Legend (1985)

legend poster 1985 movie
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 9/10

Tim Curry's Darkness, good visuals

Slow story that has hardly anything happen in it

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Legend

Studio: Legend Production Company/Embassy International Pictures

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  August 1985 (Venice Film Festival)/December 13, 1985 (U.K.)/April 18, 1986 (U.S.)

MPAA Rating:  PG

legend princess lily jack tom cruise mia sara

Oh yeah…let me turn on some of that Tom Cruise charm!

Jack (Tom Cruise) lives among the trees of the old forest.  He has love for the Princess Lily (Mia Sara), and she loves him too.  When Jack takes Lily to see the unicorns, Lily breaks the laws of the wilderness by daring to touch one of the magical creatures.  In its weakened state, the unicorn falls victim to the agents of Darkness (Tim Curry).  Darkness takes possession of the horn of the unicorn, and Jack and the spirits of the forest must restore the unicorn before the sunset to save their world and Lily.

Directed by Ridley Scott, Legend is a fantasy epic adventure.   The film was plagued by production problems and re-edits.  It was released in Europe in 1985 but didn’t make it to the United States until 1986.  It received an Academy Award nomination for make-up losing to The Fly (deservedly). The movie received mixed to negative reviews but has since found a cult following.

I saw Legend in the theater, and as a kid, I liked it.  It was big, visual, and felt a bit more adult than some of the kid-based fantasies at the time.  I can enjoy Legend now with nostalgia, but the movie is rather unbalanced.

legend kid gump david bennent

This Gump kid freaked me out more than Darkness

Scott allegedly wanted a Disney-esque feel to the film and gave a very fairy tale feel to the film.  During production (near the end) the sets all burned down and the movie had to set up temporary sets to finish it.  After the showing of the movie it was cut down considerably and transformed for the U.S. audience with Tangerine Dream performing the music instead of the score written by Jerry Goldsmith.  A Blu-ray and DVD version restores much of the cut material and the original Goldsmith score (while providing the theater cut which has a ton of changes).

The movie is kind of boring.  For being an action-fantasy, there is little action. Tom Cruise jumps around a little as Jack (maybe a precursor to his famous Oprah couch jumping experience) but there are only a couple of big fight scenes which themselves were pretty forgettable.  The one thing that does liven up the story is Tim Curry’s fun Darkness which seems a big stretch from some of his other roles.  His scenes really liven up the rather dull movie.

legend darkness tim curry

If you don’t bow to me, I’ll make you watch Congo…over and over and over again!

The other memorable thing about Legend is the visuals. The movie has an almost ethereal feel with the forest filled with flying snow, bubbles, and cottonwood.  The film often intentionally is over-exposed and almost soft focused to give it a whimsy appearance and visual texture.  The scenes involving the unicorns were shot particularly nice and have a real good look to them.

Legend is a strange movie.  It has a lot of good aspects to it, it has some kitschy fun to it, and it has some bad aspects to it.  The overall result is a slightly better average movie which is kind of a letdown because it could be a lot better.  If you’ve never seen Legend check it out, but you might leave you wanting more.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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