Movie Review: The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981)

Synopsis: Years after his parents were brutally murdered by a gang of outlaws, John Reid, now an attorney, returns to Texas and reunites with his Texas Ranger brother, Dan. When a local printer is murdered by the villainous Major Bartholomew "Butch" Cavendish and his army, John joins his brother and other rangers in pursuit only to be left for dead when Cavendish ambushes the party. After being nursed back to health by his childhood Comanche friend, Tonto, Reid dons a mask and rides off in search of justice for his slain brother.

Who's in it? The movie stars Klinton Spilsbury, Michael Horse, Christopher Lloyd, Matt Clark and Juanin Clay.

Review: I had heard of this movie prior to coming across it a couple days ago but, other than remembering it had been a box office failure, didn't know much else about it. Since I had enjoyed watching The Lone Ranger (in reruns) as a kid, I decided to give it a try. I didn't enjoy the experience.

Wow, where to begin? I guess the biggest problem with this movie was the obnoxious amount of time it spent on the Lone Ranger's origin story. 

I get it, this movie, much like the 2013 version, was trying to re-introduce the character to a new generation. However, the film is only 98 minutes long and John Reid (Spilsbury) doesn't don his Lone Ranger mask until about an hour into it. He then fills another couple of minutes by riding around while the William Tell Oveture is playing in the background. In other words, there was too much John Reid and not enough Lone Ranger.

I also have to say I wasn't a big fan of the casting choice for the title character. Spilsbury, just brought no charisma in his only feature film role. In fact, I think the filmmakers would have been better off having a 66-year-old Clayton Moore reprise the role (though it would have obviously required some script modifications).

On the flip side of that, casting Lloyd as the villain was an awesome choice. It's just too bad the film doesn't give him enough screen time to really establish himself. A great movie villain can sometimes make up for a weak hero and I feel a talented actor like Lloyd could have done that had he been given the chance.

Final Opinion: There are a couple decent action scenes and music/narration from the legendary Merle Haggard but the movie just doesn't do this hero justice.

My Grade: C-


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