I haven’t been the biggest fan of Ridley Scott’s output over the years, but there’s no denying his one two punch of “Alien” and “Legend” is immense. Often times modern audiences forget to cite “Legend” as one of the benchmarks of the fantasy genre. It’s probably the quintessential dark fantasy film and the one film I think of when I refer to fantasy films. There’s everything here from goblins, and trolls, to unicorns, and a valiant warrior, in the form of Tom Cruise. There’s also the unparalleled performance by Tim Curry whose delivers a stunning turn as the Lord of Darkness.
Not since “The Witch’s Ghost” has there been a “Scooby Doo” adventure so deeply rooted in Halloween that it qualifies as automatic viewing for the holiday. While it is a change in pace for the Mystery Inc. crew, it’s a fun adventure in to the magic and supernatural element, along with some pretty stellar animation, and a pretty awesome surprise ending that I admittedly didn’t see coming.
Lucasfilm Ltd. and Disney’s “Strange Magic” is another of the many releases in 2015 I was hoping to love going in, but just couldn’t. “Strange Magic” defeats itself before we even reach the second half of its achingly simple storyline, not because of its simplicity and abundantly detailed animation, but because of its constant musical numbers. It’s not enough the characters sing every five minutes, but the musical numbers eventually blur in to one another resembling more droning white noise than characters expressing their feelings. It inevitably begins to feel like the writers are just trying to stretch an hour long narrative in to a hundred minute film.
I would really only suggest “Legend” to the hardcore fantasy aficionados. It might even be a little too heavy for “Lord of the Rings” fans. As a kid I loved watching what Ridley Scott gave movie fans, but I never quite understood it until years later. Scott touches on some heavy concepts both philosophical and spiritual, and he does so with a palette of monsters and unicorns. Director Ridley Scott composes a rather brilliant and dark fantasy epic about the concepts of light and dark, and good and evil. In truth, “Legend” is a twist on the tale of Adam and Eve, except with more fantasy, magic, and monsters.
Director Jim Henson’s “Labyrinth” is one of the many epic fantasy films of the eighties indirectly influenced by George Lucas’ “Star Wars,” and while it never aspires to be anything more than a standalone tale, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t possess epic potential from beginning to end. Director Henson unfolds a very unique and entertaining tale of a young girl who learns how to grow as a person through a menacing adventure through a massive labyrinth. Much in the realm of “Alice in Wonderland,” or “Wizard of Oz,” young Sarah finds herself confronting many monsters and menaces, and becomes a hero in the end.