“Legend” (1985) Review


Throughout the slew of fantasy films in the eighties, one has stood out above the rest. This is Ridley Scott’s (of Alien fame) foray into the world of elves, demons, and magic. Made after the overwhelming lukewarm responses to fantasy movies like Krull and Dragonslayer and the maybe too fondly remembered The Neverending Story, Legend has found itself right in the obscure and underrated movies category. 

The story consists of our protagonist, Jack O’ the Green (played by a very young Tom Cruise), saving his friend and love interest Princess Lilli (played by Mia Sara) and the last unicorn in existence from Darkness (played by Tim Curry), who plans to plunge the world into eternal night. Jack isn’t alone in his quest as he is joined by guardians of the forest Honeythorn Gump (played by David Bennent), Screwball (played by Billy Barty), Brown Tom (played by Cork Hubbert) and the fairy Oona (played by Annabelle Lanyon). 

The movie is absolutely beautiful to look at, and every shot either immerses the viewer into the movie, or is absolutely uncomfortable in the best possible way. The way the colors either contrast or blend together is amazing, and the cinematography is spectacular. 

I rarely go into makeup in a film, but for this one, it’s absolutely incredible how otherworldly they look. Once the viewer sees Darkness, it will be hard to forget him. Even the forest guardians look like actual fairies and dwarves. 

The special effects are dated, but with the time in mind, are really well done. The backgrounds are filled with small details. Whether it be demons, or dancing baby statues, there is a ton of character in the background. 

The writing leaves more to be desired. Darkness’s minions and even the guardians of the forest, besides, Honeythorn and Oona, are mostly there for comic relief. But the movie has a childish tone to begin with, so it doesn’t need the one liners. Jack’s character is kind of flat, and while he goes through an arc, his story is muddled through the supporting characters. 

The music is definitely… interesting. Done by the German music group Tangerine Dream, orchestral sounding midis and ethereal synths are everywhere. If it’s your cup of tea, you’ll at best enjoy it, or at worst ignore it. If that’s not for you, there is a European and director’s cut that has a fully orchestrated soundtrack.

Fantasy film fans and eighties movie fans will enjoy it, and so will children. Though I recommend not showing it to extremely young children, as there is imagery that could scare them.  

It definitely stands out compared to other eighties fantasy movies,  but it’s focus on small jokes and flat main characters really pull what could’ve been a great movie down. 

I give it 7 creepy dancing baby statues out of 10.