Review by Gordon Justesen
Stars: Tom Cruise, Mia
Sara, Tim Curry, David Bennet, Alice Playten, Billy Barty, Cork Hubbert
Director: Ridley Scott
Audio: Dolby Surround (Theatrical), Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, Dolby Surround (Director’s Cut)
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Features: See Review
Length: 90 Minutes (Theatrical), 114 Minutes (Director’s Cut)
Release Date: May 21, 2002
“What is light without dark?”
Film *** (Both Versions)
Up until the recent Lord of the Rings, it seemed as
if the fantasy movie genre had been lost for good, that is if you forget to
include the disastrous Dungeons and Dragons a couple of years back. It
was during the mid 80s that Hollywood made and endless array of adventure movies
such as Krull, Willow, and The Princess Bride. Films of this type
were set in either medieval times or generic mythical underworlds. Ridley
Scott’s Legend is definitely a movie that takes place in the latter.
This is a pure guilty pleasure as far as I can see, filled left and right with
endless fantasy jargon about goblins and unicorns and ultimate darkness. It
sounds as if I’m panning the film in that regard, but it’s director
Scott’s sharp and atmospheric look of the film that saves it from being
anything of a mess.
The movie tells of a long, long time ago, when the earth
was ruled by no less than that of the unicorns and the endless battle between
light and darkness. Earth itself is a sylvan place, filled with flowers and
little glades and grassy clearings - but also with dread swamps and moldy fens.
Young lovers can kiss for an afternoon in a bath of sunshine, but fearsome
storms come up suddenly and lash the land with their fury. A race of evil little
druids lives in the woods, and they spread mischief wherever they venture. Their
favorite pastime is frightening the unicorns.
In caverns far beneath the earth, a brutal prince named
simply Darkness (Tim Curry) plots to take over the universe by way of blotting
the sun and rule forever with the entire world engulfed in absolute gloom. Enter
Princess Lili (Mia Sara), the heiress to the throne who has more in her heart
for the land and the creatures than life in the kingdom. The man of her dreams
is the heroic Jack (Tom Cruise), a defender of the earth’s creatures who vows
to put an end to the powers of darkness and return the world back to normal.
Unexpectedly, however, Lili is suddenly lured into a supernatural underworld
controlled by Darkness, and is trapped in the prince’s lairs, and Jack vows to
For Tom Cruise, this was the last film he did before his
breakout picture Top Gun, which coincidentally was directed by Ridley’s
brother, Tony Scott. Watching the film, you simply can’t believe that you’re
watching one of today’s biggest movie stars performing at such a young age.
True to say that this will never go down as one of Cruise’s strongest
performances, but with a film of this scale and scope, a tremendous acting job
isn’t much required from him, or anyone for that matter. It’s Tim Curry,
however, who steals the show with his memorable performance as Darkness. Curry,
who’s long been known for his countless villainous portrayals is completely
unrecognizable thanks to make up artist Rob Bottin’s jaw dropping work. I
think when looking at the character of Darkness how painful and excruciating it
must have been for Curry to sit in the chair and have make up applied on,
because it certainly looks as if it took long to get it all on. In the history
of make up effects, Legend is nothing short of a breakthrough.
This is simply a well put together adventure, filled with
endless beauty and atmosphere. Credit must go in Ridley Scott’s direction,
because he is simply a master at bringing larger than life canvases to the
screen. It’s not at the level of his other films Alien and Blade
Runner, but it’s satisfactory enough.
Director’s Cut ****
I’m sure that many fans
of this film are anticipating this disc simply because, as far as I can tell, it
will finally be available in widescreen. This 2 Disc Ultimate Edition offers
both the original 90 minute cut of the film, as well as the new director’s
cut, with 24 minutes of restored footage seen internationally, but not in the
states. Of the two versions, it’s the director’s cut version that fares much
better in comparison in terms of video quality. This release was delayed
numerous times, but it does look as though Universal took their time in ensuring
that fans of the movie would get their money’s worth in terms of picture
perfect quality. The director’s cut is virtually flawless, with no image flaws
whatsoever. The theatrical version, while a mostly strong presentation, does
encounter a few instances of grain and softness about midway through the movie.
Director’s Cut ****
Again, with the new
Director’s Cut version of the movie, Universal took their time in restoring
this 1985 adventure with a furious sound that would rival that of a transfer of
a fairly recent movie. Fired up with a 5.1 audio mix, the sound is consistently
alive and all around with a perfected natural sense of the surroundings of the
film. The director’s cut contains a new never before heard musical score by
Jerry Goldsmith, whose score was replaced in the theatrical version by the
synthesized sounds of Tangerine Dream. While the Director’s Cut soars in this
department, the theatrical version suffers in comparison based solely on the
fact that only a 2.0 channel mix is offered, while the Director’s Cut contains
both a 5.1 Digital mix and a DTS 5.1 channel as well.
resorted to an Ultimate Edition double disc in quite some time, and Legend
certainly deserves title, because it’s one of the most superbly loaded discs
the studio has ever put out. In addition to including the extended director’s
cut, which is an extra bonus for sure, the 2 disc set includes a feature length
commentary by Ridley Scott, who continues his knack for informative commentary
following Gladiator and Hannibal.
Disc 2 contains much more
goodies, including a lengthy documentary titled “Creating a Myth”, which
includes interviews with cast and crew members who reflect on the making of the
film. Those expecting an interview with Mr. Cruise will sorely be deprived, as
he is nowhere to be seen in this area. Also included is an isolated score by
Tangerine Dream, a gallery of deleted scenes, Bryan Ferry’s music video for
the song “Is Your Love Strong Enough?”, photo galleries, 2 theatrical
trailers, 4 TV spots, and a DVD-Rom feature.