Illusion of Magic
Despite having a good film as his subject matter, author Jonathan Melville’s A Kind of Magic: Making the Original Highlander boasts little of the same intrigue found in his ground-breaking tome Seeking Perfection: The Unofficial Guide to Tremors. It’s one thing carrying the illusion of magic but quite another to leave the rabbit at home.
This classic tale about the immortal confrontation between Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) and the Kurgan (Clancy Brown) deserves better. Perhaps there wasn’t enough drama behind the scenes. As such, A Kind of Magic rarely felt like a peak around the curtain and more like a series of banal anecdotes, carelessly shuffled together. I’d argue that there's more spark in a Wikipedia article.
Although there are grains of interest, those pale in comparison to the encyclopedic undertaking behind Peter M. Bracke’s Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th.
Typically, the book focuses on key points in the film’s evolution, such as early script development. However, it does so with all the vitality of a dead nerve, and Melville denies the reader even a slight reason to care.
Ironically, the best material relates to Queen, namely how Brian May was inspired to compose “Who Wants to Live Forever.” Yet this happens so late in the book it’s like wading through a dense rainforest to get there. Pacing issues aside, Melville’s lively prose from Seeking Perfection has evaporated… to be replaced by uninspired quotations and stock management. You can almost hear him ticking the boxes as he navigates the various elements of production.
I give A Kind of Magic: Making the Original Highlander 1 out of 5 stars.
A poem to close:
For MacLeod, the globetrotting fighter,
The making of book could be brighter.
Many anecdotes mostly filler
About the immortal killer.
Melville’s previous book was a page turner.
Important stuff not left on the back burner.
A Kind of Magic seemed predictable and flat,
Passing events as the wandering cat.
Even a pebble on the water
Plays impatient journey shorter.
Jeopardy and the crunch
Details for added punch.
It should feel frantic
Collecting data from the on-set antic.
Although a first experience for many
I hardly cared a penny.
The writing felt rushed
All hopes ambushed.
A matter simply banal
Book me in for root canal.