2/17/11

HIGHLANDER II - REVIEW


It's no secret that sequels very rarely live up to the original. Occasionally, a sequel is actually so bad it can even single-handedly destroy all that was good about the first film, and what better example than Highlander 2?

Never a big fan of Highlander myself, I never really understood what the big deal was with the first film and why people were such big fans of it when it came out. That said, in retrospect it's easy to understand its charm: the originality of the premise and the creation of this entire mythology from scratch is a welcome departure from the countless monster/vampire movies which came out at the time. Sure the whole thing was always silly, overblown and inherently flawed but people didn't care, they just wanted to see a bad French actor kick ass with a sword, pretending to be Scottish the entire time, heads being chopped off, references to Queen and lots of electricity. LOTS of electricity. I get that.

A sequel can either build on an original concept or show up pretty much everything which didn't really work with the first film. Highlander 2 strangely does both: it builds on the mythology but it does so in such an inept way that it actually makes you doubt whether the first Highlander was actually decent (see Spiderman 3 for a similar effect). Christopher Lambert somehow manages to become even cheesier and he can play an old man like Roberto Benigni can play a little wooden child (Pinnoccio). Sean Connery looks even more lost than he did in Zardoz as he inexplicably comes back from the grave (still sounding most definitely not Egyptian) for a montage, a bad Hamlet joke, a toast to "magic", only to die once again. Immortals...will they ever stop DYING?

The bad guy this time is Michael Ironside who looks like the reject bass player out of some Spinal Tap-style 80's metal band, overacts like hell and delivers nothing but cartoon devilish grins and lame one-liners. Virginia Madsen is MacLeod's love interest who, of course, has unprotected sex with him almost instantly in a dark alley, finds nothing wrong with him turning from an old man into a young, dashing warrior through lightning, struggles with the dire lines she's been given and the infantile humour the film constantly begs us to find hilarious (it's not).    

The film itself is a mess. Forget the "Highlands", MacLeod and co. were all aliens from the Planet Zeist aaaaaaall along. Aliens with the power to teleport through time, breathe on Earth, speak with thick Scottish/French accents and look like B-side rockers. It doesn't help that this second instalment is way too ambitious and sets everything in the future. You can almost hear the money clonking down the drain as the entire budget is spent on making the sky look red (fail), a ridiculously chaotic train crash (fail) and, of course, lots of electricity. It is actually shocking how basically nothing works in this film, there really is no saving it.

Even the Renegade version which desperately tries to hide the whole Planet Zeist fiasco fails to edit everything together succesfully: the result is very clunky to say the least and even the location subtitles constantly change fonts and height throughout the film. If I were to compare Highlander 2 to another terrible sequel I'd probably say Transformers 2. Both films are a bloated mess, neither make any logical sense, both think they are absolutely hilarious (they're not) and both are ultimately nonsensical alien movies. Oh, and they both feel about 3 hours long even though Highlander 2's running time is pretty reasonable (Transformers 2 is ACTUALLY freakishly long).

Would I recommend Highlander 2? Gosh no. Not unless you really are a die-hard fan of bad movies. If you're looking for the worst movie ever, this is a necessary pit-stop but you could save yourself a lot of hassle and braincells if you just went straight for The Room. Highlander fans should avoid all sequels and perhaps check out the TV series and the anime instead. Why one and-a-half star? Well apart from it having the odd hilariously lame moment, John C. McGinley (Scrubs) is in it and gets thrown out of a window by his balls. And that's awesome.

Yes. There should have been only one.

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