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VHS, Color, Running time 1 hour 29 minutes.
This strange, 1985 experiment by Ridley Scott (Blade Runner) starred the up-and-coming Tom Cruise in a fairy-tale world of dwarfs and unicorns and demons. After the horn of a unicorn is broken, darkness and winter descend upon the world. Cruise's character, helped along by a magic sprite played by David Bennent (The Tin Drum), descends into hell to save paradise. This movie is almost a classic case of art direction gone amok. The somewhat amorphous Cruise doesn't lend much dramatic focus or artistic definition, but the drama between Tim Curry's satanic majesty and Mia Sara's character, who becomes a sort of princess of the netherworld, is pretty captivating. A mixed experience all around that makes one wish it had been more successful. --Tom Keogh
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Honestly, while it sounds more "dated", I prefer the Tangerine Dream musical score as it seems more fitting to the fantasy world depicted in this movie. It has that eerie and surreal tone to the music which I felt captures what is occurring on screen wonderfully, which of course was a fantasy world come to life.
I also liked the ending of the edited version better as well, with Lily and Jack running off into the sunset and looking back to wave at their fairy friends. In the unedited version, after Jack finds Lily's ring and places it on her finger, they speak for a few minutes and Lily sings to him. Then Jack watches as she runs away, with the scene changing to Jack running off into the sunset alone, waving back to his forest fairy friends.
I'm not exactly sure why I didn't like the added footage during that scene (of Lily and Jack talking), but it felt out of place. Perhaps it could be due to the fact the version I grew up watching and enjoying as a child was the edited version. This is just my opinion, but whenever I watched the ending version where Lily and Jack run off together, I always thought they were living their HEA. It was more firm in my mind that they did have their HEA (after all, aren't fairy-tales with the hero in this case Jack, and the heroine princess, Lily, supposed to live happily ever after?), while in the original version all you get is Lily pretty much saying to Jack, "Keep my ring, remember me I'll be back" and she goes running off with him watching her. Oh well, this is my reasoning behind why I preferred the edited version of the movie.LOL.
I think Legend is still one of the best fantasy movies out there. Too bad there aren't fantasy movies being produced like Legend anymore (or Willow, The Neverending Story, Labyrinth, to mention a few more of my favorite fantasy movies). I have seen more recent fantasy movies, such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the first Narnia movie, but they miss that particular *something* the other movies I mentioned made in the 80s have. Not that I didn't enjoy the LOTR movie and Narnia movie, I did, but fantasy movies such as Legend have a magical quality of a fairy-tale come to life straight from the storybook.
There is just something about the fantasy genre (whether books or movies) that captivates me, IMO, fantasy is all about dreams, hopes, and marvelous wonders. How many of us as children were told those fairy-tale stories and we believed in our innocence that there were such creatures as elves, fairies, and unicorns? I think fantasy movies like Legend are simply those fairy-tales come to life, or as close to "real" as one can get to imagining what such a world would truly look like if it was reality.
Legend is one of the few fairy tale movies not geared toward children. It is also one of the most visually striking, comparable in my opinion only to Del Toro's masterpiece Pan's Labyrinth. Like most fairy tales the story itself is rather simple. Darkness wants to overcome light. The hero wants to save the day and rescue his maiden. There are little subplots like a bit of a love triangle and Darkness trying to seduce the hero's maiden. It's not deep storytelling, but it sets the stage for all the good stuff.
And what's so good about it? Well what is Ridley Scott good at (especially in his early career)? A setting that is so immersive and rich in detail that you can get lost in just experiencing this world he created. The forests are magical and have the look and feel of something old and enchanted. The swamps are eerie and desolate and paint the perfect picture of what evil places should look like. The dungeons are foreboding and full of an atmosphere that personifies what Hell could be like. This movie sells the fact it's a fantasy film in spades with just the sets alone.
If Legend stopped at sets it would still be a great movie, but Scott didn't stop there. The mystical creatures are just as impressive. Sure the unicorns are just horses with a horn pasted on them. Sure the pixie/elf/gnome like characters look good, but aren't all that incredible. But when you feast your eyes on the gallery of the dark creatures you start seeing some awesome creations. The troll in the swamp is a wickedly done up hag. The goblin Blix is just as creepy looking. Darkness is the absolute best looking devil character you will ever see; hands down. You will not recognize Tim Curry as this seminal character. Then again you won't recognize any of these actors in makeup. Top it all off with an eye for the type of cinematography that maximizes that dream-fantasy feel and you get some amazing results.
The acting is also impressive for a fairy tale film. Tom Cruise may look at bit wooden as the hero Jack, but I think it belies the innocence and naive nature of his character. Mia Sara nailed her performance as the very human and naively flawed Lili. Tim Curry absolutely steals the show as Darkness in spite of being hidden behind some impressive and massive prosthetics and makeup. The score for the theatrical release was by Tangerine Dream, which definitely dates that version of the film to the 80's with it's new age feeling synth tracks. Doesn't really fit the medieval setting too much, but it's not totally distracting either. Goldsmith's score on the Director's cut fits much better with the era, but musically is so very bland. As far as soundtracks are concerned it's a toss up, but I have to give a little nudge to Tangerine Dream in spite of it being synthy.
This is a single disk release, but it is a BD-50 disk, which should have plenty of room for both movies and all the extras without any compression issues. Visually the movie never looked better. Now the Blu-Ray mentions that the Director's Cut was from an inferior print and won't look as good as the theatrical cut, which had the advantage of a number of good source prints to choose from. If you ask me I don't really see a difference. Both movies stand out in color and details. It's not a night and day difference from the DVD, however it is enough of a stand up difference in clarity to do the double dip. I believe it's just the Director's Cut that is remastered on DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 while the theatrical edit is Dolby Digital 5.1 respectively. As stated before this Blu-Ray release will have all of the original featurettes from the previous DVD release. Here is a breakdown:
Commentary by Director Ridley Scott - This is one of his better commentaries and is full of interesting production tidbits. The commentary is on the Director's Cut.
Creating a Myth: The Making of Legend - This is an extensive documentary with interviews from major cast and crew members (with the notable exception of Tom Cruise). You hear about the massive sets created, then destroyed by a tragic fire as well as other tidbits on how the movie was made.
Lost Scenes - Two scenes are in here. One is an alternate opening scene and the rest are more stills and art composites putting together scenes that I think were never filmed.
Isolated music score by Tangerine Dream - Self explanatory. This is on the theatrical release.
Trailers, TV Spots and Photo Gallery - All of the promotional materials for the film.
In addition to the original features (likely still being presented in standard definition) there are some Blu-Ray exclusives as well. Not in the way of new commentaries or documentaries, but more or less the application type features. Here is the breakdown of those:
BDLive - There is potential that alternate or scenes previously deleted may show up in the future via BDLive. Same goes for additional interviews and features. In my experience, however, is that this feature is sorely underutilized.
My Scenes - This lets you bookmark scenes that you can share with other registered users with Universal Studios.
Pocket Blu - I think this is another feature used in some Blu-Rays from Universal. You can use your iPad or iPhone as a remote as well as other neat features like bonus contend, soundtrack lists and posting options.
All in all if you are a fan of fantasy films this should be on the top of your list. It is a little known classic of that genre. If you have the original DVD release it is still recommended to snatch this up as the remastering really does update the visuals in a big way, plus uncompressed HD audio is also welcome. If you never got this movie now is the time to do it. The likelihood of another edition coming out similar to Ridley Scott's Blade Runner that includes the work print and new features is unlikely as this film never really garnered nearly as much attention. In other words this is likely the best we will get.
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The "ultimate edition" has the original theatrical version with the Tangerine Dream score AND the directors cut with the...Read more