Remakes, reboots, and re-anything are plentiful in the movie business nowadays and the Highlander franchise has been due to get a cinematic face-lift, so to speak, since 2008. Fast Five director Justin Lin has been attached for well over a year, but seemingly little progress has been made on the project.
Now comes news that Summit Entertainment is recruiting Melissa Rosenberg (The Twilight Saga) to give her spin on the mystical tale of Scottish immortals whose “There can be only one” philosophy simply would not gel with the idea of a reboot. Welcome to Hollywood folks.
The original Highlander hit theaters in 1986 and wove a fantastical web about a 16th Century Scotsman named Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert), a semi-immortal being who learns that he must do battle against other members of his race who desire the incredible power granted to the last one of their kind. It was a cult hit that spawned several sequels (most of which are considered sub-par by fans), as well as a live-action and animated television series.
Like most other franchises that kicked off during the 80s, the Highlander series had its heyday and has since settled into the realm of nostalgia, at least for most cinemaphiles. But as last year’s Karate Kid proved, there’s money to be made in revisiting a title that’s more than two decades old now – and in that remake’s defense, it also demonstrated that the results aren’t always so terrible as one might fear.
Obviously the bigger concern right now is not so much who’s in the dirctor’s chair, but that Rosenberg will be the writing talent reworking MacLeod’s tale of bloodshed and violence. There are, of course, only slight parallels between Twilight and Highlander – since both deal with an, essentially, immortal being who romances a regular human; however, there’s room enough to be concerned for fans who aren’t already decrying the idea of the remake/reboot as blasphemy.
In Rosenberg’s defense, she is restrained by Stephenie Meyer’s source material and has primarily stuck to translating it onscreen with near slavish loyalty. Love ’em or hate ’em, the Twilight franchise does mix character drama with action and F/X, which are all key components of Highlander. Jokes about MacLeod sparkling in the sun write themselves, but as Heat Vision has pointed out, Rosenberg was adept at mixing dark violence with personal relationships in her pre-Twilight days, when she worked as a writer and executive producer on Showtime’s Dexter.
On the other hand, Rosenberg’s writing resume includes stints on The O.C., Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman, Ally McBeal, and Step Up, so it’d be a stretch to say she’s exceptionally well versed in the bloody battle genre.
Expect development on the Highlander remake to start moving faster, now that Summit has recruited a higher-profile screenwriter like Rosenberg to take a stab at the script. Depending on how well her draft is received, the project could end up reaching theaters by 2012 – just in time for the apocalypse, right?
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