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C'mon Hollywood: There can be only one Highlander...right?

09.18.2012

Directed by Russell Mulcahy (RICOCHET), the original HIGHLANDER, starring Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery, and Clancy Brown is the story of a group of immortal warriors all battling to kill each other in order to attain “the prize,” which is mortality.  It was a staple of my childhood, having watched it countless times and revering it with the highest of esteem.  So, while scanning through Netflix a few nights ago, I was elated to see my beloved HIGHLANDER sitting there.

I hit play and soaked in HIGHLANDER (for the first time in HD, nonetheless) and I had a blast with it.  It still held up for the most part, due largely to the clout of Connery, Clancy Brown’s craziness, and Mulcahy’s lively and frenetic visual punch, especially good for 1986.  There were plenty of problems, both in acting and story, but ultimately they were downplayed by the energetic fun, violent action, and cheesy rock soundtrack (by Queen).  It stands as a convincing slice of fantasy entertainment, which is what most of us look for in a film like that. 

Then, I made the mistake of turning on HIGHLANDER 2: THE QUICKENING.  Lambert, Connery, and director Mulcahy are all back and, holy shit, is it an example of how to ratf*ck a franchise.  I’d seen it once as a teenager and couldn’t make sense of it then.  It’s such a massive pile of celluloid crap that baffles me to no end.  How can the same key players screw up a sequel this bad (okay, don’t answer that.  We all know it’s possible)?  So, I did a little digging, and took a look at the trailers for the rest of the sequels, none of which I’d ever had the desire to see.  Each trailer went from bad to worse and I thanked the powers that be for salvaging those six hours of my life. 

It got me thinking; with the recent announcement that a HIGHLANDER remake was in the works, I had to ask myself it was really such a bad thing?  The first film works beautifully, cheesy and silly as it is, but is it really an untouchable classic? I think that it’s the only one worth a repeat viewing for sure, but is it a story that could never be retold without the seas turning blood red and birds falling from the sky?   For the first time, I actually feel like a reboot would be okay.

I mean, let’s face it, the sequels are garbage (and no, I don’t need to see all of them to know this.  Hit up rotten tomatoes for the full story there) with the first film just making the cut.  It was a failure at the box office, but found wings on video as a cult classic.  But does that make it sacrosanct?  I don’t think so.  In fact, I think this is exactly the kind of film that should be remade, if any.  Universally, I despise remakes, because they’re usually of successful films, rather than the lesser-known flicks that deserve a new look (and I know you’ll crucify me on that, since the resounding thought on the THE EVIL DEAD remake is sufficiently against it.  But, I digress.) 

When the announcement was made that Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 WEEKS LATER) would be helming the remake with Ryan Reynolds in the lead, the fans erupted in disdain.  Reynolds, who has been hot and cold at the box office (mostly cold) is seen as too much of a hammy actor who doesn’t look like Christopher Lambert, so there’s no way he could pull it off.  However, it seems to me that Lambert is in the same boat, being a hammy actor himself.  Many argued that the only way a HIGHLANDER remake could work is if Thomas Jane took the lead, seeing as he bears a striking resemblance to Lambert and typically takes on tough-guy roles.  I can’t discount either of those, or the fact that Jane would probably do a bang up job, but I think Reynolds could do that just the same.  Why?  Well, the only tolerable scene in X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE, that’s why…

Reynolds has struggled to find sure footing as an action star, but it’s not like he hasn’t given it the old college try. SMOKIN’ ACES was cool, but forgotten; GREEN LANTERN was a bust, but SAFE HOUSE was a decent hit and the upcoming R.I.P.D. could be promising, so there’s hope for the guy who has slept with Scarlet Johansson and Blake Lively yet.  The bastard.   

The inevitable argument will be to just “leave HIGHLANDER alone,” but I just don’t think it’s so great that new life couldn’t be breathed into the story.  I see a mountain of potential in rebooting HIGHLANDER, because if they make it click and it rocks the house, it accomplishes two things; one, we get a kick ass film and two, it reestablishes a series that has long been dead and forgotten, with the exception of those who find it on Netflix late at night.  It’s a really cool concept that is ripe for exploration and I truly hope the filmmakers get the pulse of it and deliver something worthy.  There can be only one original, but I think there’s room to receive one more quickening.

Extra Tidbit: What lesser-known property do you think would be a good candidate to be remade?
Source: JoBlo.com

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