Epic in scale - including, unfortunately, length (two and half hours), this re-interpretation of a TV boyhood hero for many of those of my generation is totally different from the one I recall from the 1950s. Times and sensitivities have changed radically since then and I don't hold it as a criticism of the film in that it's far removed from the portrayal decades ago of white lawman being supported, loyally as a dog, by the compliant Tonto, who leaves all the initiative to his boss to call the shots. In those days we were all much more naive and uncritical of TV fodder presented to us - perhaps as much as perceptions of today's world will seem to those living half a century hence.
In this film it's Tonto, in the capable hands of Johnny Depp, who is the real star. I'd never heard of Armie Hammer (as the title character) before, though I see he did have a role in 'The Social Network'. He was okay, in fact not bad at all, though maybe a bit on the young side.
The film is an uneasy mix of comedy (quips, zany one-liners and a fair bit of slapstick) and the very serious observations of the plight of indigenous natives, slaughtered wholesale for being 'inconveniently' in the way of construction of a projected trans-continental railway (Tom Wilkinson leading at the helm), with the allure of silver mining to add to the merciless zeal of the 'white man'.
I don't think the film was helped one bit by having the resurrected (nonogenarian?) Tonto narrating the history to a boy visitor of a museum. It returns to this scenario rather too often, fragmenting the storyline.
The ubiquitous Helena B.C. (yes, yet again!) appears as a brothel madame, with a rather unusual weapon - but it's little more than a cameo role, so that wasn't too difficult to endure.
I did find the constant switching between moods light-hearted and desperately serious a bit rickety, but they're managed adeptly enough.
There's more than a strong whiff of the 'Pirates' franchise (I've only seen the first two). The brand of humour is exactly the same, as is the tenour of the script. It's enjoyable enough but lacks much originality. If it hadn't been for the 'Pirates' films it might have been more effective.
When the emblematic music of Rossini's 'William Tell' theme appears in all it's extendedly-composed glory in the final climactic sequence I must own to finding it quite exhilerating, but it was a long time to wait for it. (There's also a brief hint of this theme right near the film's start.)
I found it quite a tiring film, far too big and much too long for its own good, even though one must add a note of admiration for the spectacular scenery, sumptuously shot. But as to recommending it, to be honest, I think not - unless one is especially attracted by the stars or the film's concept.
I am aware of the hostile reviews this film has received in America. Depp maintains that even before the film was completed the critics had started to attack it, and this negativity had created its own momentum.
It's certainly not a bad film, but neither did I find it a very satisfactory one. So, sitting on the fence, I endow it with a balanced.............5.