Legend (1986)

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Legend (1986) Movie Poster Image
Dark and often scary '80s fantasy hasn't aged well.
  • PG
  • 1986
  • 143 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Good people must take up weapons and become similar to the evil beings they hope to vanquish.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Peaceful Jack faces his fears and takes up arms to save the last unicorn and his love interest.


A monster loses his head, but there's no blood. A sprite is hit with an arrow to the brain but survives. A shadowy goblin hacks at a supine victim's stomach repeatedly. A huge repellant-looking goblin threatens to eat Jack. Brain-eating is mentioned, and one villain wants to drink a unicorn's blood. The pig goblin puts victims in a large cooking pot but doesn't eat them. One character prepares to cut a unicorn's head off but doesn't.


Passionate kissing. The Lord of Darkness talks of his desire for Princess Lily. Young actors playing sprites are scantily clad.


"Hell," "dammit," and "s--t."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Wine drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Legend is a dark fantasy full of menacing and sometimes violent imagery that may terrify younger children. Actors in scary makeup and costumes play goblins representing a devil-like Lord of Darkness, who seeks to eradicate good and bring back a permanent winter of evil throughout the world. A unicorn -- the symbol of goodness -- is violently killed. Humans and sprites are attacked; one is hit in the head with an arrow. Some are carted off to be eaten. Brain-eating is mentioned, and one villain wants to drink a unicorn's blood. Expect some wine drinking. The words "s--t," "dammit," and "hell" are used. The Lord of Darkness talks of his desire for Princess Lily.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byLana Davis September 11, 2018

Exactly What Kids' Movies Should Be and Are Missing--Heart and Spirit

I have no idea how this site rated this one star. Is it dark? Yes. Can life sometimes have unkind moments and bad people? Yes? Is it important to learn about th... Continue reading
Adult Written byLollipop4508 November 27, 2017

Wonderful film that teaches kids many important lessons such as listening to what other people who know more have to say.

Its a film I loved as akid, and that my kids love as well. Its especially good because todays overly left wing Politicvally Correct Hollywood simply doesn'... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old March 25, 2019

What's the story?

LEGEND is the horror-movie mirror image of A Midsummer Night's Dream, with startling imagery used to frighten rather than delight. The makeup and costume people created horrifying people-eating goblins worthy of a Grimm tale. And Olympic and Judeo-Christian themes echo here, as representatives of good and evil wrestle for the fate of the world. The definitions of "good" and "evil" are cartoonish at best in a plot that revolves around the weary story of a powerful Lord of Darkness fallen out of favor and seeking vengeance on everything good. His victory depends on his minions bringing him the horn of a unicorn, the symbol of goodness and purity. The unicorn is lured with its favorite bait -- innocence -- and Tom Cruise plays the innocent woods dweller Jack, wearing a ragged and soiled Peter Pan costume.

Is it any good?

This dreadful dark fantasy has become a "cult classic," but one can't help but wonder why. The 1986 director's cut is rated NR and is 54 minutes longer than the earlier PG release. The real trouble is that costumes, makeup, and art direction far surpass plot in quality and comprehensibility. The Tolkien and Harry Potter fantasies, which also feature frightening confrontations between good and evil, at least exemplify good storytelling, the key component missing from this venture. The dialogue often verges laughably on dumb: "Me and you, and all is barbecue," a sprite says, assessing the probability of being eaten by goblins. And, "What a fine fat boy you are," says a goblin to Jack, who replies, "You don’t really mean to eat me, do you?" Cruise signals his unicorn-attracting innocence by playing the role with his mouth permanently ajar in awe, but, really, what more could he do with such a role? You can’t miss his gaping because director Ridley Scott dwells continually on Cruise's parted lips in disturbing and fetishistic close-ups of the beautiful young actor's face.

Be aware that kids who find The Wizard of Oz the least bit nerve-wracking may run screaming from the room when one wriggling captured sprite is hauled off by a hulking goblin to be baked into a pie. This is one nightmare-inducing movie for sensitive kids.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why darkness is associated with evil and light is associated with good. Where do you think that idea started?

  • Where can you learn more about the legends of unicorns and goblins?

  • What is your favorite legend? Why is it your favorite?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy

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