Legend (1985) starring Tom Cruise, Mia Sara, Tim Curry, David Bennent, Alice Playten, Billy Barty, Cork Hubbert directed by Ridley Scott Movie Review

Legend (1985)   2/52/52/52/52/5

Tom Cruise as Jack in Legend (1985)

Cruise and Forest Gump

Before starting I have to mention that the version of "Legend" I am reviewing is the 1980s version and not Ridley Scott's "Director's Cut" and by the sounds of it the "Director's Cut" is a huge improvement on the original. Now for me there are 3 reasons why you would watch "Legend"; one you are a fan of fantasy, adventures, two you are a fan of Tom Cruise and finally you are a fan of 80s movies. Whilst I watched "Legend" back in the 80s my reason to rewatch it was mainly as a fan of 80s movies who doesn't mind a bit of Tom Cruise but not someone who is passionate about fantasy, adventure movies. What I watched was a movie which didn't flow, wasn't that well acted but was a movie of great vision with impressive sets and costumes which in the end made it a movie of style over substance. But then this was a movie dogged with problems from huge studio fires destroying sets to it being edited heavily after test screenings ended up with looks of bemusement.

As Princess Lili (Mia Sara - Timecop) frolics through the forest she meets her friend Jack (Tom Cruise - Risky Business) who has something special to show her, taking Lili to see two Unicorns at the stream. Unbeknown to them the Lord of Darkness (Tim Curry) plans to bring eternal darkness by destroying the last two unicorns and has his Goblins following Jack and Lili into the forest. When disaster strikes it is up to Jack and some forest friends including forest boy Gump (David Bennent) to prevent the Lord of Darkness from succeeding.

Tim Curry as Lord of Darkness in Legend (1985)

Let me tell you how "Legend" appears to me and that is Ridley Scott having a vision of an epic fantasy, adventure with amazing sets, costumes and brilliant make-up. And I reckon that maybe despite various issues from sets burning down to production being halted due to the death of Tom Cruise's father he made that movie. But when that movie was shown in test screenings the negative responses forced him to hack the movie down from 150 minutes to just 98 minutes. And in doing so the flow of the story is gone, there are huge chasms to negotiate as it jumps about and it becomes quite dull. And it also becomes confused as to who it is trying to entertain, too dark for children and too fairytale like for young adults.

What that also means is that "Legend" becomes a movie dominated by the look rather than the content with the impressive sets and costumes looking brilliant. You just have to say Tim Curry as the Lord of Darkness to have visions of this red beast with huge horns and add to that the layers of latex which goes to make the goblins and elves and the characters alone are stunning. The sets as well are stunning and considering that during production some of them were destroyed it is a miracle that the movie not only was completed but still looked as good as it does.

There is also another knock on effect to the heavily edited movie and that is with the exception of Tim Curry the rest of the cast fail to make any impression at all. Okay so Tom Cruise looking like Peter Pan's distant cousin wearing a shimmering tunic is something you don't forget but he never inhabits his character and I reckon all the bits of the movie where he builds the character of Jack must have been edited out. It is the same with Mia Sara as Lili who to be frank is only memorable because of a costume she wears which is slashed to the navel.

What this all boils down to for me is that whilst "Legend" is a movie which visually looks great it ends up a mess because of the editing job done on the 80s version. It makes it a movie not only of look over substance but a substance which is too dark for young children but too dull for teenagers and young adults.