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, but 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 haloes. Print flaws never became an issue in this clean presentation.
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 tones 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. Everything about the image worked well.
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 36 years, the audio of Legend held up well.
How does the 2021 “Limited Edition” Blu-ray compare to the BD from 2011? Audio felt similar, if not identical.
The visuals of the 2021 BD offered mild improvements, though, as this presentation felt a smidgen tighter and cleaner than its predecessor. While not a major upgrade, the 2021 BD did become the superior rendition.
As mentioned earlier, the package provides both the US theatrical cut (1:29:29) 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, as 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 in this Blu-ray set, since it’ll please longtime fans of the film.
Alongside the Director’s Cut, we get 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.
With the US Theatrical Cut, we locate an audio commentary from film historian Paul M. Sammon. He brings a running, screen-specific look at story/characters and differences among various versions of the film, cast and performances, set, costume and makeup design, effects and visual choices, music, editing, the movie's release and legacy.
Sammon also devotes a fair amount of energy to an appreciation/defense of the film, and those aspects become the least compelling. Perhaps if I liked the movie, I'd enjoy these comments more, but Sammon doesn't really offer a convincing case for the flick's supposed greatness beyond praise for its admittedly excellent visual design.
Despite these less than enthralling moments, Sammon still manages to give us a pretty good look at the film. He covers alterations for the US Theatrical cut as well as production topics in a satisfactory manner, so expect a largely positive view of the project.
Speaking of Tangerine Dream, we get more of their music via an isolated score that accompanies the US theatrical edition. This comes with DTS-HD MA 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.
Also alongside the US Theatrical version, we get an isolated music and effects track. Also brought to us via DTS-HD MA stereo audio, it existed to allow distributors in countries where English wasn’t the native language to easily dub the dialogue.
Oddly, it includes some music that neither Tangerine Dream nor “Director’s Cut” composer Jerry Goldsmith appeared to write. It acts as a fun addition.
New to the Arrow set, Remembering a Legend runs 30 minutes, 45 seconds and offers comments from grip David Cadwallader, production supervisor Hugh Harlow, costume designer Charles Knode, camera operator Peter MacDonald, set decorator Ann Mollo, draftsman John Ralph and actor Annabelle Lanyon.
“Remembering” examines what it was like to work with Ridley Scott, storyboards and visual design, thoughts about the cast, costumes and sets, and other related topics.
The show doesn’t start well, as the early parts of “Remembering” tend to just praise Scott. However, the program soon improves and gives us some good perspectives on the production.
Weird note: we get clearly inaccurate comments like “Tom Cruise was virtually an unknown actor (during the shoot)”, as those involved appear to think Cruise was a total neophyte when he came to Legend.
Maybe Risky Business didn’t sell tickets in the UK? I can’t think of a better explanation why the folks featured here don’t realize Cruise was already a star pre-Legend.
The Music of Legend splits into two parts to examine the different scores: “Jerry Goldsmith” (15:12) and “Tangerine Dream” (13:09). Across these, we hear from film historians Jeff Bond and Daniel Schweiger as well as musicians Austin Garrick and Bronwyn Griffin. Both combine to give us a fairly solid view of issues connected to the two scores.
Another two-part domain, The Creatures of Legend breaks into “Inside the Illustrations” (10:28) and “Inside the Makeup Effects” (16:15). Here we find notes from illustrator Martin A. Kline and makeup effects artist Nick Dudman.
As expected, both examine the design and execution of the movie’s fantasy characters. Expect to get a mix of good insights from these segments.
Incarnations of a Legend presents a 20-minute, 47-second “visual essay” from film critic Travis Crawford. As implied by the title, “Incarnations” dissects the various versions of different Ridley Scott flicks.
Of course, Crawford mostly focuses on Legend, as he digs into the different editions. Some of this info appears elsewhere, but Crawford nonetheless makes this a tight overview.
From 2003, The Directors brings a 58-minute, 33-second documentary in which we get an appraisal of Scott’s career to that point. Along with Scott himself, we hear from producer Jerry Bruckheimer and actors Brad Pitt, Harrison Ford, Andy Garcia, Jeff Bridges, Keith Carradine and Veronica Cartwright.
We track through Scott’s films and get general observations about them. None of this proves especially revelatory and it leans toward praise too often, but “Directors” acts as an enjoyable summary.
After this we find the Television Version Opening. It runs one minute, 26 seconds and offers voiceover that narrates the text scroll. I guess someone thought TV viewers didn’t know how to read.
Disc One finishes with 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.
As we shift to Disc Two, we go to a documentary called Creating the Myth: The Making of Legend. This 51-minute, three-second program offers notes from 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, and his impressions of Scott seem particularly hilarious. Overall, this is a fine documentary that should be compelling even for folks who don’t like the film.
Next we find two Lost Scenes: “Alternate Opening” (10:35) and “The Faerie Dance” (3:06). Taken from a video copy of the film, the “Opening: 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.
With “Dance”, film footage remains for it, so instead we hear the scene’s audio played over a combination of production photos and storyboards. Neither of these scenes seems compelling, so it’s good they got the boot.
Under Original Featurette, we get a nine-minute, 44-second promo piece that offers footage from the set accompanied by narration. A few remarks from Curry and Sara appear as well. Nothing remarkable appears but the shots from the production can become interesting.
Alternate Footage fills nine minutes and offers little trims used to compensate for deletions made to Scott’s original cut. These don’t seem especially compelling but fans will feel happy that they appear.
Within Screenplay Drafts, we get two stillframe text presentations. These cover the “First Draft” and the “Shooting Script”. Both offer valuable additions to the package.
Storyboards breaks into eight domains: “Intro/Three Goblins” (114 frames), “Lili and the Unicorns” (97), “Mortal World Turned to Ice” (101), “Jack and the Fairies” (166), “Find the Mare, Lose the Alicorn” (115), “Jack’s Challenge” (226), “Meg Mucklebones and the Great Tree” (89), and “Downfall of Darkness” (101).
In addition to three Trailers, we find four TV Spots for the film. Finally, Image Galleries breaks into “Production Stills” (74 shots), “Continuity Polaroids” (71) and “Poster & Video Art” (27). These add some interesting material.
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. The Blu-ray 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 Blu-ray release.
To rate this film, visit the original review of LEGEND