Krull (1983), or I Feel Like A Little Kid Again

30 08 2009

Wow. All I have is “wow”. I just saw Krull for the first time, and I feel like I’m in elementary school, pumped full of sugar and ready to take on the universe. I’m electrified by it; it may well be one of the most entertaining fantasy films I have ever laid eyes on. It has absolutely everything to just rock the world of anyone who’s a fan of the fantastic; lots of quests, funky-but-effective special effects, plenty of medieval rapport, magic and sorcery up the wazoo, and a score that will have you bounding with delight. It’s just wonderful, and if you can get out of the hum-drum adult mindset for a second and get your imagination going, you’ll be in for quite a treat while you’re watching this.

The journey begins on the far-away planet of Krull. It’s kinda like our world, but a lot cooler. Evil aliens called the Slayers have invaded the somewhat-peaceful medieval world, and the inhabitants seem powerless to stop it. In a desperate bid to counter this evil, the two great kings of Krull decide to allow their respective son and daughter to marry, allowing for the unification of their kingdoms in the face of the Slayer presence. The two prospective rulers of the new kingdom, Prince Colwyn and Princess Lyssa, fall instantly for each other, and the match-up between the two seems perfect, but the Slayers have other plans. They stage a bold attack on the castle on the eve of the wedding, killing both kings and capturing the daughter for an unholy inter-species marriage between her and the Beast, leader of the Slayers. Prince Colwyn is left alive, however, and is that ever gonna come back and haunt them! He and a wizened old sage band together a motley crew of people who are much more effectual than they are, including a band of thieves, a semi-powerful wizard, and a cyclops, and OFF THEY GO! on a magical adventure of whimsy and wonder, questing here and there for all kinds of things. Can Prince Colwyn save his beloved wife-to-be from some inter-species love and save his planet from devastation? Not alone, that’s for sure!!!

Man, just talking about it gets me electrified. I haven’t seen a movie like this in SO long.I’ve seen Masters of the Universe. I’ve seen Conan the Barbarian. I’ve seen The Princess Bride. They all have good elements between them that make them adequate fantasy films. But Krull takes everthing that makes fantasy so good and it combines it into one delicious, delightful bite that goes down smooth. It’s 100% fantasy; it’s like watching someone play an RPG or reading a David Eddings novel to you. There’s magic, fantastic creatures, quests to complete other quests, and bad guys that are just so ambiguously evil that they incense me with the persistence of their ambiguity!

The score by James Horner is just awesome! It’s jaunty, medieval, and upbeat, punctuated only by a single synthesizer to symbolize the alien presence. It’s orchestral, lush, and powerful, just like any good fantasy film score. Imagine the power of Excalibur‘s score, the jauntyness of Ladyhawke‘s score, and the imagination of The Neverending Story’s score, and voila! Just listen to one of these tracks. It just screams whimsy!

The direction by Peter Yates is powerful and majestic. The thing about fantasy film directors, by and large, is that they hit it and quit it. They try the genre once, and feel almost instantly that they cannot do another one. Most of the time it doesn’t bother me, but I really feel crappy that Yates never tried his hand again, because Krull was a sweeping success. He made all the right decisions, got all the best shots, and set the right tone for a fantasy movie that goes above and beyond the line of duty. My favorite thing about Yates is that he doesn’t pull any punches. He SHOWS what the characters are talking about. When they say, “Oh, we must go to the Cave of the Widow and face the evil Giant Spider!” , they don’t cut away and show them talking about how cool it was to go there and talk to the Seer. No, we actually go there and see some cool stuff! We go all over the place and see all the cool stuff that is mentioned in the story; there’s no wait, like in some movies (I’m looking at you, Star Wars…)

Ken Marshall IS Prince Colwyn. He never really went on to do anything else, but at least he gave us one good thing before he fropped into film obscurity. He is the classic fantasy protagonist; a Shakespeare character with magical accessories. He inspires people all over the place, he emotes a little too quickly a little too much (see what happens when he learsn of his father’s demise), but he drives the story with his whiny, princely problems, and for that role he was brilliant. Alun Armstrong plays the leader of the bandits, Torquil, and he seems to be the unsung hero of the film. He brings character, humor, and street-smart insight into the plot that can be a little blinded by Colwyn’s search for his Lady Love that was in his life for a good 12 hours prior to her kidnapping. Keep an eye out for a young Liam Neeson as one of the bandits, as well. Looking at him now, it seems like he was a bit of a scrapper in his youth; he was bulky, tall, and a bit of a wiseguy, not the regal old man we all know and love. It brings our favorite English gentleman into a whole new light, and I enjoyed seeing him here free of his usual British scruples.

Run, don’t walk, to see Krull! It’s a high-flying adventure that actually keeps me entertained enough to suspend disbelief. I’m thoroughly impressed by this film, and although I’m an incurable FILM SNOB these days, I still have a place in my heart for good fantasy, and I can recognize quality when I see it. Krull is quality, through and through, and I give it my highest rating of 10 alien-on-lady rendezvouz out of 10! Huzzah!

Keep an eye out later today for my review of Halloween II!

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