Well, it's that time of year again. It's my birthday, and that means the annual tradition of my birthday movie. Just my thing...been going to see a movie on my birthday ever since I was 11 years old. And earlier in the week, my parents called me up and said, "Hey, wanna meet up in Spruce Grove so we can buy you dinner, take you to a movie, and shower you with presents?" How can a guy say no to that?
I don't frequent Spruce Grove that much, preferring to go straight into Edmonton, but it's become my parents' main hub, so it made sense to meet them there. And watching a movie in Spruce Grove meant going to their newish Empire Theatres multiplex on their East end. (I say "newish" because I think it's like three years old, now.) I'd driven past it enough times, so I was eager to kick the tires on it. It's almost an older-style multiplex. I mean, it doesn't have the curved screens and stadium seating like you'll find in the newer gigantic multiplexes that you find in Edmonton. It reminded me more of the theatres I frequented in my childhood and teen years. It was a little nostalgia-inducing. And it was few bucks cheaper than Edmonton, too, so it just might become a regular haunt.
So how was The Lone Ranger? I've always had a soft spot for the character. My earliest conscious memories of television are reruns of the ol' Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels show. YTV showed the old cartoon in its early years, and I remember watching it. I was kind of excited when it was announced that Disney got the rights to the character and they were putting their Pirates of the Caribbean team in charge. But the the stories started. It was a troubled production. They shut down the film for a few months while they figured out how to reduce the budget. There was a leaked early script that said the Lone Ranger and Tonto would be fighting werewolves. But the final product is here.
And...it's actually pretty good. There's some great action scenes. I mean, the climactic train chase is a showstopper. It's a beautiful action scene.
That being said, the film does get rather strange. There's killer bunny rabbits. The villain, Butch Cavendish, is a cannibal. One of Cavendish's gang appears to be a transvestite. Silver, also, has his own eccentricities, always mysteriously appearing on rooftops and in trees and such. Whenever it got into stuff like that, it loses me.
And how about Johnny Depp as Tonto. Many described Depp's take as "Capt. Jack Sparrow in the Old West," and I'd say that's a fair description. Over the years, to politically correct the Lone Ranger, they've made Tonto more of an equal partner rather than a sidekick. This film takes things one step further, where the Lone Ranger is a city boy who's kind of new to the ways of the West, and Tonto becomes his mentor to forge him into this mighty instrument of law and order. But Johnny Depp gets so Johnny Deppish, that sometimes it ventures into that strangeness I mentioned above.
Armie Hammer is good, though, as John Reid/The Lone Ranger, coming home from the big city to be the new states attorney, and soon quickly learning that there's more to justice in the Old West than what can be done in the courtroom. It's fun watching his evolution from the city slicker to the legend of the Old West.
So, yeah. I liked it. But it just gets so darn strange at times.
I've got a complete review over at my website, so click on over to read that.
I think I threw my parents for a loop at the end of the film. At the end of the film, we were approached by this guy on his way out. He addressed me, my parents, and, well, pretty much everyone sitting in our row and issued the challenge: "I don't suppose any of you know what the name of Tonto's horse is?" I shocked him and my parents when I responded with the right answer. "Wow," said this random stranger. "I was telling my wife that I was probably the only guy in the theatre who knew that." So, yeah. A vast knowledge of useless trivia can be handy from time to time.
After the film, it was time to indulge my father in one of his eccentricities, in that all movies must be followed by an ice cream treat. Rather than Dairy Queen, though, Dad took us to the Marble Slab Creamery. I hadn't tried them before, but I had read about them, when they were aggressively expanding about 5 years ago. They specialize in hard ice cream, and their gimmick is once you've chosen your ice cream, they spread it out on a marble slab (oh, so that's where they get the name) and they mush in your "mixins," things like nuts and candies and good stuff like that. I decided to sample their "Raspberry Cheesecake." They've got cheesecake-flavoured ice cream, and then they mush in raspberries and and graham crackers. It was very good.
I'll have to try them again, someday, because I noticed they actually had green tea flavoured ice cream. I hadn't seen that since Japan. I was hesitant to choose that because I didn't know what a good "mixin" would be to go with that. But next time, I shall be more adventurous!
Now, you might be wondering why this all went down on the day before my birthday instead of my birthday proper. Well, I've got a work thing to be at today. That's one of the things that sucks about being a grown up. When I was a kid, and my birthday was right there at the stat of summer vacation, it was so awesome because I had the day off and could do whatever I wanted. But now, work and such and having your birthday be a day off is so few and far between.
But hey. That's life.