This morning, the Colosseum at Caesars Palace belonged to Walt Disney Studios. After running through its future slate of films including “Thor: The Dark World,” “Frozen,” “Saving Mr. Banks,” “Maleficent,” and beyond, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski took the stage to preface the “Lone Ranger” footage about to be shown after which they were joined by the film’s stars, Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, for a quick hello before letting the material roll.
As Verbinski explained, the first chunk of footage comes as the two protagonists first meet. Hammer’s John Reid has just returned from law school in the big city and Tonto is busy prowling the train for the villainous Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner). The pair climbs on top of the train chained together after which we get a look at some nearby track workers, suggesting the train is nearing the end of the line.
Meanwhile back in the train, or rather on the train, Tonto insists that they jump to safety while John demands they stop it to save the innocent passengers inside. But before they can get moving on either option, they’re attacked by a pair of gunmen. John and Tonto send one on a vicious fall by tripping him with their chains and, just before the other is about to blow them away, those chains catch a wooden pole sending the pair soaring into the air. Even then, that other gunman isn’t home free. Tonto catches him by the neck with his legs, swings him around and hurls him through a train window.
Back on the roof, that first gunman is back at it. A close-up encounter reveals John’s poor combat skills and to further lock him in as a weak fighter, in rides his exponentially more heroic brother, Dan (James Badge Dale), leading a brigade of Texas Rangers. Dan takes Tonto’s side, confirming there’s no time to stop the train and save everyone, but John forges on, taking Tonto and Dan with him to disconnect the lead car. They succeed, but Tonto and John continue on with the rogue car while Dan watches them speed away.
The train hurtles into the track construction zone, eating up the freshly laid tracks before toppling over and launching Tonto and John a distance away. Just as they pull themselves back together, they notice the train car sliding right in their direction. Fortunately, a giant piece of metal has conveniently wedged itself in between the two and manages to stop the car before it crushes them both.
After a slight technical glitch causing a few seconds of the footage to repeat, Tonto and John get up to leave, John insisting he arrest Tonto as they stride on. Tonto turns and decks John. Rather than take it like a man and get back up, John grabs hold of Tonto’s leg to keep him from getting away. In come Dan and his crew to witness the pathetic sight. While he clearly pities him, Dan concedes and hands over his handcuffs so John can bring Tonto in.
The next scene introduces Ruth Wilson’s Rebecca Reid. She rushes in frantic over the news of the crash and moves in to clean John’s wounds. In the process, the two get to talking and it’s revealed that not only hasn’t Rebecca seen John in nine years, but she also stopped writing him eight years ago and is now married to his brother. Then in comes their young son. As John and Rebecca head out, the boy remains, mesmerized as Tonto prays and his shadow rises up on the wall as though it has a life of its own.
Outside, John encounters his brother, the Texas Rangers, and Tom Wilkinson’s Latham Cole. Dan announces his plans to ride off and catch Cavendish once and for all. An understanding, but clearly lonesome Rebecca says her goodbyes. Just before the moment comes to a close, Dan tosses John a Texas Ranger badge with their father’s name inscribed. From there we get a series of landscape shots as the crew rides across the desert. Dan and John spot a white horse high up in the mountains and Dan explains it’s known as the spirit horse.
In the second section of footage, a bruised, battered, and parched John wakes up to realize he’s been placed atop a sky-high narrow and rickety structure, which is conveniently located on top of a sky-high narrow mountain. The scene then cuts to John shuffling along on lower ground back towards the Texas Ranger camp. When he gets there, the fire is out and the camp is empty with bloody Ranger garb and badges littering the ground.
After snapping out of the shock of the gory sight, John notices Tonto having a chat with the spirit horse. Tonto explains that the spirit horse can speak, but, unhappy with what the horse had to say, laments that he can’t decide if the horse is stupid or pretending to be stupid. Tonto then explains that John is now an indestructible spirit walker because “he’s been to the other side and returned.”
At night, a contingent of adorable little rabbits lead the camera to Tonto and John’s campsite cookout. However, the moment Tonto tosses a piece of meat in the rabbits’ direction they turn into monstrous, fang-bearing creatures, gobbling up the meat and scampering off.
When the two get to talking, Tonto explains that he’s the last of Comanche tribe and had a vision that a spirit walker would come to help him achieve his goals. He admits he’d rather that spirit walker have been John’s brother, but he’ll take what he can get. Tonto then hands John a bullet, explaining that Cavendish is also a spirit walker of sorts and can only be put back into the Earth with a silver bullet.
Tonto continues by revealing that back on the train, he’d been tracking Cavendish and was just about to catch him once and for all when John foiled his operation. Tonto gives him a nasty slap across the face, blaming it on the bird that adorns his headdress after which John comes to realize that Cole is actually responsible for Cavendish’s escape.
Tonto hands over a piece of leather revealed to be the Lone Ranger’s signature mask. He tells John that the material came from his brother’s clothing and that the holes that are meant for his eyes were made with the bullets that took him down. John confirms he’ll join Tonto’s cause, but insists on doing it in a just fashion involving the court of law to which Tonto replies, “Justice is what I seek, Kemo Sabe.”
If you’ve yet to be wowed by the film’s promotional material, this footage likely won’t do the trick. There’s nothing wrong with it per se, but if you can’t connect to the slightly goofy action-adventure romp, these portions of “The Lone Ranger” won’t be particularly engaging. Based on what’s been shown thus far, “The Lone Ranger” feels like the later iterations of “Pirates of the Caribbean,” but relocated to desert terrain with Depp dressed up in a new form of outrageous garb.
Just before wrapping up, the studio also screened the film’s final trailer, which you can watch for yourself right here.
We aren’t running a full review just yet, but Walt Disney Studios did screen “Monsters University” in its entirety for the CinemaCon audience and it was a big winner. While “Monsters University” didn’t benefit from the charm of first introducing this unique world of monsters and the scare industry that keeps their society afloat, it still bears that first look charm by opening up the gates of the never-before-seen Monsters University.
The film features a younger Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal) with dreams of becoming a big time scarer. While Mike studies hard and positions himself as an exemplary student, Sulley (voiced by John Goodman) is busy throwing his family legacy out the window by strutting into class late and essentially, not giving a damn. Mike resents Sulley for spoiling his natural look and talent while he’s got no choice, but to hit the books and memorize all the best techniques in order to make up for his less threatening stature.
Even though there’s no Boo in round two, “Monsters University” is still loaded with charm and adorable scenarios while also boasting a particularly moving life lesson. Both Mike and Sulley experience quite the arc, something that becomes even more poignant and enjoyable to follow as their progression frequently reminds the audience of where they end up.
The film is also packed with highly original new characters within an exceptionally detailed new realm of monster world. Come June 21st, if you’re looking for an amusing, engaging, and heartwarming experience, “Monsters University” will deliver tenfold and very likely have you eager to circle back for another go, as it’s impossible to catch all the thoughtful nuances in a single showing.