Got tired of the dysfunctional Flixter Facebook app. Grading movies A-F. Only movies that I find interesting, but not necessarily high quality. Some blockbusters, some interesting rarities and oddities, and occasionally some turkeys.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Krull – A Gem from the Fantasy Boom of the 1980’s

Krull – (1983)

It could have been worse. The film was one of the most expensive movies of its time in 1983, with a reported budget of 30 MUSD. But it only grossed half of it. Columbia Pictures expected it to be a hit, and likely a franchise. It had the Marvel comic adaptation as well as Atari and arcade games based on it. But it was released only a few weeks after Return of the Jedi and it got bad reviews. But the people who ignored it at the cinema gave it a shot on the cables and its reputation has steadily grown over the years. Today it has a cult status and has gained a whole lot of fans.

Krull was done in the same era as Ivanhoe and Excalibur, Dune and Willow, Superman and Flash Gordon. I was a fantasy film lover during the 1980’s and still am. I don’t recall that I ever saw Krull at the theaters, but it did grab our attention at the video store. And I stumbled over it recently.

The Styrofoam sets and the too many transportation routes – endless fighting, climbing, walking, riding, flying – could have made it unbearable. Aliens are from outer space, but they still use horses as a means of transportation. The laser guns appear to have only one or two shots apiece, as the aliens turn their weapons over in combat to reveal blades for close-quarters fighting.

From the sky drops a “Black Fortress” inhabited by an evil monster “The Beast” and its soldiers called “Slayers”. They want to concur the planet. To stop the invasion, the two rival kingdoms join forces by the marriage of Princess Lyssa and Prince Colwyn. Unfortunately during the ceremony the Slayers attack the palace, kill both kings, wound Colwyn and kidnap Lyssa. The next morning, the wise Ynyr helps Colwyn to find the magic weapon “Glaive” (French for “double-edged sword”), a giant mind-controlled sort of shuriken.

Together they go on a quest for the monster’s black fortress to free Lyssa. During their quest they face a number of dangers and challenges, and form a band of strange characters they meet on their trip, including a Cyclops and a magician who can change people into animals. And in the end the Black Fortress and the Beast explodes.

It could have been unbearable, but what really save the movie are the impressive UK cast and a really good music score. For Swedish readers: Star Lysette Anthony also played Rowena in the 1982 TV film Ivanhoe, with actors James Mason, Sam Neill and Anthony Andrews. (Since the premiere in 1982, Ivanhoe has been broadcast on Swedish television on the January 1st every year. It's now considered a tradition.)

Peter Yates’ direction is competent, even though it’s hardly the equal of his masterpiece Bullitt. The special effects are decent for the time, but look a little primitive to our modern over-spoilt eyes.

It’s an enjoyable popcorn-viewing experience. What else do you need here?

Grade: B

Advisory: seeing Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid) before anyone knew who they were.

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