Retro Review – Krull (1983)

Premise

Set on the high fantasy sci-fi planet of Krull, a young Prince must recuse the kidnapped Princess from ‘the beast’ a powerful being from another planet. With the help of a rag-tag crew and a powerful weapon, Colwyn (played by Ken Marshall) sets out on the adventure of a lifetime!

 

Rocky Start

Okay so where do I begin? This film is like Marmite, you either love it or hate it. At a run time of almost two hours it’s hard to explain what I love about this movie but I definitely keep getting drawn back to it. There are better sci-fi movies from that era namely ‘Star Wars’ but ‘Krull’ does have something special about it that makes it stand out as more than just a knockoff.

 

The Kitchen Sink!

Most movies have one maybe two ideas and run with it. Krull has about fifty and they throw it all up on screen to see what sticks. Aliens, cyclops, giant spiders, massive alien lizard men, sorcerers, doppelgängers, shapeshifters, flying fire horses, homing bladed frisbees, flame thrower arms, teleporting fortresses oh and Liam Neeson! The ideas are just nuts and hugely enjoyable at the same time. This film is bursting with creativity and some of the themes or lore seem to have deeper backstories that never get explored. One example is The story of the cyclops who does a deal to see the future but ends up only able to see his death is fascinating. The writers have all these story threads running through the movie and they only get brief mentions. It’s as if you’ve been dropped into this fully realized world but only get to learn snippets as if you’re a tourist just visiting briefly. Fascinating stuff!

 

Does it hold up?

In all my retro reviews I will ask this question. For the most part here the answer is yes. All the practical effects are solid. Good set designs, costumes and beautiful scenery give it a surprising look of quality. Add to that the score being performed by the ‘London Symphony Orchestra’ and its clear that ‘Krull’ had a lot of money behind it for a movie of this time. In fact the budget is estimated between $27-$30 million dollars (Star Wars cost $11 million) However, even with all that money, when the movie relies on special effects it is woefully bad! Projector backdrops, and poor special effects make some scenes instantly cheesy and can be very distracting.

 

Hero’s Journey

One of the films most enjoyable qualities is how predictable the plot is. It’s a typical hero quest to find the kidnapped girl, locate the powerful weapon and defeat the evil bad guy! Nothing new but it does zip along at a decent place and although predictable it’s certainly enjoyable fun especially for younger folk. It’s a family movie.

 

Swamp Scene

I mentioned above that it’s good family fun but there is one scene that is complete nightmare fuel. It stuck out to me as a child and definitely deserves a special mention. The scene involves a doppelganger taking on the shape of the Seer in the swamp. His black eyes and sharp claws are terrifying and still sticks out as a very dark moment in the film.

 

Sequel?

The huge budget spent followed by a commercial flop meant that a sequel was never going to happen. It’s a bit of a shame too as the prophecy mentioned at the start and finish of the movie suggests that perhaps they were hoping to tell more.

 “A girl of ancient name that shall become queen, that she shall choose a king, and that together they shall rule their world, and that their son shall rule the galaxy”.

Without having a continuation of the story, I think it’s safe to assume their son was Anakin Skywalker ; )

 

Conclusion

Messy, terrible effects and a ridiculous amount of ideas all smashed together. It shouldn’t work and I think for many people it won’t but I love this movie! I watched it over and over again as a child and I still have a special soft spot for it. One of my favorite films to stick on around Christmas time.

Like I said it’s not for everyone but you should give it a try and see what you think. If for one reason alone, you’ll get to see ‘The Glaive’ one of the coolest weapons in any film.

 

What did you think of Krull? A cheesy mess or a cult classic? Let me know in the comments below!

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