of satisfaction. Not only because of Card’s homophobia but, as with Chick-fil-A, because some forms of mass production are just plain bad for you.

That said, Ender’s Game may make the bar, and it’s important not to see this or any single commercial film’s fate as the terms by which LGBT advocacy in the field of entertainment is valued. Queer cinema exists. It exists on HBO with Behind the Candelabra. It exists in underground cinema with Interior. Leather Bar. It exists in the arthouse with Laurence Anyways. It doesn’t yet exist in science-fiction.
 
Emphasis on “yet.”

While I’ve spent time discussing why I won’t boycott it. I agree with many of the points made here. Just because I won’t throw down the gauntlet on this one title doesn’t mean the discussion is invalid. Yes, there should be more inclusive sci-fi, horror and any other genre you can think of. This story was making news around the same time Andrew Garfield was almost lamenting Peter Parker’s heterosexuality. As long as the discussion occurs, as long as there is some brushback, maybe a studio will take a “risk” on another project and not play only to the lowest common denominator. Does that mean I think there will be a lesbian in the next Star Wars trilogy or a gay interpretation of a Superhero anytime soon (on the big screen that is as comics have picked up the slack in that regard lately), not necessarily but without discussions like this there may never be at all. So, I agree this isn’t just about Ender’s Game so my decision to see it, or other’s to boycott it, won’t be the end of the discussion but hopefully the opening salvo in a long dialogue.
 

UPDATED: The Director’s Cut of Nightbreed is coming to Blu-ray

The other day I saw tweets from Clive Barker about a website organizing the effort to get a home video release of the director’s cut of Nightbreed. Now, this is a film I had not gotten around to seeing but once I discovered that said cut had been unearthed and restored and has now even screened, seeing what the theatrical release ended up being seems to pale in comparison.

I urge you to sign the petition and follow its social network links. I believe in standing with artists and defending their vision, and clearly Barker is one who has earned the right to show his intention. So, it’s not really just a case of I want to see it and so will you. Also, when DVD came on to the market this was the kind of thing that was supposed to become more commonplace, but has become all to rare. If there is demand, an overwhelming amount of it, it will not be ignored. Make yourself be heard!

UPDATE: Since the news that the cut existed first broke there have been screenings at horror conventions and festivals the world round of the Cabal cut. Due to unfortunate scheduling I was unable to attend a screening very close to me. The good news is that Nightbreed the Cabal cut is now officially coming to Blu-Ray. The story was broken by Rue Morgue. You can read more here.

Short Film Saturday: Rediscovered Films from the 1910s

Here is the third and second to last Short Film Saturday where I will give you a sampling of short works that were once thought to be lost, but were re-found at times in the most unlikely circumstances. These selections are films originally produced between 1910-1919.

The first cinematic incarnation of Frankenstein was brought to us by Thomas Edison. I had seen this prior but didn’t realize it was missing.

Frankenstein (1910)

The second is another first time screen adaptation this time of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1912)

The Lone Ranger’s Unbankable Intrigue

At the beginning of Matt Zoller Seitz’s review of The Lone Ranger he encapsultes exactly what’s right and wrong with the film in my eyes:

Like “Speed Racer” and “John Carter” before it, “The Lone Ranger” is a movie with no constituency to speak of. It’s a gigantic picture with a klutzy, deeply un-cool hero (Armie Hammer of “The Social Network”), based on a property that most young viewers don’t know or care about. It arrives in theaters stained by gossip of filmmaker-vs.-studio budget wars, and concerns that its star and co-executive producer, Johnny Depp, would play the Ranger’s friend and spirit guide, Tonto, as a Native American Stepin Fetchit, stumbling around in face-paint and a dead-crow tiara. The film’s poster image might as well have been a target. Too bad: for all its miscalculations, this is a personal picture, violent and sweet, clever and goofy. It’s as obsessive and overbearing as Steven Spielberg’s “1941” — and, I’ll bet, as likely to be re-evaluated twenty years from now, and described as “misunderstood.”

You really should read the whole review it’s simply replete with brilliant observations about the movie, but what struck me most was that beginning wherein it enumerates not only kind of how I walked out of the film feeling but also what was miscalculated about it in terms of its being a tentpole.

The Lone Ranger (2013, Disney)

As I tweeted when the numbers started coming in, and I should’ve put it out there earlier, you could’ve seen the box office failure of the film coming. It was a film that almost didn’t happen and after John Carter flopped you thought it might not. It’s almost like they went back to a well that ran dry hoping to find water this time because they brought Johnny Depp along.

Lack of Bankability

The Lone Ranger (2013, Disney)

Not to sound too crass, as I did like it, but clearly the same inherent issues that John Carter had in terms of bringing out the masses The Lone Ranger was sure to have. It seems tiresome but every time there’s some sort of box office bomb it makes me want to list who is involved. Yes, there are still plenty of good actors and movie stars, but guaranteed draws are very few.

Off the top of my head it seems only Tom Cruise and Adam Sandler get people to show up, but even Cruise had the under-viewed Jack Reacher just recently. As with Sandler, I have to wonder how much of that is morbid curiosity because after seeing Grown Ups 2 I wanted to curl up into the fetal position, weep and wish it was still 1999.

So, in spite of the fact that this film also is a good one, likely a much better one than John Carter, I never saw it as a money-maker. I couldn’t have predicted how insanely Despicable Me 2 would open (It really is Universal’s year it seems; R.I.P.D. notwithstanding) but in a vacuum this is not one I had high hopes for in that regard.

Disney Issues

The Lone Ranger (2013, Disney)

It’s even more frustrating because if you follow what Disney does you know they acquired Lucasfilm and will be bringing Star Wars back. Sure that cost a lot of money both in acquisition and the production of the five announced films, but could they just grin and bear it for a while and know they’ll see a return on that investment, especially with the Marvel leviathan growing ever bigger? No, they just had to gut their hand-drawn animation staff.

Yes, hand-drawn is costly, but it did all begin with a mouse and all those investments will yield dividends but you can’t forget where you came from. New Mickey cartoons are great but it’s bittersweet to say the least.

Reflexive Western

The Lone Ranger (2013, Disney)

Back to The Lone Ranger, as for the film itself, it’s constructed in such a way that we can likely go back to it and start parsing the visual cues and narrative references to diagram the deconstruction of the western, as Zoller Seitz does and this review does.

It takes an old character, and perhaps a cynical, nihilistic advantage of older connotations of Disney films and toys with expectations and creates this The Lone Ranger perhaps the only way he can exist now and re-creates Tonto perhaps as he always should have been.

Does Depp being Depp undercut some of the commentary being made on race and the old west, Manifest Destiny and all the rest? That was something I grappled with as the film played. In the end, I don’t think it does for narrative perspective has to be taken into account. This is really Tonto’s story from the opening shot to when he tells The Lone Ranger to “Never do that again,” after finally breaking out the anticipated (by those who know something of the character) catch phrase “Hi-yo, Silver, away!” at the very end.

The Lone Ranger (2013, Disney)

There’s lamentation and regret from both characters in this tale: The Ranger for his lost ideals, and Tonto for his naive mistake. In some ways the film plays like a lament of the loss of the old Western, not the Old West. When film and society was more naive the Western was the canvas of absolute ideals, as we’ve come to terms with our past as a nation and further world events have stripped that naïveté; the Western had to grow up. The films are now adult tales for adults who remember the genre as children and don’t cater as well to a young audience anymore because it’s not really in the pop culture landscape anymore, not for kids.

While this allows the film to do some interesting thing in terms of commenting on genre, history, race, the country in general; it’s not box office material, especially considering the amount of money invested in this film.

Lastly, the character of Tonto, for how it used to be portrayed, is likely a racist symbol to many. Honestly, the only exposure to the character I had as a kid was in SNL parodies of Tonto, Tarzan and Frankenstein. I don’t think there will be a consensus of where this rendition falls. All I know is in culturally sensitive matters there is never a unanimous sentiment and hardly ever a consensus. From my perspective, as one who had my defenses up waiting for something that crossed the line, I really don’t think it did. Especially when the tribe s introduced and explains Tonto’s story.

The Lone Ranger (2013, Disney)

When one went in not knowing what to expect it was far too easy to be caught off-guard by the film; far too easy too take it at face value as over-produced, overly-expensive fluff, but there’s more to it than meets the eye, which is what makes it interesting even if it won’t make it profitable.