Sunday, November 26, 2006

Off With His Head!

Ok, the title of the post is a bit much. Anyway. When I was in high school I remember the guys all talking about the movie Highlander. It was kind of a big deal to these guys and I couldn't figure out what the heck they were talking about until I finally saw it for myself. It wasn't the best movie in the world, but the idea is what makes it such a great cult classic. If you haven't seen the movie then I'll fill you in on the basics. The main character in the movie is Connor MacLeod, aka The Highlander, played by Christopher Lambert. He is an immortal man who can only be killed if he is decapitated. He is one among a small group of immortals who all vie to be that last man standing. The immortals in this movie duel with swords and whenever they kill another immortal, they absorb their power. The last immortal alive is supposed to then have great power and influence world events. The movie also stars Sean Connery as an immortal who is a mentor to MacLeod. As the story begins the time of The Gathering is approaching and all the immortals will be drawn to a particular place, in this case New York, for the final battle. The movie starts with a sword battle in a New York parking garage and when Connor finally wins the battle we see him absorb the power from the other immortal. It appears to be almost as if lightening is striking him and we later learn it is called The Quickening. The movie kind of reminds me of the first Terminator movie. It's dark and grainy and you get the feeling it was filmed on a fairly low budget. And at times it can be confusing. But I still liked it. In fact, so many people liked it they ended up making four movies, two TV series, one animated series, not to mention all the books that have been written. The first TV series starred Adrian Paul as Duncan MacLeod, who is a clansman of Connor MacLeod. (not to mention rather easy on the eyes...ahem) I really liked the TV series with Adrian Paul, and not just for obvious reasons. I thought it was rather well done. It showed the conflicts many immortals had with a virtually never ending life span and what happens when you find yourself forced to face personal demons that come from such a long life. And ultimately I think that's what appeals to viewers, the idea of immortality. Don't you wonder what you would do if you could live forever? It's something to ponder anyway. Or maybe like the Queen song that asks "who wants to live forever?" Or better yet, who wants to watch their loved one's die over and over? This is a concept that is dealt with in both the movie and the TV series. Essentially I liked how the story developed over time, except maybe for the concept of the Watchers. The Watchers were basically a group of mortals who watched and kept track of the immortals but didn't interfere; or they weren't supposed to anyway. The Watcher's always seemed forced to me. Basically it was used as a device to introduce other characters into the show and used as a means to give us a historical background on certain characters. But I think I could have lived without the whole Watchers element. My other small gripe is that I don't think the movies were done as well as the TV series. I haven't even seen the third one because I heard it was so bad and frankly didn't realize there was a fourth one until I wrote this. Oops! I do plan on renting the fourth one though, after all, it does include Adrian Paul. ;) I also haven't really figured out how they have reconciled the fact that Connor MacLeod was supposed to be the last immortal at the end of the movie, but somehow the story was continued with Duncan MacLeod and several cameo appearances by Connor in the TV series. I'm hoping the fourth movie will answer that for me. Shhh, don't spoil it.


Hey there, Skippy said...

Absolutely agree, "Highlander" was a great idea executed very badly, indeed.

Alex said...

You had to see it for the first time in the theaters, kind like Bladerunner or Tron.

I go back now and watch it on DVD and snigger at the crap music and special effects, but I still remember how damned cool it was the first time I saw it.

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DesLily said...

I remember the movies and tv series well! loved the first movie. I thought Christopher Lambert was really good in the part, and what's not to love about Connery?!! heh. The following movies did go downhill though..too bad about that part.

Crunchy Carpets said...

I loved the first movie...heck a Scottish Action Fantasy!!

WHoo hoo!!!

The rest were atrocious!

I remember coming out of the theatre after the second one and running into friends of ours and begging them to not waste their money!

Jean-Luc Picard said...

I think I only saw one of the later films about this series.

Journeyman said...

I can honestly say that Highlander rates as one of my top ten films.

Yes, the effects are a bit cheesy at times. And of course it looks dated but I think you captured it perfectly with your comparison to Terminator.

It's the story that does it (and the soundtrack - I was brought up on Queen). The fact that it's not slick, most of the people in it aren't beautiful people, the bad guy really is badass and has some of the best lines - 'Nun's. No sense of humour.' Awesome.

Oh and an uncle of a schoolfriend of mine was in the big highland battle scene. True story.

Dirk_Star said...

There should have only been one...

Stewart Sternberg said...

Anything with Sean Connery is okay by me.

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

Dirk, you took my line.

Anyways, there is a renegade version of the second Highlander movie which is supposed to clear up all the inconcistencies with the first one.

The third one is OK, but the creators clearly just went back and re-did the first with a bigger budget. Many scenes ripped even off the earlier movie. Though to it's credit, it has Mario Van Peebles as the main villain. I think he's a great, underapreciated talent.

In the fourth one, the chick is a guy. No wait, that's another movie. It's pretty good, I say it's worth the rental.

SQT said...

Skippy-- Yeah, there were things that could have been done much better. But I still like it tho..

Alex- I thought it was pretty cool the first time I saw it too. The sword fights were always my favorite part of the movie and the series.

Deslily & Stewart- What's not to love about Sean Connery? He's made a few stinkers (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comes to mind) but he's always fun to watch.

CC- I think I'll skip the second one.

Journeyman- That's cool that your friend was in the movie. I liked the bad guy too-- I still remember that nun line also.

Dirk Star-- Lol

Jon-- You give me hope that there's a reason to rent the fourth one. Other than just Adrian Paul that is...

Asara Dragoness said...

Ohhh, Adrian Paul!!
I was SO SO SO mad when he cut his hair! He was my celebrity crush for like 2 or 3 years, I still get a bit tingly when I see pictures of him when he had his ponytail.

OddMix said...

I loved the first movie... right up to the last scene. What a lame prize for the last man standing.

I hated the second film so much I can't even remember much of it. I never saw the third; had no clue there was a fourth; and could never get into the spirit of the TV show.

I thought they should have left it be after the first one. But that's just me.

Malnurtured Snay said...

Love Highlander! The first movie, and the Series. The differences between the movies with Chris and the "series" with Adrian is that they are two separate realities -- it's hard to get your head around, and Highlander's never been good on continuity. In the Seriesverse, the events of the first movie happened, but it wasn't really the Gathering (duh). It was just all the Immortals in New York killing each other. However, in the movie verse, none of the Series characters exist (and for that matter, movie 4 never happened, and if you watch movie 3, movie 2 never happened). In neither 'verse did the cartoon show happen.

Yeah. It's complicated. And a pain. And don't I wish the producers had made more of an effort to keep continuity.