Legend appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Only minor concerns appeared in this attractive presentation.
Sharpness usually seemed positive. A few shots came across as a little soft due to the spotty nature of the Director’s Cut’s source material. However, those instances remained modest, as the majority of the flick seemed distinctive and well-defined. Jagged edges and moiré effects caused no concerns, and I detected no signs of edge enhancement. Print flaws were very minor, especially for an aging film like this. I noticed a couple of small specks but nothing more.
Colors appeared strong. The movie utilized a glowing tone that made sense within the fantasy framework, and the various hues came across as rich and vibrant. The colors always looked clear and attractive, and they exhibited no issues like noise or bleeding. Black levels also were deep and dense, and shadow detail seemed appropriately heavy but not excessively opaque. During some of the “ice age” scenes, the movie essentially looked black and white, and the disc showed fine contrast and delineation. The minor flaws knocked my grade down to a “B+”, but don’t take that as real criticism; the Blu-ray presented a solid image.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundfield generally exhibited a forward bias. Within the front channels, the score showed solid stereo separation, while effects created a good sense of atmosphere. Elements appeared appropriately located within that domain, and they blended together nicely.
As for the surrounds, they usually stuck with general reinforcement of the front track, but they came to life well when appropriate. For example, the sequence in which Jack chased after Lily’s ring offered clear and logical activity from the rear channels that helped make the scene more effective.
Audio quality appeared erratic but acceptably good for its age. Dialogue came across as reasonably natural and distinct, with no concerns related to intelligibility or edginess. Effects seemed more hit or miss. Some of those elements appeared nicely clear and rich, but others sounded thinner and more dated. For the most part, however, the effects remained fairly accurate and vibrant, though high-end sounds occasionally were a little brittle sounding.
Music showed positive fidelity, as Jerry Goldsmith’s score seemed bright and lively. Bass response was fairly warm and natural. After 27 years, the audio of Legend held up well.
How does the Blu-ray compare to the 2002 DVD? Audio was more dynamic and full, while visuals seemed significantly stronger. The Blu-ray’s image offered improved color resolution as well as smoother shadows and clearer definition. This was a strong upgrade.
The Blu-ray replicates most of the DVD’s extras. We start with an audio commentary from director Ridley Scott. He’s a veteran of the format, and that comfort level shows during his running, screen-specific chat. Scott covers a nice range of information, from the origins of the project to various technical concerns and other production issues. He devotes relatively little time to the actors - which doesn’t come as a surprise, given the nature of the film - but he talks about his work with them at times.
Scott touches on the alterations made for the release editions, but he also doesn’t get into this issue heavily; I’d like to know more about that process, as I get the feeling it was more controversial than he makes it out to be. Those minor omissions aside, I found this to be a consistently chatty and compelling track that added to my knowledge about the movie.
As mentioned earlier, the disc provides both the US theatrical cut (1:29:36) and the Director’s Cut (1:53:27) of Legend. The body of my review discussed the Director’s Cut. The content of the US edition offers a lot of changes from the Director’s Cut. I thought it might simply be a shorter version of the latter, but actually, quite a few differences occur.
For example, the US film starts with an explanatory text that doesn’t appear in the longer version, and it also reveals the image of Darkness much earlier in the flick. Some omissions mean that other parts make less sense. For instance, during the Director’s Cut, Gump tries to stump Jack with a riddle. This doesn’t appear in the US version, which means that a later line in which Gump mentions riddles has less effect; it doesn’t “throw back” to the prior occurrence.
Of course, the two films feature different scores, which also makes a big change. During the supplements, we hear discussions of the two sets of music, and people seem careful not to slam the Tangerine Dream score heard on the US version. Well, if they won’t, I will - it’s terrible! The music really dates the film, as it lacks the timeless quality of Goldsmith’s score. In addition, it includes a few New Age tunes during the flick, and those really kill it.
Admittedly, I don’t like the Director’s Cut, but the US version seems even less satisfying for a variety of reasons. Nonetheless, I appreciate its inclusion on the Blu-ray, since it’ll please longtime fans of the film.
Speaking of Tangerine Dream, we get more of their music via an isolated score that accompanies the US theatrical edition. This comes with Dolby Stereo sound and as the disc notes, it includes unedited music and alternate cues. I can’t stand this score, but its fans will be happy to get it here.
Next we find a documentary about the movie. Called Creating the Myth: The Making of Legend, this 51-minute, three-second program offers the usual mix of film clips, shots from the set, and interviews with participants. Unfortunately, Tom Cruise declined to appear, but we do hear from director Ridley Scott, writer William “Gatz” Hjortsberg, producer Arnon Milchan, director of photography Alex Thomson, editor Terry Rawlings, production designer Assheton Gorton, makeup effects creator Rob Bottin, set decorator Anne Mollo, stunt coordinator Vic Armstrong, key makeup artist Peter Robb King, former president/COO of the MCA Motion Picture Group Sid Sheinberg, and actors Mia Sara, Tim Curry, Alice Playten, Robert Picardo, Billy Barty, and Cork Hubbert.
My only complaint about “Myth” relates to the use of behind-the-scenes footage. We see too little of this, as movie snippets and interviews dominate. Nonetheless, the program offers a terrific look at the making of the film. It covers a wealth of topics, from the original script to the creation of the sets to working with the horses to makeup to the fire on the Bond stage to the different versions, and it adds much other material as well. Particularly enjoyable are Hjortsberg’s comments, as he’s consistently funny and informative; his impressions of Scott seem particularly hilarious. Overall, this is a fine documentary that should be compelling ever for folks who don’t like the film.
Next we find two Lost Scenes. One of these shows an “Alternate Opening”, and it runs for 10 minutes, 33 seconds. Taken from a video copy of the film, this expands the existing start to the movie as it focuses on the quest of the four goblins, one of whom didn’t make the final cut. Next we get “The Faerie Dance”, a two-minute, 46-second piece. No film footage remains for it, so instead we hear the scene’s audio played over a combination of production photos and storyboards. All I can say is that I’m glad this obnoxious little piece didn’t appear in the finished movie; it looks terrible!
In the Trailers area we see both the US and International promos; they look very similar to me. We also find four TV Spots for the film and the Music Video for Bryan Ferry’s “Is Your Love Strong Enough”. That clip lasts five minutes, 23 seconds and mostly uses the standard combination of movie snippets and lip-synch shots, though at times it appears to place Ferry in the action. It’s pretty lame.
Finally, the Photo Gallery offers 92 stills. These mix shots from the movie and publicity elements, so except for one long shot of Scott at the end, we get no behind the scenes images. The promo photos are moderately interesting but the pictures from the film itself are pretty forgettable.
Make no mistake: Legend is a terrible flick. It shows good visual imagination but wastes those efforts on a bland story that seems poorly executed. However, the Blu-ray itself is a terrific piece of work. It provides very good picture and sound as well as a fine collection of supplements. I can’t recommend the film itself, but fans will feel delighted with this excellent reproduction of it.
To rate this film, visit the original review of LEGEND