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Overall Rating

Awesome: 22.22%
Worth A Look38.89%
Average: 19.44%
Pretty Bad: 16.67%
Total Crap: 2.78%

1 review, 30 user ratings

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by Scott Weinberg

"It's Krull-tastic!"
4 stars

Ah, yes. Let's journey back to the land of KRULL, the mystical and magical place that holds all sorts of colorful cinematic clichés, plot devices and sidekicks. Let's not dwell on how much MONEY this movie lost for Columbia Pictures back in 1983, nor should we concentrate on the all-knowing naysayers who often describe the film thusly: "overly familiar story elements and plodding treatment keep this traditional fantasy quest from going anywhere"*

Because what everyone who doesn't dig Krull is forgetting (as is often the case in overlooked cult movies like this) is that it's just cool! Are there plot threads and characters lifted entirely from Joseph Campbell, Star Wars and the classic adventures of yesteryear? Yes. Are there a handful of truly awful acting performances and a few lines of dialogue that cause involuntary eye-rolling on the part of the viewer? Sure.

But as I stated earlier, Krull is It's the umpteenth take on the good old "quest" movie. Take one righteous and (allegedly) charming hero, briefly add one beautiful princess and then have her get kidnapped and throw in a wizened old coot who knows what's up in fantastical worlds such as these. Have there be a big battle/massacre to start the quest rolling, and let the hero grab a whole gaggle of colorful compatriots on the way to his destination. There should be some crazy action scenes every 20 minutes, and a creepy creature every 15. You should expect some randomly placed scenes in which the imprisoned D.I.D.** is shown struggling, screeching and ultimately trying to avoid a wedding.

If you're fortunate enough to have a major movie studio behind you (which Krull certainly did), you should expect some fantastic special effects and impressive set design. If there were some money left over (there wasn't), maybe you'd be able to hire some stars for the leads. (They didn't.) Then comes the marketing, and based on the Extra Features included on this DVD, Krull had some serious marketing behind it.

So...what...happened? Why did Krull make such an audible thud when it hit theaters in the summer of '83? Some could blame the lead actor, Ken Marshall. It's not that Ken's a really bad actor. Let's just say that Ken's a really bad actor in this movie. But I doubt that a stale performance by the lead actor would ever guarantee a box office flop. (Case in point: The Karate Kid made lots of money.) Maybe Krull was doomed due to its somewhat ungainly combination of old-time medieval heroics, sci-fi mysticism and storybook framework. In the early eighties, moviegoers didn't exactly go nuts for movies like The Beastmaster, Dragonslayer or The Sword and the Sorcerer either. (Out of respect for delicate constitutions everywhere, I'll not mention Yor: The Hunter from the Future.)

I say it was a simple matter of a bad release date. Since this is a movie I obviously dig, I did some snooping around on this Internet thing and here's what I came up with:

Budget: $45 - $50 million

Domestic Gross: $15 million

Release date: July 29, 1983

Movies competing against Krull at the multiplex:

Trading Places
Superman 3
Staying Alive
Jaws 3-D

Don't giggle. All of these movies turned a hefty profit. Plus there was another little movie out at the time called Return of the Jedi and Krull also was released the same day as Risky Business and National Lampoon's Vacation.

Needless to say, moviegoers had more on their minds than something they couldn't even pronounce correctly. So I hope that helps explain the Underrated portion of Krull.

The "cult" part? In the world of movie freaks, "cult" is best described as an exclusive group of persons sharing an esoteric, usually artistic or intellectual interest***. I don't know what that means at all, but cult movies are freaky flicks for frazzled chicks. Basically. Oh, and if you ever see one piece of movie memorabilia at a comic convention, then that movie definitely falls under the "cult" category. Krull meets that criterion.

So everything you've read so far tells you basically nothing about the actual movie. Pretty neat how I did that, huh? Here's some plot: Prince Colwyn (Ken Marshall) is planning to wed the lusciously lovely Princess Lyssa (Lysette Anthony). Unfortunately their nuptials are interrupted in a predictably violent fashion by a horde of "Slayers". The Slayers work for The Beast, and The Beast is evil. Obviously this is a race of creatures that have long since phased out the need for proper nouns.

When Colwyn awakens from a solid thud on his noggin, he finds his fiancée has been foisted and his father has been...flayed. Luckily, one of those wise old movie men shows up and tells Colwyn of his destiny and his fate and just basically to get up off the floor (weeping) and go find the damn girl. The wise old man's name is Ynyr and if you can pronounce this guy's name correctly, then you like this movie even more than I do. Freak.

Colwyn's first goal is to attain a mystical and all-powerful weapon known as The Glaive. Considering all the dangerous mountain climbing and lava avoidance that Colwyn must withstand to attain the damn thing, you think he'd at least use it once or twice. The weapon makes a cameo appearance towards the end, and even then it's just to cut a hole in a piece of canvas.

After acquiring the pointy toy, Colwyn and Ynyr head off on an unconscious quest to find...sidekicks, rogues and henchmen! (Wait, do henchmen always have to be bad guys?) And what a turnout they get. Look at this ensemble of scruffy fighters: Liam Neeson! Robbie Coltrane! Wow, a giant, friendly Cyclops! Ah, the requisite "little kid" sidekick! And a wacky magician who keeps turning himself into a goose. (I'm starting to think that a $15 million B.O. gross wasn't such a bad haul, after all!)

If you've seen even one well-known adventure epic, then you're probably familiar with most of what transpires throughout Krull. But what the movie lacks in originality, it makes up for in style. And by that I mean a solid and adventurous, comic-bookish-and-not-ashamed, anti-cynic style. There are no knowing winks or self-referential jibes. Krull is an honest and noble little adventure, aside from some truly rough spots.

I mentioned Ken Marshall earlier. Did I mention that his performance in this movie would make a tree jealous? ('Cuz it's...that...wooden. Never mind.) Lysette Anthony's performance isn't a real leap forward either, but it's not really her fault since they deleted her voice from the entire film and had Lindsay Crouse (The Insider, Places in the Heart) dub it back in! I could pretend to somehow just KNOW this, but it's something that I was told in the DVD commentary, so don't be too impressed.

Obviously under the joyously mistaken impression that the average DVD buyer would ever purchase this movie, Columbia has done a bang-up job on the DVD Special Edition. Just take a look at what you get here:

Cast and Crew Audio Commentary by Director Peter Yates, Editor Ray Lovejoy, Actor Ken Marshall and Actress Lysette Anthony - This is where Ken Marshall pretends he's a real actor and Lysette Anthony whines about her voice being dubbed over. (That probably would be pretty humiliating for most actors.)

Original Featurette: "Journey to Krull" Narrated by Tom Bosley - Tom Bosley! But there aren't any Glad Trash Bags in Krull!

Behind-the-Scenes Audio Commentary/Cinefantastique Article - This feature is for the truly hardcore Krullaholics. I'll get to it soon enough.

Marvel Comics Video Adaptation - That's right. Invest $2,009 bucks into a home theater...and then use the technology to read a comic book. I love my generation.

Photo galleries, cast portraits, theatrical trailers, behind-the-scenes stills, design & concept artwork, vintage advertising and marketing shots, etc. - I'm surprised that each DVD didn't come with its own mystical Glaive and a lock of Lysette Anthony's hair. All kidding aside, if you're a fan of this movie, you will simply love this DVD presentation.

Full of crazy monsters, big battles, entertaining "subplot" adventures, a bunch of cool death scenes, a sincerely impressive set design and a truly rousing musical score by James Horner, Krull deserved a better fate than to languish on a shelf somewhere, and the somewhat impressive sales of the recent DVD Edition were reassuring to my freakish heart. It's not the finest movie ever made, but Krull is an earnest, campy and all-around fun example of early-80's cinematic cheese. My favorite kind of cheese.

*taken from the original king of blurbs, Leonard Maltin. Go Len.

**damsel in distress, doofy

***I love

And remember...just say Krull.

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originally posted: 10/10/01 11:25:51
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User Comments

2/20/11 Ark Slayers were cool and so was glaive! 4 stars
1/26/09 JJF Just purchased the DVD. Krull is even better in widescreen. 5 stars
1/12/09 Chris The Giant Purple Hippo OMG I soooo love this film-it came out the year after I was born... btw ken got REALLY ugly 5 stars
11/28/08 Shaun Wallner Friiggin Awesome!! 5 stars
7/14/07 LegendInMyOwnPants Krull takes me back to when I was 8 and knew NOTHING about great movies. Sigh, Memories! 4 stars
2/10/07 Vip Ebriega It's outta this world!!! 4 stars
12/24/06 David Cohen The worst movie I've ever enjoyed 4 stars
8/22/06 Filmtaster OK for genre. A few interesting cameos & effects. 3 stars
9/25/05 D Buckley Can a score carry a movie? Almost. 3 stars
8/26/05 Beth I have long been a fan of this movie and now I am teaching my kids to love it too. 5 stars
8/17/05 ES Come on a movie were the bad guys brains run away when you kill them = what's not to love? 4 stars
7/28/05 Angel Uneven, iffy, clueless, but absolutely gorgeous to watch 3 stars
6/08/05 JD Majorly underated great movie. 5 stars
2/26/05 David Fowler Magnificent fantasy! Gorgeous Horner score, and the Crystal Spider kicks Ass! Wonderful 5 stars
7/11/04 Daveman Bad on just about all technical levels but it has "Guilty Pleasure" written all over it. 2 stars
4/24/04 Rocky I don't care about effects - or even average acting. This film has a ton of heart 4 stars
11/30/03 john wonderful score but the rest is a guilty pleasure at best 3 stars
6/29/03 Jack Sommersby Dull and inertly paced. It's chance-taking, but just not successful. 2 stars
5/31/03 AwesomeGuy A movie with a blind, old british man can never be bad 5 stars
10/18/02 Krull the Conquerer This Star Wars ripoff has a fabulous James Horner score... and... um... the score's great.. 2 stars
4/20/02 Jason It actually was pretty good. 4 stars
1/27/02 Andrew Carden Whether Or Not You Like Adventures, This One Is Good. 4 stars
1/21/02 Nemesis7293 One of the most beautiful fantasies I have ever seen. Far outclasses the StarWars films 5 stars
1/11/02 max zhang I only liked the weapon -- everything else was worse than crap. 3 stars
12/04/01 palmreader everything from this movie is recycled from crappy Conan knockoffs. 2 stars
11/19/01 Jonah Falcon James Horner had done the score to Star Trek II:The Wrath of Khan the year before,it shows. 2 stars
10/29/01 William Sommerwerck The only appealing things in this film were Ken Marshall's beard and nipples. 3 stars
6/19/01 PaleDavid The campest, dumbest, funnest thing ever. But you have to be very pissed. 3 stars
5/09/01 Paul W. The atari game was bad too!! 2 stars
5/05/00 Lord Keldar This movie should have come with toilet paper! What a piece of shit 1 stars
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  29-Jul-1983 (PG)



Directed by
  Peter Yates

Written by
  Stanford Sherman

  Ken Marshall
  Lysette Anthony
  Freddie Jones
  Liam Neeson
  Alun Armstrong

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