Format: Amazon Prime Watch Party
Director: Russell Mulcahy
I hadn't watched The Highlander (1986) in years. It was a movie I saw on VHS as a kid, loved it, and include it's mythology and catch-phrases as part of my Gen-X slang. I mean, it did give us the phrase "there can be only one", which I think has leaked out into the popular consciousness, even if lots of folks don't know where the phrase came from.
But like The Beastmaster, The Highlander was part of the lingua franca of geek culture for Gen-X nerds. It had a not-particularly charismatic lead, Connery chewing schenery, a woman throwing herself at the lead for absolutely no reason (and against all logic), swords, trenchcoats, a crazy-ass villain in the form of Clancy Brown as a mad Cossack, and a soundtrack by mid-80's Queen.
And sparks. So many sparks.
Going in, I knew the movie wouldn't be what I remembered when I was 12, even if the movie was exactly what I remembered from when I was 12. It's.... fine. A little slim in the character department in favor of the plot and exposition departments. And it's also a funny movie because it does feel like it should be the first installment in a series until you think about the plot and realize "nope, this is it." Not that movie didn't generate three sequels and a TV show.
I will never understand the idea behind casting Christopher Lambert as a Scotsman. I will never understand casting Sean Connery as an Egyptian Spaniard. And yet, I support both. It's absurd. And somehow just part of the fabric of the movie.
I do like how the movie merges present with flashbacks to tell the story - this was not particularly common to sci-fi or fantasy at the time, and trying to imagine someone explaining all of this in realtime in the present would have been deadly. Clancy Brown makes a hell of an impression as a badguy who has flipped his lid - maybe not new to cop thrillers by 1986, but new to fantasy. And the bit with the girl MacCloud saved during WWII who is still with him is a brilliant little touch, even if she should have been introduced earlier and their relationship clarified. I mean, there's a whole movie in that somewhere.
But it's also not something I think anyone should take particularly seriously. Connery sets the right tone - this is crazy, and we should enjoy it. The ending is telegraphed nonsense, but still fun.
Now we'd be treated to someone's plans for a franchise, with massive world building and a wide array of characters. Here, we get... four Immortals in the modern era? And no women at that? (So 1980's). So I do appreciate that it's both semi-thoughtful, but smart enough to just tell the story and get out.