"The Lone Ranger" began as a radio program in 1933 and then became a popular television series running from 1949-1957. Though a comic book and a movie or two followed, the franchise has mostly remained a thing of the past, a pop-cultural footnote gathering dust in the memories of those old enough to remember it. In Hollywood's mind, no formerly lucrative brand is ever old enough to refit for modern audiences, and so it goes that "The Lone Ranger" is now an alleged $250-million summer tentpole that nearly got shut down before production began due to its out-of-control budget. Brushing that aside, Disney hopes they have another "Pirates of the Caribbean" on their hands, even enlisting the same director and star, Gore Verbinski (2011's "Rango") and Johnny Depp (2012's "Dark Shadows"), to hopefully pull off a similar worldwide financial success. Alas, the western is a notoriously tricky genre to sell to 21st-century moviegoers, and this latest version of "The Lone Ranger" only gets things right roughly a third of the time. Bookended by elaborate locomotive-set action sequences that capture in all of their glory the perilous thrills and goofy spills of old-time serial adventures, the picture otherwise buries itself with too much of everything except what it needs most: a fleet, fast-paced sense of fun.
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