Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
Released on July 29, 1983
Directed by Peter Yates
Written by Stanford Sherman
Cast: Ken Marshall, Lysette Anthony, Freddie Jones, Francesca Annis, Alun Armstrong, David Battley, Bernard Bresslaw, Liam Neeson, John Welsh, Graham McGrath, Tony Church, Bernard Archard, Robbie Coltrane, Lindsay Crouse (voice)
It’s not often that I can go into a first-time viewing of an ’80s science fiction film and not know one thing about it—actors, director, screenwriter, subject matter, iconic scenes or shots—but I did just that with Krull, a 1983 sci-fi/fantasy yarn that I’d discovered was a childhood favorite of my blogging friend Stu, over at The Last Picture Blog. His recommendation was convincing enough to prompt me to purchase the film, which for better or worse was paired with Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, and available at the suspiciously affordable price of five bucks.
I’d always thought this was some sort of battle-heavy space actioner, with marauding aliens at war with humanoids for no other reason than their time-worn hatred of each other, but this was instead a medieval search-and-rescue tale set entirely upon the scenic, landscaped surface of a peaceful, distant planet. An all-powerful creature known as the Beast lands his tree-stump-like craft on the planet and sends his army of ‘slayers’ to invade a wedding ceremony between the prince and princess of rival kingdoms, whose kings hope to form a friendly alliance. The princess is kidnapped and both kings are killed, leaving the prince to journey to the Fortress and rescue his bride, and defeat the dreaded beast Krull.
Well, wait a minute. After all these years I’d assumed that Krull was the name of the alien overlord, and throughout the film I kept wondering why he was referred to only as the Beast, and nothing more. Was it a plot twist or reveal we’d find out about later in the story? Nope…it took a search on-line for me to discover that Krull was actually the name of the planet! What the hell! And throwing more confusion into the mix was the synopsis on the disc case, which stated, “…where a horrific, omnipotent Beast is the ruler. This is the planet of Krull!” See what I mean? When Zsa Zsa Gabor tells you she rules a planet of women, she doesn’t mean the planet is named Women, for chrissake!
Anyway, beyond that confusing case of misdirection, I will admit that I rather enjoyed the film, in all its cheesy, lame-effects, early-’80s splendor. Yes, the ‘damsel in distress’ storyline is as old as time (and parallels to Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back were more than obvious), but the romantic in me still got a kick out of watching a guy facing insurmountable odds to save the woman he loves, and doing so amidst the most gorgeous location scenery I’ve ever seen in a film of this type. And though the leads were unknown to me, it was fun to spot a young Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane in early supporting roles, and a surprise to find that Peter Yates was the film’s director.
However, at over two hours in length, Krull might’ve benefited from some judicious editing and trimming, making those talky lulls between action scenes less of a slog to get through. Still, I’d say it was more entertaining than most reviews would lead you to believe (I thought the ‘widow of the web’ spider scene was outstanding in so many ways), and worthy of a look if fantasy adventure films are your thing. And of course, no discussion of Krull would be complete without mentioning the mystical Glaive, the boomerang-like weapon with starfish arms and five retractable blades that our prince wields against the Beast. As deadly as it looked, I just wish it was featured more prominently than it was. (6/10)