Krull [retro review]

“And fame? Nah. It’s an empty purse. Count it, go broke. Eat it, go hungry. Seek it, go mad!”

The Scoop: 1983 PG, directed by Peter Yates and starring Ken Marshall, Lysette Anthony, and Liam Neeson.

Tagline: A world light-years beyond your imagination.

Summary Capsule: Generic Fantasy Storyline #148: Now, with more Cyclops!

Justin’s Rating: Starfish, HO! No, doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, I’m afraid.

Justin’s Review: Despite the Star Warsy opening, the world-conquering alien, and the laser beam-shooting spears (don’t ask me, man, I just write here), Krull firmly sets itself into a fantasy cliché stance, and refuses to budge. Echoes of Star Wars, Dune and Conan wash over this bland family-friendly flick, which follows the fantasy playbook to the letter:

      STEP 1: Have some highly unbeatable bad guy with an impenetrable fortress and scores of faceless goons.

STEP 2: Pull a guy out of obscurity, load him with a prophecy (you know, from that one dude who does prophecies on the street corner… I think his name was Greg), and give him a princess to rescue. A big bosom is a must (for the princess, not the guy).

STEP 3: Toss in a wise old mysterious mentor who knows way, way too much — as if he’s been reading the script, or something.

STEP 4: Make the hero go search out some fancy-pants weapon or item that will give him great power. With that great power, we’ve heard, comes great responsibility. Remember that.

STEP 5: Gather together a rag-tag band of associates and assistants. Make sure that one of them is the odious “comic relief” and another is a sniveling kid. Many of them will die, leaving behind weeping children and wives who will be denied a percentage of the film’s profits and will most likely will starve to death.

STEP 6: Have your hero seek out an oracle or prophetess, who never lives in the middle of a populated center but always somewhere remote, like Delaware. He will tell you something to keep the plot moving along to the next scene. Ignore it at your own peril. Bring a vat of goat urine as a token of appreciation for his efforts.

STEP 7: Have various set-related escapades, like escaping from quicksand, fighting bad guys who pop out of nowhere, and dueling with doppelgangers. At each escapade, a lackey must die.

STEP 8: Eventually get to Evil Fort of Bad-Smelling Doom, poke around inside, and kill the boss with the item you got back in step 4. Speeches will be made, grand gestures handed out, and every good guy who dies will do so cradled in the arms of a comrade, croaking out a last, upbeat speech.

At times I found myself charmed with Krull; the production values are fairly decent for early-80’s movies, the faux-Star Trek 2 score is lively, the set pieces inventive (especially in the evil fortress), and it’s a kick to see a very early Robbie Coltrane and Liam Neeson rocking out as lovable rogues.

Still, there are titanic hurdles to overcome in liking this movie. As it begins, we’re presented with a world-conquering alien known as The Beast. He’s got a big spaceship that randomly teleports around places and he’s got scores of stormtroopers at his disposal — life is good for Team Evil. Yet tell me how it makes sense for this multiple world-conquering dude to spend weeks and months just hunkering down on a planet and attempting to conquer it by sending out small platoons of soldiers for raids? And what about his previous conquests — is he shirking his duty to rule these spoils of war? And why does The Beast suddenly get it in his mind that, on this particular planet, he has to obey a vague prophecy to marry a princess in order to rule the world/galaxy? The guy’s got a mountain for a spaceship, for Pete’s sake; as much as I love curly locks and soft curves, a princess is no match for large bore plasma cannons.

So the bulk of the movie flashes between The Beast trying to woo the princess by scaring her half to death, and Prince Colwyn’s adventures in leveling up his Dungeons & Dragons team in order to tackle the big leagues. I had a hard time buying Colwyn as a kick-ass soldier, too — his beard screams “low-rent porn star”, and one of Colwyn’s first acts as a brand new king is to curl up on the floor and sob like a schoolgirl. Not since Luke really, really wanted to go to Tashi Station to pick up some power converters did a movie make an audience embarrassed to be rooting for its hero.

Still, it’s got death by quicksand, a Cyclops, and 500 mph ponies, so it can’t be all that bad. Can it?

For once, we need a Cyclops with a monocle. Tell me that wouldn't rock.

Intermission!

  • Sounds sooo much like Star Trek 2’s music. Lo and behold, James Horner’s behind it all.
  • The Star Wars “Star Destroyer” homage at the opening
  • The Slayers? As in, Buffy?
  • Who the heck is handing out prophecies in movies like this? There’s ALWAYS a prophecy!
  • Nothing exciting’s happened in the first fifteen minutes, but the score is having a full-on orchestral orgasm here
  • Laser beams versus swords hardly seems fair
  • An older gentleman fondling a younger guy’s bare chest calls up weird feelings within me.
  • Wow, this guy cries more than Terms of Endearment
  • He finds a starfish, and life is good again
  • Ha ha, he turned himself into a goose. So, is it cannibalistic if they eat him?
  • Robbie Coltraine and Liam Neeson! Bonus!
  • The oracle turning the emeralds into stones to fool the prisoners was a great little bit
  • Cyclopses are cool
  • If you get a kid’s family killed, telling him “WE’RE your family now!” is somehow comforting.
  • Infanticide! It’s why this is a family flick!
  • Robbie Coltrane’s voice was dubbed by actor Michael Elphick.

Groovy Quotes

Ergo: I am Ergo the magnificent. Short in stature, tall in power, narrow of purpose and wide of vision. And I do not travel with peasants and beggars. Goodbye!

Princess Lyssa: My father says that good fighters make bad husbands.
Prince Colwyn: Well, that depends.
Princess Lyssa: On what?
Prince Colwyn: On whether you expect a husband to follow you around. Jump every time you clap your hands.
Princess Lyssa: Wouldn’t you jump for me? No of course not. You’re a warrior.

Prince Colwyn: The reward is freedom… and fame!
Torquil: Freedom? We have it! And fame? Nah. It’s an empty purse. Count it, go broke. Eat it, go hungry. Seek it, go mad!

Ynyr: There are kingly virtues other than bravery. Courtesy is one of them.

Prince Colwyn: He gave his life for us.
Titch: He was my only family.
Prince Colwyn: We’re your family now.

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1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Louise does Hawk the Slayer « Mutant Reviewers From Hell

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