Today we’ll take a brief look at the third…I mean, clearly the second movie in the series, Highlander: The Final Dimension. (Doubtless you’re thinking, “‘Final’? This isn’t even the penultimate movie!” You’d be correct. The whole franchise seems to have a real problem with the concept of finality, as the recent talk of a reboot only confirms.)
For this one, I’ll borrow a bit of the format from my Friday posts.
Known to casual observers as: Highlander: the one in which Mario van Peebles plays the Kurgan, sort of, and there’s some kinda kung fu, I guess?
The Premise: Connor must defeat some long-trapped immortals after an archaeological dig accidentally sets them free; it turns out the Highlander’s not The One after all. (Is there any way to fit that into continuity unless Connor had a psychotic break at the end of the first movie? Somewhere, the Kurgan is laughing, admittedly through a neck stump.)
Complicating this good-vs.-evil plot are a number of human factors, including Connor’s adopted son (Brenda has apparently died in a car crash), a cop who seems to be the official NYPD holder of the grudge against “Russell Nash,” and a beautiful archaeologist who is, shall we say, interested in old bones.
Did I mention the bad guy has magical illusion powers he got from killing one of Connor’s mentors? That too.
As I poke around the internet, I get the distinct impression that most people regard all the Highlander sequels as crap. There’s a certain amount of truth to that—I can’t say this is a particularly great movie even by Highlander standards—but Final Dimension does present some interesting features. The villain, Kane, is a blatant Kurgan ripoff on a scale I couldn’t exceed even if I were doing it myself, but at least he and his men are seen actually destroying a village at one point, and Kane’s illusion power makes the “put someone Connor loves in a car and terrorize them by driving like a maniac” sequence superior to the one in the original film. It’s also nice to see the franchise acknowledging its debt to martial-arts movies with Connor’s training in the initial flashback sequence. It also shines new light on…
The Connor problem: When I watched this again after starting to write these posts, Netflix threw up the Beowulf movie with Christopher Lambert as a recommendation, and I watched it. I’d always assumed part of Connor’s apparent ennui was due to some flaw in Christopher Lambert’s performance; while he’s not quite a ball of fire in Beowulf, it became clear that the anhedonia is endemic to the Highlander.
(I’d also like to put in a small plug for the 1999 Beowulf. It’s definitely a—whimsical?—take on the legend, but it’s a quite bearable little action flick with steampunk and demon ladies and Oliver Cotton, who was a barbarian king in Robin of Sherwood, as another one. It grows on you.)
The Verdict: I hate to say too many bad things about Final Dimension, as the film does try to address both some things I complained about in the original Highlander and the paradox of its own existence. I will say it’s probably for diehard fans only.
And my god, they use “O Fortuna” in the trailer!
Next time: I say nice things about Christian Slater.
Next time on TCBOM!: Still working on that audio, so it’ll probably be the TV series.