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'Fantasy', in the traditional 'Dungeons & Dragons' sense, in the movies is often seen by the general public as a warning sign (and often rightly so). On the surface, Krull does seem like standard fantasy cliche. Prince must rescue princess from monster. Not very promising so far, is it? Already starting to lose interest? YOU FOOLS! Consider these additional elements: An orchestral soundtrack by the mighty James Horner (Titanic), which is possibly the best score he has ever written, possibly even THE best score ever written; A brilliant mostly-British cast, including Liam Neeson, Robbie Coltrane, Tucker Jenkins :) and a host of other distinguished actors; A script which is so corny that it cannot fail to be fantastic when delivered with such hammed-up enthusiasm by the actors; and finally a few brilliant touches such as the boyhood-dream-weapon the Glave - a giant mind-controlled shuriken. This film falls in to the same category as Flash Gordon which was released a few years before - epic, brit-centric, totally entertaining masterpieces of camp grandeur. Don't write it off until you've seen it enough to appreciate its subtleties.
I saw Krull recently on the HBO family channel (Comcast 304), of all
channels. What's really funny is that Krull is rated PG for adult content!
I believe the content of Krull wouldn't interest most adults, and diehard
fantasy fans like myself aren't adults in the proper sense of the word
Krull offers the sheer pleasure of watching medieval men (Englishmen?), armed mostly with swords and spears, fighting seemingly unstoppable alien warriors with laser guns. The guns appear to have only one or two shots apiece, though, because most of the aliens turn their weapons over in combat to reveal blades for close-quarters fighting. If the aliens had infinite shots, that would be just too unfair for the hard-pressed good guys.
There is a story linking the action sequences together, which clearly draws its inspiration from Tolkien, Star Wars, and the Arthurian Legends. I can understand why someone wouldn't like Krull, because its similarities to Star Wars are so obvious that the movie seems derivative and formulaic even though it deserves credit for presenting its familiar fantasy elements in a somewhat unique manner.
The Krull plot concerns a young hero (no, not Luke Skywalker) with an old mentor (not Obi-Wan Kenobi), who must rescue a princess (not Leia) from an impregnable fortress (which is not the Death Star); otherwise, however, Krull bears no resemblance to Star Wars. Except for the massive spaceship/fortress that glides slowly by during the opening credits, of course.
One reason I like Krull is that the whole production has a distinctly British flavor: yes, the cast and the scenery are obviously British, even if some of it was filmed in Italy, but the movie is unmistakably British in more subtle ways.
The movie has bleak moments when all the good guys seem to be dying at once and their cause appears hopeless, but it also doesn't hesitate to be silly and poke fun at itself in quintessentially British fashion. The Ergo character provides comic relief with his transformations into various animals, which are all the more amusing because they are consistently unintentional. His fussiness and insistence upon his dignity are reminiscent of C-3PO from the Star Wars movies, except that C-3PO never expressed a desire for gooseberry pie.
The hero, his mentor and Ergo are waylaid by thieves, but rather than robbing them the criminals agree to join their quest in an enjoyable Robin Hood-type scene; not only do the thieves respect the hero when they learn that he's the future king, but at least one of them (Alun Armstrong) refuses to have his old shackles removed until the quest is complete. Armstrong's character is my favorite of the movie because I can't help liking a criminal who wants to redeem himself with heroism...like Han Solo (sorry, yet another Star Wars parallel).
Some comments have complained that Ken Marshall lacks charisma as the hero, but since he looks like Errol Flynn with a beard he certainly has the perfect appearance for a fantasy swashbuckler. He also runs the gamut of emotions well, bursting with youthful arrogance in the early scenes and seeming near the movie's end like someone who has actually been changed by experience and may grow into a great leader.
At least one comment complained that Marshall doesn't display enough grief for the deaths of his men, but since the good guys drop like flies in this movie (dying words are reserved for the developed characters) I don't blame him for not stopping to cry while alien laser beams fly past his head.
At least two subplots add mythological or religious connotations to the story: first, the Cyclops (Yes, there's a Cyclops in this movie, and it doesn't look believable at all. But who can hate a movie with a Cyclops?), whose ancestors "made a bargain with the Beast" for the gift of foresight, but were cheated so that they could only see their own deaths. Interesting. I think the Cyclops character was well developed in the movie, and his actions offer an interesting exploration of the issue of free will versus destiny.
Second, and my favorite sequence of the movie, is the visit to the Widow of the Web, because nothing could be more symbolic of a person consumed by hate and despair than someone who allows everyone who approaches to be ensnared in a web and devoured by a giant spider: the scene in which one character dares to approach the widow has the power of real myth.
Even if the spider's cheesy stop-motion animation renders it less than believably real, the sequence is so effectively creepy that it couldn't be improved today except by updating the special effects: perhaps the Shelob sequence in the third Lord of the Rings movie (for which the Krull sequence will provide an interesting precursor) will be better.
Peter Yates' direction is competent, though it's hardly the equal of Bullitt (the only other work of his that I've seen). The supporting cast is also more noteworthy than the leads, since it includes not only Freddie Jones and Francesca Annis from Dune but Robbie Coltrane, the aforementioned Alun Armstrong AND Liam Neeson! Any film that brings such a cast together deserves some credit.
I'm a huge Tolkien fan and fantasy fan overall, so I'm sure that I like this movie more than the typical viewer does. It has its fair share of problems, such as the fact that it goes on too long and doesn't go out of its way to engage an emotional response from the viewer, but I definitely believe that its sense of fun compensates for its flaws. When a movie shows me Errol Flynn killing alien warriors with a mystical boomerang, I cease to be a critic because serious film analysis has no place here!
At the very least, Krull is the kind of movie that will give you and your friends plenty to talk about afterward, supposing that they're willing to watch it with you.
Rating: 7 (A good fantasy-adventure.)
Rating: *** out of ****
Enough people have tried comparing to Krull to Star Wars that I won't even bother emphasizing the similarities aside from the fact that Krull's mythology isn't half as well thought out, but it's just as fun as anything in George Lucas' space opus, and that's good enough to earn a recommendation from me; at the very least, this is easily among the best of its respective genre (better than, say The Sword and the Sorcerer or Willow), and it is to these standards one will immediately realize if this movie is up their alley or not. It probably isn't.
Set on a faraway world known as Krull, the film opens with the oncoming invasion of the Slayers, a fearsome, planet-conquering army led by the Beast, whose lair is a spacecraft shaped like a large mountain called the Black Fortress. They've clearly got the sword-wielding residents of Krull outmatched, as the Slayers are armed with laser, though they curiously still use horses as a means of transportation.
Knowing the only way to stave off the invaders is to unite, the planet's two warring kingdoms set aside their differences so that Prince Colwyn (Ken Marshall) and Princess Lyssa (Lysette Anthony) may be wed. In the middle of the wedding ceremony, the Slayers storm the palace, killing everyone except for Colwyn, and they take Lyssa back to the Fortress as a gift to the Beast. If this was really the extent of both kingdoms' armies, then I don't see how they could have stood even the slightest chance in a full-on war with the Slayers.
Anyway, the Beast has apparently chosen Lyssa to be his bride because he's aware of the prophecy that whomever she chooses to be her husband (and consequently the king), their eventual son will become ruler of the galaxy. Logically, I could only see this working if she chose the Beast, considering Colwyn has no means of interplanetary travel, which would make galaxy-ruling a bit of a tough task.
Determined to save his bride, Colwyn retrieves the five-bladed throwing star (think Alien vs. Predator) called the Glaive and recruits loyal followers during his journey (namely a band of criminals, including Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane). Hindering their quest is the fact that the Fortress automatically transports to a new location during every sunrise. This does beg the question why the Beast doesn't just blast off the planet with his bride-to-be than risk the slightest chance of Colwyn finding her...but I digress.
For all the moments of cheese (no moment unintentionally funnier than when Colwyn is able to recognize one of his men by a blood trail), unconvincing blue-screens, and occasional subpar effects, Krull still works dandily as a rollicking adventure. The cast is much better than usual for this kind of material, with Ken Marshall making for a charismatic and likable hero and lovable rogues like Neeson, Coltrane, and Alun Armstrong (whom I'll always remember as the traitorous Mornay in Braveheart) providing solid support. Lysette Anthony radiates beauty as Lyssa, she's easily one of the most drop-dead gorgeous princesses in cinema history. There's no question I'd go through the same trouble to rescue her as well.
Despite running a little over two hours, Krull moves at a consistently excellent pace, delivering good production values (loved the exterior and interior sets of the Black Fortress), beautiful locations (and thus, some lovely cinematography), and a number of exciting action sequences. The battle scenes are surprisingly well-choreographed; whatever the sword fights may lack in gritty violence is made up for by pure swashbuckling fun. Other terrific scenes include Colwyn's solo rock-climbing, the trek through the swamps, the adventurous ride on the Firemares, and the battle/chase within the Fortress. The action and adventure is given a great boost from James Horner's rousing score, one of the composer's personal best.
Director Peter Yates strictly adheres to fantasy formula, so there are no surprises to be found. The plot is occasionally baffling, essentially making up a lot of its own rules as it goes along (the old mentor telling Colwyn he can't use the Glaive until the right moment, a character staying behind because his "time is up" only to come to the rescue later, etc.). But it's all in good fun, and the movie is pieced together with moderate coherency and consistent momentum. Recommended to fans of 80s fantasy, Krull delivers the goods for those into this sort of thing.
This has always been one of my favorite movies for some reason. That
doesn't necessarily mean that it's good; just that I like watching it.
I highly recommend this movie to anyone searching for a good fantasy title from the 80's. I would put "Krull" right up there with Ladyhawke, both Conan's, Willow, and the Dark Crystal.
What separates this fantasy film from the others is a plot involving a more science fiction- type element. Visitors from somewhere in space have landed on a planet named Krull to wreak havoc. After they snag up our hero, Prince Colwyn's bride-to-be, he goes on a quest to save her with the help of a star-shaped boomerang with knives called the Glaive and a band of strange characters including a cyclops and a goofy guy who can change into animals.
Good time fun worth the rental price. What else do you need here?
For film buffs, check out early performances by Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane.
I love these sorts of films; attempts at fantasy which diverge from the
usual sort of run of the mill stuff. Krull remains original even now. Where
computerised effects are mainstream today, in this film they are rarely used
and the crew get round it with more hands on methods; making the entire
piece look far more realistic.
Granted the plot could be a little cliched, but the way in which the story tackles it is good, and you won't be bored by the various chapters that are presented. You get whisked away and there is enough background and adventure to substantiate the film and you aren't left wondering if there could have been more to it, but rather, you are immersed *in* the film and finish watching it with a sentimental 'Aww.. that was brilliant, is that it? I want more..' The various characters that the protagonist meets throughout the story is cool, and really lends to the effectiveness of the developing background. It all becomes entwined, and makes for a fulfilling plot.
If you liked Legend (Tom Cruise, Mia Sara) for its different direction or Dragonslayer for its dynamic special effects, then you'll probably like this similarly-aged colleague of that era.
I remember that when i saw this for the first time i wasn´t very impressed.
I remember that i didn´t like the "laser" beams that came out of the bad
guys weapons. I remember thinking KRULL wanted to be a STAR WARS but it
wasn´t very good at it.
Then as the years passed, i got to watch KRULL on video, and somehow i started realy to like this movie. By this time i had read a couple of fantasy books and i started to appreciate the attention to details in KRULL and the way the whole concept was organized as a movie.
Since then, each time i see it, i realy enjoy it more. Ok, it´s not the perfect fantasy movie, but compared to the usual more recent unimaginative excuses for movies that come out of Hollywood, (see "Neverending Story III" or "Warriors of Virtue"), this movie KRULL is a brilliant fantasy masterpiece.
KRULL has an excelent and different atmosphere, a much, much better script than WILLOW, excellent characters, a fantastic magic weapon, a good set design and it follows the Dungeon and Dragons formula in a very imaginative way, compared to the more recent movies.
The actors do their jobs well, (try to spot Leam Neeson) the situations are imaginative and the soundtrack is realy good and very atmospheric also.
The only minor fault in this production, is the way in wich we can immediately tell, when the outdoor scenes are filmed in indoor studios, because there is immediately a big contrast between the natural magnificent landscapes and the ones that are built in the studio. Which is a shame because sometimes it spoils the movie atmosphere. Anyway, who cares! KRULL is an excellent fantasy movie, and someone should make a directors cut from it and re-release it, because it might teach many hollywood executives how a good fantasy movie should be made. Even with its flaws !
A fantastic High Fantasy movie ! Go see it. It´s a shame this movie is so forgotten. Excelent stuff.
The creature was a bit too cheesy, but the story was enthralling, the
score is beautiful, and the acting was surprisingly good.
It's very much like a fairy tale, but futuristic at the same time. It begins in a castle that is part medieval, part sci-fi. There is a prophecy that the beast and his slayers (the evil force of the movie) will be brought down by the union of these two families that have previously been enemies (somewhat Romeo and Juliet). The fighting family theme doesn't last long. The slayers delay the wedding by kidnapping the bride, Lyssa and taking her to the black fortress. The black fortress appears in new locations every 24 hours, and finding it will take the groom, Colwyn, on many different paths. I won't spoil the film, but the adventure that unfolds as Colwyn tries to rescue her was incredible, and at times scary. Be on the lookout for a cyclops, flying horses, giant spiders, and many more wonderful surprises.
This is definitely a movie for those who enjoyed Willow or The Princess Bride.
Added bonus: seeing Liam Neeson before anyone knew who he was.
In the wake of Star Wars, fantasy films about brave heroes trying to rescue
kidnapped princesses were suddenly in demand. Krull was one such film to
jump aboard the band-wagon. There are also elements here of Robin Hood (the
costumes look like they've been borrowed from natives of Sherwood Forest,
and the hero is aided by a rogue's gallery of "merry men") and Perseus and
Andromeda (the hero has to complete several mini-tasks before he can get on
with his main quest).
Prince Colwyn (Ken Marshall) has just married the beautiful Princess Lyssa (Lysette Anthony) when their city is raided and the princess is kidnapped. She is taken away to a heavily defended citadel. Colwyn sets off to rescue her, and during the course of his quest he picks up additional companions, including a bumbling magician (David Battley), a courageous cyclops (Bernard Bresslaw), and a gang of honourable bandits (which includes Alun Armstrong, Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane).
Krull is highly derivative, but reasonably entertaining. The special effects are decent for the time, but probably look a little primitive to over-spoilt modern eyes. Marshall's leading performance is extraordinarily bland, but his unashamed earnestness actually becomes part of the fun once you get used to the fact that he's trying desperately to play it seriously (without a shred of success!) The supporting characters are more interesting and are fairly well-played (despite the hopelessly hokey dialogue they have to contend with). In general, Krull is a likable movie which tries to keep up its lively pace, and manages to provide a fair number of thrills for youngsters and sci-fi afficianados. If you don't expect too much from it, you'll come away satisfied.
This movie is half way between being so bad, it's good and being so
good, it's er...good. It's neither too camp, nor badly acted, nor does
it have any really dire special effects. But then again, the acting
isn't brilliant nor are the effects stunning (except for the spider,
which is pretty good).
In short, it's OK.
The hero's main weapon is a kind of giant shuriken-thing which slices through almost anything. It's also under his mental control, which is nice, but as he's non-too bright we don't get to see any of the really wicked things you COULD do with a flying circular saw if you had an imagination.
The cast has a few well-known names in it. Liam Neeson, for example, in his early years. The things actors do before they become famous.
There's also my fave bad actor, Bernard Bresslaw. Sadly, his bad acting is hampered by a dodgy facial prosthetic which hides half his face. So we are not treated to his usual silliness and clown-like mugging. Instead we have to endure the presence of his cyclop's prosthetic throughout the movie. And trust me, it ain't very convincing. Imagine a one-eyed giant whose face has been frozen through Botox abuse and you'll get the idea.
And there's the evil Beast, which the cast are trying to destroy. Apparently it doesn't have legs, and is trapped inside it's fortress. All it can do is blow fireballs at the hero, which are pretty ineffectual. I actually felt a bit sorry for it. The final fight scene was rather like watching someone beat up a disabled person.
But on the whole this movie is alright and destined to be remembered with fondness for years to come.
A much underrated gem this terrific children's fantasy picture boasts several fantastic performances from it then unknown cast, several of whom used it as a springboard to go on to become major Hollywood and TV stars later in their careers. Excellent special effects for the time in hindsight and with beautiful art direction, this film truly deserves to be dug out and dusted off and shown the respect it deserves. Admittedly the damsel in distress running away endlessly from the evil baddie is a bit tiring but the battle sequences are genuinely rousing and brilliantly directed. A true British classic!
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