Man does this movie bring back some memories. I first saw this movie in the theaters with my dad years ago and thought that the Glaive was one of the coolest weapons I had ever seen since the lightsaber. I mean, the guy had a thought-controlled throwing star that could cut through stone. How cool is that. That plus the sci-fi elements in this early 80’s fantasy movie has always made it stick out in my mind and every time it came on TV, I would always watch it. So let me introduce you to one of my favorite fantasy movies from the 80’s, Krull.
The plot: An entity known as “The Beast” travels throughout the galaxy in his mountain-like spaceship called the Black Fortress, and conquers planets with his futuristic army, the Slayers. On the planet Krull, The Beast’s latest target of conquest, a wedding ceremony is set to take place between Prince Colwyn and Princess Lyssa, in the hopes that an alliance between the two kingdoms will be able to defeat The Beast, though both of the kings are against the marriage. During the ceremony, where the couple are to exchange a handful of flame with each other, the Slayers attack, killing most of the assembled army and guests, including the two kings, kidnapping Lyssa, and injuring Colwyn and leaving him for dead. When Colwyn regains consciousness, he finds that his injuries have been tended to by Ynyr, the Old One. Ynyr tells Colwyn that he is now king, and Lyssa has been taken to the Black Fortress. When Colwyn asks how he can defeat The Beast, Ynyr says that the only way is with the Glaive, a legendary weapon, and he takes Colwyn to where it is supposed to be found. Colwyn climbs the mountain and enters a cave near it’s top, where he retrieves the Glaive (a mystical, five bladed weapon) from a river of lava. Ynyr then tells Colwyn they must see a nearby seer in order to locate the Black Fortress, as it’s location changes every day. While they are taking a break in a nearby forest, they meet Ergo :The Magnificent”, a wizard with a penchant for shape changing, who refuses to accompany them but when he sees a cyclops in the forest, agrees to go with them. As they continue traveling, the meet a band of escaped criminals, led by a man named Torquil, and Colwyn manages to convince them to join his quest to fight the beast. Finally reaching the Emerald Seer, they ask for his help in locating the Black Fortress, but as he tries to find the fortress, The Beast’s hand magically appears and destroys the seer’s crystal. The seer suggests they go to the Emerald Temple in a nearby swamp, where The Beast’s magics cannot penetrate, As they travel the swamp, they are attacked by Slayers but they manage to fend them off with the help of Rell, a cyclops that had been following them since Ynyr came down from the mountains. Continuing through the swamp, the group become trapped in quicksand and while Colwyn and the others try to save the members trapped in the mire, failing to save one of them, a changeling kills the seer and takes his place. When they reach the temple, the changeling attempts to kill Colwyn but Rell, who had seen the seers body in the swamp, kills the changeling. Knowing that it is their last chance at finding the Black Fortress, Ynyr goes to see the Widow of the Web, while the rest of the group wait at the base of the mountain. Meanwhile, The Beast has been trying to convince Lyssa into marrying him, even taking the form of Colwyn in his attempts to seduce her, but she refuses. The Beast shows her an image of Colwyn embracing another woman and says that Colwyn will betray her, but when Colwyn refuses the advances of the woman, The Beast kills his minion for failing to seduce or kill Colwyn. Back at the mountain, Ynyr reaches the lair of the Widow of the Web and makes his way towards her, but as he makes his way across the webs, a giant spider appears. Ynyr calls out the Widow’s real name, which causes her to halt the spider for a time, giving him a better chance to reach her. Ynyr makes it to her lair and manages to convince her to tell him where the Black Fortress will appear. She tells him where the fortress will appear then she offers her life to help him escape from the spider, but tells him his life will end when the sands run out. Ynyr makes it down to the others and manages to tell them where the Black Fortress will appear before he collapses and the sands slip from his hand. The group capture mystical fire mares so they can reach the Black Fortress in time but Rell chooses not to go with them. Arriving at the fortress, the begin to scale the walls but they are attacked by Slayers and several of the group are killed. As the fortress begins to teleport, Rell arrives and manages to keep one of the passageways open long enough for the survivors to enter the fortress, but he ends up being crushed by the passageway. As the Slayers attack them, the group ends up getting separated, with Ergo and Titch being attacked by Slayers but Ergo transforms into a tiger and kills them. Meanwhile, Colwyn, Torquil, Oswyn, and Bardolph find the dome that Lyssa is being kept in and while Colwyn uses the Glaive to free her, the others try to find Ergo and Titch but end up trapped in a room with spike lined walls that begin closing in on them, killing Bardolph. Colwyn breaches the dome and finds Lyssa, then uses the Glaive to block the passage to The Beast so that the can try and escape, but The Beast appears, forcing them to face it. Colwyn uses the Glaive and manages to wound The Beast when he embeds it into The Beast’s chest, but when he tries to retrieve it, The Beast grabs it and continues to attack him. Realizing that they needed to complete the wedding ceremony, Lyssa summons the flame to her hand and Colwyn takes it, allowing him to shoot the flame at The Beast and kill it. With The Beast’s death, Colwyn and Lyssa find the others and manage to make it out of the Black Fortress before it self destructs. Having survived the ordeal, Colwyn removes Torquil’s manacles, naming him Lord Marshal in the process and he and Lyssa set off to begin their new kingdom, with their offspring going on to rule the galaxy.
Krull was met with mixed to negative reviews from the critics, holding a 33% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Some of the critcs stated the film to be too moody and melancholy for the Star Wars set, but otherwise calling it a likeable mix of sword and sorcery and science fiction. This movie was one of the most expensive to be made at that time but it wound up being a box office flop as it only earned over $16 million back from it’s $45 million budget. Still, the movie managed to obtain a cult following in the years after it’s release.
It might not be considered a “good” movie but I have always found this movie to be very entertaining to watch. The acting was pretty good and, it may seem cliched, but the mostly British casting in the movie actually made the movie seem like a better fantasy movie (probably the whole sword and sorcery being linked with King Arthur for me). The story was rather unique, a planet with medieval weapons taking on an intergalactic army with laser-like weapons. The special effects were pretty good, though there were a few times where the rear screen projection could have been a bit better. You could tell that Star Wars had a slight influence on this movie because the Slayers really looked quite a bit like stormtroopers and even Lyssa’s honor guard looked a little like the Emperor’s royal guard from Return Of The Jedi. I was a little disappointed in the appearance of The Beast because it kind of looked like a cross between a C.H.U.D. and one of the creatures from Humanoids From The Deep. Still, it was a big monster boss which is what you need in a fantasy movie. Like I said, it might not be for everyone, but I think this is a lot of fun to watch.
Rating: 3 1/2 of 5