Right off of the Evil Dead, I went into another film that had been proclaimed as nothing but fun. This was Highlander, one of the more popular fantasy films of the 80s. Well, I was in the mood for such a thing. I have never been one to shy away from a film that isn’t “deep.” Sometimes, escapism is all that a film needs to accomplish. I went into Highlander expecting to like it.
Well. I was wrong. This film was an enormous let down, perhaps among the greatest letdowns I have viewed since De Niro’s The Good Shepherd. It is a wonderful thing to be surprised by a film, to have your expectations completely shattered. It is quite a painful thing to have a film let you down.
The Plot: A long drawn out battle between a race of immortal beings has come down to just two in modern day New York: Connor Macleod (Christopher Lambert) and the villainous Krugan (Clancy Brown-who gained famed as the head prison guard in The Shawshank Redemption and currently voices Mr Krabbs on Spongebob Squarepants). Of course “there can be only one” and the films degrades into a battle between the two for….well, mortality and the ability to bear children. It also shows several flashbacks of MacLeod’s life, from his birth in the 16th century to his training by Juan Villa-Lobos (Sean Connery) to his fighting in WWII.
What is it about this film that goes so wrong? Basically, because it is absolutely no fun to watch. It drags on, and feels absolutely boring to watch. Yes, there are sword fights and the like, but so what? There is absolutely no excitement in watching them…you pretty much know how they will end really before they even start. Sword play usually plays itself into the dramatic. You expect the hero to win, but the best films will still tease you. If you know how it will end, then what is the point? In addition, the supporting characters are absolutely dull and have very little point of being in the movie except for a script telling them they must be there. And the implications….
But let me back up. This is a film about an immortal man. This is certainly fodder for a great movie, even with the devolution into 1980s action scenes. An immortal man would have to deal with the pain and loss as everyone he has ever known and loved dies around him. The film tries to address it, but it doesn’t work. Only in one segment do we see this happening…and then, MacLeod forgets about it, sans one scene where he prays for her at a church. By that point, it is too little, too late. I was expected to care by this point, yet I found that I couldn’t be bothered with it. This material demands depth, which the filmmakers stubbornly refused to
Also, what is with Sean Connery’s character? Yes, he trains MacLeod, but if this is some major competition between the race, then what exactly is he doing? Helping the competition? That doesn’t seem especially smart. I don’t think McDonalds would be too pleased to share the Big Mac with Burger King. And frankly, “the prize” (as it is referred to in the film) is so insubstantial that, once again, I couldn’t be bothered with caring about anyone actually winning it.
I do not understand the cult following. There are better films out there that will make you think, that will entertain, that are delightful to watch. Highlander accomplishes none of these things. It is a dead zone, only worth the time of those people who wear a cape while playing Dungeon’s and Dragon’s. Of course, they are probably more fantasy fans than Highlander fans.