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Reviewed by Ivana Redwine
Tagline: "No good without evil. No love without hate. No innocence without lust. I am darkness."
Length: Director's Cut - 114 minutes; U.S. Theatrical Version - 90 minutes
"Legend" is the kind of highly imaginative movie that people either love or hate. I suppose this is because you either buy into the film's elaborate fantasy or you don't. I happen to love the movie "Legend." To my mind, the film succeeds beautifully in creating an imaginary world that drew me in completely.
The look of this 1985 film is superb, even when compared with the digital wizardry of the CGI-enhanced effects of today's movies. Films such as "Legend" reinforce my belief that imagination is the ultimate special effect. "Legend" is both inventive and stunningly cinematic. I especially enjoyed the lyricism of much of the movie's imagery—it added to the sense of wonder and enchantment I felt when watching both versions of the film.
The story is a simple, mythical one. The idyllic tranquility of a beautiful woodland is shattered one day when Jack (Tom Cruise), a man of the forest who can understand the language of animals, leads Princess Lily (Mia Sara) to a pair of unicorns. Despite Jack's warnings, she touches one of the unicorns, and this gives the Lord of Darkness (Tim Curry) a window into the world of light, allowing him to capture a unicorn's horn. Soon Darkness plunges this previously protected world into an age of ice and shadows. Darkness also kidnaps the princess, and what unfolds from here is a battle between the forces of good and evil. Jack, aided by Gump (David Bennent of "The Tin Drum") and a group of other fantastic creatures, makes a descent into the underworld to rescue Jack's beloved Lily, along with the unicorns, and hopefully to release the world from the forces of Darkness.
The acting in "Legend" is solid throughout. Tom Cruise and Mia Sara are well cast and have a good chemistry together on screen. Although he's almost completely enshrouded in an elaborate costume, Tim Curry gives his character of the Lord of Darkness just the right demonic aura.
Both versions of the film have good musical scores, although I prefer Jerry Goldsmith's score on the director's cut—it sounds less dated than the score by Tangerine Dream on the U.S. theatrical release.
I was especially impressed with the Ultimate Edition DVD. I found that director Ridley Scott's thoughtful audio commentary was one of the best director's commentaries I've heard. It might have helped that he was not chaperoned by a bunch of producers. Scott's commentary is relaxed, earnest, and he doesn't talk down to the audience. What I like best about the commentary is that it gives me a glimpse into his thinking and the creative process that makes this movie so magical. The two-disc DVD set is loaded with extras that enhance my enjoyment and understanding of the film. I've detailed some of these bonus materials below.
Selected Special Features on the DVD:
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