Cast: Tom Cruise (Jack), Mia Sara (Lili), Tim Curry (Darkness), Billy Barty (Screwball), Alice Playten (Blix)
Director: Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Alien, Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven, Black Hawk Down)
Plot: Without giving anything away, the film is about a young man who tries to win a young woman's heart. He shows her beauty, but Darkness takes her and wants to envelop the world in night and cold.
Why you should watch it: This film gets a bad rap for two reasons: Tom Cruise and the genre is Fantasy. Historically, Fantasy films have not done well at the box office. Peter Jackson reversed that trend with his Rings films. This movie has a few things going for it: it's directed by Ridley Scott, the story isn't bad, and Tim Curry as the evil Darkness. This film definitely belongs in the canon of great Ridley Scott films.
Scott first came to cinematic prominence with two films - Alien and Blade Runner. Legend was the film immediately following those two. It would be hard to follow them up with a super strong film, and unfortunately Legend didn't get the critical acclaim that its predecessors did. The film shares many of the same successful elements of Scott's previous films. It is beautifully shot, the scope feels both wide open and intimate, and Scott's use of music (and sometimes the absence of sound) moves the story and film along at a strong pace; it helps the film, never hinders it. Scott can take most stories and turn them into extremely enjoyable films. I don't think he gets the credit he deserves for Legend, but he does very well with the story as given to him.
The film is written by William Hjortsberg. He's really only known for one other "name" film - Angel Heart. If you've seen that film, you'll know that Hjortsberg expects his audiences to take a cinematic leap and suspend reality. It's no different with Legend. The story revolves around two people - Jack and Princess Lili. Hear me out - Jack is a forest dweller who teaches Lili about nature. He shows her the beauty of the world. Darkness lives in the Underworld, desiring nothing more than to rule above in the absence of light and heat. Darkness sends his minions to kill two unicorns, which will end the reign of light and goodness. However, Lili is accidentally hit with a poison dart, and Darkness claims her as his own. The film then follows Jack and some helpers as they try to rescue Lili and return the world to light. The story is pure Fantasy, no doubt. That would be enough to put most people off. However, if you don't watch this film, you miss Tim Curry in the role of Darkness.
If for no other reason, you should definitely check out Curry in this film. Visually, his Darkness is the perfect evil, Satan-like antagonist. His skin is fire red, and he has two three-foot long horns protruding from his skull. He's like a minotaur, minus the overly shaggy legs; he's like a raging Pamplona bull, but walking on two legs; he's a deep-voiced epitome of pure evil and cruelty. Curry's Darkness is the one thing most people take from this film. The character is truly memorable, no doubt.
I understand this film is not for everyone. Fantasy is a very specific genre in film. I do recommend this film though. If nothing else, it's a good little cinematic escape for a couple of hours. You could do a lot worse.