Highlander appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not a showpiece, the image held up well.
Always a challenging film, Highlander suffered from a mix of issues that no transfer can ever overcome. Nonetheless, this 30th Anniversary version managed to do the best it could with the source.
Overall, sharpness seemed positive. Occasional soft spots materialized – usually due to effects or photographic choices – but the majority of the flick seemed fairly well-defined.
No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects emerged, and I saw no signs of edge haloes. Grain felt natural, so I suspected no overuse of noise reduction, and print flaws remained absent.
Colors depended on location. The hues leaned toward blues and reds in “modern-day” New York but they felt gentler and more pastel in the Scotland flashbacks. The tones largely came across with appealing reproduction.
Blacks were fairly dark and dense, while shadows offered pretty good clarity. Again, nothing will ever make Highlander look great, but this Blu-ray fared pretty nicely.
As for the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it came with its own ups and downs. However, the soundfield didn’t become one of these, as it broadened horizons pretty well.
Most of the soundscape emphasized the forward channels, where the mix offered fairly solid stereo spread for music. Effects also came across as generally well-localized and they blended in a decent manner.
Surround usage tended toward support, though the back speakers kicked into higher gear at times. This side of the mix managed to add some zing to the proceedings.
Highlander lost points due to the lackluster quality of the audio, and that started with reedy speech. While the lines always remained intelligible, they rarely came across as natural, and the track suffered from a lot of iffy looping.
Some of those factors impacted effects too, as those elements didn’t always seem especially organic. For instance, crowd scenes used murmuring that tended not to match the settings well.
Effects also came with some distortion. Still, these components didn’t fare poorly, and they came with reasonable low-end.
Music worked best, as the score and songs boasted largely positive range and warmth. The mix’s drawbacks made this a “B-“ track.
How did the 2016 “30th Anniversary” Blu-ray compare to the prior release from 2010? Though I expected identical soundtracks, the 2016 disc offered a much better-integrated soundfield and superior audio quality.
Visuals also demonstrated obvious improvements, as the 2010 disc came with too much noise reduction and felt mushier and less natural. Across the board, the 2016 Blu-ray became a clear step up in quality.
As we head to extras, we open with an audio commentary from director Russell Mulcahy. He offers a running, screen-specific look at story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, music, editing and different cuts of the film, effects, photography, stunts and action, and related domains.
Along with two producers, Mulcahy participated in a prior commentary that appeared on laserdisc and DVD. It worked better than this one.
Mulcahy offers a generally informative but unexceptional chat. While his discussion merits a listen, it can drag at times and feels mediocre.
For more from the filmmaker, we get an Interview with Director Russell Mulcahy. It spans 23 minutes, two seconds.
Mulcahy discusses aspects of his career and parts of the Highlander production. Inevitable repetition from the commentary occurs but Mulcahy nonetheless adds new insights.
A circa 2016 Interview with Actor Christopher Lambert goes for 20 minutes, 35 seconds. He talks about what led him to the project and his experiences on the shoot in this reasonably informative reel.
The Making of Highlander lasts a whopping two hours, 37 seconds and provides info from story writer Gregory Widen, co-writer Peter Bellamy, director of photography Gerry Fisher, set decorator Allan Cameron, producer William N. Panzer, and actor Roxanne Hart
The documentary looks at influences and the movie’s roots/development, script, story and characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, photography, cast and performances, and overall production domains.
Designed as a handful of separate pieces, the documentary doesn’t flow in an A-to-Z manner. Nonetheless, we get a lot of good content across the chapters so this turns into an informative compilation.
We get an Archival Interview with Actor Christopher Lambert. It fills eight minutes, 54 seconds with his thoughts about his role and performance as well as other experiences during the shoot. Expect another moderately useful segment.
In addition to the film’s trailer, the disc finishes with five Deleted Scenes. These occupy a total of six minutes, 13 seconds.
As a title card at the start notes, these clips lack audio so the disc’s producers simply added music for their inclusion here.
That limits the usefulness of the scenes. The first simply displays more of the New York wrestling match, so it would feel superfluous anyway.
Two others offer more from the climactic battle. These fare better without audio but nonetheless don’t bring much to the table.
The two remaining scenes rely heavily on dialogue, so they become borderline useless here. Couldn’t the disc’s producers have added subtitles to transcribe the missing lines?
Highlander offers a fairly entertaining film. While not a classic, it certainly shows a lot of flair and creativity, and it works well as a whole. The Blu-ray brings generally good picture and audio along with a solid roster of bonus materials. The 30th anniversary Blu-ray tops the earlier version in all ways.
To rate this film, visit the prior review of HIGHLANDER