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Highlander: The Sour-ce

For anyone who was (or I suppose, is) a fan of the Buffy spin off series ANGEL an extended tale of one seeking redemption for prior sins is a familiar one [Well, to be fair, Joss Whedon didn’t mastermind the concept, but sighting the works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge on a lowbrow site like this one isn’t going to get me very far, is it pop culture fans!]. As long time readers of EOL will be aware I’ve long considered the HIGHLANDER movies (and series) as something of a blight on… Well, on all of creation really. To be fair (and honest) the first HIGHLANDER movie has a place in my short list of all time favourite films. However, since the gawd-aweful travesty that was 1991’s HIGHLANDER 2: The Quickening, the Davis-Panzer people have been walking the path of the Ancient Mariner.. I mean, David Boreanaz, in an attempt to redeem the franchise. Sadly, in my opinion, they’ve never managed to match the standard set by director Russell Mulcahy and writer Gregory Widen with the first movie.

Yes, I know that Mulcahy is credited with directing the second movie, but if we’re to believe the bitching and moaning that came out after The Quickening was released, the movie he set out to make was not the film that ended up being released. There was even talk that he’d been locked out of the editing process, but I can’t confirm any of this… Either way, he was aware enough that the movie was ass to try his best to distance himself from it very early on. Clearly, in the end, everyone realised the movie was complete ass and since then the aforementioned everyone has pretended that it never even happened… Kind of like how they pretended that the utter drivel of a spin off series ‘Raven’ (1998) never happened too. I suppose it’s better to come to your senses later, rather than never! Or something to that affect.

Anyway, There was the series which started in 1992. Then HIGHLANDER 3: The Sourcerer in 1994, which had two redeeming features – The fact that it was the first real effort to ignore the second movie… wait, no! That was the only redeeming feature. 2000’s HIGHLANDER: Endgame saw the characters from the series join Christopher Lambert for the first time on the big (well, almost right to video) screen – Lambert had appeared in the series before however. ENDGAME was as much a ‘Star Trek: Generations’ for the HIGHLANDER franchise as it was, as the name suggests, an ending. It brought the original movie and the series together and wrapped everything up in a nice neat bow… Put it all in a box, put that box into a crate, put the crate on a Lockheed Martin C-5 Galaxy cargo plane packed with C4 and slammed said plane into a remote cliff face somewhere in a remote province of Uzbekistan. Yes, the HIGHLANDER series was completely and utterly closed, fin, done with, ended, kaput… WRONG!

Apparently Davis-Panzer Productions, Sequence Films and Grosvenor Park feel that there’s still some life left in the, now 20 year old, franchise and have another three movies in the works. The first, HIGHLANDER: The Source, again features the characters from the series, in particular, Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul) and Joe Dawson (Jim Byrnes). However the rest of the cast are essentially unknowns, despite many of them having extensive international film experience. This new series sets out to explore the origin of the immortals powers… Which, if you’ve remembered to forget, DIDN’T come as a result of them being banished aliens from the planet Zeitgeist!

As always I’ll cling to the hope that they’ll finally have bought this franchise up to it’s original potential and will probably see this new film when it’s released (straight to dvd?) – However, while I’ll hope, I wont hold my breath. [source]

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    Surely not!!
    Please tell me they aren’t pushing forward with the weak plot line of the immortals coming from another planet???
    Anything but that!!
    I’d be happy with some sort of reference to Greek mythology with a sub-demigod plot line than to revisit some far-away planet with Michael Ironside’s evil lopsided grin and raspy voice.

  • NO!!!

    Seriously though, I’m fairly sure that they’re running wide of that concept. You’re probably correct in that there’ll more than likely be some kind of tie in with established mythology.

    I have to admit that I’m actually quite interested in seeing where they go with these films – I guess they’re the movie equivalent of whatever it is that makes people slow down and gawk at car accidents.

  • It’s horrible, yet, I can’t look away…
    Yes, movies like this one do have ‘The Kramer’ effect.
    What makes me curious is that they are planning on doing a Peter Jackson and making a trilogy which speaks to me of confidence in the product and the direction they plan on taking it.

  • Normally I’d agree…
    The fact that they’ve made four HIGHLANDER movies already, and the fact that only 1 of them was any good, sort of taints my ability to have confidence in their ability to know what is (or isn’t) the right direction to go in.

    Additionally, I notice that you mentioned Peter Jackson as a credible reason for having confidence in the fact that they are running out a trilogy. Well, If I may play devils advocate for just a moment, I’ll see your Peter Jackson and raise you a George Lucas.

  • Jackson in the Red corner and Lucas in the blue…
    Considering that Lucas already had certified hits, (well… I have doubts about ‘Return of the Jedi’) the risk involved in doing another 3 wasn’t so much of a gamble. Jackson went out on a gamble making 3 movies at once without any track record of success (‘The Frighteners’ never really left the kiwi shores and ‘Bad Taste’ was just that!!) and not even testing the waters with the first movie to see if the audience liked it!! Gutsy.
    My point is that even though (IMHO) “Highlander” was a great movie, it’s successors were effective cement shoes to anyone wishing to push the theme any further. I must take my hat off to Davis-Panzer productions for having the guts not only to try to raise this titanic but for going all out and risking 3 movies in the process!!

    You are right, like I said in the post, I’m hoping that these movies will turn out great.

    You’re also right that they should be applauded for taking the risk, although I don’t believe that you can really make a comparison between these movie and the outlay for the LOTR trilogy or the ‘new’ Star Wars trilogy – After all, with both LOTR and SW there was pretty much a guarantee that nerds everywhere would head out of their basements to see them… Hell, even I made the mistake of seeing two of the SW crapfests at a cinema.

    While Jackson may not have had a track record and Lucas hadn’t made a movie since Regan was in the white house, it was the vehicles that had the audience and not so much the team behind them.

    The HIGHLANDER guys have struck gold only once (A long time ago), and while I’m quite prepared to discover that the HIGHLANDER franchise is far more popular than I believe it to be, I can’t say that I think that they have the ‘built in’ audience that the LOTR or SW franchises have.

    Having said that, clearly there isn’t the same investment being put into the new HIGHLANDER trilogy that went into those other two, but none the less, it’s a risk. My hope is that you’re right, and their confidence (to run with a trilogy) comes from their belief in the concept and not just the financial shortcuts that come with making three movies at the same time (which is what I assume that they are doing).

  • milk, flour, sugar, one egg then stir…
    Most nerds know that the Star Wars movies were to be a 6 movie saga (some even talk about a 9 movie saga, but that would be hijacking a perfectly good thread…)so the recipe for a good sequel/prequel was there. It just needed stirring and maybe a pinch of plot.
    “Highlander”, whilst being a tried and true concept of the hero destined to walk the earth, searching for something that just eludes his grasp (RE: Angel, Incredible Hulk, Kung-Fu, to name only a few…) the recipe is still fairly wide based. I mean, there are still some major ingredients that need to be worked out. It’s the white sauce that, whilst it can go over just about anything, is just too bland on it’s own. (work with me here, it’s a theme…Just interchange corned beef with decent plotline and you have the jist.)
    What I fear they are doing is drowning a perfectly good opportunity, just to revive a franchise, in a very bland ‘sauce’.

  • Well from what I’ve seen of the movie at a colleagues place the flick wasnt bad. Looking forward to the final edit. No orgiginal style flashback sequences like the original series but as the series covered those I guess that was fair enough. Methos was cool, great cheesy b-grade moments, cool soundtrack (80 piece orchestra) not to mention Jim Byrnes who sang a bit of a new track there in his characters new pub in the states. Sadly I missed his appearance in my home town in Adelaide, South Australia. Despite some cool ideas and action sequences in Highlander II it was the worst movie ever produced. Even a big fan of the series and movies that was a shocker. Even the re-edit was poor and I love my sci fi. HIghlander 5 so far not bad but still some cool cheesy bgrade moments. DOn’t take it too seriously though.