In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Nostalgia must be the only reason that anyone over the age of about 10 would ever think that Legend is a great movie.”
“What care I for human hearts? Soft and spiritless as porridge!”
There are a lot of movies from my childhood that I love to this day and swear they still hold up. I also know that a lot of that is pure nostalgia and that if I was to see them for the first time today, as an adult, I might not find them to be quite so amazing. Movies like The Goonies, or most of the Police Academy sequels (which I stand by, each and every one. Except Mission to Moscow. That one is undeniably terrible). Every now and again, I get to discover one of these movies for the first time, as an adult. The kinds of movies that a lot of my generation saw over and over and over again as kids. And those multiple viewings brainwashed them into thinking they were great. Movies like Legend.
The Spirit of Darkness (Tim Curry) has decided he’s sick of being shunned by the light during daytime hours, so he decides to eliminate the bright bastard. He does this by dispatching one of his goblin minions Blix (Alice Playten), to kill two unicorns in a magical forest. Apparently, these horny headed equines are the keepers of the light.
Princess Lili (Mia Sara) is happily dancing through the forest one day where she hooks up with her friend Jack (Tom Cruise). At one with nature, he can talk to animals and shows Lili the real wonders of the forest. In a piece of just really shit timing, he decides to show her the unicorns at the exact moment that Blix makes his first assassination attempt, killing the stallion. Soon, Lili and Jack are separated. The Lord of Darkness decides Lili should be his, while Jack runs of the with the unicorn mare, trying to save her from Blix.
Even for an 80s movie for tweens about wood elves, unicorns, and the Lord of Darknss, Legend is way more slight and corny than I expected. And I was ready some super slight corn. Everything you need to know is setup so efficiently and quickly in the first few minutes, the rest of the movie just felt like a drag as it took so long to get to every plot point that I already knew was coming. I’m OK with the broad strokes of a story being formulaic, but at least give me some interesting specifics along the way.
According to the IMDB Trivia page for Legend, “Ridley Scott admits that comments made by some pot-smoking attendees at a screening got the director second-guessing himself, and influenced him to cut the film from 150 minutes to 98.” I wish I could track those stoners down and thank them. Because at under 100 minutes, Legend is a labored. At 150, it would have been absolute torture.
Nostalgia has a lot to answer for in all of us and the things we like. And nostalgia must be the only reason that anyone over the age of about 10 would ever think that Legend is a great movie. The makeup work is amazing, Cruise, Curry ad Sara are all perfectly fine, and the special effects are as good as you’d expect from the bloke who had already made Alien and Blade Runner by this time. But none of that is enough to make Legend worth watching.