May 7, 2003
May 14, 2003


Buy me!STUDIO: Universal
MSRP: $24.99
RUNNING TIME: 114 Minutes
• Commentary by Ridley Scott
• Director’s cut, restored version with Jerry Goldsmith’s score
• Original U.S. theatrical version with Tangerine Dream score
• Creating a Myth: The Making of Legend
• Storyboards
• The Fairy Dance, music and storyboards depicting the lost scene
• Original screenplay
• Isolated music score by Tangerine Dream
• Music video – "Is Your Love Strong Enough" by Bryan Ferry
A proper version… Hell, ANY VERSION of Ridley Scott’s Legend has been one of this merry format’s biggest M.I.A. titles. Announced, then cancelled, re-announced and then bumped back… the Tom Cruise fantasy/fairy tale has finally arrived in one of Universal’s snazzy "Ultimate Edition" packages.

Keith Richards at age 194 ruminates on how he and the cockroach are the only living things on Earth after the nuclear war of 2021 did the last bit of damage the Rolling Stones "Steel Wheels ’04" didn’t.

I remember being colossally jazzed about this film when it first hit theaters and then being almost as colossally disappointed with the end result. However, the more fan clamoring for this DVD I hear the more excited I got about the release I got.

Was I right the first time, or is Legend a forgotten classic? You see, Scott has included TWO versions of the film. Let’s see…

Tom Cruise (shown actual size).

The Flick

The name Ridley Scott on a film instantly makes it something to look for. Even his misfires are interesting and gorgeous to look at. In fact, his White Squall is a film I hope someday emerges to people as a really solid little sleeper. Regardless, a resume including Blade Runner, Alien, Gladiator, and Thelma and Louise to only name a few, is prolific.

"You tell Mr. Weinstein I ain’t giving up my post without a fight!"

In the 80’s Ridley took what was at the time a hefty budget, who at the time was a virtual unknown, and what was at the time a dead end genre and weaved his wizardry on it. He told a tale of imps and unicorns, demons and fairies, and did it all around the concept of love.

Today, a film like that would probably find its market without a hitch.

Back them, it was tantamount to cinematic suicide.

Good God, the years have been unkind to Debra Winger.

The foul being known as Darkness (Tim Curry, under more makeup than the wives of any four televangelists) craves a horn. Not just any horn, but the horn of a pure unicorn. With such a tool he could banish the light forever and bring about a new dawn of darkness (not unlike if Coca-Cola absorbed a few more big companies).

When pithy humans (Mia Sara and then unknown Tom Cruise) accidentally allow such a horn theft to occur, the magic of the forest is disrupted and Hell literally breaks loose.

What follows is fairy tale complete with point eared elfin kids, pig faced halflings, and an armor laden Cruise trying to make things right with his sword.

Lucien reacts in the only way he knows as Tinkerbell reveals herself to be a Candiru in disguise.

I think the concept works better than the execution.

Scott chose to create an amazing forest environment mostly within the confines of a studio and the result is astonishing in way of set design and craftsmanship… but the film feels very synthetic.

…and slow.

"We’ve come a long way since that sex show in Tijuana, eh Smoky?"

It’s as pretty as a fairy tale, but it really lacks warmth. Instead of the warmth and wide eyed wonder prevalent in most fairy tales, it’s cold and barren. Stiff, even.

None of Tom Cruise’s patented charm is evident in his role as the feral jungle protector Jack. Mia Sara’s vacant stare isn’t enough to tide us over until the later scenes where she’s a sexy leather-clad seductress. The assortment of "little people" under heavy make-up (by Rob Bottin!) don’t help, because while the work isn’t bad, it wiggles too much and took me right out of the picture. Nothing like gones with wobbly noses!

If this was a collection of still images, it would have worked better…

Except for Darkness.

By taking this screen capture, I am officially 51% gay.

There has never been a cooler, more devilish looking villain ever. Even with CGI being as flexible as it is, I’ll still take this fella over LOTR‘s Balrog.

Tim Curry (complete with a voice effect not unlike Hellraiser‘s Pinhead), laden with more rubber and plastic than the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders delivers a really solid performance even though there’s not an inch of the actor visible. While the creation suffers during the action sequences (wobbly horns, and the fact Curry isn’t the most impressive athlete even when NOT covered in tons of prosthetics), it remains the most identifiable aspect of the film.

There’s nothing like a muscular, cloven hoofed, 12 foot tall red being with horns that seem long enough to make John Holmes (rest his soul) envious.

Mild mannered Athok waits for the opportunity to shed his disguise and roam the world as the legendary actor George Dzundza.

Before Michael Bay and his ilk infiltrated Hollywood, there was Ridley Scott. While he unloaded his share of classics, sometimes he was a victim of the "style over substance" school of directing and nowhere is that more evident than in Legend.

Thanks to a move he learned from Battle Arena Toshinden Cruise deftly avoids another gay accusation, especially amazing considering the Versace chainmail he sported.

A pretty, but hollow fairy tale of a movie with a few phenomenal bits of invention that still remain cool almost two decades later.

After the latest Neilsen ratings the producer of Oprah relaxed, his work done.

6.0 out of 10

The Look

"You know, Darkness… you really ought to give Reese Witherspoon her chin back."

As I said above, there are TWO versions of the film in this DVD package. I’ll go into differences in a few, but since the director’s 114 minute cut is on the main disc while the 90 minute cut is lumped with the special features you’ll get a clue.

The longer version is superior in every way as far as presentation goes. That’s a change of pace, because usually the director’s cuts feature rough footage.

Not the case this time, as the longer version is crystal clear and sharp as a busload of TAG students and while it’s a film that doesn’t feature much light in it (the whole second half is pretty much plunged in darkness), the transfer isn’t murky or hard to discern.

Very nice. The 90 minute cut is decent, but not what you’d show to a roomful of guests in the home theater.

8.5 out of 10

The Noise

Once again, the long cut gets a sexy bit of DTS and 5.1 while the lesser cut is given a humdrum 2.0 track.

To be honest, whether you dig the Goldsmith score or the Tangerine Dream one… it’s not as bombastic or rich as you’d expect.

A film as striking visually as this… really a music video as far as how its look goes, you’d expect a similar sonic assault.

Nope. Decent, but unremarkable.

6.5 out of 10

The Goodies

This thing’s not called an ULTIMATE EDITION for its health.

It’s stacked.

First, factor in the short (but still slow moving) 90 minute cut and the presence of the better (the new scenes don’t add much but help give the film a little muscle, and the restored Jerry Goldsmith score OBLITERATES the dated one from Tangerine Dream) cut in addition is almost enough…

But there’s so much more.

Ridley Scott has provided a scene specific commentary track (with chapter stops, a trend that’s really coming into its own) and while he’s always a great host… you kind of get the vibe that the film was more like a thing he had to get out of his system rather than a labor of love.

Of course, he’s on top of the world now and looking back probably seems like looking at missed opportunities and whatnot. Regardless, it’s a good track and all directors who think they’re above commentary tracks ought to see Ridley’s dedication.

Good stuff, and he also covers the divergence in cuts really well.

There’s a nice long documentary on the film which covers the whole shebang (including the fire that destroyed their sets), and features everyone but Tom Cruise (but Billy Barty was there!). Solid stuff, and there’s literally HOURS more.

Alternate opening (decent), lost scenes, storyboards, pictures, and on and on and on.

LOADED. If you even KIND OF like this film, this disc is must buy stuff. The special features bring this review up a full point on their own merits.

10 out of 10

The Artwork

Buy me!Good stuff, even though the "Ultimate" packaging doesn’t snap close or have a fastener to keep the front flap from staying open unless it’s filed in a collection. And as much as I like the clear packaging, it detracts a little for this film.

Still the cover of the film’s villain holding the crystall ball with the lovers image encased is truly top notch.

It could have been perfect, but as it stands it’s a…

8.5 out of 10

Overall: 7.1 out of 10