Highlander: The Source

Guardian: "There can be only me."

This review contains spoilers. But don't let that stop you. You don't want to waste your time by actually watching this movie.

Highlander doesn't have the greatest of reps when it comes to movies. They're all B movies. Sometimes C. The second Highlander movie was an F. I'd say this one was a D minus. I swear, the freaking Highlander movies are cursed. When I heard this one was premiering on the Syfy Channel instead of the silver screen, I was expecting the worst. And bingo.

Why did they decide on science fiction and magic? Did the second and third movies teach them nothing? People, if you're going to go sci-fi, don't make it stultifyingly pretentious and arty. It just wears the audience out. No flashbacks, not a single good duel... why couldn't they have just done a decent Highlander story? I swear, half the fans could have written a better Highlander story than this one.

At least it didn't meander. It went right to a very stupid place. The first hour, as the celestial bodies aligned and the apocalypse approached, was so bad that we almost turned it off. It was like watching a car crash; I couldn't bring myself to look away. And then, the four immortals (two with bad hair) and Anna, Duncan's who-the-hell-is-she wife, went on a quest for the Source. Methos was actually cool, Reggie was sort of funny, and Duncan had a decent dramatic scene that actually worked.

And then they were captured by cannibals. I'm not kidding. Fortunately, the cannibals were so busy partying that they didn't notice their sacrificial victims carrying out an unbelievably obvious escape.

I went into this thinking, I can pretty much stand anything as long as they don't kill off Methos. And they didn't. But they did kill off Joe, dammit, and it was done so poorly that it had zero resonance. The Katana was a casualty, too, which was nearly as sad. (Nice touch, Duncan burying the broken sword with Joe.) Unfortunately, the Guardian, our big villain, was absolutely ridiculous. His super speed was totally unbelievable and made every duel unwatchable, and his make-up was so outlandish that it was laughable. And who the hell was Anna? When did Duncan marry her? She came completely out of left field. Frankly, she should have stayed there.

But at least I can report some good news. Adrian Paul has definitely retained his top of the line eye candy status. And it was almost worth sitting through this thing just to see Peter Wingfield on a motorcycle wearing leather. In fact, they both looked terrific. Maybe a tiny bit older, but that could be attributed to a bad night's sleep and the impending apocalypse. Or maybe the actors were just depressed because they realized what a terrible movie they were making.

The ending was similar to the first movie. Duncan and Anna can have children now, although I wasn't clear on whether or not Duncan retained his immortality. But even though I was relieved that Methos survived, having Duncan kinda sorta win the prize without actually winning the prize felt like a betrayal of the number one basic premise of the Highlander universe. I seem to remember something about there being only One. Not any more.

Whenever I see a movie this bad, I think, what could have made it work? Deep six the Mad Max future apocalypse crap, for one. The Guardian, for two. The quest actually was the best part; they could have spent a lot more time there and improved it. I liked the idea of them losing their powers as they got closer to the Source, too. That had real dramatic possibilities that they just threw away. If they had to have four immortals, why didn't they bring back a couple from the series, instead of Reggie and Giovanni? Giving Duncan a fait accompli wife we knew nothing about was a huge mistake, too. What if it had been Amanda, finally able to have a child with Duncan? Wouldn't that have been cool, even if they'd had to recast her?

Bits and pieces:

— There was a new and different sparkly version of a quickening that I actually liked a lot.

— We got a glimpse of Joe in a futuristic blues bar. Could have used more than that. Another Buffy parallel: the Watchers were pretty much gone.

— Some of the movie looked weird and distorted, as if it were filmed big and cut down. Which it was. The profanity, mostly Joe's, was blanked out.

— We got a new version of "Princes of the Universe."

— The most tantalizing, unexplored tidbit: Methos said he saw Jesus teach and heal. Maybe it was just more of his bull, though. I always thought Methos made most of his stories up, because who could call him on it?

— Duncan: "You're such an asshole." Methos: "I never said I was deep."

Dan kind of liked the ending. And it was better than the second and third movies, although that is damning with faint praise. But I'm loath to give it as much as two stars.

One out of four stars,

Billie
---
Billie Doux knows that there can be only one. And that's Methos.

2 comments:

Griefing101 said...

The one highlander movie I think is worse than Highlander 2. I see you rate it slightly higher, but the 2nd movie at least had stupid humor.

This one was worse in every way, which was abysmal

Rob Nimmo said...

Highlander 2: The Quickening was a terrible movie, and for the longest time, it was held up as the template for what NOT to do when making a sequel...

But...

The Highlander franchise still thrived after that horrendously over-produced underwhelming second film. The marketing campaign behind The Quickening's theatrical & home video releases got more word out about the original film(pretty much the ONLY positive result of 2). The 3rd film, even with its slap-you-in-the-face all-too-obvious complete LACK of originality, was a MAJOR step-up(but as already mentioned, that isn't really saying much). Highlander: The Series 119 episodes & 22 episodes of Highlander: The Raven made for 7 years of the most enjoyable & rewatchable television of the '90s(with seasons 2-5 of The Series being the 2nd highest-viewed series GLOBALLY, with only Baywatch claiming a larger audience). Endgame COULD have been a genuinely GREAT film, and actually still could be, if only TPTB would put forth the same kind of effort & budget into properly re-editing it as they've pointlessly wasted doing so over and over and OVER AGAIN with Highlander 2.

The Source? That horrid abortion of a movie successfully did what even Highlander 2: The Quickening & Highlander: The Animated Series couldn't. It killed the franchise.

Highlander: The Source makes Highlander 2 look like The Empire Strikes Back in comparison.