Legend (1985)

Dir: Ridley Scott, 1985


This review is of the director’s cut.

The eighties was a ripe time for sword and fantasy films. Whether it be Ladyhawke, Hawk the Slayer or The NeverEnding Story, the genre gained a rather large cult following, creating a fandom that still exists today.

Continuing the trend, Legend is a slightly more darker take with a fairytale overlay.

Ridley Scott is capable of producing some amazing work that is an excellent contribution to cinema.

Unfortunately, this isn’t one of them.

Starring a very young (and still wonky toothed) Tom Cruise, Legend features a rather drab and lacklustre performance by the pre-King of Hollywood.

But, the blame cannot be laid at Cruise’s feet. The screenplay, by William Hjortsberg, is incoherent, cheesy and dull.

Visually, it’s brilliant. With its dreamlike cinematography and expansive sets, Scott has given us a real live-action fairytale. But that is where the positives as a film, stop.

Celebrated special effects guru, Rob Bottin, applied his nothing less than masterful talent to the film, producing some awesome pieces of work that still astound in contemporary viewings.

The most impressive of all Bottin’s art is the make-up on an unrecognisable Tim Curry as the enemy, Darkness.

Standing at over seven foot, with fiery red skin, hoofs and three foot horns protruding from his head, Curry is the real star of the film and is one that everyone knows the film by. People forget that an up and coming Cruise is in it. Legend is all about the big-horned guy.

However, aside from the first few opening minutes, Curry is relegated to the last half an hour of the film, maybe even less. If Scott had employed the versatile actor throughout, then Legend would be less of a task watch.

Aside from the special effects and superb make-up, the film just isn’t very good. It’s all style and no substance.

Running at just under two hours, it’s certainly too long and the European theatrical version is an improvement with it standing at only ninety plus minutes. The European cut isn’t any better, just less of a chore to sit through.

On its release in America, it was cut down even further to just over eighty minutes and its score replaced with one by synth group, Tangerine Dream.

Scott has a tradition of making his films long and drawn out, with a slow pace. Often, this can work but the story is meant to be dreamy and drudges along, with little action to keep you interested.

Nothing feels original about Legend, when you take in all the other films that came out around that time. There was a freshness to The NeverEnding Story and Labyrinth. These films were effects laden, but didn’t trudge along and had enough in them to keep you entertained and your attention span from wandering.

The beautiful Mia Sara is cast as the princess but is reliant on her looks. As is shown in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Sara isn’t the most powerful of actresses and can achieve little more than Looking like an innocent and virginal waif.

Ultimately, Legend is a flawed movie with only Tim Curry’s performance to recommend it.

Stale and uneventful.


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