Dir. Peter Yakes
Reviewer. Dan Cook
A nonsensical piece of fantasy claptrap from BULLITT director Peter Yates, KRULL is a highly derivative and irredeemably dull sci-fi slog that is only made watchable due to its consistently imaginative production design and a fabulously rousing score by the late, great James Horner. Set on the titular fictional planet, KRULL tells the story of a Prince (Ken Marshall) who, with the aid of a wise old man (Freddie Jones) and a band of outlaws (played by such British legends as Alun Armstrong, Dicken Ashworth and Liam Neeson in one of his first major screen appearances), must embark on a perilous quest to rescue his wife-to-be (Lynette Anthony) from the clutches of an evil Beast.
Both a critical and commercial failure back in 1983 yet developing a strong cult favourite through the years, KRULL certainly has its fans. However, in my opinion, it stands out as one of the much lesser entries in the dark fantasy genre, particularly when compared to the other more exciting and artistically innovative releases of the time such as LEGEND, LABYRINTH and RETURN TO OZ.
For me, the biggest problem with ‘Krull’ lies with the extraordinarily uninteresting lead performance from character actor Ken Marshall who shows little in the way of swashbuckling heroism or even hugely likeable charisma. Throughout the movie, he looks totally uninvested in the action taking place around him and rarely is his character moved by the painful sacrifices his friends choose to make so that he may be reunited with his equally bland love.
This focus on an astoundingly boring protagonist means that the film doesn’t have a central figure to care about and without a hero to root for, the stakes of the drama are severely lowered. Things certainly aren’t helped by its story which takes beats from numerous sources including STAR WARS, the works of Tolkien and Arthurian legend, making the whole thing painfully predictable and leaving little room for suspense or surprises.
There’s certainly some interesting sets and beautiful cinematography to admire in KRULL and the various fantasy creatures that pop up, including a friendly cyclops (played under heavy prosthetics by CARRY ON veteran Bernard Bresslaw), a threatening stop-motion spider, trailblazing horses and the aforementioned Beast, all look great. There is even a memorable and rather terrifying sequence set in quicksand that is very well executed and would undoubtedly have given me endless nightmares as a child - and probably will as an adult too. However, these are the few highlights in an ambitious yet ultimately very boring snoozefest that did little but remind me of the many better films I could have been enjoying instead.