A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 595 – Highlander III: The Sorcerer

Highlander III: The Sorcerer

Now, why on Earth would they call this movie Highlander III when there was no Highlander II? One of the great mysteries of the ages, I suppose. I mean, there’s really no good explanation for why they’d make a third movie when it’s really not the third because the second doesn’t exist. No, really. I don’t want to hear it. They never made a second movie. Perhaps they considered making a second movie and then decided that what they’d come up with was so very ridiculous that they should just roll right on ahead and leave even the concept of a second movie behind. And really, the fact that I will concede that this movie exists and remain adamant that no second Highlander movie was ever made, really should say something. Consider this a mini review for an imaginary movie. So, after the second movie wasn’t made, they made this. And it is clearly an attempt to capitalize on the first one, down to aping the whole plot with a new cast.

I’ll be honest and say that I don’t really know what to say about this movie aside from that it’s really pretty pointless. The plot follows the first movie almost point by point, but adds in a mysterious Japanese sorcerer who can create illusions. And then kills him off. But really, aside from him (and his real purpose is to make the villain more dangerous, since he can do magic and all) the movie is a cheap facsimile of the first. Connor trains with a teacher in the past. Connor has a romance with a mortal woman in the present. Connor faces off with a villain who killed his teacher. Someone Connor cares about is put in danger by the villain. Connor faces off with the villain and wins. Hurrah! It’s really pretty impressive how close it all is. The particulars are different, but the general arc is the same.

I will grant that given the set-up of the universe here, there are going to be some similarities if you want to retain the same feel as the first movie. And to continue things, you’re going to have to ignore the assertion the first movie made that Connor MacLeod was the last Immortal left after all the dueling and beheading was over. Because really? The swordfighting and dueling and so on are a big part of the first movie and to just present a swordless movie would be silly. Therefore you need some adversaries. However, just because you’re going to want an Immortal adversary and some swordfighting doesn’t mean you need to repeat the same plot over and over. The series did suffer a little from villain-of-the-week syndrome, but it also found new ground to cover, so it can be done. And tomorrow’s movie does manage to try a new variation on the theme. This movie? Well. It tried. A little. And it falls flat.

The particulars here involve an old teacher of Connor’s having magic powers. He tried to get Connor to take his head a couple hundred years back, so Connor would have his powers. But Connor refused, which meant that when semi-badass raider Kane showed up, he was able to take the teacher’s head “and with it his power” as the universe’s canon goes. Then he got trapped in a cave for a couple of centuries, which I’m sure sucked a whole hell of a lot. When he finally escapes in the modern day, he goes after Connor. I really can’t argue with the magic powers all that much, because this is, after all, fantasy. And we’re dealing with people who are immortal and chop each other’s heads off with swords, resulting in huge lightning shows where they absorb their opponent’s life energy. Magic powers aren’t so far-fetched, I suppose. But they’re basically illusions, and the effects have no aged terribly well. Alas.

I think my biggest issue with the whole idea of magic in this universe is that it seems like a cop-out. It feels cheap here, and somewhat unnecessary. Really, the best purpose it serves is to make Kane more threatening, because there’s no doubt about it that he’s not half as menacing as the Kurgan was. He’s like Kurgan lite. All the hardware, half the badassery. It’s not really Mario Van Peebles’ fault. It’s just that Clancy Brown’s Kurgan is so damn hard to outdo. Without the magic powers, I’m sure Connor would have taken one look at Kane and been all “Pfft, amateur.” And then he would have taken his head and the movie would have been over before the romance with the archaeologist who knows all about Japanese history even got to begin!

This is feeling like a short review, and it is a short review. But what else is there to say? This is a rehash. I’ll commend it for ignoring the movie-that-does-not-exist and for sticking with the Immortals fighting with swords routine, but when it comes to going deeper or trying to explore themes of immortality and having to fight to survive even if you don’t want to, and all the things that I really like about the first movie and about the series? It doesn’t bother. It touches on what the first movie touches on, but it says nothing new. So it feels thinner and less substantial. But hey, at least it didn’t do something ridiculous, like claim that Immortals are aliens from a planet called Zeist or whatever. That would just have been silly.

October 16, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , ,

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