Who knew that Ridley Scott directed a fairytale film? It really is the weirdest thing. What’s more, this film is in the vein of truly old-school fairytales. Before they became all lovable and nice. Back when they were supposed to be frightening to little children. If you’ve ever read any of the original fairytales, you learn that these stories were meant to frighten little children and keep them from doing bad. This isn’t the kind of film that I can see Disney doing anytime soon. No modern Disney, anyway. Who has to be so family-friendly that they don’t do anything that could upset anybody. This isn’t that fairytale. And it’s what makes this movie so damn fun to watch.
The plot goes that an evil dark force (played by Tim Curry) wants to have all the light taken from the world, so darkness can rule forever. So he commands his minions to take the horn of the unicorns, which will cast the world in darkness forever. Meanwhile, a beautiful princess and a child of the forest named Jack (played by Tom Cruise. Bet you didn’t see that coming) are caught up in a battle between the forces of good and evil, meeting a plethora of colorful characters along the way. As fairytale as it gets, but so much more.
Where do I even start? I guess I could talk about the cinematography. This movie is GORGEOUS to look at! For the days before CG was absolutely everywhere, drowning everything in it. For the days when you had worlds that you had to build beautiful sets for. And had to shoot in a way that could show it off. We may never see that like again, but god how I miss it.
Then there’s the acting. Tom Cruise’s character is a likable innocent. The princess is a nice princess. But it’s all the characters they meet along the way. My personal favorite is an elf named Gump. This kid is so cool! He’s such an amusing little dick, wise and able to play games, yet also smarmy and dickish when he wants to be. Every time this kid speaks, he’s great. Then there’s a fairy named Una, who has quite a thing for our friend Jack. It’s more than a little weird. Especially in one scene, where I am constantly having to remind myself that the look of this character does not correlate to how old she is in the story. But the absolute taker of the cake is the demonic creature of darkness, played by Tim Curry. This is the role that he was born for. He may always play villains in pretty much everything he’s in, but the man clearly has fun with it. In no movie, now matter how much he hams it up, can I say that he isn’t trying. He puts his all into every over-the-top performance, and this was absolutely no exception. And that ties into the singularly-best thing about this movie.
Oh my god, the effects in this are fucking amazing! I kid you not, I cannot help but admire every single frame of this film for the effects. There is a scene with a gigantic female goblin where not only was I in awe, but in terror. There’s a testament to how practical effects work so much better than digital ones. Because I knew that this giant, hideous monster was in that place. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be looking up at that disgusting creature and having to outwit her, knowing that the wrong answer will make you dead. It’s awesome. The darkness devil may be the most memorable of the creature effects in this movie, but there is plenty of amazing visuals with these things to go around. This film is absolutely amazing for the incredible amount of effort made to make each and every detail come to life. Whether it be the amazing sets, the amazing creatures. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie work so hard in making the world come to life like this.
If there is one thing that I can say about Legend, it’s that I don’t think there is another film like it. Not in live action, anyway. Old Disney films can measure up, but when it comes to live action, this movie is 100% unique. I hear that this film is growing a large cult following, and you can count me among them. This is the kind of movie that I wish we could see more of. Something that makes the creatures and the world come to life, without having to use a green screen to just fill in the blanks. Yes, it’s more expensive. Yes, it requires a different kind of shooting. But if you ask me, that’s what made the directors in years gone by so much better. There had to be much more dedication to the craft to make amazing stories come to life like this. Even then, it felt like it was just fantasy shlock. Movies like this were regarded as just genre fare, back in the day. At least now there is a following who respects it for the great piece of visual art that it is. A feast maybe not for the mind, but most definitely for the eyes.
9 out of 10