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MY NAME IS SCOTT FOY AND I PAID TO SEE HIGHLANDER 2: THE QUICKENING
What was I saying last month about feeling burnt out and giving you a shorter Foyeurism this month? Well, maybe next month I'll take it easy. No time for skimping when I've just received a Russian DVD of the otherwise unreleased new HIGHLANDER movie. Yeah, I actually paid for a Russian import DVD, not like all you thieves out there that download stuff off torrents. THIEVES~! You know who you are; stealing money from the pockets of the people that make absolutely indefensibly bad movies like this atrocious sequel; shame on you. The producers of this movie need every penny they can get because I assure you this thing isn't going to make a dime. This is going to be one of those reviews I like to refer to as a "diss-ection," and if ever a movie deserved to be dissected and dissed it would be...
HIGHLANDER: THE SOURCE
Instead we got HIGHLANDER 2: THE QUICKENING - a title that will forever live in infamy. THE QUICKENING is doomed to be a punchline, like "ELECTRIC BOOGALOO" - used jokingly as the very definition of a movie sequel where everything that can go wrong does. Logically, that catastrophe should have been enough to sink the franchise. Nope.
The franchise pressed on in the form of HIGHLANDER: THE FINAL DIMENSION (whatever the hell that meant), or as it was known in some parts of the world, HIGHLANDER 3: THE MAGICIAN. This time they chose to just pretend that the previous film never happened - or given part two's futuristic setting, pretend that it was never going to happen - by going back to the (then) present and having Frenchman masquerading as a Scottish highlander Christopher Lambert forced to contend with Mario Van Peebles, an African American channeling Fu Man Chu. A decidedly non-Asian Asian with magic powers, Van Peebles' villain was an immortal sorcerer who managed to skip out on the first film's Gathering due to having been trapped in a collapsed cave the whole time that was going on. This sequel also seemed to forget that Connor Macleod won the Gathering as his "Prize" for doing so, the ability to hear the thoughts of anyone anywhere in the world, is never brought up. Another thing ignored in this sequel - basic common sense. The stupidity of HIGHLANDER: THE FINAL DIMENSION can be summarized with how the magical immortal who could not escape a cave-in for centuries immediately teleports halfway across the globe as soon as he's unearthed. He couldn't have just teleported out of the cave why exactly?
two poorly received flops in a row, a weekly syndicated television series
would stay this franchise's execution. It would enjoy enough success
to last a several seasons and would itself spawn a very short-lived
spin-off about a female immortal that starred an actress who once bonked
former President Clinton. "Highlander: The Series" would see
British hunk Adrian Paul pick up the sparking sword as Duncan MacLeod
of the clan MacLeod, a character said to be a distant relative of original
Highlander, Connor Macleod. The show ran from 1992-1998, though I personally
lost interest around the end of the second season.
Now comes yet another sequel and this one is poised - at long last - to kill the HIGHLANDER franchise dead once and for all. Dead. D-E-A-D. Dead. Done. Kaput. Finito.
HIGHLANDER: THE SOURCE is the one that finally cuts off the head of the entire HIGHLANDER franchise. Not only does it chop off the franchise's head, if I may borrow a line from R. Lee Ermey, it then proceeds to shit down its throat. There will be no Quickening stemming from this beheading. HIGHLANDER: THE SOURCE will not grow stronger or gain the wisdom of its predecessors. No lightning will flash. No windows will shatter. No explosions will abound. Though one could argue there really wasn't much of any life left in this franchise as it was, now there damn sure isn't any. It's over, people. HIGHLANDER is history. It is no more. Services for the HIGHLANDER franchise will be held sometime soon at a theater near you; although I have a very hard time believing this wretched film will actually get a theatrical release. Mark my words; if HIGHLANDER: THE SOURCE gets a theatrical release then I'll eat my hat. I'll have to buy a hat first, but I will then eat that hat.
There's a notice posted atop the HIGHLANDER: THE SOURCE official website letting everyone know that this cut of the film that has been released on DVD in the former Soviet Union is not the same cut the rest of us will be seeing in the near future when Lionsgate (allegedly) releases the movie in September. I think we'll see Uwe Boll's DUNGEON SIEGE movie on the big screen before we see this debacle at a multiplex. Still, if that's the case, why the hell is there a version already out on DVD in Russia to begin with? Do they hate Russian HIGHLANDER fans that much? Were they worried Putin might have them radiologically poisoned if they didn't get the newest HIGHLANDER flick out in Russia in a timely manner? I don't understand this at all.
You know what else I don't understand? How the hell does one make a HIGHLANDER sequel that's actually worse than Part 2? Yes, hard as it might be for many of you to believe - hyperbole be damned, HIGHLANDER: THE SOURCE dethrones HIGHLANDER 2: THE QUICKENING as the lowest point in all of HIGHLANDERdom. There's still stuff in THE QUICKENING to laugh at, and credit where it's due - the film had some zip to its badness, even showing sporadic signs of life despite how mind-blowingly bad that life might have been. HIGHLANDER: THE SOURCE is every bit as nonsensical as THE QUICKENING, but this one... It's utterly devoid of life, ideas, energy, wit... I'm just going to stop there because otherwise that list would just keep on going. The sad reality this time out is that HIGHLANDER: THE SOURCE doesn't have a single redeeming value, not even as bad camp.
Just what the hell they think they're going to do to improve this film before its "official" release is anyone's guess. They post on the website about editing and remixing and such. I can say with absolute certainty that's not going to work. Hate to break it to the producers but there's only one thing that can salvage HIGHLANDER: THE SOURCE - FIRE! You heard me. Burn the print. Bury this film, cut your losses, and start over from scratch. Nothing else will work. This film is beyond salvaging. Giving it the Roger Corman FANTASTIC FOUR treatment is the only way to go.
That's not going to happen though because not since the late Moustapha Akkad and HALLOWEEN has their been a producer hellbent on squeezing every last penny from a franchise while showing so little regard for the quality or continuity of their money-making property. HIGHLANDER has two Akkad's: Peter Davis and William Panzer, a duo who have only the original movie and the success of the TV series to pat themselves on the back over. Everything else HIGHLANDER has ranged from merely lame to catastrophically awful, nothing more so than this new franchise killer they hope to still spin into a positive. I shouldn't be too surprised to hear they think they can still make a go of this bomb. How many different director's cuts, renegade versions, and special editions of HIGHLANDER 2: THE QUICKENING have they released ever since that film came out and made bad movie history? Really, how many equally failed attempts have Davis and Panzer (and director Russell Mulcahy) made to try and prove to the world that there really was a worthwhile film in that mess after all? Too many! Makes you wonder how many versions of HIGHLANDER: THE SOURCE will they ultimately unleash upon us. One thing's for certain, this time around they can't blame this monumental screw-up on the financiers pulling the plug or the price-gouging nation of Argentina.
Proving that some people just never learn, they've foolishly decided to once again go with a futuristic civilization-in-shambles scenario just like the one that worked out so well in THE QUICKENING. Are they retarded or what? You'd think Davis and Panzer would have realized by this point that setting anything HIGHLANDER related in a dystopian future is all but guaranteeing disaster. They did it with THE QUICKENING and history speaks for itself on that one. Then they did it again with that dreadful "Highlander: The Animated Series" back in 1994.
Seriously, who the hell tries to make a kiddy cartoon out of a premise based around characters decapitating one another with swords? Panzer and Davis did, even trying to skirt their way around the whole chopping off heads cornerstone of what HIGHLANDER is. It didn't work.
Now they've insisted on going back to the future once again with similarly disastrous results. Every single time this franchise sets itself in a bleak future the franchise itself develops a bleak future, and never has this franchise's future looked bleaker than it does now.
From what I've gathered, Davis and Panzer reportedly wanted to set the final season of the "Highlander" TV series in a sort of post-apocalyptic setting. This movie seems to be them getting their wish at long last. This sequel owes more to the TV series than any other. That may also explain why this one suffers from the same problem that plagued STAR TREK: INSURRECTION - the feeling that you're just watching a two-part episode of the TV show and not a more cinematic motion picture.
An execrable script and lackluster production values aside, another critical error was having perpetual underachiever Brett Leonard (LAWNMOWER MAN, VIRTUOSITY, MAN-THING) in the director's chair. Leonard handles the direction with Albert Pyun-like craftsmanship: technically proficient though unspectacular in every way while still managing to be hopelessly clueless when it comes making anything come together the way it should. The overall blame still goes to the screenwriter and Davis and Panzer for approving this incompetent screenplay. Again I ask; are they retarded? A movie this bad doesn't get made unless a lot of people involved with its creation either don't give a damn or haven't got a clue.
HIGHLANDER: THE SOURCE opens sometime in the not-too-distant future with the world as we know it in utter disarray. Well, Eastern Europe is in disarray; the rest of the world's disarray is just hearsay. Infrastructure looks to be crumbling... Poverty and starvation is rampant... Life just plain sucks - not unlike this movie. What has happened to cause this societal collapse is never explained. It's just a bleak future where everything economically, ecologically, and geopolitically has gone to crap - not unlike this movie. The decaying future portrayed here looks virtually identical to that seen in THE QUICKENING only without the glowing energy shield in the sky and people constantly complaining about how hot it is. I also recognized a couple similarities here and there to the dark futures depicted in CHILDREN OF MEN and even (Cripes!) AMERICAN CYBORG: STEEL WARRIOR. Anytime anything in a motion picture is reminding you of AMERICAN CYBORG: STEEL WARRIOR that right there alone should tell you that something has gone seriously afoul.
Given the choice between being beaten senseless by men with baseball bats or watching a finished cut of HIGHLANDER: THE SOURCE, Adrian Paul happily accepted the beatdown.
Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul giving a performance that conveys he's long past giving a damn about this franchise) now roams the rooftops and back alleys of this unspecified Eastern European hellhole, essentially playing low rent Daredevil for the downtrodden. Like a sighted Matt Murdock, Duncan jumps from rooftop-to-rooftop, rooftop-to-ground; fighting off petty criminals with his trusty sword. The perpetually sullen Duncan battles random street thugs as his way of dealing with the grief of having watched his world go to hell, specifically, his having been dumped by his flashback wife, Anna.
The sad saga of Duncan and Anna is shown in some quick flashbacks that never establish why these two ever even fell in love to begin with. Anna is also shown to be a woman of great contrast. This is a woman who had no problem starring in the wacky sitcom that is "I Married an Immortal" until she finally got fed up with that annoying immortal bylaw that forbids them from siring children. Really a smart law on the part of whoever or whatever force is behind this race of immortals, lest the world be crawling with half-immortals conceived throughout the millennia, no doubt diluting the gene pool through the ages with unintended inbreeding. Anna finally decided she could no longer accept his immortal infertility and left him heartbroken. I was hoping these flashbacks would be all we'd see of this worthless character - no dice. Can't have a HIGHLANDER movie without an immortal leading man opining for the love of a mortal woman, can ya? We'll see Anna mere minutes later; her desire to have a baby seemingly replaced with a desire to live in a cardboard box and play Mother Theresa to the poor, homeless, and starving people of this nameless Eastern European city.
Meanwhile, a handful of immortals scattered all over the globe will gather for a holographic viewing screen conference call with one another to discuss how crappy the world is and react in awe over an ultra rare planetary alignment coming up that signals the time has come for "The Source" to once again reveal itself.
Now remember how in the original HIGHLANDER it was all about winning "The Prize"? All they talked about was winning that prize, being the last immortal standing and thus getting The Prize. It was all about winning The Prize. They never said what The Prize was until the very end of the movie. It wasn't even clear that the immortals themselves fully understood what The Prize was going to be. All they knew and all we knew was that the ultimate goal of the round robin decapitation tournament was to win The Prize and that this Prize, whatever it may turn out to be, was going to be something fantastic, possibly world-changing.
The same thing happens in this film in regards to "The Source". The difference here being that they talk as if they know what The Source is without ever really giving viewers any specifics and even once The Source is revealed, we still don't really know what the hell it is. I've suffered through this movie twice now and the whole matter of the Source continues to make zero sense to me. The Source is said to be the source of their immortal powers. Okay. The Source is said to only manifest itself during a super rare planetary alignment that only this small group of immortals on the conference call seem to know is coming. Gottcha. The immortals keep talking about how if any of them could harness the power of the Source they could save the world from going to hell in a handbasket. Alrighty. Yet precisely what the Source is or how exactly this will factor into saving the world is never explained with even the slightest of details. Nothing regarding the Source is ever explained with even an ounce of clarity. That's a major faux pas given that the film is called HIGHLANDER: THE SOURCE and the whole purpose of the movie is watching these immortals fight for their lives in order to locate this Source so as to use its power to save the world. It's like making LORD OF THE RINGS without bothering to ever truly convey what they ring's powers are, who Sauron is, and why the ring must be destroyed. HIGHLANDER: THE SOURCE - if you ask me the wrong movie was titled CLUELESS.
Live from the Hollywood Bowl, it's HIGHLANDER: THE SOURCE!
But getting back to that holographic conference call, which by the way also happens to be the only futuristic technology displayed in this futuristic movie...
Methos is a holdover from the TV series, a physician who is said to be the oldest of all the immortals and a longtime rival of Duncan's. Reggie is the youngest of the film's immortals, an astronomer, I believe; the one who figured out the planetary alignment dealy. Lastly, there's Giovanni, a Catholic Cardinal who looks disturbingly like someone mated Thomas Dolby with one of the Thompson Twins. This guy is walking proof that the 1980's will truly live forever even without the help of VH1.
She blinded me... WITH CHRIST!
As the film progresses, Giovanni will talk of how he's taking part in this quest for the Source to seek the truth about the nature of his being that he believes will totally jive with the Gospels of the Bible. Shouldn't the fact that he's one of many immortals that can only be killed by decapitation, doing so unleashing a shower of lightning that culminates in an orgasmic explosion, be more than enough to tell him that these two concepts won't mix? How many Quickenings occur in the Bible?
Another immortal - his names escapes me, I'll just call him "Scruffy" - gets on the holographic teleconference to inform the others of his amazing discovery. Scruffy has found a map in Gaza that led him back to Eastern Europe where he found a monastery populated by monks that study an ancient text which reveals the location of where the Source last occurred (also in Eastern Europe) some 10,000 years ago. When Scruffy got to this secret and sacred sand pit, he claimed he could feel the power vibes leftover from 10,000 years earlier. Then, out of nowhere, the Guardian of the Source magically appeared. So he ran and ran and ran, apparently ran halfway back across Eastern Europe until he got to this holographic communications transmitter. Despite possessing superhuman speed and given that his whole purpose for existing is to protect the location of the Source from being found, the Guardian failed to catch up to this on-the-run immortal until about two minutes after he finished telling everyone else on the line that he's discovered the location of the Source. And instead of just revealing the location of the Source, Scruffy only has time to reveal the location of the monastery before the Guardian shows up to chop his head off.
SILENT HILL 2: THE QUICKENING
The Guardian, at first, shows some serious potential as a villain. Described as "the immortal antichrist," the Guardian of the Source is silent; his face obscured behind this contraption around his neck that's clearly designed to make it impossible for anyone to behead him, some dangling spires atop his head, inhumanly strong, capable of ripping heads off with his bare hands, and possessing the ability to run at superhuman speed. Upon beheading Scruffy, he speaks for the first time; his booming voice declaring, "There can be only ME!" There I was thinking that this "immortal antichrist" might actually prove to be a worthy villain, a serious change of pace from the HIGHLANDER films typical arrogant immortal bad guy prone to talking smack and making bad jokes at the expense of others. Little did I know...?
The Guardian takes Scruffy's head, setting off a Quickening (one of only two in the entire film) that causes the telecommunications center (which looks quite a bit like a smaller version of the Seattle Sky Needle) to explode. What are the odds that this all occurs right down the street from where Duncan Macleod happens to be standing at that very moment. He'll go running down the street to investigate. In fact, he's the only person living in this city that bothers to react to a multi-story building being reduced to rubble in a massive explosion.
Meanwhile, another far-fetched coincidence, Joe Dawson, another holdover from the TV show, an American mortal who served as a "watcher" (a group of mortals that knew of the immortals and kept tabs on their activities) and ally of Duncan's, just happened to be sitting in a dingy bar in the same nameless Eastern European city just waiting to get a phone call requesting he go get Duncan to meet up with Methos, Giovanni, and Reggie at the site of the mysterious monastery that Scruffy told them about.
Duncan arrives at the flaming rubble that was once the communication tower. The Guardian emerges sans neck collar thing-a-ma-bob and dangling head spires, looking not nearly as threatening as he had mere minutes earlier; now more like a reject from THE RUNNING MAN or a medieval WWE wrestler with absolutely no skin pigment. And that's when it happens... He talks again. This time his booming demonic voice is gone. It's been replaced by a distinctly British accent with an exaggerated hiss and some fake stuttering tossed in for added flavor. He begin taunting Duncan like a pro wrestler, childishly mocking him in an attempt to goad him into a fight - a fight the Guardian, who supposedly hasn't walked the earth in 10,000 years, speaks of as something he's been looking forward to for a long time coming...
Alright RUNNING MAN fans, you wanted him? You got him! Whiter than white and cuts like a knife... He moves like The Flash and he loves to talk trash... Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for the Stalker with the stutter that makes all the Runners shudder... THE GUARDIAN OF THE SOURCE!
Look, the very second the Guardian begins speaking to Duncan the film might as well have just paused to include the sound of a toilet flushing. It's the precise moment that any hope for HIGHLANDER: THE SOURCE goes straight down the crapper. I've yet to decide which was worse: Michael Ironside's evil immortal from HIGHLANDER 2: THE QUICKENING, who depending on which version of the movie you watched was either an alien from the planet Zeist or from a race of beings that populated Earth before time, yet still managed to recite snarky catchphrases and metaphors from a world that should be completely alien to him ("That's no way to treat your #1 draft pick.") or the Guardian of the Source here who does the exact same thing despite having been supposedly locked away for eons, made all the more worse in his case because he rattles off his insipid dialog with a raspy British accent that immediately brings to mind the term "wanker".
No, I've decided. As lousy a villain as General Katana was in THE QUICKENING, Michael Ironside's rugged voice and delivery made it possible for him to mutter even the worst of dialog and still make it sound almost credible. Not so with the guy playing the Guardian, who will only succeed in giving Arnold Schwarzenegger's Mr. Freeze from BATMAN & ROBIN a run for his money in the "pale-skinned, muscle-headed supervillain played by a European-accented prat who insists upon annoying the audience by constantly firing off lame non-sequitors one after another" department.
Duncan is rescued from certain death at the hands of the Guardian when Joe Dawson drives up in his 4x4 and promptly shoots him through the heart. No, not the Guardian, he shot Duncan through the heart. Then he scooped up his corpse, tossed it into the cab of his truck, and sped away. I'll assume that this turn of events through the Guardian off his gameplan, explaining why the being capable of running at superhuman speed didn't bother to give chase to the pick-up truck driving away at speeds up to 30 mph.
Immortals can be killed, but unless it involves the removing on one's head they'll come back to life shortly, fully healed. Duncan wakes up in Joe's truck none to happy. Joe fills him in on the current situation. They bicker more than Duncan was ever shown bickering with the wife who left him.
We next see a matte painting of the secret, secluded monastery that looks an awful lot like Jabba the Hutt's palace.
The inconspicuous monastery high atop the steppes of Eastern Europe...
Which they all managed to drive straight up to the front door of!
Despite having come from different parts of the globe: United States, Rome, unnamed Eastern European city, they all manage to arrive at the monastery at precisely the same time. As a matter of fact, Methos and Giovanni actually succeeded in getting there before Duncan and Joe who were already in Eastern Europe to begin with.
They politely knock on the door and ask to speak to the monks' elder. In quite a twist from what normally happens in real life, it's the religious types that don't want to be bothered by lay people, telling them to go away, and then slamming the door on them. Impetuous young Reggie spots a window fairly high up and decides to climb the monastery wall. He gets about three steps up before falling on his ass like a total goober.
Suddenly, literally from out of nowhere, a figure comes running past them all from the corner of the screen and begins making its way up the wall with ease. When I say "literally out of nowhere," I really mean that. Imagine you're sitting in the audience watching some Shakespearean stage production and all of a sudden - BAM! Someone comes bolting down the aisle at full speed onto the stage right past the actors and begins climbing up the set. That's how this scene plays. Someone asks, "Who is that?" Duncan looks up and replies, "My wife." Duncan Macleod can accurately identify his ex-wife solely by recognizing her ass from 30-feet away?
Anna climbs inside the monastery through that upper window, makes her way down a staircase inside, and immediately finds herself surrounded by armed monks none to happy about the intrusion. Just when things look bad for Mrs. Macleod, the front door explodes as the immortals plow through it with Dawson's pick-up truck. Why the hell didn't they just do that in the first place if they wanted into this fortress so bad?
Before a skirmish can break out, the head monk tells them that now that Anna is here their elder is willing to see them all. Why didn't he say that in the first place?
Folks, I'm not even going to attempt going into detail about the nonsense that unfolds over the next few minutes. Just take my word for it when I tell you its utter gibberish and nothing I type could ever adequately convey to you just how little sense any of it makes.
Quite simply, they meet the elder who looks Babu, the tubby genie from Hanna-Barbra's old "Jeannie" cartoon, blackened on the grill until he reached a fine crisp, his body so massively bloated it renders him incapable of movement. With a voice that sounds like Michael Clark Duncan stricken with emphysema, he begins telling them of 10,000 years earlier when he and a small band of immortals sought out the Source. All was well until they began turning on one another. Only he and another made it to the Source, but as he puts it, "Something went wrong." I suspect if there's an audio commentary track on the DVD for this movie the phrase "something went wrong" will be used quite frequently.
The elder tells them that whatever that "something" was that "went wrong" cursed him with a forever decaying body, while his immortal ally was cursed to become the new Guardian of the Source. He warns them all of two things: that the closer they get to the Source their immortal powers will wane and that the same fate awaits them as what happened to his group that sought the Source.
The elder then reveals - as par with this script, doing so without bothering to provide any details as to why - that the most important person in their journey to find the Source is none other than mere mortal woman Anna. I suppose I should have already mentioned that Anna had been experiencing some weird dreams of late that somehow tie into the coming of the Source. I can only guess this is how she found her way to the monastery.
How... How... How... How do movies with garbage screenplays this friggin' awful get the greenlight? We need Connor Macleod's "Prize" from the first film in order to get inside the heads over everyone involved with the writing of this script to figure out the how's and the why's to everything that's going on, all of which apparently only makes sense to the people that wrote it.
Less than a half hour in and I'm already beginning to feel a FUCK THIS MOVIE~! coming on.
Time now to bid bon voyage to a TV series regular as immortal watcher Joe Dawson gets sent packing to the big House of Blues in the sky after getting gutted by the Guardian in a cemetery outside the monastery. Not only does that fiend dare fight on holy ground (a major no-no for the immortals, another of those wacky bylaws), he even begins jokingly belting out a few bars from the Queen song from the first film, "Who Wants to Live Forever". Truly an unholy abomination - the Guardian of the Source is not only 10,000 years old and possesses supernatural powers, he also does HIGHLANDER soundtrack karaoke!
Actor Jim Byrnes reacts appropriately after watching a rough cut of the movie for the first time
Dawson can't even just die and get it over with either. He gets one of those grandiose movie deaths that these days have become downright laughable. I'm talking about the sort of death where a character suffers a mortal wound yet lives on just long enough to die in the arms of a friend or loved one, but not before giving a farewell speech about what an honor it has been to be their friend (or loved one). Tragically, when Joe Dawson finally expires in Duncan's arms, Duncan Macleod of the clan Macleod did not properly finish the tired cliché by looking up to the heavens and screaming, "NOOOOOOOOO!"
Then again, who needs that cliché to play out after we've already witnessed the Guardian standing off to the side waving goodbye with the taunt, "Thank you. You've been a wonderful audience. Good night." The Source must get cable.
Yes, now the Guardian can teleport too. And what does the Guardian use this additional power for? Running away, of course!
IF THEY MATED: a Masters of the Universe action figure and the kid from POWDER
Boat trip! They arrive at the docks of the island on a rickety freighter just in the time to take part in a Golan-Globus worthy throwdown with a roving band of violent urchins. We get random kicking and punching, guys on fire, pole fu, and the mandatory exploding vehicle thrown in because, you know, exploding vehicles are cool. This truck explosion also seemed to act in much the same manner as the referee blowing his whistle to signify the stoppage of play; once the truck blew up the bad guys simply stopped fighting back and the battle ended. Score one in the win column for Team Immortality. Our heroes celebrate walking side-by-side in unison as Freddy Mercury is given a reason to begin spinning in his grave.
You come to realize that Davis & Panzer must have really been skimping on the budget at every chance they could this time out when we finally hear the familiar sounds of Queen's HIGHLANDER theme song "Princes of the Universe" play for the first time in this film. Wait a minute, that's not Queen! Nope, they wouldn't even pony up the dough to get the original version of the song, instead opting to pay someone that probably wouldn't make it past the opening auditions on "American Idol" to perform a truly rancid cover version. Whoever this was performing it didn't just butcher the song - they totally ax murdered it. Crank this baby loud enough and I bet you could get dogs within hearing distance to begin howling.
Road trip! As the tone deaf massacring of the HIGHLANDER franchise's signature theme song continues, we're now treated to a musical montage of their long car trip to the Source. It's like the opening credits of MANOS, THE HANDS OF FATE combined with NATIONAL LAMPOON'S IMMORTAL VACATION: mostly passenger seat P.O.V. footage broken up by snippets showing the journeying immortals bonding with one another, such as when Duncan smiles at Methos and Methos smiles back. Ah, camaraderie... We're not exactly in FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING territory with this quest, I dare say.
How damn big this island is becomes another question I wanted to know? They looked to have been driving for a day and still had to stop for the night at a cottage in the woods. Only two things of significance occur here. The first being Duncan and Anna begin to patch up their relationship. You don't believe these two were ever in love, fell out of love, or are going to fall back into love, I for one got the sense that even the actors playing the two roles didn't buy into the romance they were supposed to be acting out. If you stripped these two naked, dipped her in ammonia and strung mothballs from his genitals, then forced them to have sex, they'd still fail to generate any chemistry.
and I... We're in love, right?"
The other significant happening is Reggie falling victim to the Guardian. Rather than just behead him, the Guardian uses his super speed to inflict a whirlwind of bodily lacerations before teleporting away yet again. Remember, folks, the Guardian of the Source is all powerful, can zip around at superhuman speeds and teleport, and exists solely to guard the location of the Source; and yet he chooses not to finish them all off swiftly in favor of popping in and out of the movie at random, attacking them at random at locations chosen at random, all the while allowing them to venture ever closer to the very Source he's supposed to be preventing them from ever reaching. I realize he's been cooped up in some existential nether realm for the past 10,000 years and probably enjoys getting some shore leave, but, geez, does this supposed guardian suck at his job. Where is he going and what is he doing in the time in between attacks is what I'd love to know?
Reggie should just wake up after a little while fully healed from his non-decapitating injuries just as any immortal would. Except... Remember, their powers diminish the closer they get to the Source. Alas, Reggie is dead; he ain't waking up and he didn't even have to lose his head. I found myself wondering if Reggie would ultimately heal and come back to life if they were to take his corpse back the other direction further away from the location of the Source. I must have been the only one pontificating such a hypothesis seeing as how the group just buries Reggie in a makeshift grave out in the woods before pressing on with their journey.
In addition to giving him less personality than John Cena in THE MARINE, the screenwriters also felt the need to go out of their way to make Adrian Paul look like a blithering idiot this time out. As the group stands around Reggie's grave, an angry Duncan suddenly begins ranting about how they're dying for nothing, stating he doesn't even believe the Source to be real. Umm, Duncan, if it's all a load of b.s. then how come your otherwise immortal companion failed to recover from injuries that did not involve the cutting off of one's head followed by shiny lights and things going boom? Nothing like portraying your dashing hero as a moron.
Their road trip will hit another bump in the road when they get ambushed and captured by extras from CHILDREN OF MEN. Ever seen CHILDREN OF MEN? Good movie. Sort of makes me wonder if both films are occurring in the same movie universe. Both have heroes that have to contend with violent gangs of civilians roaming the woods. Could it be while Clive Owen was trying to protect and transport the last pregnant woman on earth in order to save the future of humanity there was also, elsewhere, a gang of immortals also trying to save humanity, only through magical, never adequately explained means? Doubtful.
The bad news here for our immortal heroes (and Anna) is that they've been captured by a gang of forest-dwelling cannibals who plan to eat them and because they're getting closer to the Source they've lost their immortality, so even fighting back couple prove potentially fatal. The good news is that before eating them the cannibals must first engage in their pre-feast ritual of dancing around a bonfire far enough away to not instantly notice when their potential meals make a getaway.
The only scenario in which anyone should ever have to watch HIGHLANDER: THE SOURCE: hostage situation
Duncan, Anna, Methos, and Giovanni have all been tied side-by-side to these posts as if they were being offered up to King Kong for an orgy. Poor Anna, three guys and a giant gorilla - she's gonna be sore tomorrow! (RIMSHOT!)
Up until this point Giovanni had been the only character in the entire movie that I found even the least bit interesting. The whole religious bent to his character and his unwavering belief that somehow the nature of his existence would correlate with his religious faith gave him something almost resembling depth. No other character had anything going on for them: Duncan was as bland a movie hero as imaginable, Anna was only there because the script required her to be, Methos had nothing to his persona aside from having some unspecified issues with Duncan, Reggie had just been a cocky smart alec, and the Guardian was just your typical super-powered, albino, British soccer hooligan with a leather fetish. But Giovanni, at least he had a smidgen of substance. That is until a bit of flame from a torch causes one of Giovanni's ropes to burn, allowing him to free his hand and untie himself. This is Giovanni's cue to go insane. We're talking instant insanity here. Why wouldn't he go insane? That's what Christian figures do in modern movies: either be proven to be hypocrites, go insane, or turn out to be evil. Those responsible for HIGHLANDER: THE SOURCE opted to make Giovanni just up and go bonkers, railing about how God had chosen him to claim the power of the Source by burning him free from bondage. He then abandons his fellow comrades leaving them still tied up to be eaten and goes running through the woods, hunched over like a werewolf, behaving like a deranged Crispin Glover (Yes, I realize that's something of an oxymoron), until he happens upon the Guardian up in a tree, who briefly convinces Giovanni that he is God's messenger and then promptly kills him.
I hate this movie. I really hate this movie. No redeeming values.
Duncan, Anna, and Methos eventually get free and go running through the woods with cannibalistic marauders in pursuit, getting split up in the process.
Now it's time for Methos to depart the film. He'll last be seen riding off on horseback in order to lure the cannibals off Duncan's trail, but not until after he's given MacLeod a speech explaining why he's doing so without actually bothering to explain why he's doing so. In a movie where everything is dealt with in vagueness and details lack specifics or clarity, this farewell speech of his proves quite fitting. Given what he says to Duncan, Methos' brief pep talk here really should have gone something along the lines of, "I wanted to be the one but now I've come to the conclusion that it's you, Duncan. The Source is your destiny. I'm not going to tell you how I came to this conclusion or even why I came to this conclusion after spending the entire time saying precisely the opposite; just be happy I came to this conclusion. May the Force be with you. Peace out."
Finale time... Duncan, finally losing the ratty fur-collared overcoat he's worn for pretty much the entire movie, power jogs through the woods until he comes across the location of the Source just as the planets are aligning. Imagine a golf course sand trap with a couple rocky steps that lead up to a celestial matte painting and you get the idea. Anna will stand on the steps, eventually being pulled into the Source's tractor beam so that she can fulfill her end of the prophecy - for lack of a better term - that demands a mortal female stand before the 3-D fantasy art that constitutes the Source this film is subtitled after. Not a damn clue why. A magic force field will prevent Duncan from touching her, not that she wants to be touched since all she keeps doing is telling him that "it's not time". Not time for what?
This is the Source. I mean... this is the Source?
You know what movie HIGHLANDER: THE SOURCE started reminding me of before it was all said and done? Ever see the Rutger Hauer serial killing monster flick SPLIT SECOND? Nothing about that movie's plot made one lick of sense - though it still made more sense than this mess - yet the main characters in that film constantly spoke like they fully understood what was going on, easily explaining mysterious symbols and interpreting the how and why the monster/killer acted as it did. It all made absolute perfect sense to the characters on the screen while we in the audience were left to sit there watching it without one iota of a clue how any of them so easily came to the conclusions they did.
Worse yet, the HIGHLANDER franchise, already no stranger to rewriting its mythos as it is, this time actually rewrites lore introduced within the movie itself. Just as The Guardian went from being described as the "immortal antichrist" to just being another superhuman immortal bad guy within a matter of minutes, all that stuff about immortals losing their powers as they get closer to the Source goes flying out the window the second Duncan Macleod arrives at the location of the Source and finds himself gaining the Guardian's super speed. The Guardian taunts Duncan, "Feel the speed. Feel the power. It's the Source." That's great and all, but I still don't understand exactly what the Source is or how Duncan plans to use it to mankind's benefit, unless he intends to use super speed to run around the world so fast he turns back time and prevents civilization from going to hell in a handbasket.
The Guardian, taunting him like an elementary school bully, goads Duncan into finally battling him in STREETFIGHTER-ish combat. This final showdown between duller than dull good and annoying as hell evil is so visually absurd that for a few brief moments HIGHLANDER: THE SOURCE almost becomes entertaining - almost. The two of them sword fight at super speed (i.e. digitally sped up footage, I suspect this is what the fight scenes would like in a Steven Seagal sci-fi flick), CGI sparks fly as their swords clang, and The Guardian even swirls up a sand tornado at one point to launch at Duncan. Physics be damned. Finally, sanity too takes a smoke break as the two battle spinning around in an impossible to keep up with whirlwind while Anna in the background extends her arms out and also begins whirling in the air at incredible speed like XANADU on crack. Why the Source is spinning her like a top is anyone's guess. And unless I just didn't notice it earlier, I do believe the Source also braided her hair. The hell is going on?
When everything finally goes back to normal speed, Duncan has done the old cartoon vortex trick that leaves the enemy buried in the ground up to their neck. Holding two swords up to the Guardian's throat, who now insists Duncan kill him, the battle begins anew, this time in their minds and done so in what I can only describe as cyberpunk psychedelica, like the LAWNMOWER MAN having an acid trip. This scene was in desperate need of a techno version of "Inna-Godda-Da-Vidda" playing over it.
William Gibson and Timothy Leary converge in "JACK ON, JACK IN, DROP OUT"
It turns out that the only way to kill the Guardian is... to refuse to the kill the Guardian. At this point, whatever. By refusing to kill the Guardian, the Guardian is thus destroyed. Given what has passed for logic in this film, this almost makes sense.
It's now time. Time for what, we still don't know. But it's time. Apparently, it's time for Duncan and Anna to lose their clothes and revolve around face-to-face in bright whiteness. They haven't actually done anything other than embrace, look each other in the eye, and slowly spin around in the white light, but Anna still tells Duncan that she can feel their baby inside of her. Yep, she's pregnant. Best I can figure, the true power of the Source is that it's some sort of metaphysical in vitro fertilization super collider.
The last shot of the film - I swear on a stack of Bibles I'm not making this up - is of a fetus appearing on the screen like the 2001 star child while Adrian Paul says in a voiceover saying, "He is the one." Fade to black. The end.
So, ummm, what the fu...? Like every other aspect of this terrible, terrible movie, I don't get it. Did Duncan and Anna just immaculately conceive the new messiah who will grow up to restore order to the world? Is this what the whole HIGHLANDER franchise has been building up to - the second coming of Christ? Oh, Giovanni, you went insane 15 minutes too soon.
But one more final insult awaits us as the band that utterly butchered "Princes of the Universe" returns for the closing credits so that they can now butcher "Who Wants to Live Forever". This one is so hard on the ears it makes the "Princes of the Universe" cover from earlier sound good. Even the Guardian's jokey singing of "Who Wants to Live Forever" was better than this. If it meant listening to that abomination getting sung off-key for all eternity then I would gladly opt out of immortality. Freddie Mercury, we miss you.
More than likely by the time you read this there will already be a brand new HIGHLANDER anime movie out on DVD called HIGHLANDER: THE SEARCH FOR VENGEANCE. Not sure what it's all about; I think Vengeance may have died and been reborn on the Genesis planet where it's in need of rescuing by some sword-wielding immortals. Whatever this anime movie is about, surely it must make more sense than HIGHLANDER: THE SOURCE - and that's really saying something given how little sense anime makes these days. Perhaps comic books and anime are where this franchise's future lies, if there is any future for it at all, which I highly doubt after watching this franchise killer of a film.
HIGHLANDER: THE SOURCE is the BATMAN & ROBIN of the HIGHLANDER franchise. That's especially bad given the previous sequels already represented the JAWS: THE REVENGE, STAR TREK 5: THE FINAL FRONTIER, and SPEED 2 of the franchise. BATMAN & ROBIN nearly killed off any future big screen Batman and somehow I don't think anyone should hold their breath for a HIGHLANDER BEGINS reboot to come along and revitalize this franchise anytime soon.
Turn out the lights, folks; The Gathering's over!
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