Posted by: jgurner | May 10, 2011

The Cheap Bin – Krull

EDITOR’S NOTE: Anita and I pull a lot of movies from the various DVD “cheap bins.” Quite often, they are movies we’ve never even heard of or may have only heard the name. Sometimes we decide to get it because of the cast, or the blurb on the case or we thought we heard something good about the movie. Sometimes I don’t have a clue why we get them. But, since these are often the bulk of the movies we watch, I thought I’d start doing an occasional review. Often, these movies are years, even decades old, but, it’s nice to take a look back at something that might actually be really, really good (or not).


Krull

1983

Starring: Ken Marshall, Lysette Anthony, Freddie Jones and, believe it or not, Robbie Coltrane and Liam Neeson

Directed By: Peter Yates Written By: Stanford Sherman

Big Lots – $3 bin

I know a bunch of you groaned when you read the title, assuming more than David and Lain read this, but, seriously, Krull is one of the great, much overlooked sci-fi movies. Or great, much overlooked fantasy movies, depending on what you consider it. Which, I think, is part of its image problem. More on that later.

The Story: A giant, mountainous fortress lands on the planet Krull just as young Prince Colwyn and Princess Lyssa are about to get married and bring peace between warring kingdoms. In a scene which will probably show up in Wedding Crashers III, the Slayers from the fortress attack the wedding, slaying, basically, everyone except young Colwyn and kidnapping Lyssa. Colwyn’s nursed back to health by the mystic Ynyr (think Obi Wan) and is soon joined by a rag-tag band on magicians, criminals and a cyclops – I tell you, this movie has everything – in a quest to find the Black Fortress, free the princess and save Krull, and the galaxy, from ultimate evil.

This movie unfairly gets a bad rap. I think for a lot of reason. First, Ken Marshall and Lysette Anthony aren’t exactly big names in the movie world. They aren’t really even small names.  Marshall is best remembered, at least by me, as Commander Eddington from Deep Space Nine. Second, kind of like Tron and The Black Hole, it’s been written off for years as a 80s cheesy sci-fi, psudeo kids movie. Unlike Tron or The Black Hole (both of which I love, BTW) it actually has a PLOT, a decent cast and is pretty darn well put together. Sure, it’s got some cheesy moment, like the fire mares who run so fast their hooves create fire and allow them to fly, apparently, and some of the effects aren’t very special, but you end up overlooking those problems. The whole section with the Widow of the Web works really well.

Finally, I think part of the problem is an identity crisis. Krull is a rare mixture of real sci-fi – spaceships, lasers, alien creatures etc. – and true fantasy – magic, swords, mystical creatures. Some people think it’s a mistake to bring a sword to a blaster fight, but it works for me. I wish there was more decent sword and sorcery sci-fi (Still waiting for the big screen adaptation of Thundaar the Barbarian. Call me Hollywood. I have an idea.)

Krull was directed by Peter Yates, who over his career did quite a few classic movies including Steve McQueen’s Bullit, The Dresser starring Albert Finney and Breaking Away – all great movies I have never seen. More exciting to me is the fact that the score for the film was done by James Horner, Oscar winner for the Titanic film score, but, more importantly the man who did the soundtrack for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: By far the best of the Trek movie scores. And in the Krull score, he basically uses what was left over from Star Trek II.

And did I mention it also has Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane in minor roles? Which is cool. But what’s cooler is David Battley as the magician Ergo. Who is David Battley, you ask? None other than Mr. Turkentine, the teacher from the classic Willie Wonka and the Chocolate factory (not to be confused with the gawdawful Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.)

Okay, okay. Krull is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I do think it gets a bad rap. And if you haven’t seen it in years, or decades, mainly because of its reputation as 80s sci-fi cheese, go to Big Lots, spend $3 and decide for yourself.

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