Saturday, 24 December 2011

Krull (Film Review)


This was originally intended to be something Christmas themed, focusing on a film which took place on this day, but nothing satisfying could be found. Most of the good films focusing upon Christmas have already been reviewed time and time again, and considering the number of bad reviews lately it felt like it was time to focus on something fondly remembered. At least by some people anyway.

Merry Christmas to you all and I hope you enjoy this review.

Krull is the quintessential 80s sword and sorcery film. It was an ambitious attempt to create something like Hawk the Slayer with a blockbuster budget and it shows, a lot of those type of films’ flaws being carried over to this one. But as were a lot of their strengths.

While the story makes absolutely no sense it contains enough outlandish ideas to hold your interest. While the characters are basic, the actors seemed to be having a lot of fun with their roles and enthusiastic about the film which translates well onto the screen. While the plot relies upon many fantasy staples, it never drags and fights are always added at the right times to keep the audience’s attention. Add to that the music of James Horner, some expensively made and well shot locations, then horses which can travel at Mach 2 and you’ve got a film. Not a good quality film, but definitely an awesome one.

The story sounds like someone put down their plans for a Dungeons and Dragons campaign onto paper and pitched it to some filmmakers. A warlord from outer space known only as the Beast lands on the primitive planet Krull, deploying legions of alien Slayers to kill off its population fearing a prophecy which may come to pass. After some time of fighting the rulers of the remaining kingdoms attempt to formalize an alliance against the Beast by marrying off their heirs, Colwyn and Lyssa.
Unfortunately Lyssa is the one to who the prophecy refers to so no sooner are they married than the Slayers storm the wedding, kill everyone, devastate the kingdoms’ armies and kidnap Lyssa. Colwyn is the only survivor and banding together with a wiseman, Ynyr the Old One, criminals and a cyclops; attempts to find a way to storm the Black Fortress to rescue her.

So yes, we’ve got a medieval sword and sorcery adventuring band vs an alien space warlord and his armies of laser gun wielding shock troops. How can you not like this?
In all seriousness, if there is anything truly worth criticising about the film it’s the fight scenes. Many seem sporadically composed and do not flow well, usually being shot in stages or are simply one sided beatdowns. This feels jarring considering how well many of the establishing shots and more static scenes are filmed, and it’s mainly Horner’s music which helps carry the battles. None of them feel as overly epic or truly threatening as, say, the fights seen in Conan were.

One other problem is something which will stand out is that there are some plot holes so large you could happily throw a whale through and have it not hit the sides, and deus ex machina so contrived you could spot them in your sleep. The biggest offenders are during the conclusion in which the mystical flying ninja star Colwyn carries, Krull’s version of excalibur, fails to kill the Beast and does little to help them. This is in spite of the film setting up the weapon as the ultimate in monster killers and it having not been used until the very end due to Ynyr specifically stating not to unsheathe it until needed the most. Then, caused by his and Lyssa’s love for one another, Colwyn focuses his emotions to shoot fireballs from his hand at the Beast.
Yes, you actually read that. And no, seeing it happen doesn’t make much sense either. It’s just one massive arsepull.

At the end of the day though, Krull does hold up pretty well as a 80s fantasy movie. It’s not good, it doesn’t make much sense and in terms of basic film storytelling it is a complete and utter mess, but it is really fun to watch. It’s definitely up there with Tron, The Dark Crystal and Conan when it comes to sci-fi and fantasy films from thirty years ago.
Rent this one if you’re interested to see what a traditional Dungeons and Dragons fantasy film looks like when it's a big budget production and not a Sci-Fi Pictures original film.

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Krull and all related characters and media are owned by Columbia Pictures.

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