Krull (1983)

I Came to Find a King, and I Find a Boy Instead

When Chris suggested that I review the two Conan movies, it seemingly got Fabio started with trying to name every cheesy sword and sorcery type of movie from the 80’s that he could think of.  Not wanting to allow him to monopolize the request portion of my reviews, I decided to pick only one of them for now and get to the remaining 27 he named at a later time.  The one I picked was a movie I had never seen and possibly never heard of.  It sounds familiar and the cover looks familiar, but a lot of these types of movies share similar covers, so that’s not that surprising.  I also found that this movie was available on Netflix streaming, and that’s one of the best movies to review as I don’t have to wait for anything.  So here’s todays review of Krull, written by Stanford Sherman, directed by Peter Yates, and starring Ken Marshall, Lysette Anthony, Freddie Jones, David Battley, Bernard Bresslaw, Alun Armstrong, Robbie Coltrane, Liam Neeson, Todd Carty, John Welsh, Graham McGrath, and Francesca Annis.

Some titular planet is invaded by the cleverly named beast called “The Beast” and his army of things that slay things for him called “Bunnies”.  Oh wait, they’re called Slayers.  These creatures travel through the galaxy in their mountain-like fortress which is black in color called “Bunny Manor”, or the Black Fortress.  Meanwhile, the characters that I can only assume are named Prince Princeton (It’s actually Prince Colwyn, played by Ken Marshall) is to marry Princess Princess (Actually Lyssa, played by Lysette Anthony).  A prophecy foretells that the child from this marriage will rule the galaxy.  The Beast has other feelings on the subject, so he sends his Slayers to interrupt the ceremony and kidnap the Princess.  Colwyn is the only survivor and he instantly sets about the heroes task of crying like a bitch, until Ynyr the Old One (Freddie Jones) comes along and tells him he needs to acquire a magical weapon called “the Glaive” to fight The Beast.  He climbs up a mountain and retrieves it with little trouble.  He meets a wizard named Ergo “the Magnificent” (David Battley) and then a bunch of thieves like Torquil (Alun Armstrong), Kegan (Liam Neeson), Rhun (Robbie Coltrane), and Oswyn (Todd Carty).  They then continue to wonder around doing various things before they decide they should go and rescue the princess.

I wouldn’t really call this a bad movie, but I don’t feel like it was a productive use of my time either.  I guess it’s the reason I’m producing this, but I could’ve watched something else and probably enjoyed it much more.  It’s pretty typical stuff with a pretty scattered story.  First, they couldn’t really figure out if they wanted to make a swords and sorcery movie or a science fiction movie, so they just made both.  But the part of the story that was science fiction was so minimal that they could’ve just stuck with the swords part.  The enemies were from another planet but they didn’t need to be.  Then they shot lasers out of their spears, but that might as well have been magic.  And that was everything sci-fi they did, so why bother?  The might and magic stuff was okay enough and they probably would’ve been better served to leave it at that.  Being a disjointed story is something that I’m beginning to realize is fairly popular with these types of movies.  I guess, if they just stuck to the main plot, the movie would be roughly 20 minutes long.  They have to fill it by running around and doing side missions before getting to the real one.  It couldn’t be as simple as just going and finding the princess because your sword isn’t good enough.  You have to first find the magic weapon that’s the only thing that can damage the enemy, but where would you go?  Well you have to go and find the spider lady so she can tell you where the fortress is going to show up.  But I highly doubt you’ll be able to get there in time, so you need to go and catch the horses that can run really fast because their feet are on fire.  Now you can get to the story proper.  And you can end it in a way that just pisses me off, and requires ::SPOILER ALERT::  The power of love defeats the evil enemy.  Apparently they have some kind of a ceremony when they get married where the man puts a torch into water, then the woman grabs the fire out of the water with her bare hand.  And such is marriage, I guess.  The problem with this is that it’s corny and lame.  And it proves that they wasted our time earlier in the movie.  The Glaive damaged The Beast, but the damned thing couldn’t kill it.  Why did they waste all the time going for it then?  Granted it did all his work for him once he threw it for a while.  He just let it loose and it flew around and did everything for him.  But, when it came to facing the creature that was its sole purpose, all it could muster is cutting his arm and sticking itself in his chest.  It turned out that the fact that they got married gave the husband pyrokinectic abilities, allowing him to shoot fire out of his hand and burn the Beast to death.  And the whole “love conquers all” bullshit was a pretty silly way to end the movie.  ::END SPOILER::  There were a couple of other stupid things in the movie, of course.  I was right in assuming that I should be worried about the introduction of Ergo “the Magnificent” because he was there to be comic relief.  His whole joke was that he was terrible at magic and his spells, more often than not, turned in him into a creature that was useless for their current predicament, like a baby pig or a goose.  And his spells were pretty stupid as well.  For some reason, the spell to turn himself into a goose was “Fat and Ugly”.  This is a spell?  If that’s the case, I’d have been turned into a goose several thousand times working in retail and dealing with some fat bitch of a customer.  Later, when Ynyr meets up with the Widow of the Web and their prior relationship is revealed, she confesses that she had a kid with him, but killed it because she couldn’t kill him.  But he’s very quick to forgive her for this offense, almost as if he wasn’t even listening when she said it.  The biggest annoyance of this movie for me was the fact that I had no idea where the title came from until I started writing this review.  If they even mentioned the fact that the planets name was Krull, I missed it.  And for the rest of the movie I was listening intently trying to find out who in this movie was named Krull.  It wasn’t the Prince, his name was Colwyn, but sometimes the people pronounce it so that it kind of sounds like Krull.  Maybe it was the name of the fancy weapon, but no.  They decided to throw creativity out the door and just name that “The Glaive”.  That is akin to him naming his sword “The Sword”.  And then, when I started writing my review, I saw that the planet was named Krull, at least according to Wikipedia.  Mystery solved.  Fuck you, Krull.

The look of the movie was generally pretty bad.  The settings were nice, but that was about all of it.  The costumes were mostly goofy and the attempts at magic were pretty obvious.  When the fire is superimposed on different things in the movie, it’s super obvious and doesn’t really work that well.  At first I was bummed out by the Glaive, because it was this super special weapon but, when it was removed from the lava, it looked like a starfish.  Thankfully, it broke out of that and looked pretty cool … and then was promptly forgotten about until the very end of the movie.  I was happy with the look of the giant spider they used in the movie.  Sure, it was a little laggy at times, but the way it moved and acted was really reminiscent of a real spider, making it all the more creepy.  And the lair it lived it was pretty boss as well.  The Cyclops that followed them around, on the other hand, looked pretty goofy.  All of the prosthetics looked fine, but it still just looked goofy.  The action typically worked fairly well.  I thought the swordplay was pretty good and interesting, and the first fight involving the prince made him really reminiscent of Errol Flynn.  That is, of course, if I had any real knowledge of Errol Flynn to reminisce about.  One thing I got to wondering about was the tiger in the movie.  At one point, Ergo turns into a tiger to fight the enemies.  My issue with that was that they apparently had no problem letting a real tiger loose in a scene with real people.  There’s only so far you can train them things, y’know?  Well they didn’t know at the time, I guess.  That’s why they let the real tiger be in a scene with the 12 year old boy!  It’s a miracle that kid survived production of this movie.  They had the tiger laying his head on the kids lap at one point, for crying out loud!

The performances in this movie failed to impress.  Only one person impressed, but I’ll get to that in a bit.  Ken Marshall did nothing for me as the main character of this movie beyond showing me that people should not allow him to attempt crying on screen.  He was good with the swordplay, which was made all that more impressive by the fact that he was wearing upsettingly tight pants throughout the entire movie.  I hated David Battley throughout the movie because he was the comic relief that entirely failed at comedy, so went for full blown annoyance instead.  Lysette Anthony did good enough work as the princess, but that didn’t require much of her other than hotness.  The real stars of this movie for me are Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane.  Not that they did anything particularly special in the movie; they were very minor, bit players that made little impact on the movie.  But they ARE Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane.  Each of them individually dwarf the popularity of everyone else involved in this movie by themselves.  Maybe this movie inspired them.  It is trying to be science fiction and magic in the same movie.  And what are the two biggest science fiction and magic movie series of all time?  Probably Star Wars and Harry Potter.  They were in them!  Fuck you, Krull!

I went into Krull with no expectations, and it matched them.  It was thoroughly okay.  The story wastes a good amount of time and ends with a lackluster conclusion.  None of the performances impressed beyond the fact that two of the bit parts in the movie went on to be big stars, but some of the action was decent and reminded me of some old school, Errol Flynn era sword fights.  The movie isn’t the worst thing you could do with your time, but is also something that doesn’t really hold up as something you should watch.  You could stream it on Netflix and, if you’re curious enough, you could do that and not feel that bad afterwards because you probably won’t remember much of it, but there are better things to do.  Krull gets “Short in stature, tall in power, narrow of purpose and wide of vision” out of “Power is fleeting; love is eternal.”

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