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UNIVERSAL

MOVIE INFO
Director:
Ridley Scott
Cast:
Tom Cruise, Mia Sara, Tim Curry, David Bennent, Alice Playten, Bill Barty
Screenplay:
Wiliam Hjortsberg

Tagline:
"No Good without Evil. No Love without Hate. No Innocence without Lust. I am Darkness."

MPAA:
Rated PG.

Academy Awards:
Nominated for Best Makeup.

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish

Runtime: 114 min. (Director’s Cut) / 90 min. (US Theatrical Cut)
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 5/31/2011

Bonus:
• Both US Theatrical and Director’s Cuts of the Film
• Audio Commentary Director Ridley Scott (Director’s Cut Only)
• Isolated Music Score (US Theatrical Cut Only)
• “Creating a Myth: The Making of Legend" Documentary
• Lost Scenes
• Music Video
• Photo Gallery
• Theatrical Trailers and TV Spots


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Legend [Blu-Ray] (1985)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 19, 2012)

1985 proved to be an odd year for directors who worked at Universal Pictures. On one hand, one Universal release - Out of Africa - nabbed the Oscar for Best Picture. Another – Back to the Future - took home the crown as the year’s box office champion.

On the other hand, a couple of directors had a rough time with their Universal projects in 1985. The most extreme problems befell Terry Gilliam and Brazil. He experienced legendary battles with studio chiefs over the tone and length of the flick, among other areas; it remains one of the most famous feuds in movie history.

While it doesn’t appear that Ridley Scott went through Gilliam’s level of angst as he prepared his fantasy flick Legend, what ended up on screen in theaters wasn’t what he originally intended. After an unsuccessful test screening, the director apparently lost some faith in his vision and chopped up the film accordingly. What originally lasted about two hours dropped down to the 90-minute version seen on US screens. In addition, American audiences heard a different score than the one created by noted composer Jerry Goldsmith; they got a cheesy synthesizer offering from Tangerine Dream. (Oddly enough, Arnon Milchan produced both Legend and Brazil.)

In 2012, it’s hard to imagine that a film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Tom Cruise would tank at the box office, but that’s exactly what happened to Legend. The movie died a quick death, though it went on to gain a passionate following via video. Because of those fans, Legend apparently was one of the most-requested titles that awaited DVD release prior to 2002. In fact, the disc was delayed repeatedly before we finally got it in our hands.

In an intriguing move, that “Ultimate Edition” DVD includes both the original 90-minute US theatrical release and Scott’s 114-minute “director’s cut”. At last fans could see the film as intended, complete with Goldsmith’s famous score.

Speaking for myself, I never saw Legend in the 1980s - at least not all of it. I recall that I tried to watch it on video back in the Eighties but just couldn’t sit through it. The movie seemed so silly and fruity that it possessed no interest for me; I think I made it through the first 15 minutes or so and then bailed on it.

When I watched the Director’s Cut, I did manage to last until the very end, but it remained a tough process. More than a quarter century after my original attempt, it seems that I still feel the same about Legend: this is one bad movie.

Legend places us in a land of faeries and magic. Forest-dweller Jack (Cruise) loves Princess Lily (Mia Sara) and desires to spend all his time with her. Although it’s against the rules, he tries to impress her when he shows her the romping grounds of the unicorns, the most sacred and special of creatures.

Against Jack’s warnings, Lily approaches and touches one of the unicorns, an action that messes up the world badly. Concurrently, Blix (Alice Playten), the henchman of Darkness (Tim Curry), slays one of the unicorns and steals its horn. This places the world mostly in shadows, which is what Darkness desires. He needs to kill the other unicorn to finish the job, and Jack wants to stop this.

In addition, Darkness wants to make Lily his wife and let the two of them rule the eternal night. Of course, this doesn’t sit well with Jack, and he gets the assistance of a bunch of magical little folk as they attempt to save the princess and prevent the victory of Darkness.

Though not exactly an original story, I have no great quibble with the plot. After all, Star Wars featured a similarly Spartan basis for its action, and it worked awfully well. However, Legend is no Star Wars. Legend didn’t even live up to the fairly mediocre level of 1988’s Willow, a similar flick.

On the positive side, I must admit that Legend looks great. Clearly a lot of work went into the production design, and the results are excellent. The forest and other settings seem lush and lively, and they create a fine environment for the action.

Too bad that the events are so uninteresting. Like I mentioned, there’s nothing particularly wrong with the story itself; it’s the execution that seems problematic. For one, Legend seems to be poorly cast. Prior to Legend, Cruise made a name for himself as a cocky teen in 1983’s Risky Business. That tone of charming arrogance served him well through his career, and it would help him during his next big hit, 1986’s Top Gun. However, he was totally wrong for the part of Jack. None of his personality can emerge through this bland and semi-impotent “hero”, as Jack feel lost among the magic and wonder.

Curry does acceptably well as Darkness, though he’s totally unrecognizable beneath many layers of makeup. Sara seems less satisfying as Lily. While she appears pretty enough for the part, she lacks much charm. Frankly, I could never understand why Jack loves her so much; she comes across like a total bitch much of the time. Here in her movie debut, Sara couldn’t find any depth or heart to the role, so Lily remains a beautiful but unlikable character.

In the same vein as C-3PO and R2-D2, Legend’s sidekicks mainly exist to provide comic relief. They do poorly. Virtually all of the movie’s gags fall flat, especially when executed by Blix and his buddies. The jokes dispersed by the various demons seem silly and pointless, and they serve to ruin any dark mood that the film might establish.

Honestly, Scott seems like the wrong director for this project. He works better within a gritty environment, and the light airiness seen much of the time during Legend doesn’t suit him. Granted, even the darker bits still fall flat, but they seem less laughable than the parts where Lily plays Snow White and croons to the forest creatures.

Actually, though the Star Wars parallels seem strong, it’s clear that Scott wanted Legend to be his version of a Disney animated flick. All of the staple elements are there, but he fails to imbue them with the charm and life seen during Walt’s best creations. Legend feels forced and cutesy much of the time, and the script saddles the actors with some of the worst dialogue I’ve ever heard. In one scene, Blix says to Darkness, “She’s just a female - she has no power!” To that the boss retorts, “Only the power of creation!” How did such a terrible exchange ever make it past the first rewrite?

Unfortunately, Legend offers many more groaners where that came from, and it seems like a forced and unnatural piece. It tries so hard to dazzle us with magic and wonder that it never achieves any of its goals. The characters become buried under elaborate sets and costumes and display little positive personality, while the story can’t overcome the various flaws. Legend offers a pretty experience, but it isn’t one that I enjoyed.

Note: I also suffered through the original US theatrical cut. I’ll discuss that version and the ways it differed from the director’s cut when I get to the disc’s extras.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+ / Audio B+/ Bonus A-

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

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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main