The Lone Ranger: Hi-Yo Stinker, Away!

by Ethan Alter July 3, 2013 6:00 am
<i>The Lone Ranger</i>: Hi-Yo Stinker, Away!

Hard as it may be to believe, Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp's fourth collaboration, The Lone Ranger, arrives almost ten years to the day since their first team-up, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, docked in multiplexes. And, much like its predecessor, this rebooted take on the vintage masked cowboy -- who has been patrolling the 19th-century frontier on radio, television and film since the '30s -- is going into blockbuster season as a major-league underdog. Pirates, of course, overcame initial skepticism surrounding its theme park ride origins, Depp's then-uncertain box office appeal and the general poor track record of pirate movies (Cutthroat Island, anyone?) to become one of the past decade's most profitable ongoing franchises. And the duo's past success (coupled with a desire to secure more seafaring adventures with Captain Jack Sparrow) was undoubtedly the main reason Disney took a chance on The Lone Ranger, to the tune of almost $250 million. But if Black Pearl was a textbook example of cinematic alchemy -- where a myriad of unlikely elements somehow came together to form gold -- The Lone Ranger turns out to be less a precious metal than an especially sizeable cow patty.

J. Edgar: This Movie Is History

by Ethan Alter November 18, 2011 10:09 am
<i>J. Edgar</i>: This Movie Is History

The release of a Clint Eastwood-directed Oscar hopeful has come to be one of the hallmarks of the holiday season, right up there with Black Friday sales, Christmas decorations and yet another live-action Chipmunks sequel. Since 2003's Mystic River, the iconic actor/filmmaker has released at least one prestige picture (and sometimes two) almost every year at around this time looking for box-office success and awards love. Sometimes it works (Million Dollar Baby, Letters From Iwo Jima) and other times, it doesn't (Flags of our Fathers, Hereafter). Based on the underwhelming reviews and grosses of his latest film, J. Edgar, an expansive biopic of the legendary FBI director written by Oscar-winning Milk scribe Dustin Lance Black and starring Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover, this is shaping up to be one of his off years.

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