Magical May Review: Legend

Year: 1985

Runtime: 90 minutes

Director: Ridley Scott

Writer: William Hjortsberg

Actors: Mia Sara, Tom Cruise, Tim Curry, Billy Barty, Annabelle Lanyon, Alice Playten

By Joan Amenn

What is this thing that Ridley Scott has with unicorns? In “Legend” (1985) and “Blade Runner” (1982) they pop in to lend a convenient metaphor for the plot of each film to reference. In the former, they represent all that is good in the world. However, they are completely eclipsed by the film’s representative for evil. This is not their fault, since all of “Legend” is overwhelmed by the riveting and over the top performance of Tim Curry as the villain, Dark.

Even if you only dimly remember this film from childhood, chances are you are recalling Curry chewing the scenery and leaving poor Tom Cruise looking rather out of his league as the hero, Jack. As always, Scott builds a visually striking world for his characters, and the art direction is everything anyone could want in a fantasy film. However, Cruise looks a little grubby to be wooing a princess, and his love, Lili (Mia Sara) seems to have never been told, “Don’t touch.”

Even if you only dimly remember this film from childhood, chances are you are recalling Curry chewing the scenery and leaving poor Tom Cruise looking rather out of his league as the hero, Jack.

This leads to her needing rescuing and Jack rounding up a posse of elves and pixies to lead the charge, as one does when one lives in an enchanted forest. It’s all very Basic Fairy Tale 101, but Scott has a few great scenes that make “Legend” worth watching, or rewatching as the case may be. Curry emerging from his imprisonment as evil is unleashed is amazing, as is his incredible voice heightening all the unctuous menace that his face covered in heavy prosthetics conveys. A seductive dance of a possessed ball gown is disturbingly hypnotic as Lili falls under its spell. There are some truly scary moments in “Legend” that even as an adult, one can marvel at and get a pleasant chill from.

There are some truly scary moments in “Legend” that even as an adult, one can marvel at and get a pleasant chill from.

In “Legend” magic can be a force for good or evil, and it is never really in doubt who will triumph. Scott only made one fantasy film, which is probably for the best since it does not seem to suit him as a genre. “Legend” certainly has its moments, mainly thanks to Curry embracing his role and going all in as a demon bent on world domination. If a comfort film featuring a child-like sense of fantasy is what you are craving, line up this film on your watch list and you have anyone under your roof aged 8 or over, invite them along for the adventure.

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