Inside Pulse » Armie Hammer A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Sat, 25 Oct 2014 04:13:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse no A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse » Armie Hammer Monday Morning Critic – HI YO SILVER: Anatomy of a Failure, Lone Ranger Edition – Miami Connection & Y.K Kim Mon, 08 Jul 2013 12:00:49 +0000
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We should’ve seen the failing of The Lone Ranger at both the box office and from word of mouth coming a long time before it hit theatres … or at least we should’ve spoken about it beforehand. Going in I had openly discussed about how poor this film looks to be purely by looking at the tea leaves of production. Anytime a $200 million plus feature is halted several days in and later restarted over money disputes between the main producer and the studio is bound for failure.

The difference between $20-40 million in budget is significant but something many studios will eat for the right project. Or they’ll come to a deal to delay money based on an alternate revenue stream, et al. The cost of bad publicity usually outweighs the cost of deferred money, of course, and usually you see in Hollywood that they’ll figure a way before they outright cancel something.

Warner through plenty of good money after bad trying to reboot Superman any number of times, losing somewhere in the nine figures after Superman Returns came and went from theatres. Nothing was ever confirmed but the rumor mill pegged their total loss on that film somewhere between $100-200 million but that was just rumors; it was still a loss but the amount has always been debatable. No one ever really knew the final number, and Warner never said, but it was a loss and it’ll probably take almost all of the profits from Man of Steel for the studio to be in the black on Superman.

Warner was willing to green light $225 million for Zack Snyder because they believed in the property that much. And their gamble paid off, and handsomely, as Man of Steel will make enough money for them to survive at least one flop in the next 12 months.

The fact that Disney played hardball to shave money off The Lone Ranger budget says a lot, especially considering they probably lost a good chunk of money by stopping production the first time. It wasn’t the reason why the film failed but it’s a contributing factor. Thus comes this week’s column.

Anatomy of a Failure, Lone Ranger Edition

Why did Ranger flop as hard as it did? A number of reasons, actually:

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1. Westerns are a tough sell, especially as the budget escalates – The one thing about westerns is that they’re still really a prestige genre. And don’t kid yourself: it may have cost $225 million and marketed as a blockbuster but The Lone Ranger is as much a western as 3:10 to Yuma. Unfortunately Westerns don’t draw enough to justify that kind of a budget; the highest grossing western of all time is still Dances with Wolves, which didn’t break $200 million 23 years ago. It’s easier to gross $200 million plus now with the costs of tickets, of course, but westerns have a fiscal ceiling in the same way Denzel Washington does. There’s only so much money they’ll gross on the maximum, thus you have to budget accordingly.

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2. The bigger the budget the bigger the expectation - If this had been a film budgeted between $80 and 100 million then by all means the film’s worldwide gross of over $73 million is absolutely spectacular. The conversation would’ve been “Johnny Depp is a big star,” et al, as having grossed $70 million internationally in one weekend is the start of a profitable film. Unfortunately the production budget crossed $200 million before publicity, advertising and marketing (which was probably another hundred million on top of it). The narrative changed because of the budget size and anything less than $100 million domestically in its opening weekend would be considered a failure.


3. The Lone Ranger isn’t a relevant fictional character anymore – The era of the Lone Ranger and Tonto ended long enough ago that you have to be well into retirement age to remember it. At this point it’s most relevant moment is that it’s part of a dated Bill Cosby joke. People aren’t going to flock to nostalgia because TLR isn’t something people have a fond memory for. Senior citizen homes aren’t going to be emptying en masse, you know?

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4. Disney didn’t have confidence in it to begin with … and people knew it – You don’t stop and start production on something you have confidence will be a hit. Money aside one imagines that Disney, Bruckheimer, Depp and Verbinski would’ve found a solution to it without missing a beat. The fact that they shut down and played hardball with the film tells you that they weren’t sure it was going to be a hit in the first. You don’t cancel a film, especially one this size, over what amounted to roughly 10% or so of the budget if you don’t think there is a chance you won’t make it back with box office receipts.

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5. Johnny Depp is starting to lose his “cool” factor – Depp became a star by playing Jack Sparrow, a wacky character, and gained a lot of fans in the process. Unfortunately a lot of people weren’t fans before that film and his ability to play weird/goofy characters was novel in a lot of ways. But he hasn’t played a lot regular characters and now it’s become passé. We’ve seen it before and no one will plunk down money for just a character anymore. It’s why Michael Myers hasn’t tried to create another franchise after The Love Guru failed so poorly; Johnny Depp being weird isn’t novel anymore it’s expected.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge


This Week’s DVD – Miami Connection

Miami Connection was an action film that couldn’t find an audience in the 80s, mainly because it was so awful that no one wanted to lose money on it. Think about this for a moment: in an action movie heavy decade, one in which a film like Action Jackson 2 could get a wide release, this film got rejected because of how awful it was. There takes a special level of awful to pull that off and Miami Connection got a limited release, made no money in theatres and then disappeared for twenty plus years.

That is until Drafthouse films found it and blew it up, making it into a cult hit at midnight showings and getting it a proper DVD release after all these years. In an era where crappy film-making is becoming embraced to a certain degree Miami Connection managed to be seen by more people now than it did back when people were supposed to take this film seriously.

It’s a simple film: a Miami based rock band are all college students and bad-ass Tae Kwon Do experts. When a band of drug dealing ninjas on motorcycles get ticked off that they took their gig at the local night spot shenanigans ensue. And oh boy do they ensue.

The thing that stands out most about this film is that it feels like an expensive, overly long student film from the 80s as opposed to an actual attempt at a legitimate production. It’s just so obnoxiously bad … but without the intent to make it bad. This is a film you can tell everyone is trying, et al, but there’s no actual talent or training on display. It’s a bunch of rank amateurs doing what they think you’re supposed to do, which is what they are. It’s why I can’t help but laugh with them instead of mock them outright: they don’t know any better.

The crazy thing is that the film has a connection with MMA. Maurice Smith, who played Jim, is actually a legitimate badass and one of the first holders of the UFC heavyweight title.

It’s awful … but it’s cheap on Amazon and one of those films you can watch with friends, like The Room, and just openly mock for just how awful it is.


What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club

Grown-Ups 2 – Adam Sandler and his buddies made a movie. Again.

Skip it – The first was bad … and this one looks like a crime against humanity.

Pacific Rim – Guillermo Del Toro Got $200 million for an updated Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla, right?

See it – Stringer Bell vs. space monsters? Yeah, I’m down for that.

Fruitvale Station – Michael B Jordan’s apparent breakout role in an indie about a shooting gone wrong on the BART in 2009. In limited release.

See it – It’s been getting Oscar buzz for Jordan, which is usually a good reason to support indie film.

Pawn Shop Chronicles – A bunch of Hollywood stars do what’s been called a redneck Pulp Fiction. In limited release.

See It – Either it’ll be hilarious or it’ll be Movie 43 level embarrassing for some fairly big names.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .×120.jpg

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The Lone Ranger – Review Thu, 04 Jul 2013 03:00:25 +0000
Yet another missed opportunity for Jerry Bruckheimer

I don’t know the exact date but after the release of Black Hawk Down uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer seemed to lose his mojo. The man behind such hits as Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop, and The Rock, the type of films that oozed machismo despite starring the likes of an actor who previously engaged in risky business, a comedian that became a breakout star in less than 48 hours, and an actor who has one of the more elaborate filmographies to say the least.

Then something happened; Bruckheimer became obsessed with franchises, both on the large and small screen. Police procedurals like Crime Scene Investigation (insert city name here) began to proliferate the CBS network. In cinema, he served up a pair of Bad Boys movies and National Treasures. But the crowning jewel was his repopularizing pirates and swashbuckling action in the Pirates of the Caribbean, an ultra-successful franchise that seems to be growing in terms of overall earnings just not overall enjoyment.

Knowing all this Bruckheimer tries to reinvent the western by turning back the TV dial to The Lone Ranger. Yes, that lone ranger. More of a revisionist tale than a complete reinvention, the characters and themes depicted in the Old West seem more apropos with today’s landscape of corrupt politicians and greed. Oh, and we have a hero that begins his journey as a district attorney that’s anti-gun before becoming a masked vigilante with a pair of six-shooters that seemingly have an endless supply of bullets, save for when he’s directly opposite a baddie and the barrel clicks empty. Aw shucks.

Touted as being from the team that brought you the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, director Gore Verbinski returns to the Bruckheimer fold along with star Johnny Depp. Verbinski is a very good filmmaker when it comes to the big stuff – like crafting remarkable action sequences – but needs to refine the small stuff – the intimate moments where there’s a break in the action. As much as I have grown tired of the overstuffed Pirates sequels, the demise of Captain Beckett in PotC: At World’s End is very operatic in tone and final denouement. And his last film, Rango, is an animated gem that I commonly refer to as “The best Tim Burton film Tim Burton never directed.” In that film, Verbinski showed a flair for the western albeit with a Chinatown motif that went way beyond the heads of the kids watching.

Sadly, the strange oddness that made Rango so memorable seems to have missed the train bound for West Texas (which looks surprisingly like Utah and New Mexico) in The Lone Ranger. Johnny Depp doesn’t play the masked vigilante, but he gets top star billing as the ranger’s sidekick, Tonto. At one time it looked like Depp could do no wrong, but then after the success of playing Capt. Jack Sparrow he seems to have morphed into Al Pacino circa Scent of a Woman, where he’s playing a version of that character to a degree. With Depp, while he’s strayed occasionally with films like Finding Neverland, he’s mostly been Tim Burton’s ingénue with their indulgences in trying to make people care about TV relics like Dark Shadows or make people forget that Gene Wilder was the better Willy Wonka.

Surprisingly, Johnny Depp’s performance as Tonto is one of his better efforts of recent memory, though he still has a tell, a nervous tic that is sure to drive you bonkers. Sure, he’s still playing a caricature, but the film’s problems doesn’t rely with him. It relies on tone and execution. Coincidentally enough, a few days prior to its release I saw a film entitled The Clearing, starring Robert Redford, Helen Mirren and Willem Dafoe. The film was Justin Haythe’s first credited screenplay credit. In between that release and The Lone Ranger he had two other screen credits, an adaptation of Revolutionary Road and Snitch starring Dwayne Johnson (released earlier this year). All four have varying degrees of tonal inconsistencies with Road being the best considering the overall subject matter. Also helping with the scripting duties is the duo responsible for the PotC movies, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio. And here begins the descent into madness. Seriously, there are so many bad ideas laid out on screen that it’s amazing an experienced editor or Bruckheimer didn’t step in to excise a goodly portion.

With a running time of 149 minutes – know this, longer doesn’t always equate with a film being better – a good 45 minutes could have been cut out and you wouldn’t have missed it. You also have to wonder how strong a character is The Lone Ranger to warrant such a long-running film to go along with its enormous budget (at least $200 million). Blame it on the popularization of comic book movies and Bruckheimer wanting in on that action. But The Lone Ranger is more in the realm of The Shadow and The Phantom, radio heroes of yesteryear. The Lone Ranger made it to television but is considered a fixture of the bygone era of pop culture. In the cinematic version, we get the Cowboys and Indians angle to appease the little tykes who may have outgrown their dinosaur phase. As we saw a few years ago with Cowboys & Aliens, a film property based on a comic, genre-smashing doesn’t always work. A character like The Lone Ranger isn’t the like to warrant a big elaborate production – which at one time was to have included werewolves, but got nixed when the budget became too big that the hairy beasts had to be euthanized with a pencil or keystroke, not silver bullets.

Beginning with a poor framing device by which the story unspools from an elder Tonto telling the legend of The Lone Ranger to a young boy at a Wild West Show in late 1930s San Francisco, we have to suffer the visual indignity of Johnny Depp looking like Keith Richards. The framing device, while making me reminiscence about Columbo reading The Princess Bride to Kevin Arnold, has no payoff. Watching the end credits prove this much (hint: there’s no reason to sit through them all, unless you are directly related to Best Boy or something).

The rest of the picture is full of busy-work aka stuff to make you look at your watch. Yearning and tortured silence of our hero John Reid (Armie Hammer) seeing his once sweetheart Rebecca (Ruth Wilson) married to his Texas Ranger brother, Dan (James Badge Dale), plants the seeds of what everyone in the audience (yes, even young seven-year-old Sally who could care less) already knows will occur.

The always-reliable William Fitchner plays Cavendish, a wanted outlaw who is able to escape his captors as if he were Houdini. He also has a penchant for human hearts. Got to get that protein in one way or another. Upon killing John and Dan in an ambush, the origin story of The Lone Ranger finally commences. Tonto has his own reasons for hunting Cavendish as well. Sadly, these details are revealed ever so slowly over the next two hours.

Outside of the early train derailment in which our two heroes narrowly escape with their lives, we are treated to poor story development and humor that just makes you shake your head wondering What were they thinking when they had Silver drinking a beer, and in a Disney release no less?

The saving grace, if there is one to The Lone Ranger, is when the famed “William Tell Overture” finally kicks in signaling the last major action sequence of the motion picture. This is where Gore Verbinski shows his moxie as an action director, crafting an elaborate 20 minutes of inventive and hilarious action. If only the entire film could have matched this in terms of tone and execution, then it could have been paired alongside The Mask of Zorro, which struck the right balance of humor and action. To see that film and now this and later realize that Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio wrote both you can only assume that they have lost their creative zeal after working on four Pirates of the Caribbean movies and are just applying the same formula of adventures on the high seas to the Old West. It doesn’t work like that. It’s not just about changing locations.

The fact that Tonto needs to have the last word, even scolding The Lone Ranger as he yells “Hi-yo, Silver…away!” as they ride into the sunset, you sort of share in the uneasiness the filmmakers had on the project and at how ashamed they are that The Lone Ranger can’t be as dark and brooding as say Batman. Why Bruckheimer decided this was the best approach, I don’t know. Whether or not this turns out to be a financial turkey like John Carter (probably not overseas with Johnny Depp star presence), just know that it’s okay to have summer popcorn movies with uncomplicated heroes. Do yourself a favor and revisit The Mask of Zorro again. It’s just as long as The Lone Ranger, but you’ll have much more fun. Trust me.  

Director: Gore Verbinski
Writer: Justin Haythe and Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio
Notable Cast: Armie Hammer, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Tom Wilkinson, William Fichtner×120.jpg

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Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer Star In What Appears To Be Final Trailer For The Lone Ranger Mon, 22 Apr 2013 14:00:47 +0000 What purports to be the “Final” trailer for The Lone Ranger has been released. You can view them below.

Plot Summary: The Lone Ranger is an action film in which the masked hero is brought to life through new eyes. A Native American spirit warrior, Tonto (Johnny Depp), recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid (Armie Hammer), a man of the law, into a legend of justice. The two unlikely heroes must learn to work together and fight against greed and corruption.×120.jpg

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New International Trailer for The Lone Ranger Mon, 22 Apr 2013 08:00:11 +0000 A new international trailer for The Lone Ranger has been released. You can view it below.

Plot Summary: From producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski, the filmmaking team behind the blockbuster “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, comes Disney/Jerry Bruckheimer Films’ “The Lone Ranger,” a thrilling adventure infused with action and humor, in which the famed masked hero is brought to life through new eyes. Native American spirit warrior Tonto (Johnny Depp) recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid (Armie Hammer), a man of the law, into a legend of justice—taking the audience on a runaway train of epic surprises and humorous friction as the two unlikely heroes must learn to work together and fight against greed and corruption.×120.jpg

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New Poster And Teaser To The Lone Ranger Wed, 30 Jan 2013 17:18:22 +0000 Walt Disney Pictures debuts new footage for its summer tentpole release The Lone Ranger. The new 90-second sneak peek is set to air on Sunday, February 3, during the CBS Pregame Show 2:00 PM EST.

From producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski, the duo behind the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, comes a new adaptation of the famed radio and TV character, The Lone Ranger. Native American spirit warrior Tonto (Johnny Depp) recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid (Armie Hammer), a man of the law, into a legend of justice—taking the audience on a runaway train of epic surprises and humorous friction as the two unlikely heroes must learn to work together and fight against greed and corruption.

The Lone Ranger also stars Tom Wilkinson, William Fichtner, Barry Pepper, and Helena Bonham Carter. It opens in U.S. theaters on July 3, 2013.

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The Lone Ranger Teaser Arrives And Gives Us Johnny Depp With Eyeliner Wed, 03 Oct 2012 16:59:40 +0000 In these last few months of 2012, the season is packed with interesting new releases, including your prestige flicks (Lincoln), tentpoles (Skyfall), and animation (Wreck-It Ralph, Rise of the Guardians).

But it’s never too early to think about 2013, right?

Disney’s The Lone Ranger is a project that has been mired with budget concerns and production delays. Jerry Bruckheimer’s take on the legendary hero of the small screen will likely garner much press because of its $200 million price tag. Then you have Johnny Depp getting top billing as – wait for it – not The Lone Ranger, but his faithful sidekick Tonto. The Social Network‘s Armie Hammer plays the titular hero.

The day before the release of Frankenweenie in theaters, Disney has dropped the first teaser, which will likely find itself attached to most, if not all, of the screens showing Tim Burton’s black and white stop-motion release.

The Lone Ranger comes from the creative team behind Pirates of the Caribbean. Gore Verbinski (POTC: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Rango) directs from a script written by Justin Haythe & Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio. Besides Hammer and Depp, as protags John Reid/The Lone Ranger and Tonto, the film also stars Helena Bonham Carter, William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson and Barry Pepper.

The Lone Ranger is set to ride into theaters on July 3, 2013.×120.jpg

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Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp Meet And Greet the Navajo Nation on The Lone Ranger Set Tue, 17 Apr 2012 11:00:34 +0000 Some new photos from The Lone Ranger set have found their way online. You can view them below.

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Just Seen It Movie Review: Mirror Mirror [Video] Sun, 08 Apr 2012 11:16:18 +0000 The handsome prince Alcott falls for the beautiful princess Snow White. But jealous Evil Queen seizes control of the magical kingdom and casts the orphaned princess into exile. With a band of rebel dwarfs, Snow White reclaims her throne and wins back her man. Starring Lily Collins, Julia Roberts and Armie Hammer. Directed by Tarsem Singh. Written by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm (original story), Melissa Wallack and Jason Keller (screenplay). Produced by Bernie Goldmann, Ryan Kavanaugh, and Brett Ratner. Genre: Fairy Tale Drama Comedy.

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First Look Image: The Lone Ranger Rides Again With Johnny Depp And Armie Hammer Thu, 08 Mar 2012 17:12:57 +0000

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer tweeted the above image from the set.

Initially production on The Lone Ranger shut down do to a lofty cost. However some budget cuts, a few compromises and Johnny Depp helped the film ride again and is now set for released on May 31, 2013.

Filming began in late February in New Mexico. Gore Verbinski (the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films and Rango) is directing with Depp playing Tonto and Armie Hammer playing The Lone Ranger.

When asked about cuts, Bruckheimer said: “We cut a sequence involving a coyote attack — supernatural coyotes — and a small animated segment,” he said. “The train [scenes] are intact. We trimmed it a little bit. Gore made some sacrifices creatively, but nothing that would hurt the film. We had to work it out. The studio set a number, and it was always our responsibility to get to the number.”

The Pulse: Anyone who knows me, knows I love Johnny Depp, but I’ve been questioning some of his acting roles lately. And Tonto, really? I know Depp has like 1/300th Native American blood in him or something like that, but shouldn’t the role of Tonto go to a true Native American? I understand his desire to portrait a Native American character in a strong way, and not a subservient way, but he’s not the only one who could do that. a If you need Depp in the film to get it bankrolled, cast him as The Ranger or the villain maybe. The studio wouldn’t put Depp in black-face, so why is this okay?×120.jpg

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New Pictures From Mirror Mirror Released Tue, 21 Feb 2012 19:00:46 +0000 A handful of new pictures from Mirror Mirror have been released; you can view below.

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