Friday, January 20, 2017

Highlander: Endgame

Highlander: Endgame the fourth film in the Highlander franchise that seeks to bridge the film series with the I'm sure incredible television series, after all Marion Cotillard was in it. Seriously though I've never seen the series, but the main carry over of Adrian Paul as Duncan MacLeod is not a good one. His poor acting though is ready to team up with Christopher Lambert's Connor in order to take on the evil immortal Kell, the most poorly acted of all of the Highlander villains. Now Highlander 2 is probably the more aggressively bad sequel, this one keeps out the planet of Zeist for example, but it's also far less enjoyable. This film is more of best described as not good, and kind of boring. The fights are not engaging, besides a bit of stunt work by Donnie Yen, the storyline is mostly random with its time jumps and poorly defined relationships, and sequences that actually just don't make any sense. The film was in fact so unappealing that the trailers merely made things up to sell it.

Highlander II: The Quickening

Highlander II: The Quickening is one of the biggest downgrades ever for a sequel, which is problematic when the first film wasn't exactly great to begin with. The film though is a hilariously bad sequel in that it seems to do everything in its power to mess with first film. The most notable example being that film rewrite Connor MacLeod's origin story that he and Sean Connery's mentor from the first film where extraterrestrial rebels sent to Earth. By the way that makes no sense and is down right stupid given the first film's story. But hey the film also has its terrible present story about rebels trying to take down a sunblocking shield, run by an evil corporation that for some reason models all their building after a Blade Runner ripoff. But don't forget about MacLeod's old foe General Katana (Michael Ironside), wait you don't remember him, oh yeah that's right the bad guy appears out of nowhere. Don't worry he's an alien who seeks revenge, for something, several hundred years after the fact, and does so by first giving MacLeod's power back. Also did a mention Sean Connery shows up again living for absolutely no reason, but hey we get more HAM Connery here which is kind of glorious when his character develops the power of telekinesis and bagpipes. It's an ugly film, its plot is terrible, its characters more often dumb than not, and has nothing really to offer in terms of being good. This film is technically bad though in the best kind of way in that its incompetence is often laughable, although I don't think that is exactly praiseworthy.

Friday, January 6, 2017


Highlander is the first and best film in the series, which means absolutely nothing. This film certainly has a good enough idea at its center, a group of immortals who battle to death until there is indeed only one that remains. The film has some fun with the idea by jumping through times from the present, which seems very period today, and the past. One highlight of this is a Barry Lyndon esque duel that rather comically doesn't end. There's are mostly there for some fun little side views, the main lines though consist of New York in the 80's and Scotland in the dark ages. To help through all of this is Christopher Lambert as Connor MacLeod, giving a leading turn only he could possibly give, and Sean Connery, as his immortal mentor, giving an early example of ham Connery, though to be fair ham Connery can relatively entertaining as it is here. The real highlight though is Clancy Brown as the evil immortal the Kurgan whose having a blast in the role, and it's hard not to enjoy watching him. The film story wise isn't anything special at either side, one basically a series of training scenes, the other about a cop trying to uncover a mystery we as viewers are already well aware of. I suppose though there is enough material for a origin story, though just enough, certainly no more. No characters here really are that memorable past the performances around them, and the story, once the concept is known, is very straight forward. What I imagine most are coming for in a Highlander film are the sword fights, and there are several of them. The only problem is they really aren't that great. The choreography isn't anything special, and no sequence really is a standout. They're okay, for the time, but that's it. It's a definite product of the 80's, but as definite product of the 80's there are better films than this one.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Come Fill The Cup

Come Fill the Cup is a bit of strange one. The film begins as though it will something akin to The Lost Weekend as we follow a newspaperman, played by James Cagney, fall into the lower depths of alcoholism. About a third of the way in though he's already hit rock bottom and come back up again in short order. The film then instead extends to the man helping a rich man suffering the same problem, but unfortunately for the both of them a gangster wants the rich guy dead. It becomes a thriller suddenly. The thing is despite the rather scattered nature of the film, it's  actually pretty good in every aspect. The performances are solid and each side of the story is well done.  Now the film does flow rather strangely, but within its strange thru line it never becomes bad. All sections are good even if they don't make absolute sense being pieced together in this way.

Blade Runner

Blade Runner is unquestionably a visual masterpiece. Again like in Alien, Ridley Scott's vision is awe inspiring. As he utilizes the visual effects, the lighting, his camerawork, his production design, his costumes all to craft a spellbinding world, that feels absolutely lived in as well. The appearance of the film is one of the most, if not  the most, influential elements of cinema from the 1980's. Now the film has been accused  of style over substance by some, which that  criticism in itself I  don't think is necessarily that damning to a film. The film I feel does  provide substance though in a way you don't  expect, and is even a trick of sorts. The main story of the policeman Deckard, played by Harrison Ford, hunting down rogue replicants may seem rather cold for the most part even within the romantic  element given the closing of the film. This seems an intentional juxtaposition against the far more emotional story of the lead replicant, played brilliantly by Rutger Hauer, who seems the villain but might just  be his story after all. The ideas exploring the humanity of the artificial life are fascinating and in the end rather powerful with a death  scene that ranks among the very best ever to grace the screen. I will admit  the first  time I watched the film I was perhaps taken aback by its style and approach, which is far more cerebral in nature. On subsequent re-watches  though I've come to appreciate the inner emotional substance within the visuals, which in the end may be as daring as its stunning surface.


Prometheus is another film I also might have benefited from having not seen the previous films in the series before I saw the film. I had no real connection to the Alien series therefore my expectations were fairly non-existent. Well again  I enjoyed this film even if there are abundant problems.  Many of the character actions make no sense, there are a few questionable performances, Guy Pearce as Mr. Burns (mostly for  the casting) and Tom Hardy's clone (just without the acting talent). The film though  worked for as just a rote sci-fi thriller with splendid visuals, which is elevated by a strong leading turn from Noomi Rapace and a memorable  supporting performance by Michael Fassbender. Ridley Scott's actual  direction is on point for the most part the problem with the film is the problematic script. It just  is  rife with plot  holes and  underwritten characters. The film though has  enough thrills to make  up for it, and I  found it paced fairly  well even though  it doesn't build  to the sort of stunning conclusion you'd expect from an Alien film.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Alien 3

Alien 3 is perhaps the most hated of all Alien sequels, though not due to its quality on a whole, but rather the way the film begins. The film opens with the death of the apparently much beloved Hicks and Newt, whose rescue had been a pivotal part of climax of the previous film. Even poor Bishop's is disconnected in a pitch black scene. That might seem a regression but it is actually a progression in terms of creating the last act of the trilogy. If the first film was defined by birth, the second by war, the third film is death. The film takes place on a bleak prison colony where all men are essentially there until they die, except for a few hapless guards, and a good natured doctor though with a troubled past. The dire place only goes grimmer with a new alien coming to life, and an accounted for face hugger. I find the film works within the context as the final act of Ripley's story, rather than as the a sequel to Aliens. It redefines itself back to a more claustrophobic thriller, though I would argue different than the original, in a way a more emotional story about accepting the end. The film is not flawless, the lame CGI would prevent it from being so, but in its assembly cut it does present an effective horror film with a powerful human story within it. This is well realized through Sigourney Weaver's incredible performance, and a memorable supporting cast including Charles Dance as the doctor, Charles S. Dutton as the spiritual leader of the prisoners, and Paul McGann as a prisoner with a particularly twisted mind. David Fincher's vision can actually be seen in the palatable atmosphere, even if there are a few times where it gets slightly muddled by obvious interference. It is not the cleanest closer to the trilogy, but I actually find it to be a fitting one in the end. I will admit though that I possibly benefited from watching this film before I ever saw Aliens, and in doing so I could only see what the film had to offer as itself.