Movie Review – Krull

1983 Columbia Pictures

Two Stars

KrullContinuing my journey through the world of fantasy in this review I tackle the 1983 big budget flop Krull. First things first I have to admit I was one of the few who bravely watched this on the big screen way back when it was first released. So it didn’t flop because of me! It flopped because it’s not that good!

Starring a largely unknown (at the time) cast Krull tells the tale of the villainous beast known as the er…Beast who comes to the world of Krull to find a bride? Yes after landing his Black Fortress on Krull he unleashes his army of Slayers to slay, ride around with torches, and to kidnap the oh so loverly Princess Lyssa just as she is about to marry the dashing and twitchy Prince Colwyn. After her kidnapping Lyssa is taken to the Black Fortress where she wanders around aimlessly looking like a deer in the headlights. Colwyn, with the help of “the Old One” AKA Obi-Wan, finds the legendary Glaive and seeks an army to help rescue Lyssa.

Part Star Wars, part Knight of the Round Table, and part utter crap Krull is simply a big mess. Featuring everything they could throw in but the kitchen sink there doesn’t seem to be any focus at all to the story or the style.

To start off the two leads are not that interesting. Ken Marshall looks dashing enough but he’s kind of dweebish and seems to be suffering from a major caffeine overdose. Lysette Anthony is a very nice looking lady but her character is utterly boring. On top of that she was dubbed using one of the most bland voices I have ever heard. This is quite puzzling considering Anthony’s real voice is pretty damned nice. Bad choice. Freddie Jones is the only one who manages to bring his character to life in an adequate manner in my opinion. The remainder of the cast seems to be there only as targets for the Slayers.

The high point of Krull to me are the visual effects by Derek Meddings and crew. I find their work to be good or at the very least interesting no matter if the movie is good or not. James Horner AKA The One Score Wonder manages to tweak his Star Trek II score enough so it doesn’t sound too much the same. The guy does great work with so little.

I have to admit with all the publicity this movie received in 1983 I was very disappointed in the final result. I remember going to the theater with some friends from school and none of us were very impressed. For some reason I still find this entertaining enough to pop in the DVD player now and then. Maybe I just like to fix the movie in my head as I watch.

The good:

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The widow of the web sequence is visually appealing.

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Actually there are quite a few visually striking moments in Krull and some really good concepts. None of it is tied together very well unfortunately.

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The not so good:

Colwyn climbs up the treacherous mountain, finds the Glaive floating in a lava stream and does what everyone of us would do, he rolls up his sleeve and plunges his hand into the lava and grabs it? Nothing like setting up a feeling of disbelief right from the get go. There is no explanation how he is able to do this. Do the people of Krull have a higher tolerance for heat? Does Colwyn have some special skill or power? All I know is that there were quite a few groans coming from the audience during this scene.

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Hot lava? No problem…

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…I’ll just roll my sleeve up…

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…and plunge my hand in.

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Got it! Boy that was easy.

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Wow it’s so purdy!

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Good thing I shifted my hand before the blades popped out.

After he obtains the Glaive what does he do with this admittedly impressive looking weapon? He ties it to his belt and doesn’t use it until the last ten minutes of the movie. When he finally does use it he cuts through a wall, dislodges rocks, kill five or six Slayers, and then wounds the Beast. The Glaive then gets stuck in the belly of the Beast and that’s it. No more Glaive. The Beast doesn’t even seem to be that affected by the Glaive sticking in his gut. Seeing how easily he dispatches Slayers with the Glaive I can’t help but wonder how many of his ragtag band of men he might have saved if he had just used the damned thing earlier. Such an awesome weapon totally underutilized.

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The Glaive was front and center on the movie poster and prominently featured in the trailers yet is not that important to the movie on the whole.

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The widow of the web sequence looks good but doesn’t make much sense. The widow kills her newborn son and is made a prisoner of the web, sentenced to sit in a little room with a vanity table and look at her aged appearance? A giant spider guards the web but will stop attacking if an hourglass is turned over? The hourglass can only be turned over once? Once the hourglass is broken the spider destroys the widow?

Lyssa is trapped in the Black Fortress. She runs around in surreal sets until finally being trapped and forced to banter with the giant blurry monster known as the Beast. The Beast is filmed in such a way as to never get a clear look. We learn nothing of him or why he wants Lyssa. At times the Beast appears to be a giant while other times he appears almost human sized.  Very unimpressive realization of the character.

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Lysette Anthony is gorgeous but her character is bland and just plain boring.

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What the hell does the Beast come to Krull for in the first place. To conquer? To find a bride? To get killed? To find focus because he’s so blurry? To determine just how big or small he really is? Look how big he is here compared to the Glaive.

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Now look at the scale. What the hell people?

The Slayers use a weapon that fires a projectile and then can be flipped around and used as a pike or sword. Because of the obnoxious and overdone optical effects they seem to be firing lasers which leads some people to wonder why they just don’t hang back and shoot everyone. Not a great choice and filmed in such a way as to easily cause confusion. I remember a reviewer at the time of release mentioning the whole “laser” weapon thing and wondering why they didn’t just shoot everyone. Well it’s because once the projectile is gone it’s time for swordplay!

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It’s a projectile weapon…

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…that looks like a laser when it’s fired. Sorry but this isn’t Star Wars, no optical effects were needed here just better direction.

The cyclops is dull. He’s big and carries a cool looking spear and quite obviously can’t see a damn thing. However he does stand and blink very nicely.

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I read that the actor playing the cyclops was virtually blind in the makeup and it’s easy to see when watching the movie. When he meets Colwyn for the first time he goes to shake his hand and almost misses.

Random thoughts and observations:

Watch this movie closely and you will notice a weird pattern –

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Beautiful real world scenery.

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A drab and unrealistic set. They couldn’t find a real pool of water to film this scene?

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Beautiful real world scenery.

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A drab and unrealistic set.

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Beautiful real world scenery.

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A drab and unrealistic set. Nice sawdust vibe.

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Beautiful real world scenery.

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A drab and unrealistic set. Not as drab as some but they couldn’t use a real forest?

Over and over in the movie I found myself taken out of the world they were trying to create because of the ridiculous use of crappy sets. The strange thing is none of the scenes required a set. I have no idea why they needed to spend the time and money building the sets when they could have filmed on location. There was no need for the the constant jarring style changes.

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During this sequence some of Colwyn’s crew are trapped in a room where spikes come out of the wall.

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Despite the fact they have swords and one of them has a pretty nasty and sturdy axe not once do they try to break the somewhat flimsy looking spikes.

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This spike starts impaling this poor guy…

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…before the spike even reaches him. Quality editing.

2 thoughts on “Movie Review – Krull

  1. Love this review. It’s fun when people remember seeing films the first time in the cinema and get that immediate audience reaction (the groans!). The funny thing is that even though you give it such a tough write up, I kind of want to watch this movie again (I saw it on VHS back in the 80s). How is it that some films get away with it?

    • I think I’m so tough on this movie because it had the potential to be so much more. I still enjoy it I just can’t stand the total stupidity of some scenes and the glaring contrast between the beautiful location shooting and the cheap looking sets.

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