Classic Review: Legend (1985)

Certificate: PG

Director: Ridley Scott

Screenwriter: William Hjortsberg

Starring: Tom Cruise, Mia Sara, Tim Curry

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure

Runtime: 94 Minutes

Language: English

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

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A demon who seeks to create eternal night by destroying the last of the unicorns and marrying a fairy Princess is opposed by the forest boy Jack (Tom Cruise) and his elven allies in this magical fantasy. – From IMDB

You know when you have a sudden urge to rewatch a film you watched all the time as a child, and haven’t seen in about twenty years.  And then you watch said film and it isn’t quite as hood as you remember it being, yeah, that was my experience watching this film for the first time since I was about ten years old (I’m 31 now FYI.)

One thing you cannot deny about Legend is that it really leans into it’s aesthetic with it’s whole heart.  It is simply stunning to look at, despite it being 36 years old.  It is purposely overexposed most of the time, and verges on soft focus in order to really bring to life the ethereal, whimsical feeling of the whole film.  Scott said he wanted to make it feel like a fairy tale, and he certainly achieved that.  The costumes and make-up are equally as fantastic, and even though it lost out on it’s Oscar to ‘The Fly’ for Best Make-Up, this film is still no slouch with those practical effects.  The goblins are terrifying to look at.  As it Tim Curry’s Darkness. 

In actual fact, watching this again as an adult, I do not know how much younger me was not permanently scarred by this film.  It made it on to Watch Mojo’s list of the top 10 scariest Fantasy Movies, and they are not wrong.  The whole thing is very unnerving.  Especially once we find ourselves in the lair of Darkness.  It’s a lot creepier and more unsettling than I remember It being as a child.

The writing is definitely dated, with a lot of the lines being so unbelievably cheesy that I was rolling my eyes.  And here we see a much less experienced Tom Cruise deliver them in an almost wooden and monotone way.  The film went through developmental and editing hell, resulting in their being at least four different versions of the film.  The US theatrical release which I watched suffers from some particularly jarring editing.  The films narrative jumps around far too much, the pacing, particularly in the middle in too slow, and the ending far too rushed.  There is a director cut out there that I will hunt down one day, but for now, this is one childhood favourite that doesn’t quite stand up to the amazing memory I had of it.

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