Highlander came out on 4K UHD before Christmas but my copy was delayed by the holidays. It only just arrived, but it was worth the wait.
The light of the opening wrestling match never looked so colorful. You can see the bright red bell in rusty detail. There are good shadows on Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) in the stands and down in the parking garage.
The highlands of Scotland shine in bright outdoor landscapes with dark mud on the battlefield. One particular magic hour shot is devastating and the Kurgan (Clancy Brown)’s armor features exquisite detail.
The nights in modern day (well, ‘80s) New York are slick and gritty too. Running and fighting through smoke filled industrial yards makes quite the setting for The Gathering. Back alley sword fights show the immortals in silhouette like an Errol Flynn movie.
Ramirez (Sean Connery)’s costume is a bright red, and his fight against the Kurgan in the stone mill captures the grit of stone at night.
The quickenings give off quite a 4K light show and the finale at Silvercup glows in the dark too.
There is some grainy old footage from 1986. They can’t restore everything. Some of Russell Mulcahy’s most ambitious transitions don’t quite make the jump to 4K. When the Scotland battlefield becomes a modern day eye, it looks a little video-y, but everything else looks great.
The 5.1 sound mix must be newer for the home video releases but it still sounds immersive. Connery’s prologue echoes around the room. The Queen soundtrack rocks every speaker. Dropped swords clank in the rears and quickening sounds surround.
New bonus features have creator Gregory Widen along with Lambert, Brown, Mulcahy and many below the line artists.
The soundtrack gets a 14 minute feature. There are obviously the Queen tracks to discuss but also interesting bits on Michael Kamen’s score overpowering the sound effects.
Still photographer David James speaks for 13 minutes about taking stills on the set. So he has a unique appreciation for the visual highlights of Highlander, and impressions of the cast. Even for stills, the actors acted for James. There’s also a funny story about getting noise complaints from miles away when shooting Queen.
Brown talks for another 14 minutes. There’s a little overlap with his soundbites used in the main documentary, but he elaborates and touches on other aspects. His ideas for the Kurgan throughout history are solid. They should’ve done it.
The two previous commentary tracks, both with Mulchay and one joined by Gregory Widen and Bill Panzer, are also included. The one one is from Jonathan Melville, author of the recent making of Highlander book. He has a lot of material from the original extended prologue and notes differences between the film and Widen’s first draft. Most interestingly, Widen set the modern day parts in Washington, D.C. and included D.C. landmarks.
Melville reads quotes from his interviews and details deleted historical scenes that were filmed but not included on DVDs.