The Movie Franchise That Would Not Die

A long time ago, in a far-away land, I used to be a major geek for Highlander: The Series. I even bought a computer so I could find other fans online, and eventually hosted a twice-weekly chat on AOL and ran keyword: H I G H L A N D E R. Yep. like I said, geek.

There was a marathon of old Highlander episodes on the SciFi channel today, culminating in a showing of the direct-to-DVD movie, Highlander: The Source. I knew that long-time fans, who still belong to the HIGHLA-L mailing list either due to nostalgia or because they’ve forgotten how to unsubscribe to a listserv, had been dissing this movie.

Now, I get to diss it. My TV category is named “Clan McTivo” because of this series, but I very much fear that the proper category for this opus will turn out to be… “Perfectly Dreadful Movies.”

I will be liveblogging this, to an extent, if I can drink enough beer. Oh, the memories. Did you know that my husband David and I met because of the Highlander television series? Yes, that’s right. So it’s odd to watch this and remember how cool we thought the show was, and see how far it fell after cancellation and then being caught up in the movie franchise’s bloodthirstymaw.


Celebrating 20 years of The Legend, Davis-Panzer Productions, Sequence Films and Grosvenor Park are proud to announce the upcoming 2007 release of HIGHLANDER: The Source. Brett Leonard is the director with Adrian Paul playing the immortal Scottish swordsman, Duncan MacLeod.

This new adventure, starring Adrian Paul is the first feature in the Trilogy. The Source tells the story of Immortals as they quest to locate the Holy Grail of their world. The entire series of films will chronicle the origins of the Immortals.

Director Brett Leonard commented “This is a tremendous opportunity for a storyteller of this genre to take part in the mythology of 20 years.” He continues that “HIGHLANDER is an amazing ongoing story that I can bring my visual style to… Everything I have done has led me to this kind of mythical fantasy.”

Uh, well, it was crap like this that made me avoid this movie when it came out on DVD. There was a lot of discussion on HIGHLA-L about how bad it was, and how disappointed everyone was in the new female love interest. But still, most of them watched because our favorite characters were back on the screen.

Well, sometimes, you really shouldn’t bring things back from the dead, or they stink up the joint.

We seem to be in Eastern Europe, and there’s a lot of extreme closeup shots, and highly colorized and filtered shots, and a lot of bad CGI turning an ordinary town into something a bit more exotic.

Also, there’s a new Kurgan wannabe in town, who’s a demonic sort who seems to be guarding the “Source” of the title. And some monks. There’s always monks. And an albino.

Not sure why Methos and two other weirdos are sitting around watching things on Virtual Reality. And also not sure why Duncan seems to be married to this Anna chick, who has visions and is linked to the Source somehow.

It’s chaotic, the editing is bad, the sounds are bad, the dialogue is bad. This isn’t what the show used to be. This is what the crap movie sequels were like, though.

I think Reggie, the young Immortal dude, is about to buy the farm. Too bad. Oh, no, he didn’t.


Dammit, they killed Joe. Nooooooooooo! And they broke the dragon head katana. BASTARDS.

This really sucks rocks. Why did they think this crap was worth making?

Also, the fight sequences are reeeeeeeeeally bad.

Thank God, a commercial break. The Sham Wow! guy seems like a really calm, serene presence after that dreck.

Okay, thanks to TiVo, I get to watch Duncan bury the Dragon Head sword with Joe. This is a disaster on so many levels. A cheer goes up when he says “I’m done.”

Or, no. The movie is still going. Darn.

Whoa, the scenery is so badly rendered and constructed, it’s a wonder they manage to choke it down.

And what is the deal with these new characters? They’re so not cool and un-Highlanderlike. The old production crew used to be pretty good at casting guest stars. But that was a long time ago.

More bad CGI as they finally leave the crappy Monastery and Jabba the Immie for a long sea voyage to some island. Over which all the planets are aligned.

So now we’re in some post-Apocalyptic Anarchyland, and because it’s daylight everything is shot in a cold blue light. And it’s time for a pointless melee fight while some poor businessman is menaced by wharf rats. At least Methos looks cool in his fringed black leather jacket. The businessman looks like he’s having a very bad day as a Michelin man, since the bad guys have poured gasoline on him. This advances the plot how? That’s right, as an opportunity for a daytime melee so that we know that Duncan, his seeress “wife,” the real sidekick Methos and the fake sidekicks Reggie the Richie Substitute and Giovanni the Thin White Dude-Priest are fighting some badass gang guys.

Oh, yeah, Duncan kind of sleepwalks around with a long metal pole, throws it through the window of an approaching gas truck, and KA-BOOM! We survive to another blessed commercial break.


I have to confess that I spent about half an hour messing around with some WordPress tricks before pressing “Play” again. And I’m nearly out of beer.

Oh, NOOOOOES!!! This the most terrible hero walk over “Princes of the Universe I could have imagined.  It even sounds a little like Freddie Mercury, but it’s not. At least Duncan’s gotten the band back together, except for poor old Joe. And Richie.  And all his other dead friends.

Reggie, Richie, they’re the same kid, except that this kid has a funky London accent.

Gah, the Anna chick just said it’s not about death, it’s about life. This is about how Immortals can’t have kids, isn’t it?? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  More messing with canon, the bastards.

I am wondering how Reggie manages to refill his flask, though.

Now we’re going to have a really stupid tete-a-tete between Duncan and this Anna chick, hunkered down in the woods and weeds 0utside an abandoned cabin. We’ll spend a few minutes grieving for Joe and for all of Duncan’s dead girlfriends. Impressively, he mentions Tessa. Less impressively, he mentions Kate, the girlfriend chick from the previous bad sequel, which was the first that featured the series characters.

Duncan has a “why am I here’ moment and then “let’s get it ONNNNNNN” up against a tree. Except he gets that funny “I smell something bad” look that means that another immortal is around. And we are saved by another commercial. Thank you, SciFi! Thank you for cutting this piece of shit up into smaller, nearly palatable pieces!

I think if I see Tom Cruise in an eyepatch and Nazi tat one more time, I will barf.

Poor David, he retreated upstairs.  I think he’s watching TV on a set that barely works.

And we’re back, with a rock soundtrack and it looks like things are getting hot and heavy up against the tree. On Highla-L, we called this sort of thing “headboard-rattling.” This is rather more primitive, what with the tree and all.

Woops, Reggie’s about to buy it. The Guardian just showed up.

But although he cuts Reggie into pieces, he doesn’t behead him. And they all wonder why, and Methos wants to know why they didn’t smell the demon guardian guy. Oh, and too bad, as you get closer to the Source, you’re no longer Immortal, so Reggie’s a goner. They bury him. It’s something about his lack of faith was disturbing, I swear.

Now it appears that Giovanni, the kooky priest, is on deck. He looks happy about getting his religious maniac freak on. They all drive away until they reach some kind of torture-rack that blocks the road. Some guy is trussed up, and it looks uncomfortably like a crucifiction.  It’s booby trapped, of course, and the car is destroyed.

Cue loud rock music as everybody runs frantically away from the Guardian – who is pale white and appears to have letters on his face in some sort of scarification deal. So maybe he’s the personification of a British newspaper? He’s pretty badass, but whenever he fights, he’s in speed-motion. This means that he can’t move for shit, and I can tell from the way he used a sword that he’s got no fight training skills, so speeding him up is the only way they had to make him look “kewl” enough for the slavering truefen, who adore fight choreography.  Sadly,  even when he goes to lightspeed, he’s no damn good. He’s kind of like an Agent, except with leather Farmer Johns and a metal skullcap.

The Farmer Johns are somewhat tactfully cut around his gut; something tells me this guy is kind of tubby when he’s not all made up to look like a demon.

So everybody runs around in the woods with swords drawn. The light in this part of the movie is greenish. Let’s see, it was bluish when they got to Anarchy Island, and it was yellowish when they were at Jabba the Immie’s monastery… was it reddish in the first part of the movie when McLeod muffed his chance to kill the bad guy and put us all out of our misery 10 minutes in? Can’t remember.

Beer is good.

UPDATE: Thank God! A friend called and we jabbered for an hour, giving me a chance to get another beer and drink most of it.

But there’s no more procrastinating, time to hit “play” and watch the last reel. Most recently, we were all running with swords. Oh, we still are, that means I haven’t missed anything.

Wait, what? There’s arrow or crossbow bolts appearing in tree trunks. And a guy on a horse. And guys on motorcycles. The bad rock music is not helping.

Oh, good, a new bad guy. Old bad guy sitting in a tree, laughing. Mac and his sidekicks, old and new, all go down with arrows sticking out of them, and probably won’t have that magic healing mojo working for them, either.

Thank God, another commercial break.

Ad: I really need to speak to Maureen Ryan at the Chicago Tribune and ask her why she thinks Sanctuary is completely addicting, because it’s sure not the oxycontin of SF as far as we’re concerned.

The new bad guys and their entire tribe are having a rock and burn and crucify party. These are evidently the guys who built the roadblock. Who are these assholes? One bad guy at a time, please.

Oh, Methos just mentioned he knew Christ. That was a big no-no when the series was on. No messing with “real” religion.

And it appears that these badguys are all the Guardian’s minions.

Anna gets cut down and is told to follow the Source. She says “come for me” in a very come-hitherish voice to Mac. She wanders off into the woods with the Guardian.

Uh oh. The flames catch on their little scaffold. But Giovanni gets free cause he has a little knife in his crucifix.

He goes a little nuts and goes after the Guardian instead of cutting down Mac and Methos. But the flames, very conveniently, climb up the ropes on their side, too, and Mac gets free. He cuts Methos down. You can see cuts in the timbers where they messed up on earlier shots.

Meanwhile, the badass gang, being sufficiently lickered up, finishes dancing around a giant Green Man (oh, somebody’s probably going to end up in there) and notices their guests have escaped. “Time to hunt!” they holler, and stumble off into the woods.

They’re beating drums and riding motorcycles. How tribal.

Anna and the Guardian go for a romantic walk in the woods.

It’s totally chaotic; this shoot must have been a bitch for all concerned.

In the sky, the planets all appeart to be coming down to earth. Anna gets all glowy.

Giovanni gets caught and tortured. Methos doesn’t want to save him, he ran out on them and they hate each other anyway over the whole hypocritical religion thing. Giovanni runs away again, leaving Mac to fight alone. Methos runs straight at Mac with a big sword, but instead throws it at a tree and somehow beheads the motorcycle rider, who runs into it and offs himself.

A “you were always the best one” scene ensues. We’ve already seen this sort of thing on the series. He somehow ended up with the black horse the gang leader was riding, and gallops off after telling Mac that it’s his destiny to face the Guardian in single combat. I think Methos is hoping that if he gets far enough away, he’ll be all Immortal again. And shit.

Amusingly, he delivers his “I knew it, too” line after getting biffed in the face by the horse, who’s probably pissy about being hijacked.

Patented Highlander Dialogue by McLeod: “You’re such an asshole.”
Patented Highlander Dialogue by Methos: “I never said I was deep.”

That was SO much a “sekrit passion of Methos and Mac” slash scene. I’m immune to it now, though.

He rides off so the rest of the horsemen can chase him and lead them away from Mac, the girl, Giovanni, and the planets.

Time for Giovanni’s big shiny cross to shine one last time, and he has one more religious-nut scene to play before getting the big chop. Why was he next to last? I liked Reggie better.

Stupid plot.

Mac steps up to the plate. Without the Eileann Donan Slugger, though, he’s at a disadvantage. He has some sword he picked up back at the About To Be Burning Man Green Man camp. The planets get so big in the sky you can see individual features on them. At night. Without even binoculars. They probably show up on the Norad Santa website.

One last commercial break. Only 12 minutes runtime remains. Yaaaay!

Planets come in for a landing. The lake waters are suddenly drawn aside. They’re on the dry lakebed.

Guardian appears. Fight. Duncan’s got two swords. He starts to speed up like the Guardian, who notes one of them has to die. Anna, whatsername, is safe behind some sort of energy field. Mac can’t get to her after disabling the guardian temporarily.

More fighting. The Guardian notes that Mac is getting upgraded. It’s Mac 2.0! And I bet he gets the chance to make a backup copy soon…

Fight fight fight. Duncan refuses to kill the Guardian, but he blows up. Evidently this means he passes the test. The Game wasn’t really about killing other immortals, it was about survival of the fittest and who won the right to get close to Anna.

Yep. I was right. It was really all about makin’ da babies. Not only does Duncan solve the puzzle that was really the Prize at the end of the Game, he gets to live happily ever after. Nekkid Duncan and Anna stand around glowing symbolically and then there’s a shot of Anna’s pregnant belly. I could JUST BARF. This is so very, very bad. Also, the final shots scream “we ran out of money and can only afford to put up this mystical crap with an entire monologue to end the movie, explaining every character’s motivation, because we did such a bad job telling the story from beginning to end.”

Wait, what? How come there were female Immortals, though? Discrimination! They never had a chance!

This totally sucked. The final song kicks in, sounding vaguely like Elton John. Mercifully, it’s cut short and the credits roll. At last. It would have been just fine if the whole movie had been the beginning monologue, a couple of the fights, the bad version of Princes of the Universe with the badass forest gang guys, and the final monologue. End.

Oh, and I got a better look at the Guardian in the final fight scene – that Farmer John thing had a built-in corset; he was really very thick through the body.

Yeah, that would have worked out a lot better.

UPDATE: Okay, this is funny. Twitter was full of comments about the movie, and about the Highlander marathon in general. Then an item popped up from Google Trends with a link to Highlander-related websites that Google has identified as a spike or a trend. So this blog post shows up (yay me!) and also this item:

Actor Peter Wingfield recently reduced the price of his Studio City home to $2,699,000 from $2,995,000. The traditional-style home has six bedrooms and 4 1/2 bathrooms in 5,473 square feet.

The house has an office with a separate entrance, and a maid’s room with full bath. The media, living and dining rooms are defined by German NanaWall doors — glass folding doors — and the kitchen has a gourmet cooking island and stainless-steel appliances.

There is a fireplace in the master bedroom suite, which also includes a spa bath and a steam shower. The landscaped grounds include a saltwater pool and spa.

Wingfield has played the 5,000-year-old Methos in the “Highlander” TV series (1995-98) and in the movies “Highlander: The Source” (2007) and “Highlander: Endgame” (2000). He also appeared in the feature films “X2: X-Men United” (2003) and “Edge of Madness” (2002).

More recently, from 2006 through this year, he played surgical consultant Dan Clifford in the BBC medical drama “Holby City.” He had a recurring role on the Fox TV series ” 24.”

Here’s the Google Trends analytical thing – pretty funny, actually:

highlander the source

Hotness: Spicy

Related searches:
highlander the series, highlander, adrian paul, barack the magic negro, elizabeth gracen

5 hours ago

Now why, WHY is one of the related searches “barack the magic negro?” That’s just strange, bad, wrong, and disturbing. And why is Elizabeth Gracen related? She’s not in this picture, unless guys watching the reruns 5 hours ago thought she looked pretty sexy… yeah, that’s probably it.

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One thought on “The Movie Franchise That Would Not Die

  1. Wow. That’s all really sad. I was never an uber-fan of the show, but I watched it regularly through the years. A shame its memory will be tainted by this piece of dreck.

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