Let’s Get Some Perspective Here

Lately there have been a few flare ups on the blog, on Twitter and elsewhere having to do with my love of the prequels. I was originally considering going with yet another rant about how much I honestly love them (I’m listening to the Episode III soundtrack right now, actually).

Before wading back into the “debate,” it struck me to take a different tack this time.

Whatever Do You Mean, k?

I mean that I’m going to put the ridiculous assertions to the test by measuring, one day at a time, the much–maligned prequels against films that really and truly are terrible. If for no other reason than to give some perspective on what I think is a ridiculous claim to assail them on purported quality. There are different aspects to this, and I will pick on each one.

Today I will go with a personal favorite: inconsistency.

Reinventing the Wheel

Connor MacLeod of the Clan..Wait, What? ZEIST? What the Hell is a Zeist?

Have you ever seen Highlander II: The Quickening? If yes, try to guess where I’m going with this. If no, the price of continuing on here is to rent and endure that piece of offal.

See, Highlander was a low-budget cult hit featuring the music of Queen, a completely awesome villain named Kurgan brought to life by Clancy “I’ll see anything with him in it now” Brown, Sean Connery still trying to find his post-Bond identity, Christopher Lambert and a plot involving…IMMORTALS WITH SWORDS KICKING ASS.

Highlander was all sorts of awesomesauce. It has a befuddling 67% on Rotten Tomatoes, barely approaching Revenge of the Sith’s 80% (see what I did there?). Granted, The Phantom Menace has 57% and Attack of the Clones has 67%, but I love all four of them.

Highlander II, however,was so bad that I don’t want to believe it exists. It recasts these mysterious immortals as aliens from the planet Zeist, ignores Kurgan and has some horse crap about environmentalism worked into it. It is beyond atrocious.

In my opinion.

But What Else?

What else do you need? For all the little hiccups you might have with the prequels being “consistent” with the original trilogy, one or two require some creative allowance, but they’re not unforgivable sins.

Highlander II, however, completely wrecks any attempts at consistency. In the first film, Connor MacLeod asks Ramirez what makes them immortals. Ramirez wistfully explains no one knows why. He muses that to ask such questions is like asking if “the stars are merely pin pricks in the curtain of night.” In the second film, they’re aliens from another planet, fully aware of what they are.

It also features one of the worst villains of all time.

Here’s the Catch

But I remember a guy in one of my film analysis classes who wrote a paper about the Highlander series and he loved Highlander II. It was the cornerstone of his paper! I remember thinking he was out of his mind and that the professor should flunk him on principle.

I have no idea what he got on the paper, but I can say that I look back now on my disdain for him and feel shame. He turned to me for support at one point and I left him high and dry. He didn’t deserve that.

Why?

Because even if I could never agree with him, he had his reasons for liking the film. More power to him.

Doors Week: The Best Purchase

After last night’s musings on the first Doors album that ever I bought (which incidentally is now in Hawk’s possession), I’m going to relate a quick story about the best Doors purchase ever I made.

See, Mike and I bonded initially over a very simple question about shared Doors fandom, and the sharing of No One Here Gets Out Alive, the de rigueur autobiography for any Morrison initiate. The one that, in retrospect, is the most historically inaccurate.

Like Oliver Stone’s 1991 movie, it’s chock full of myth-making, the type that young fans subscribe to in the effort to understand the enigma of young, famous death. But when you’re a kid and you’re looking for idols, it’s a fun one to read.

The truth of that biography is as muddled and inaccurate as Stone’s movie as well (he cribbed a great deal of it, unattributed, from that book and instead claimed only that Densmore’s autobiography Riders on the Storm was the source, but there are substantial pieces of The Myth that are not in Densmore’s book), but that’s not the story I tell today.

No, today, in honor of the fact that I’m hanging out with Hawk as I write this, I’m writing about one of the funnier moments in our friendship.

During high school, at some point in Sophomore year I think*, Phantasmagoria (an old record store I’ve mentioned before that, according to the Web, is now home to the Montgomery County Gilchrist Center for Cultural Diversity) had gotten a copy of Morrison Hotel, one of the six best full–length studio albums that the Doors ever released.

*I am pretty convinced it was early Sophomore year, in the fall, and it was either mostly cloudy or partly sunny; Mike thinks that’s accurate after I asked him if that’s what he remembers.

Being in high school and being competitive, the race was on to see which of us could get to Phantasmagoria first to win what The Kurgan might call…The Prize.

I remember racing out of school and virtually busting a lung to get there first. I was nervous energy and hopeful. Remember kids, this is in the days when getting an album was an accomplishment. There was no file sharing and no instant burning to CD. You either owned the album or waited the long time for the person to set aside time to listen to it and dub it from a synchronous tape deck.

In short, owning the album was everything.

And I got there, and it was there, and I bought it. As I walked out, as if scripted from a movie, Mike was across the street and I held the album aloft to say to him, Behold I have Won!

In retrospect, I was an ass, because Mike had his heart set on it and here I was, supposedly his best friend, dashing to the store to beat him to the purchase. I’m not even sure I was motivated so much by the music as I was by the chance at victory. I’d like to think that over time, I learned not to be so hung up on winning and losing and materialism.

However, in true BFF fashion, we sat down and ate at Roy Roger’s afterward and shared notes about the album.

But for that day and for that glorious moment, Morrison Hotel was mine all mine and I enjoyed the Hell out of it. It’s chock full of wonderful tracks and was the moment where the band very obviously finally found its real niche of Blues sound. LA Woman was very much the natural next step, and you can hear it start to be born in Morrison Hotel.

But every time I put it on and hear the first strains of Roadhouse Blues and I think of a nice day so long ago when I got the prize first.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s story…when I take Oliver Stone to task for his film. Someone finally has to do it, and the hammer must finally fall.