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Legend (SE)
DVD disk
10.06.2004 By: Scott Weinberg
Legend (SE) order
Director:
Ridley Scott

Actors:
Tom Cruise
Mia Sara
Tim Curry

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Princesses and goblins, demons and unicorns, elves, faeries and trolls. A drop-dead gorgeous storybook setting is cast into a wintry darkness when the minions of evil attack two magical unicorns. Jack (Cruise) must set out on a perilous adventure (with an eccentric crew of sidekicks in tow) to rescue his beloved Lily (Sara) from Darkness while also saving the world from eternal night.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Whether or not you consider LEGEND a “good movie”, there’s simply no denying that it’s one of the most beautiful-looking films ever produced. For those who have a soft spot for mythical adventure tales will enjoy Legend enough to overlook a handful of flaws, and despite a few stumbles in dramatic narrative, this movie is more than entertaining enough to earn a look. Long before he was known as the workaholic director behind movies like BLACK HAWK DOWN, HANNIBAL and GLADIATOR, Ridley Scott was just another young director who had cut his teeth on TV commercials…oh, and the two sci-fi classics ALIEN and BLADE RUNNER. Watching Legend makes it obvious that Scott was shooting for something a bit more fanciful for his next project. Unless I haven’t made it clear yet, this movie is like a painting come to life. The early scenes in a lush, overgrowing forest are absolutely stunning, and when the action goes underground to visit the subterranean lair of Darkness incarnate, the film comes close to resembling a dank, sweaty nightmare. How this film didn’t win Oscars for production design and makeup is simply staggering.

Tom Cruise plays the feral Jack, and although it’s hardly the actor’s finest performance, he acquits himself fairly well in a rather underwritten role. Mia Sara fares a bit better as the lovely Princess Lily, particularly later on when she flirts with the “dark side”, and Alice Playten is deliciously evil as the vile goblin Blix. But when movie fans talk about the actors in LEGEND, most of their enthusiasm is directed towards character actor extraordinaire Tim Curry. The transvestite from ROCKY HORROR, the butler from CLUE, and the one of the coolest villains ever conceived in this film. Covered from head to toe in stunning makeup and prosthetics, Curry’s performance could easily have been nothing more than a glitzy parlor trick, but the actor’s voice ALONE makes Darkness the epitome of all things horrifying…let alone his amazingly demonic appearance.

The American version was released in 1985 with a running time of 89 minutes and a somewhat incongruous musical score by synth band Tangerine Dream. I’ve always been a big fan of this version, despite the film’s spotty pacing and relatively muddled sense of storytelling, but this new Director’s Cut goes a long way towards making LEGEND a damn fine movie after all. Characters are a bit more fleshed out, the original Jerry Goldsmith score has been reinstated (as well as some beguiling songs by the lovely Lily), and few extended scenes help fill the movie out to a more satisfying experience.
THE EXTRAS
When I say “It’s about time!!" to Universal Home Video, I do so with a grateful heart. This DVD has been delayed more times than your average Thanksgiving Day airline flight, but it was surely worth the wait. Fans of this movie simply MUST own this set, and the impressive array of features will surely entice some new ones as well. Let’s break it down by disc! (Oh, I didn’t mention this is a 2-disc set?)

Disc 1 contains the Director’s Cut of Legend, which runs over 20 minutes longer than the original US version. On this disc you’ll also find a full-length audio commentary from director Ridley Scott. Legend is a film that’s had a lot of controversies surrounding it throughout its life, and Scott touches on just about all of them. As is the case in other Scott commentaries, the filmmaker can get a bit specific on minute details, but overall this track is a treasure trove of fascinating info.

Disc 2 houses the original U.S. version of Legend (Yep, two versions of the same movie! Good stuff, eh?), and an extensive array of great features. Front and center is J.M. Kenny’s superlative documentary Creating a Myth: The Making of Legend (51:00), which brings together various actors and crew members to share their memories of the production. Everyone from Mia Sara to Ridley Scott to screenwriter William Hjortsberg to make-up designer Rob Bottin and Cinematographer Alex Thomon (and many others) discuss their contributions to this visionary (yet ultimately underappreciated) film. On this doc, you’ll see rare production footage, FX and production design tidbits, and several cool anecdotes. Hats off to J.M. Kenny for his work on this great little feature.

Legend freaks will love the pair of Lost Scenes: one is an alternate opening which features an ill-fated goblin who never made the final cut, and the other is the “Faerie Dance”, which consists of soundtrack/storyboards only, but it’s still a nice little nugget.

So far this set contains 2 separate movies, a great documentary, an even cooler commentary track, and a couple of welcome deleted scenes. Think that’s enough for the rabid cult of fans that Legend has earned? Guess again.

Littered throughout Disc 2 are a Bryan Ferry Music Video which covers the end title song “Is Your Love Strong Enough?”, three storyboard sequences (entitled “Jack’s Challenge”, “Downfall of Darkness” and “Lily and the Unicorns”), and a lengthy series of still galleries. Since this is of course a full-blown Special Edition, you’ll also find the requisite theatrical trailers, TV spots, production notes, and cast/crew bios.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
I’ve been waiting to see a “longer version” of this childhood favorite of mine for over ten years, and this excellent DVD release has made my month. Although it’s a bit disturbing to see how many times this set was delayed, Universal earns a standing “O” for treating this cult classic like the fine film it really is. Fans MUST own this DVD immediately; everyone else should rent it (and then buy it)!
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