(1985)3Jeremy WheelerRidley Scott's dark fairy tale Legend is a gorgeous exercise in fantastical storytelling. With the help of FX master Rob Bottin (Total Recall, The Thing), Scott created an unforgettable palette of imagery that will no doubt live on with audiences for years to come. While the story he brought to life admittedly isn't the meatiest - and borderlines on all-too-silly at many points - Legend continues to resonate because it truly is one-of-a-kind classic good vs. evil tale popping with lush eye candy from beginning to end. As far as the cast goes, it's Tim Curry's show all the way as the horned and hoofed Darkness. Aided by Bottin's astounding makeup design, Curry becomes the ultimate vision of evil as he chews up each scene with equal parts nasty glee and venomous seduction. One stumble in the acting department goes to Tom Cruise, whose scrawny frame and puny line deliveries make it tough for audiences to swallow him as the hero of the piece. In contrast, pre-Ferris Bueller Mia Sara radiates enough warmth and beauty as Lili that it's easy to understand Curry's urges toward her. Beyond the leads, the rest of the film is littered with other great character actors, including Billy Barty of Time Bandits fame and Joe Dante favorite Robert Picardo, delivering the brief, but deliciously nasty bog witch, Meg Mucklebones. With gorgeous lighting, set design, and costumes filling each frame, Legend is a sight to behold -- a true fairy tale come to life. While its sometimes uneven tone may continue to polarize the critical elite, even its detractors would be hard-pressed to come up with another film that achieves as much as this visually-arresting film does.
Though technically brilliant, the production was plagued with such infamous setbacks as the fire that severely destroyed a massive forest set beyond repair and of course, the major cuts due to the various test screenings it had to undergo. Not only did Scott cut the film immensely after one of them, but also the original score by Jerry Goldsmith was completely dropped by the studio to make way for a more "popular" score by hot band Tangerine Dream. Thankfully, audiences can now experience the original cut and Goldsmith's score on numerous home releases.