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Highlander II: The Quickening (Formerly know as) – I wait 21 years to see a notoriously awful movie and the most notable thing about it, THE QUICKENING, is fracking gone.  It’s a travesty that one of the greatest subtitles ever attached to a movie has been quietly discarded.  Yes, Highlander II no longer carries that glorious ‘The Quickening’ after its II and all mentions of it, whatever the Hell it was, have been scrubbed and dubbed away from the film.  The tarnished, campy reputation of this first Highlander sequel apparently rubbed a few too many producers wrong.  The term ‘The Quickening’ long ago became a well worn joke among movie nerds.  Right up there with ‘Electric Boogaloo’ as a go to put down jab for shitty sequels.  ‘Coming Soon!!!  Battleship II: The Quickening!!!’  So because of this well deserved slight, Quickening’s makers set out to right what they perceived as an unjust wrong.  In the 20+ years since its initial release Highlander II has gone through numerous re-edits for home video in an attempt to pull its reputation out of the muck.  But no amount of re-editing, rejiggering, re-sequencing  dialogue alteration or special effects updates can fix a movie so hopelessly fucked up.  Hitler might as well come back from Hell and make the argument that he wasn’t all that bad a guy.

The Highlander II that exist now is 110 excruciating minutes long, 20 minutes longer than an original 90 minute run time which sounds much more merciful.  It’s dreary and depressing to look at as it shamelessly apes Blade Runner minus the style.  It’s a flagrantly hopeless thing to watch and with the exception of Sean Connery’s jacket there’s not a speck of color in the movie.  The only way to describe the color scheme would be ash on ash on top of more ash, all poorly lit.   Despite all the effort to make it otherwise, it’s still utterly senseless and confusing.  The producers thought that by removing the notion of the Highlanders as aliens, which was profoundly dumb, and making them instead from the distant past, also profoundly dumb, would suddenly fix everything.  It doesn’t fix anything and only creates more story which is profoundly dumb.  What distant past in Earth’s history had machine guns and televisions that can see into the future?  Is there a lost chapter in Egyptian history I need to read about?  Did I mention the hoverboard riding bird men?  I can only imagine what the 90 minute version of this movie, with full on Quickening action, plays like.  What was the Quickening?  Will I never know?  I’m not watching this again to find out.  The only real way to fix a movie as misguided and stupid as Highlander II is to burn it from existence.  There really should only have been only one.


Domino – With the passing of Tony Scott the world lost a great director.  I’m sure plenty of people wrote that or something like it out of respect for the recently deceased but it’s far from true.  Tony Scott was rarely a great director.  He was a purveyor of flashy trash, high calorie junk cinema.  He never compossed a shot without a sunrise/sunset effect and generally was a well funded hack whose pictures more often than not made money.  He did have one great movie (True Romance) a few fun ones (Crimson Tide, Taking of Phelam 1,2,3), a lot of filler (Deja Vu, Unstoppable) and no small amount of outright crap (Days of Thunder, Beverly Hills Cop II, The Fan).  Probably the most divisive movie Scott ever made was 2005’s Domino, sort of based on the true story of human train wreck Domino Harvey.

The daughter of actor Lawrence Harvey (Manchurian Candidate), Domino (Keira Knightly) forsook a life of privilege to become a low rent bounty hunter.  The movie that Scott loosely builds around her life could have most likely been a good piece of pulp action nonsense, maybe a bullet ridden black comedy or even serious drama if the aim had been there.  Harvey’s life sounds like a grim series of spectacle and failure and she died of a drug overdose at the age of 36 right before the movie was released.  But what Domino is mostly about is Scott going nuts in the editing bay, working like a coked up bastard trying to give the audience a migraine with his movie.  Take an average flick and throw it a blender, then put strobe lights all around the blender, then film that, then take that film and project it on a screen as you drop acid while riding a rocket.  And then you ride the rocket straight into a giant blender surrounded by strobe lights.  That’s what Domino is like to watch.  Every scene of it is cranked up, over lit, over edited, over kinetic, over acid washed mayhem for the brain.  If you have epilepsy don’t watch it and if you don’t have epilepsy you probably will when it’s over.  Character still manages to peek through and the story can be followed, but it all feels distant and inconsequential next to the editorial tornado going on in front of us.  Chaos or no the movie loses points for shamelessly copying the climax of Scott’s own previous best effort, True Romance.  Some felt inclined to give Scott credit for pushing the editorial envelope, but why push it so far your movie becomes exhausting visual mush?


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