Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Review: Legend (second-pass)

World of Blackout Film Review

Legend Poster

Legend (second-pass)
Cert: 18 / 131 mins / Dir. Brian Helgeland / Trailer
WoB Rating: 5/7

A second-pass is a chance to re-evaluate a film without waiting for it to hit the domestic-release market. A chance to put the narrative on the back-burner and focus on the details; be it in the set, the costumes, the script or the editing. A chance to really focus on the character development, to see events through the storyteller's eyes. A second-pass is a chance to enjoy the film again.

And while I still stick steadfastly by the hesitant praise I laid upon Legend after my first viewing, I have to say that watching it again to study Tom Hardy's performance really underlined (what I perceive to be) the film's weaker-points...

It seems that any dialogue which isn't crafted to be eminently quotable in pubs and offices (most of which lines are delivered by Hardy in his Ronnie persona) is distinctly average at best, and quite often falls below that line. The worst affected examples of this involve characters speaking to anyone other than the Kray twins, and a worryingly high percentage of Frances' narration.

The twins' much loved mother, Violet Kray, doesn't appear on-screen until the second hour of the film (which seems inconceivable given the awe and respect she commanded from them), and their older brother Charlie doesn't even warrant a mention. Even allowing for skewed narrative viewpoints, this seems at odds with the story of two brothers who value family above all else.

The film's hyperactive soundtrack gatecrashes nearly every scene, often playing less than thirty seconds of each song as if the sound-editor is trying to get away with not paying royalties for their use (I could be wrong, but I'm pretty certain films don't work like that, even if TV does). Many of the tracks indicate the rising popularity of Americana at the time, but feel out of place in a movie about London's East End. The most startling example of this is the use of The Meters' Cissy Strut in an early scene of the film. Already associated with movie-goers as part of Tarantino's Jackie Brown collection, it's a track which wasn't even recorded until 1969, one year after the Krays' arrest at the end of the film.

Hardy is magnificent, which is what I wanted to get out of seeing the movie again. But what I'd also like is an alternate cut of the film (as a bonus-feature, not a replacement) with the brightness and colour-saturation turned down a notch, with the soundtrack excised completely other than the in-scene songs which are actually heard by the characters, and with the narration removed. Don't ask a lot, do I?

And despite everything I've just said there, yeah I enjoyed the film again ;)

Is this film worth paying £10+ to see?
See it on a big-screen while you can, because once it's on DVD, it's on DVD forever…

Well, I don't like the cinema. Buy it, rent it, or wait for it to be on telly?
If you're not rushing to see this at the cinema, then a rental will probably do you.

Does this film represent the best work of the leading performer(s)?
Hardy is great; Browning is held back by the part that's been written for her.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
Not enough.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
In addition to the somewhat extensive list I made last time, Legend also stars Mr. John Sessions, who appeared in 1991's The Pope Must Die with William 'Jek Porkins' Hootkins; 1984's The Bounty and 2002's Gangs Of New York with Liam 'Qui-Gon Jinn' Neeson; 2000's Gormenghast series with Christopher 'Count Dooku' Lee and Celia 'Bravo Five' Imrie; not to mention 2012's The Domino Effect with Tiya 'Sabine Wren' Sircar.

Sessions is kinda connected himself...

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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