The surprise ending to Disney’s Hall H panel today at San Diego Comic Con was the debut of an “in production” teaser trailer for Gore Verbinski‘s The Lone Ranger. The film stars Armie Hammer (The Social Network, J. Edgar) as the title character, and Johnny Depp as the classic character Tonto.

We’ve known for some time that the film features several sequences involving trains, and that it is Verbinski’s own take on ideas familiar to Western film fans. While the footage on display today was pretty light on Ranger and Tonto, there was enough on screen to give us a good idea of the film’s energy and ambitions. 

The trailer begins with some very classic-looking images of trains barreling across the American Southwest, with narration discussing how train technology stitched the United States together in a way that the horse and carriage never could. There’s a lot of slo-mo, and a great shot of a bunch of period-appropriate executive types being shot to death in a meeting room, with bullets flying in through the window behind them.

What’s the real story here, and what is the conflict? That we don’t know, but there is clearly a new technology, and interests at odds over who controls it.

And we see Armie Hammer donning the mask of the Lone Ranger, and some very intriguing shots of the bird headdress-wearing Tonto. He’s jailed at one point, and the trailer closes with a shot of Tonto clinging to the bottom of a speeding train. There’s a lot of energy, and a lot of motion, but given that the trailer was a couple minutes at most, it’s really difficult to get an idea of the actual story, and how the characters relate to one another.

What is clear is that the film’s multiple budget recalculations haven’t led to any skimping on spectacle. The brief flashes of action here are fast and very well presented, and there was one shot of one train car sliding on its side into another, that led me to wonder what setpieces Verbinski and his crew have come up with.

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