Monday, April 16, 2012

Movie Review: Highlander III: The Sorcerer (1994)

Highlander III: The Final Dimension or The Sorcerer is something of a reboot. Rather than following along in the timeline set by The Quickening, The Sorcerer ends Connor’s marriage to Brenda and is set in modern time (1994), before the climate changes in The Quickening. But does the ignorance of a terrible sequel make this even a halfway good one?

At the end of Highlander, Connor MacLeod was the last immortal alive, and he won The Prize- the ability to commune with the thoughts of all living people and supposedly the chance to die as a normal human. If this is true, any sequel that captures the feel of the original is impossible- MacLeod would be just another swordfighter in a world where more such adventures wouldn’t make much sense. Highlander II circumvented this issue in an okay manner, by introducing immortals that weren’t on Earth during the time of the original Highlander, but the execution was so terrible that this idea had to be abandoned for the next sequel.

Instead, to quote the Big Bad of this movie: “All those nice years thinking you were the only one left, but you see the prize was never yours, and now, it never will be.”

Shiwan Khan- I mean, Kane- is an immortal who wants to learn the powers of the Tulku- I mean, immortal illusionist Nakano. We learn that after the death of Ramirez, MacLeod trained under Nakano, but before he could learn Nakano’s secrets, he was killed by Kane, the Asian version of the Kurgan. Kane and his two minions (both of the Khan clan, speaking of Shiwan) are trapped, allowing them to evade the gathering of the first film. For the first and last time in the Highlander films, we see the beheading of an immortal by another lead to a transfer of skills, as Kane becomes the master of illusion- the Sorcerer- that he’s always dreamed of being, and he uses these abilities relentlessly against MacLeod (whom he would not have any advantage against otherwise).

Another element The Final Dimension introduces over the original is Jake, Connor’s adopted son. The inability of immortals to conceive children is covered slightly more than the original, with Connor having a lover centuries after Heather who eventually has children with another man after believing MacLeod to be dead. After believing himself to have won the prize and therefore desiring to live a mortal life, Connor adopts Jake, who for largely acts as a MacGuffin to force MacLeod to fight Kane to the death.

The final difference between Highlander and Highlander III is that there is no attempt to make this look like the end. By this point, this is the second sequel and there are two television series on the air- it’s clear there’s going to be more, so why act like MacLeod won the Prize, again? This backfires. On one side, they’re not lying to the audience, which the original film (very unintentionally) did. On the other hand, they make the “prize” in the first film an isolated event, which is odd when you consider that Kane and eventually Jacob Kell are each as dangerous as the Kurgan, yet he’s the only one with the special animation. There’s also the fact that the lack of this, coupled with the lack of introducing a new mythos to us, contributes to making this the least memorable of all the Highlander films.

Highlander III received, if anything, worse criticism on sites such as Rotten Tomatoes than The Quickening, and I think this explains it. Highlander II was stupid, ridiculously so, but it was unique. The Final Dimension, far from being that, is just a rehash of Highlander without any of the unique touches that made Highlander what it was. It definitely states for the audience that there can only be one.

On top of that, another movie came out the same year with the exact same plot. Surprise surprise, this movie didn’t exactly receive a ton of praise, but at last I found The Shadow entertaining and interesting, in addition to carrying an origin story for its characters and a performance by Tim Curry. If you took The Shadow, stripped out all of the proper nouns and specific powers and replaced them counterparts from Highlander, stripped out all of the backstory and suspense that made The Shadow and Highlander so entertaining, you get a bare premise for a story that doesn’t hold much in the way of memorability, and that’s where you get Highlander III: The Sorceror.

Highlander III isn’t a terrible film, but it’s not a must-see either. If you’re a Highlander fan, it’s the best of the four sequels, but that doesn’t make it nearly an equal movie. If you need to watch a Highlander sequel, make it this one; if not, give it a pass and watch either Highlander or The Shadow, as both are superior films.

Bill Silvia is a regular contributor at Fantasy & SciFi Lovin' News & Reviews. You can find more of his content at http://www.MiBreviews.com

1 comment:

Bob (Beauty in Ruins) said...

It's faults aside, I loved this movie simply for the fact that it blatantly ignored the rancid travesty of The Quickening and served to reestablish the original storyline. While it certainly wasn't a classic, it did have it's moments . . . and not a single one of them involved aliens. :)