Highlander 2 - Special Edition

by D. Bishop
Tuesday Jul 20, 2004
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It is said that nothing is ever completely worthless... one can at the very least serve as a bad example. That being said, Highlander 2: Special Edition fills the role of "bad example" better than any film I’ve seen in quite a while. Not only is the film itself an almost criminal abuse of the characters from the cult classic Highlander original movie, but through the Special Features the viewer gets a very detailed explanation, from the very mouths of those who made the film, of why this film had so many problems. I could *almost* recommend this DVD based solely on the entertainment value of this unique insight into what NOT to do when making a film... but no.

Highleander 2 begins many years after the point where Highlander left off, with Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) an old lonely man both hailed and cursed by humanity as the creator of the Shield, an electromagnetic barrier built to protect the Earth from the ravages of the sun when the ozone layer disappeared. Humanity was saved, but the world is now shrouded in perpetual gloom, and the corporation that owns the Shield now holds crushing dominion over the entire population. The leader of a resistance group (Virginia Madsen) links up with MacLeod and convinces him that the Shield has outlived its usefulness and needs to be destroyed. MacLeod must battle the evil corporation, as well as General Katana (Michael Ironsides), an old arch rival recently arrived from... wherever the Immortals come from originally... to free the Earth from the grip of corporate tyrants and let the sun shine in.

The only good part about this film, besides some periodically interesting cinematography, is the fact that they managed to sign Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery (who reprises his role as the irrepressible Ramirez), and Michael Ironsides (who is always delightfully evil even when playing a good character) on to the effort. From there it is all downhill. Virtually every aspect of the special effects is shockingly bad - visible suspension wires on flying effects, explosions that look like fireworks, electrical effects that I could have done with a copy of the film and a paperclip, age make-up that looks more like a layer of clay on Lambert’s face than skin... it just goes on and on. It is virtually impossible to take any of the action sequences seriously, either because of the Spaceballs-inspired costumes, or the grotesquely inappropriate score, or the tired-looking fight choreography, or the completely artificial dialogue... again, I could go on and on. However by far the most heinous crime perpetrated on fans of the original Highlander is the writer’s attempt to explain where the Immortals come from and thus create a loophole in the line "There can be only one" large enough to drive a sequel through. The explanation is not only vague, it’s downright juvenile. Worse yet, it doesn’t just add one more flawed element to a monumentally flawed production, it tarnishes the vision of the original film, and that is just plain unforgiveable.

This film deserves a resounding F, but I just cannot bring myself to give a Sean Connery film a completely failing grade. Some films just should not have been made, and this is one of them.

It isn’t until you reach the Special Features that this 2-disc special edition becomes interesting. There is a Deconstruction track that can be turned on and off while viewing the film (or viewed on it’s own afterward) which features behind-the-scenes video showing the making of the particular scene you are watching. It’s a neat idea, though the fact that this extra material is completely un-narrated makes it of limited value. The second disc contains five featurettes that cover many of the aspects of filmmaking as they pertained to this film, including music, costuming and cinematography. The best however is the first, called "Seduced by Argentina" (the location where the majority of the film was shot) which is rather lengthy compared to the other featurettes, but tracks the production from the writing to the video effects make-over that occured years after the film made its theatrical release. Here is where you hear from the writer, editor, producer and others about all the things that did not go as they should have during production, and gain some insights into how precarious the film making process really is. If you watch nothing else, watch this feature. Following the featurettes is a Deleted Scene that turns out to be an alternate ending. You might have thought this film could not posssibly have been made any worse, but I assure you that, had this ending been included, it would have been. Finally, the film’s Theatrical Trailer and Cannes Film Festival Promo Reel are presented. The Theatrical Trailer actually succeeds in making the film seem much more exciting than it is, but the Cannes reel manages to present the least interesting scenes in such a disjointed manner that I was having trouble following along despite the fact that I had just seen the film itself. It is a wonder this film got made in the first place, but it is an even bigger wonder that anyone was actually intrigued enough to want to go see it.


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