Thursday, January 12, 2012
Highlander (1986) - Review
The Highlander series is infamous for it's mysterious mythos and awful sequels. The first installation in the series is actually quite good though. It's cheesy, sure, but it's the good kind of cheesy. The kind of cheesy that reminds you why 80s movies are so awesome. But it also holds up well enough to remain a good movie in its own right; not many movies can find such a good balance.
The film dances between 1980s New York City and the Scottish Highlands during the 16th century and all in between, following Connor MacLeod (played by Christopher Lambert) throughout time as a sword-fighting Immortal. The Immortals have lots of rules, but none of them are really explained, and that's why it's such a compelling mystery. The attempts to explain everything in further sequels only diminish the intrigue, not to mention make tons of plot holes.
The acting is pretty decent, although a bit cheesy at times. The standout is definitely Sean Connery as Egyptian Spaniard Ramirez. He only has a few minutes of screentime but makes probably the biggest impression. Christopher Lambert is good too, though his laugh is a little silly. The bond between Ramirez and MacLeod is really well-stated, despite the fact that they share only a couple scenes together. The villain, known as The Kurgan, played by Clancy Brown, is quite menacing in a punky Sex Pistols kind of way. For the most part, it's a good cast and a wide variety of characters ranging through different times. The music, all done by Queen, is simply fantastic; could you ASK for a better soundtrack? They really add a lot of weight emotionally to some of the scenes. "Who Wants to Live Forever?", played during the death of MacLeod's wife, is a particular highlight; it's surprisingly moving. Best Queen soundtrack song since "Flash"!
Most of the fighting is rather standard; for a movie about sword dueling, not much of the cast seems to be trained. Not that it really matters; I mean the lightsaber fights in the original trilogy are pretty tame too, it just seems sort of odd. Overall it's a solid movie; the plot is incredibly innovative, and while the execution isn't perfect, seeing the sequels really shows how the idea can be done badly. Very. Very. Badly. But this one I'd recommend; it's a fun time. And you can't go wrong with lots and lots of Queen.