Legend Blu-ray Review

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The Two Toms

by Casimir Harlow Jan 24, 2016 at 10:05 PM

  • SRP: £19.99

    Film Review

    Despite providing not one, but two, striking central performances, even Tom Hardy's committed efforts can't quite turn this offbeat romantic-comedy-drama into a memorable gangster film.

    Judged on its performances alone, Legend is unmissable. Far from the gimmick that worked for Van Damme (no less than 5 times!) and, to a lesser extent, Adam Sandler, the casting of method actor Tom Hardy is absolute genius. With the modern advantages of digital technology, and the talents of this one man, the dual roles of these disparate twins are brought to life with visceral intensity. It doesn't take long before you find yourself utterly forgetting that it's Hardy embracing not one, but two parts, getting lost in two very different characters whose conflicts - both outside and between each other - echo across the feature. Similarly, the period East End setting feels utterly convincing, bringing us cobbled streets and back-alleys, local pubs and upcoming nightclubs, all steeped in authentic 60s style. Beyond that, Emily Browning's portrayal of Reggie's love interest presents us with some genuine chemistry and palpable romance, as she tries to pull him out of the world he belongs to, and we get interesting support and cameos from the likes of Christopher Eccleston, Paul Bettany, David Thewlis and even Chazz Palminteri.
    Strangely holding back in the violence department, despite a few brutal flourishes, most of the bloody impacts in Legend are curiously delivered off-screen. Whilst this can be effective in a the-less-you-see fashion, here it just feels a little anticlimactic, almost lending the story of these two East End gangsters a glossy, glamorous edge in order to better get you on their side. For all their talk about being gangsters, there's very little legend to these two, and most of what they do revolves around running a nightclub and looking tough. With plenty of comedy and romance - the laugh-out-loud moments are a nice touch, but would have been better if juxtaposed with a stronger dramatic narrative, and the same goes for the blossoming romance, which jars strikingly with latter-end events - writer/director Brian Helgeland (who wrote LA Confidential and directed the Gibson vehicle, Payback) doesn't quite get the mix right here. Thankfully, even if he's not quite enough to make this a truly memorable entry - in either the gangster genre or the Brit gangster sub-genre - double Tom Hardy is more than enough to justify a watch.

    Picture Quality

    Legend Picture Quality
    Legend’s UK Region-B locked Blu-ray release boasts a strong video presentation.

    The 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation, framed in the film’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1 widescreen, promotes all of the rich trappings afforded to period piece, recreating 60s London with aplomb. We get both the glitz and glamour of the night life and the more subdued tones of the bars and backrooms, reflecting a consummately variable palette that picks and chooses its primary uses carefully in order to fit with the period setting.

    Detail is generally impressive, with good clarity and strong attention to the finer flourishes: skin textures, clothing details, background nuances – the cobbled streets and period environment never feels unduly like a set or a reconstruction, and with strong black levels allowing decent enough shadow detail, Legend largely excels on Blu-ray, even if it may not quite have the chops to earn either demo or reference marks.

    Sound Quality

    Legend Sound Quality
    Legend hits UK Blu-ray with a host of different audio options, making for an interesting series of choices and comparisons. The disc actually defaults to an LPCM 2.0 soundtrack, although why is something of a mystery and, given all the other audio options, it seems a little redundant. You can also choose between a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 or DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, so that covers people with either of those speaker configurations. However Legend also includes a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, so if you select that you can experience a Dolby TrueHD core at up to 7.1-channels or a full Atmos configuration using up to 7.1.4 speakers.

    Cas Harlow reviewed the audio using a standard 5.1-channel setup - Legend fares well even without its enhanced multi-channel expansion, providing strong coverage of the dialogue – which rises above the rest of the proceedings and is rendered clearly and coherently across the fronts and centre channels – and welcome background support through the tonally appropriate score, with a multitude of effects (predominately atmospherics) finely disseminated across the surrounds even without the additional Atmos elements.

    Unusually Legend has a section of four different soundtracks for you to choose from.
    Steve Withers reviewed the audio using a 7.2.4-channel Dolby Atmos setup - The unusual mixture of soundtracks on the Legend Blu-ray allowed for the opportunity to directly compare the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix with the Dolby Atmos mix and the differences were surprisingly minimal in this particular case. In fairness Legend is largely a dialogue driven soundtrack and aside from the odd punch-up and occasional gunshot, there's little scope for the sound designer to really show off. The Atmos soundtrack does add a bit more to the mix in terms of ambience when compared directly to the other soundtracks, although in reality the overhead speakers are used very rarely. However there is one scene that takes place during a thunderstorm that is particularly effective, with rain falling all around you and thunder rumbling overhead.

    Regardless of which soundtrack you choose the dialogue is handled very well - from Frances's voice over to the way that Hardy changes the speech patterns of the Kray twins themselves - and given all the cockney accents it's just as well. The excellent musical score is also nicely rendered, as is the string of pop songs that punctuate the narrative and demonstrate the passage of time; whilst low frequency effects are used sparingly to support key scenes. Ultimately whichever soundtrack you choose, it will deliver the goods in terms of the filmmaker's intent but Legend isn't really the best choice to demonstrate your new Atmos setup.

    Steelbook Extras

    Legend Steelbook Extras
    Legend’s Blu-ray release boasts a decent selection of extra features, headlined by an Audio Commentary from writer/director Brian Helgeland, and further supported by a selection of Cast and Crew Interviews, and Interactive Map of period East London, and a couple of Featurettes: Legend of the Krays and World Premiere.

    You may consider it worth upgrading to the impressive Steelbook release for Legend.

    Legend’s Steelbook design is surprisingly well-crafted, with more attention to detail and inspiration than a fair few bigger releases of late. The cover itself is something of a work of beauty, with an debossed framed gun design across the entire front, and further embossed title too. The lack of gloss may disappoint, but it probably wouldn’t have suited the design, which is striking and effective, and should please most fans of the film.

    Blu-ray Verdict

    Legend Blu-ray Verdict
    It's got all the style and swagger, but Legend doesn't quite have the impact that it should.

    The UK Region B-locked Blu-ray release at least boasts strong video and outstanding Atmos-enhanced audio, as well as a decent selection of extra features, all housed within an impressively designed Steelbook package.

    Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99

    The Rundown



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