For the better or worse, this review comes from someone who's completely ignorant about the "Highlander" series. I've never seen the three previous films, nor have I seen the television series. I understood that the main character is Connor MacLeod(again played by Christopher Lambert) and that he's joined by Duncan MacLeod(Adrian Paul, apparently from the television series). Almost instantly after the film started I was playing catch-up as almost none of the film's opening scenes offer any explanation, simply playing like a batch of random sequences - to me, at least. An evil immortal, played by Bruce Payne, must be stopped before he can take out the two MacLeods. Or, something along those lines. Breaking it down to the most basic level, you have a good vs. evil battle.
What amazes me most is that this film has not one, not two, but six credited editors - and not one of them could make this movie make any sense. One second they're in present day, the next second they're in the 1800s, the next second we're taken in a flashback someplace else. Every few minutes, throw in a swordfight or two. The acting is nothing terribly remarkable, as both of the lead characters give wooden performances, and the supporting cast isn't any help, either. The dialogue is unintentionally hilarious at times, and paired with the editing, sinks the film rapidly.
Apparently, this film had a theatrical running time of 87 minutes. On this DVD, we get a new 100 minute cut of the movie and even a 101 minute rough version of the film on disc two, with temp score and other things missing. Although I can't say that I liked either version that's included here, I found that the rough version was very slightly less confusing and a little bit better in terms of pacing, even if it is missing "final touches".
VIDEO: "Highlander: Endgame" is quite well presented in the film's original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. This "new" cut that is presented on the first of the two discs is anamorphic and often looks fantastic. The second disc of the set contains a rough cut of the film from what looks like an early print of the movie, and I will discuss the looks of that in a moment.
As for the actual cut of the movie, sharpness and detail are very, very good. The picture has a crisp, clean look to it that's often pleasing, with decent depth to the image. Occasional misty/smoky scenes tend to look a bit murky, but this isn't a major complaint. Print flaws are fairly minor - I spotted some minor speckles and the occasional little mark during the running time, but these flaws were rare. Colors seemed natural and clear, although some sequences had a more subdued look.
The rough version included on disc two is just that - a rough edit of the movie in basic form. It is not anamorphic and has a noticably softer look that at times borders on a bit hazy. It goes back and forth between full-frame and 2.35:1, and for the majority of the running time, the time-code is at the bottom of the screen.
SOUND: The Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation for the main extended cut of the film is fairly involving, but doesn't quite go all-out to provide a thrilling experience for the viewer. The occasional surround effect for me provided welcome distraction from the nonsense that paraded before me on-screen, but unfortunately, these instances were a little too few and far between for my liking. Combine that with a score that's often hilariously cheesy, and you end up with an audio experience that doesn't make the film any more engaging. Dialogue generally seemed clear, although occasionally, lines seemed unnatural sounding.
The "rough cut" version of the film is presented in Dolby 2.0, and contains a temporary score. It doesn't sound nearly as smooth as the final cut, with audio quality not as smooth and dialogue sounding somewhat rough at times. Still, it's listenable.
Commentary: This is a commentary from Producers Peter Davis and William Panzer as well as Co-Exec Producer H Daniel Gross and editor Robert Ferretti. Strangely, first-time director Doug Aarniokoski isn't included in the proceedings. But, the participants who are included to a decent job of explaining the production. They generally take the viewer through what it took to build the 15 million dollar production, discussing what it was like to go to all of the locations that were involved in the making of the film, as well as talking about working with the actors and some of the "Highlander" story elements. It's not a fantastic commentary, or even a very good one, but I certainly found it a better experience than sitting through the movie itself and listening to some of the details of the production and locations sometimes proved enjoyable to listen to.
There Can Be Only One: An interactive question and answer game.
Visual Effects: A Historical Progression: Two of the editors and one of the visual effects supervisors take us through this documentary about the film's (in my opinion, rather limited) visual effects. Still, I found this documentary interesting as it takes us through the the progression of the visual effects, from the original footage to the rough visual effects towards the final version. This documentary lasts about 36 minutes and I actually found it quite interesting and informative.
Deleted Scenes: 3 additional deleted sequences, which look to have been taken from a rough version similar to the one included on disc two. These scenes are rather short and don't add much, although a jousting sequence on motorcycles is somewhat entertaining to watch.
Rough Version: An introduction on disc two states that there are "Countless cuts before the final cut. This is one of them." That reminded me of the ad line for the "Mystery Science Theater 3000" movie - "Every year Hollywood makes hundreds of movies. This is one of them." In fact, MST3K could have had a wonderful time with this film. Anyways, an introduction tells us that this was a cut taken off of an AVID workstation and includes a temporary score, incomplete visual effects, no color correction, and differences in story. It runs 101 minutes and some of it actually works better, in my humble opinion, than the other cut of the movie included.
Featurette: Located on disc two, this is quite a bit more than a featurette. Running at a few minutes less than an hour, this takes the viewer through nearly every element of the process of making this sequel. Although I disagree with the statement made by some during this featurette that non-fans will be able to enjoy and understand this picture, I found the behind-the-scenes footage to definitely be interesting to watch. Between these segements, there are on-set interviews with many of those involved in the picutre, from the actors to the producers to the director. The first piece of this documentary is a little bit boring as it goes over the story a bit much, but as it goes on, there's more interesting information provided on topics such as the fighting style apparent in the film. Worth a watch and fans will likely find it enjoyable.
Also: DVD-ROM script-to-screen feature, character timeline, additional game, "sneak peek" trailers.
Positive: Well, Disney has put together a great 2 DVD set. It's really great to see them provide this many extras as well as good audio/video quality. The choice of adding the rough cut on the second disc is particularly interesting to see the basic version of the film, before final touches were made. The other side of the thought process though is that neither version of the film did I find that entertaining.
Negative: It's too bad that such a wonderful effort was put into the DVD for a film that's not very good. Those who found the film entertaining will be thrilled with this 2 DVD set, but personally, I don't think I can recommend this to anyone else. As someone who doesn't know anything about "Highlander", I honestly had a hard time understanding what was going on, and what I did understand didn't really interest or engage me. A word to Disney though - continue this kind of effort, for a better film hopefully, next time.
The Film 1/2 out of ****
(DVD Grades Are For The "Extended" Cut - Not "Rough")
Video 88/B = (352/400 possible points)
Audio: 89/B+ = (356/400 possible points)
Extras: 94/A = (282/300 possible points)
Menus: 89/A- = (178/200 possible points)
Value: 85/B = (255/300 possible points)
FILM GRADE: 1/2 out of ****
FILM GRADE: * out of ****(Rough)
DVD GRADE: B