I intended to watch enjoyably bad movies this month. Like, aw, how cute that they tried to make a real movie and failed so hilariously. Like Troll 2; you watch that and you know the filmmakers thought they were making something good. It's not good. But it is entertaining. I want every movie to be entertaining. Highlander II (which I guess I'm watching the Special Edition, though Amazon does not label it) is not entertaining. Its turns are too maddening, its characters to unbelievable, and its deformation of everything I liked about the original is despicable.
I didn't even notice yesterday that Ramirez doesn't mention Zeist by name in this version. I guess my memory of the original cut overshadowed this version so much, I heard something that wasn't there. But leaving it out actually makes Ramirez' vague speech and the resulting failed revolution worse; I mean, what are they fighting for? Are they even the good guys? Did Ramirez just marry himself to Connor? Why should I care?
"An exile into the future!" What the fuck kind of fix is that supposed to be for the alien thing? How does this even make sense?
No. I want to like something about this today. Like the bad editing (e.g. Louise was just in one room, inserting some chip into the shield beam thingy, then abruptly she's back in the previous room inserting a different thing into the computer there)--I won't comment on that. Or how some of the dialogue makes no sense if there's time travel going on and not the Zeist alien thing--for example, when Reno tells Katana that MacLeod is an old man now and will die in a few weeks. There is no "now" to it if he is in their future. I won't comment on that either. Or the poor music choices, including the inclusion of songs from the original that I already complained about yesterday.
On its surface, the initial premise (minus the time travel or alien bits) isn't half bad. I mean, what did MacLeod get from winning the gathering in 1985? He became mortal but he also gained incredible knowledge. As MacLeod receives the final quickening, after beheading the Kurgan in the original, he says (though how literal we should take it could be up for debate). "I feel everything. I know everything. I am everything." And, he describes the "prize" to Brenda like this:
It's like a whirlwind in my head. But if I concentrate... I know hat people are thinking, all over the world. Presidents. Diplomats. Scientists. I can help them understand each other.
Then, because he and Ramirez were connected (just not like in the sequel), Ramirez tells him,
You are generations born and dying. You are at one with all living things. Each man's thoughts and dreams are yours to know. You have power beyond imagination. Use it well, my friend.
This is the kind of thing that actually might turn MacLeod into someone Louise might admire because of his "passion for the world." It would put him at the center of political conversation, put him in touch with scientists. His perspective on the world would be useful. (Realistically, most people wouldn't believe him and would ignore this guy who claims to have once been immortal, but hey, this is Hollywood.) He would have certain insights that normal folk wouldn't have. He might even be inclined to actively seek leadership roles. So, if the ozone were gone and Earth was in serious danger of everyone dying, he might actually be instrumental in whatever effort there was to save it.
The shield is just so silly, though. The science makes no sense. To save the planet, we're going to block out the sun 24 hours a day? Yeah, good plan, except for what will everyone eat? We can't all just be immortal? We're not all from Zeist or the distant past.
That being said, this fight between MacLeod on the hoverboard and the second of the porcupine twins is actually pretty cool (except when they actual strike each other and it looks like neither one is trying to inflict real damage), In some other movie, the sword fight between a guy with wings and a guy on a hoverboard would be awesome. And the quickening effects are still great, destructive on the outside, bursting nearby cars and lights with bolts of lightning, and looking like a combination of intense agony and orgasmic pleasure for MacLeod. Plus, who, given the chance, wouldn't immediately go at it with Virginia Madsen in an alley after getting through that. I mean, he's immortal. We can assume he knows when the timing is right. And, Madsen is hot. (Why she would go for this guy who just killed two people and magically turned young, regardless of how much passion he might have had once upon a time--that's a whole other matter.)
And maybe the insertion of "Who Wants to Live Forever" is ironic. Like, that's the point. MacLeod has meaningless sex with the woman he just met because, yeah, he doesn't want to love anyone again; it's too painful. Also, she's a revolutionary and that's interesting. He's been alive for hundreds of years; he needs interesting.
(How does Katana know to reference Kansas a la The Wizard of Oz if he's from the past? For that matter, if he's an alien, why make that reference then, either? Does he sit around watching our movies like the aliens in The Explorers?
Also, crashing a subway train at nearly 700 mph into a concrete wall is dangerous, even for an immortal, if losing your head can kill you. Katana is lucky his head didn't get separated from the rest of him as he was squashed into bloody Zeistian goo inside the rubble of that train.)
I rather like the decor in Alan's office. I kind of want a big open office that is dark like that, a bit of blue amidst the black, a giant industrial fan moving slowly behind my desk, its shadows cutting through the room because it's not dark enough already. And, an office like that needs a trapdoor that Mr. Burns would be proud of. And, you could do very little in that office but fire people. And, really, that's the only office where you could come up with a plan like the shield, block out the sun, kill all the crops, ruin the world just for the sake of keeping people alive. It's a fantastic place for cinematic villainy. But, Alan seems so nice. In that office, he should have been drawn to evil. Like, I couldn't imagine just having lunch in there, or taking a meeting with a guest. Whatever it was, someone would have to die. There can be only one person in that office after the meeting, and not because someone left through the exit.
Every place in this movie is lit that same way, of course. The hospital, the bar, MacLeod's apartment, the subway, the street. Every place. (The truck-top battle is out of place visually because of this (a little too day-for-night), in addition to being out of place by being a late addition to... make the movie make more sense?)
(Blake says that Alan's computer conversation with MacLeod was "the other day" but editing suggests that entire movie so far has taken place between last night and tonight. MacLeod called for Ramirez last night after the opera. Or was that a matinee? Ramirez Went to that tailor and demanded a suit by 3 o'clock. Assume that's Scotland afternoon, in New York, it was 10am when Ramirez had his suit and then went to the airport, and flew to New York. It was while Ramirez was still on that flight that MacLeod and Alan had that conversation. That was literally today. The old standby "the other day" though--it cares not for the actual passage of time.)
By the way, the coordinates 33°26'N, 6°42'W get you a spot in Burkina Faso, northwest corner of Africa. A spot that is lower than 700 meters altitude. I guess the shield is really low. And many mountains, and at least one building, would rise above it. (Or maybe the shield was warped, and lower than it should be in that location.) But, it's not like much thought was put into any of the science. This is still just fantasy. But, not even thoughtful fantasy.
And yet, a year later, I was eager to watch the Highlander tv series. It was on Saturday night at 11:35pm (and I'd stay up for Forever Knight after it). And it rightly ignored this second film, made a minor retcon to the ending of the original film and expanded the world of these immortals without making it ridiculous. And, it was often far more thoughtful than it had any right to be. And it was always more thoughtful than this movie is (except when Amanda might pull a full-length sword out of her waist-length leather jacket). And, to steal a description from Ramirez, it was glorious.