Highlander 3: The Final Dimension

In case you aren't familiar with the Highlander franchise here's what you need to know: it's about a bunch of men who are immortal unless their heads get cut off, and once their heads are cut off their essence turns into blue lightning which is then absorbed by the person that killed them. We know that the lightning is super powerful because it always shorts out nearby neon signs; it's unclear if these immortals live in a world that's freakishly full of neon signs or if they purposefully seek out neon-rich environments to hang out in for their own personal reasons. The catchphrase for the series is "there can be only one", because the last immortal standing is going to be rewarded with a giant prize. Unfortuantely, the prize was awarded at the end of the first movie, when a 400 year old Scot named Connor MacLeod beheaded the last of his rivals, thus providing a permanent end to the story... At least until the sequels fabricated some extra immortals out of nowhere. (The second installment imported more immortals from another planet, and this one imports a frozen immortal from the past by having some archaeologists accidentally unlock him from the time bubble that a wizard froze him in. I haven't seen the fourth one, but my guess is that they either pulled more immortals out of the gut of a particularly long lived whale, or else they were cloned in a lab.)

As you can tell from that list of traits, the Highlander franchise often exists in awkward no mans land between having a lot of cool potential and having a really half-assed execution. As I was watching this third one, which features a villain who wears a lot of goth-y attire and emphasizes all of his threats by licking his gross teeth, it occurred to me that the problem with this series is that all of it's immortals are similar to vampires but far less thought out. Like the immortals in the Highlander series, bloodsuckers also have to be careful how they present themselves to the world so people don't realize they aren't human, and they also have specific restrictions on how they can die - but vampires have far more specific details woven into the fabric of their narrative. It's clear, for example, how to make more vampires, so if your vampire hero killed it's vampire enemy at the end of the first movie you wouldn't have to create a magic time-bubble making wizard to explain how he'd have another foe later in the series.

Also, vampires have a lot more style. I suppose there are some vampire movies where they are stuck wearing lame clothes, but those are the exception to the rule, and even the least-Gothy vampire looks better than Connor MacLeod does here. There are several scenes where he's wandering around Scotland's bluffs practicing his sword work in white tennis shoes, dad jeans and unflattering high-necked sweaters. Normally that sort of detail would escape my notice, but here it stood out, because it was another glaring example of how this movie hadn't thought through it's little details. If they thought it was a good idea to have him dressed up like he was an uncool middle schooler's dad then they clearly hadn't put enough thought into how they were going to define him as a centuries old ultimate bad-ass. I'm not saying he needed leather pants, but he could have at least done some shopping in a store that has a leather pants section.

Ultimately, however, I think that the real problem with the mythology of the Highlander series is that it's limited to a small number of officially branded products, while vampires are in the public domain and thus are free to pop up in a lot of different places. That means that if you catch a Highlander movie that's as cheesy as this third one is then you are bound to get the message that the Highlander movies as a whole are pretty goofy, but if you caught a vampire movie that was this cheesy you wouldn't say that vampires are dumb, you'd say that movie was dumb. I think the real way for this franchise to get out of the hole it has dug itself into is to make a lot -and I mean a LOT - more of them, so that they can slowly and organically expand the universe and organically add more properties that flesh out it's rules and drop the weird bits that don't make any sense. Somebody call up that Wizard (or whale, or clone lab) and tell them to get busy finding more immortals that were in hiding when "There can be only one!" turned into "There is only one!"

Winner: The Cat

Highlander 3: The Final Dimension on IMDB