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Films: Dogma (1999), Highlander (1986)

Anthony G Williams

Greybeard
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Apr 18, 2007
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I was pointed towards Dogma in an SFF discussion forum, so I gave it a spin recently. The plot of this comic fantasy is novel: two fallen angels (Ben Affleck and Matt Damon), living as humans in present-day USA after having been banished by God long ago, conceive a plan to get back to Paradise. The problems are that if they succeeded this would prove that God is fallible, and thus cause the end of all creation; and that God, who could stop them easily enough, has gone missing while in disguise, somewhere on Earth. To help prevent disaster, God's spokesman (Alan Rickman) recruits a woman (Linda Fiorentino) who, unknown to herself, is the last scion of the family of Jesus of Nazareth. She is tasked with stopping the angels, with the aid of an assortment of dubious characters.

This is the excuse for a lot of rather heavy-handed and sometimes crude humour, mostly at the expense of religion in general and the Roman Catholic Church in particular - I gather that it prompted protests from Catholics in the usual Pavlovian manner. Subtle it ain't, but it fires enough comic shots for a number of them to score hits. All in all, worth watching if you are in the mood for some broad humour, unless you are religious and of a sensitive disposition.

I've been meaning to watch Highlander for years, but have only just got around to it. The story of the accidental immortal Connor MacLeod (played by Christopher Lambert) who spends centuries battling the Kurgan, another immortal warrior, must be well-known by now. Two plot threads run in parallel with the scenes flipping between them; one in the sixteenth century, when Connor first discovers he is immortal and is trained by fellow-immortal Ramirez (played by Sean Connery) and one in 1985 when the climactic battle takes place.

I have to say that I was rather dissatisfied. There are yawning plot holes, with no attempt at any explanation for what is going on and why. Lambert makes a broodingly impressive hero but the Kurgan is a cardboard cut-out villain and the rest of the cast (except Connery) are unmemorable. I found the background pop music jarringly inappropriate, and the whole film rather pretentious and overblown. It compares badly with some of the more recent superhero movies. I gather it has cult status and is highly regarded compared with the sequels, so I won't be wasting time on them…

(An extract from my SFF blog)
 

C Of K

Sunset colored eyes
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Jul 10, 2007
Messages
925
I liked Highlander. It had honest beginnings, a good concept, and was released at a time when the plot holes weren't so glaring that it couldn't be enjoyed. It fits in well with many cult classics that came out in the mid 80's.

There are yawning plot holes, with no attempt at any explanation for what is going on and why.
The sequels emphasize how the writers had no idea why any of it was going on. Where the original movie purposely neglected to answer the "why" of it all, the sequels often explored these areas. Doing so, the Highlander franchise dug a hole into obscurity. No one trusts it anymore, and rightly so. Where the movies are concerned, disenchanted fans will agree that ignorance is bliss.

Edit: Some of the non Queen stuff was quite nice


Though I will admit its not the most memorable stuff. The pop music had no trouble being memorable.
 
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Anthony G Williams

Greybeard
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Apr 18, 2007
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UK
Cough! That's Queen you're dissing there! ;)

May I suggest you don't bother with Flash Gordon then? :rolleyes:
I wasn't criticising the music as such (although I never was a Queen fan), merely its use in this film, which struck me as really bizarre for an heroic fantasy. I mean, could you imagine Lord of the Rings accompanied by pop music?
 

Vertigo

Mad Mountain Man
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I tend to agree with you regarding the music in Highlander. However it can work if done well - I thought the modern music in A Knight's Tale worked well, though I must admit when it started I was like "what the hell is this? We Will Rock You at a jousting tournament :eek:". But actually (I thought at least) it did work.
 

Metryq

Cave Painter
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Mar 30, 2011
Messages
935
I haven't seen any of the Highlander sequels, as I was advised to stay away from them. (Aliens?) I liked what I saw of the TV series, but thought it threw a monkey wrench into the key theme I saw in the first movie:

God and Satan (good and evil) were battling it out on Earth once again, which would explain why the immortals would not fight on holy ground. ("Good" wouldn't do it out of respect, while "Evil" wouldn't risk a home field advantage to God. All Ramirez said on the matter was that "It's tradition.") Because the warriors were "immortal," the battle could potentially last forever, although the "Gathering" suggests a set date for Armageddon.

The surprise "gift" to the winner was god-like omniscience, but with the limits of a normal lifespan. (The winner could also have children — finally.) All in all, it sounds like an action version of Jesus Christ — god-like powers in a mortal man. The next question, of course, is does another round of immortals come after the winner of the previous Gathering finally dies?
 

alchemist

Be pure. Be vigilant. Beware.
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Sep 22, 2010
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I gather it has cult status and is highly regarded compared with the sequels, so I won't be wasting time on them…
This would be a massive understatement. Not only did the sequels have the distinction of being execrable in their own right, they also managed to wreck the original film, for the reasons C of K mentioned.

For me, the original is a classic, notwithstanding that some of it feels dated.
 

J Riff

The Ants are my friends..
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Apr 11, 2010
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Sleeping in Lab
Pop music in movies is... wrong. Usually. What happened to soundtrack? It's a highly-specialized type of composition. The instant I hear Queen or anyone else blaring during a movie, esp. one set in the distant past, the whole thing drops a notch instantly. Are they just cheap, or trying to plug the band or what?
Same goes for plugs. In I am Legend, watching Will Smith go goo goo over Bob Marley and Shrek nearly made me walk out.
 
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