Next up, let me present to you David from That Moment In. David is one of my podcast co-host with The Random Chat Show and he also is involved with two other fun podcasts, Fresh Picks and CSI: Cinema Scene Investigation. His site covers books, movies and gaming reviews among other fun articles on the most up to date news bits. The site motto is that every movie has a moment, what is yours? Head on over and check out his awesome site!
Take it away, David! Let’s hear about your choice, Krull!
‘Krull’ (1983) Review: You Will Need the Power of the Glaive
The mid-80s were swept up in a genre that, while short-lived, has never seen its equal, a deluge of films that were all basically the same with characters being the only real difference. But they were fun and inventive, pushing special effects to the next level and nailing down tropes that still persist. The fantasy/sword & sorcery films of that era are populated with a wide mix of generic low-budget fare and some truly well-made works that have become iconic, names that have come to define the genre and even the 80s themselves.
Peter Yates’ 1983 classic, Krull, is one of these films. Perhaps not as widely known as such blockbusters as Conan the Barbarian or Willow, it is an excellent example of the period and the filmmaking style it came to represent. Heavy on special effects, the movie is extremely well made and creative, elevated by some great performances, filled with colorful characters, and a even a nice hook on the tropes.
The story begins with a narration that spells out what we already know simply by the period and genre we are in, that a girl will be queen and choose a king and together their son will rule the universe, a variation we are all familiar with. Prince Colwyn (Ken Marshall) and Princess Lyssa (Lysette Anthony) are the couple and on their wedding day, on the planet Krull, their world is invaded by an entity called the ‘Beast’ (re: Devil). He travels in an odd looking spaceship that looks like a mountain and phase-shifts to a new, unknown location at every new sunrise. He has an army of mutant soldiers called ‘Slayers’ who use staffs that fire beams of energy for attack. At the wedding, the Slayers run an assault on the castle and kill the two family’s kings and kidnap the princess for their master.
Colwyn is injured and recovered by Ynyr, the Old One (Freddie Jones), a mystic hermit who explains to the young prince that the ‘Beast’ can only be defeated by a magical weapon called the ‘Glaive’, a five-pronged throwing device hidden in a high mountain cave at the bottom of a pool of fire that only a hero can retrieve. He takes on the quest and is bestowed the power of the Glaive and so he and the Old One set out to find the Dark Fortress and rescue the princess. Along the way, they encounter a number of characters who will join his quest, including a giant cyclops (Bernard Bresslaw), an untrained magician called Ergo “the Magnificent” (David Battley), and a band of thieves, including Kegan, played by a young Liam Neeson. Through a series of adventures, they travel the land facing adversity as they unlock the secrets of the Dark Fortress and make their way to destiny.
While there are several great sequences, the standout is the discovery of the Widow of the Web (Francesca Annis), a women trapped at the center of an enormous spider’s web, guarded by a magnificent, elephant-sized white arachnid that will kill any who attempt to free her. She herself cannot leave, kept safe by an hourglass that holds a spell to keep the spider at bay. The sequence is thrilling (if a bit dated by today’s CGI effects), and actually a touching moment in the movie that adds a great deal of depth to one character while propelling the story of another.
Krull is a standard tale by any measure, and the tropes are paraded out with glee, but the sheer enthusiasm of the production, commitment of the cast and crew, and truly inspired special effects make this one a cut above. Usually, films of this nature lack real punch in the dialogue, leveling most of their attention on the action, but Krull does one better and concentrates a lot on giving the familiar story some weight. By no means a masterpiece, this one is often lost in the shuffle of the era but is well worth a look, if for anything to see how the genre can be done right.