Christopher Lambert and Adrian Paul in Highlander: Endgame.
May Douglas Aarniokoski, the Director of Highlander: Endgame, rot in the fires of a thousand Hells! If he is ever allowed to make another film, I only hope it is released posthumously. He managed to take one of the films that I most wanted to see and turned it into something rotten and horrible that I regret having sat through. I list the original Highlander movie as one of my top ten favorite films. Highlander: Endgame would easily make my list of worst movies of all time.
For those unfamiliar with Highlander, it tells the story of a group of immortal beings all fighting to be the last one still alive. The last one left will gain ultimate power.
The plot to Highlander: Endgame is equally simple. Conner (Christopher Lambert) and Duncan (Adrian Paul) are two Scottish clansman who team up to stop Kell, an evil immortal with a past connected to Conner's.
The most infuriating thing about this movie is that it's problems (and there are many) were not uncorrectable. The seed of a really good movie is at the center of this film, but it is never allowed to grow. It withers and dies before it has a chance to live and the man spraying the herbicide all over it, is the director, Douglas Aarniokoski with a little help from the writers and producers.
There have always been two separate groups of Highlander fans; the fans of the original movie and the fans of the television series. Many of them enjoy both, but nearly every one of them will claim preference to one or the other. Because they really are two completely separate entities with only the title and some basic ideas in common. It's like coffee and tea. Some like one, some like the other, and some like both, but no one likes tea and coffee mixed together in the same cup, as this movie tries to do.
The original Highlander movie was a clear cut good versus evil story with a twist of immortality thrown into the mix. It was directed with a distinctive visual style by Russell Mulcahey and featured one of the best soundtracks in recent memory with all of the songs performed by Queen. The movie was gritty, with great fight scenes, a wonderful villain, and Sean Connery thrown in for good measure. It succeeded as an original action movie, beautifully filmed.
Highlander: The Series was something else entirely. Duncan was much more suave and urbane than Conner ever could hope. He dressed well, cared about fashion and culture. The series featured a large ensemble cast of regulars instead of the very small cast of the film. It featured story arcs and provided a rich back story to the characters. It depended heavily on dialogue and featured characters that were shades of gray rather than black and white. It succeeded as an original, thought provoking, beautifully filmed television series.
Highlander: Endgame tries to force these two disparate concepts into the same mold and they both suffer for it. We have a sad attempt at action which fails miserably. Mainly thanks to the director's erratic film style, he speeds up the fight scenes, editing them in such a way as to make them seem jokey instead of tense. The minor villains are all Mad Max rejects. These pathetic action scenes make the moments of what are supposed to be real emotion, seem corny and out of place.
As far as acting, Adrian Paul does a good job, but isn't offered nearly the opportunity to show off his acting abilities as he was afforded in the series. Instead he is shown doing too many slow-motion Tae-Bo workouts. Although, to please the female fans of the series, he does show his ass in one scene.
Poor Christopher Lambert! As Conner he is supposed to be immortal, but he comes across more like a walking corpse. Age has not been kind to him. Playing a character that never ages only gives you a short window of time to play that part. His window closed a long time ago.
The only other character of note is the villain, Jacob Kell. Bruce Payne plays the part with relish, but goes way over the line on the Hamometer. The motivation he has for wanting revenge on Conner is questionable at best and his ability to flout the rules of Immortality is simply astounding.
Script wise the movie fares no better. I enjoyed the background to the characters, however some of it completely contradicts what has been said previously about Duncan in the television series. Particularly the part involving a female immortal in the film. Methos and Dawson, characters from the TV series, are each given a tiny little moment of screen time, and seeing them was one of the few bright moments in the film. But where's Amanda? Why create another female immortal, when the series already introduced the greatest of them all? And the friendship between Conner and Duncan is obviously created for the sake of this movie as Conner was rarely ever mentioned in the series, yet here he appears as the driving force in Duncan's life.
The director, Douglas Aarniokoski, as I have said, does a truly horrible job on this film. He has no idea how to film a fight scene. He should be tied to a chair and forced to watch The Matrix twenty times in a row. The climactic sword fight is ruined by some strange morphing done with the faces of Duncan and Conner. He includes an obligatory sex scene which seems very out of place and that provokes no emotion other than adolescent titillation. The final shot of the film is so obviously done with green screen that it is laughable and takes away any emotion you might feel. The TV series had higher production values than this movie, for God's sake!
My last and final complaint about this movie, is where the Hell is the Queen song? Even the series used Prince's of the Universe as it's theme! I didn't expect a complete soundtrack made up of old Queen songs, but at least the theme.
In spite of all this, I honestly hope they make another Highlander movie. I think the concept still has life to it and a successful movie series could yet be salvaged. Star Trek: Generations suffered from the same problem, that of trying to combine two casts from the same entertainment universe, and it too failed miserably. Yet the next Star Trek film, First Contact, was one of the best of the entire series, because it played up the strengths of The Next Generation cast. Highlander could do the same if they could only get away from any connection to the original movie and focus on those things that made the television series so great.
Final word? If you're not a fan of Highlander, stay away. This movie will not make you a fan. If you are a Highlander fan already, stay away. This movie will depress and disappoint you.
Christopher Lambert and Adrian Paul in Highlander: Endgame.
I wanted to like this movie. I hoped it would be good. It wasn't. I loved the first movie but was only a casual viewer of the TV show. To have any hope of enjoying this movie you would have had to have watched both.
According to this movie, it is as if only the first half of the original movie took place then the TV show took over. Are you lost yet? If yes then don't bother seeing this movie. It will only confuse you more. If you are not lost then you must have watched both the movie and the series. In which case you may enjoy this movie more, but I doubt it.
This movie should have been made at least ten years ago when Christopher Lambert looked like he wasn't a senior citizen. Couldn't they at least have dyed his hair? He walks through the movie looking like a propped up corpse. Adrian Paul is okay. He looks like a model and suffices as an actor. To his credit, he does some decent accents.
The action scenes are terrible. In one fight Duncan is sword fighting about 4 or 5 other immortals. As he swings his sword at two of them a third stands behind him doing nothing until Duncan's done. Then he walks up so Adrian Paul can stab him.
Some effort was made to make this movie work. They had several characters from the original movie show up. As well as a couple of characters from the TV show. However it ended up making things worse. Everyone from the original movie looked noticeably too old for the parts and I had no idea who the guys from the TV show were.
Lisa Barbuscia and Bruce Payne in Highlander: Endgame.
According to Wikipedia (as of May, 2012) the Highlander franchise has spawned five movies, two television series, an animated series, an animated movie, an animated flash-movie series, ten original novels, and seventeen comic book issues. Somehow, with the exception of the original 1986 movie (which I disliked BTW), I have (up till now) successfully avoided all contact with any of them.
First of all, I have a hard time getting past the concept. This franchise features powerful, immortal characters but all they ever do is battle each other like they're members of some eternal Fight Club. Is there nothing else they can think to do with their time? I don't know, attend a cooking class or take up pottery making? I mean just why can there be only one anyway?
I have no problem agreeing with my brothers on this execrable movie. The plot is beyond silly, the characters all act like they're in some deranged sci-fi/fantasy soap opera, and the special effects are cheesy. The fast-motion fight moves that Scott mentioned are patently ridiculous. What was the director thinking - and/or smoking?
One difference between my brothers and myself, is that I disliked the original movie too – although I appreciated Sean Connery's presence and the voice of Freddie Mercury. All of which proves one point. Highlander: Endgame is universal in its appeal. It's hated by everyone.
Photos © Copyright Dimension Films (2000)