Legend is a 1985 movie directed by Ridley Scott who previously made The duelists (1977), Alien (1979), and Blade Runner (1982), what a way to start his career! The protagonists are the young Tom Cruise and Mia Sara, and the antagonist is the great Tim Curry who’s the perfect Lord of darkness! The music was composed by Jerry Goldsmith (by Tangerine Dream in the US version), and the special effects were by Rob Bottin who had just worked on the masterpiece John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982). All the ingredients for a great movie are there, but…
…Legend is not a great movie, unfortunately. Although there is little to criticize on the technical level and its visuals are spectacular, the film is boring, with a thin and predictable plot, and a fantasy world which results extremely limited. The story is the most classic of fairy tales: Princess Lili (Mia Sara) is in the woods with her friend Jack (Tom Cruise) and wants to touch one of the last two unicorns on Earth, thus allowing the thugs of Darkness (Tim Curry) to kill one of the two. So Lili and Jack begin an adventure to defeat the bad guy and save the world, and eventually they succeed.
Ok, there’s little else to say about the plot. But the movie’s problem is not (only) the plot, far from it! For a film that should be epic, we have the feeling that in the world of Lili there live a family in the forest, four creatures of the forest, Darkness and half a dozen of his henchmen, and that’s it. We never feel like witnessing an epic adventure where the whole world is at stake. And the fact that the rhythm is very slow doesn’t help us to feel an epicness that, for example, Peter Jackson managed to give to his Lord of the rings (2001-2003).
Then, the acting by Tom Cruise and Mia Sara is not great, to put it mildly. On the other hand, the creatures like Darkness, Meg (Robert Picardo, a well-known Star Trek actor) and Blix (Alice Playten) are fantastic, helped by a truly extraordinary special effects department. At the end of the day, that’s what Legend will be remembered for: a series of beautiful images, a lot of glitter and soap bubbles, colored plastic trees, and the deep voice of Tim Curry. I therefore recommend watching the movie more for its cult value than for anything else. Ciao!
PS: the good Oliver Harper made a very interesting and informative retrospective on Legend, you can see it here.