CHN Movie Review: Krull

Paul Thomas

It's the International Break, so we're having fun with a movie review.

Tim Krul has had a bit of an uneven start to Newcastle United's 2013-14 campaign. Newcastle have allowed 12 goals in 7 matches, good for third worst in the Premier League. The defense in front of Krul is certainly culpable in a number of those goals, but at least a couple can be put down to mistakes made by the goalkeeper. To say that his play has been inconsistent thus far would be accurate, but to tell the whole story one must also point out that he's played a large role in each of the Toon's positive results as well. Such an enigmatic start surely deserves some thoughtful analysis, but this week we are already taking a second week off for international play, so instead let's have some fun. For Coming Home Newcastle's first ever film review, we honor our goalkeeper with a look at his (not-really) namesake, the 1980's cult classic Krull.

It's a bit reductive to call Krull England's answer to Star Wars, but it's also not totally inaccurate. Columbia Pictures originally ordered the film as a Dungeons & Dragons property, but when they were unable to secure the license (accounts on this vary; the studio would later say that it was never their original intention to capture rights to D&D), they shifted their attention to the burgeoning space opera market. Columbia gave director Peter Yates a massive budget, and filming took place primarily at Pinewood Studios in London. Promotional materials for the film seized on the lot's history as the filming location for much of the James Bond films to entice viewers, but it tanked (relatively speaking) at the box office. Released just two months after Return of the Jedi, Krull suffered from comparisons to George Lucas' franchise, making back only about a third of its $50 million budget in its initial run.

Apart from the heavy Star Wars influence, the legacy of the film appears to be the unique weapon wielded by the main character, who is curiously not named Krull (the name of the movie itself will get more treatment below, but it's worth noting here that naming an epic film after the planet that the action takes place on doesn't exactly make it accessible to mainstream audiences, and may have contributed to its poor performance at the box office). The Glaive, which is actually not a glaive at all and resembles a very large throwing star, is not used by our hero Colwyn until the last act, despite being introduced in the first ten minutes. The lack of its utilization in the intervening fights, of which there are many, is explained by a throwaway line. Nevertheless, The Glaive has become the film's primary icon. It's a bit of a shame, since (a) Colwyn's lack of desire to use it in battle despite it being a defining characteristic of his people is at best quite strange and at worst a fun-sucking plot device that actually makes the battle scenes even less interesting, (b) it's not even the most awesome weapon featured in the film (see below), and (c) there are actually some other, really cool scenes that deserve to be remembered much more than the ones that actually feature The Glaive.

One such scene involves a spider web. Ynyr, a grizzled mentor type with a fantastic horseshoe mustache, faces his past on behalf of the group. There's an overwrought metaphor about the sands of time, but overall it's a standout scene that also features some really beautiful special effects. It's easy to believe that they blew the majority of their budget on the spider visual (I have no idea if that's actually true), because it doesn't look like 1983 at all. That they were able to achieve what they did with the spider makes the climax that more frustrating, however. The final showdown with The Beast (seriously, there's a guy name Ynyr and the planet's name is Krull, but they couldn't come up with a name other than The Beast) looks like it was colored in with crayon by comparison.

Special effects aside, the film fails to distinguish itself with its story. The quest part is fine, and some of the trials Corwyn must pass are actually pretty well thought through. The main structure, by contrast, is as flimsy as the Newcastle back four in the second half of the Hull City match (see, I haven't forgotten what this blog is about). The invading forces, whoever they are, ostensibly want to enslave the people of Krull. Their plan is to accomplish this by kidnapping the princess/queen, thereby drawing attention to themselves and forcing a rescue attempt. There's never a reason given for her captivity, and there's nothing to distinguish her as worth capturing, unless The Beast is really enamored with enormous hair. It was the 80's, so you never know.

Successful and entertaining films have been built on lesser stories, but a generic villain fought by an uninteresting hero is never going to elevate a script already in bad need of help. At the same time, there are enough fight scenes to keep the attention of genre fans, and some fascinating peripheral characters plus some authentically creepy moments (there's plenty of unintentional discomfort as well) prevent Krull from being a total loss. Conclusion: Krul > Krull. I grade it a 2.5/5.

The Breakdown

I've listed below the notes I took during my initial viewing. I did it this way mostly because I don't know how else to share all of the images I captured, and there are many. I didn't elaborate on all of the details, so some of the finer plot points may not make sense if you haven't yet seen the film. Times listed are approximate.

0' - Opening thoughts: I have to confess that I know nothing about this film. I only know about it because of this image, which gets posted in our match threads whenever Timmy does something awesome.

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(Credit to bcschles for creating this masterpiece)

My guess is that Krull isn't actually that guy with our goalkeeper's head photoshopped onto him. Since he takes up the most space on the poster, I'm guessing he's the bad guy. This could be fun.

3'39" The title sequence is finally over. This thing was almost twice as long as the House of Cards intro, which feels like it takes up half of each episode. I remember the days when every film had to have one of these. I don't miss those days.

4' Iron Man is here. Wait, lots of Iron Men are here. They must be the guards.

6' If this dialogue were any more expositional, the characters would be telling each other what year it is. Wait, your father is a king? Fancy that!

7' They're in some kind of medieval space castle. Awesome.

8' Poofy hair alert. Also, creeper alert.

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9' The planet has two moons. "Dude, check out this movie. The planet has two moons. It's almost like Star Wars!"

10' A mustachioed man appears. Is he Krull? I hope so. That mustache has probably killed a dozen men on its own.

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11' I think the Iron Men guards have Recon helmets. Do they work for Bungie?

Surprise laser attack!

12' The Iron Men orcs are scaling the walls as if suspended by ropes. Hashtag special effects.

13' Worst sword fight ever? The bad guy just stabbed the rock with his gun. Wait, why are they sword fighting with laser guns?

14' Why do sword clashes cause lightning? Is it because the swords are actually laser guns? Lasers still work at close range, right?

15' Haha, he left the battle to swing from a rope and sort of kick a guy.

18' "Who are you?" "(Unintelligible, not Krull)" Darn.
"There is no time now for grief." His dad just died. Mr. No-Vowels is hardcore.

19' Princess Lyssa is in The Black Fortress. Or is she the queen? It's unclear whether or not the wedding ceremony was completed, since it was interrupted by laser fire, a kidnapping, and the deaths of almost everybody in attendance. They certainly didn't consummate. Well, now we have a quest.

20' ...but first we need The Glaive. It is a powerful weapon, but only in the hands of the right man. Homeboy doesn't know what this weapon is, despite the fact that representations of it are plastered all over the building they're in right now.

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You know, that one symbol: it's inside the wedding fountain that ends up being so crucial to the story, in the windows, on your new father-in-law's necklace, ON THE THRONES.

Nope. Never seen it before. Don't know what it is. I'm only the king, you know.

22' This is some epic music for a rock climbing scene. Seriously. He climbs 10 feet to the theme from Jurassic Park. This scene won't end.

23' Okay, this is ridiculous. It's not quite the driving scene from Manos: The Hands of Fate, but we're in that territory.

24' This cave is very yannic. Now he's standing next to a phallus. The location scout had fun with this one.

25' I think this is where Frodo threw the ring in. The director is obsessed with fire water for some reason. Not that I'm complaining.

26' The Glaive is a ninja star. Colwyn totally just reached into the lava jelly and pulled it out. It's not exactly Excalibur.

28' We're going to need a background story on why those spandex pants have stripes. So far this appears to be the film's central mystery.

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29' Krull isn't the name of the planet, is it? That would be lame. This place is basically Vancouver with two moons.

30' I think this witch guy is supposed to be charming. So far it's truly the worst part.

31' Oh God, he's the comic relief. Make it stop.

32' Cyclops. YES. This almost makes up for the previous guy.

33' Oh, two suns, too. Now we're just plagiarizing.

34' Some axes just collided in midair. Um, okay.

35' Liam Neeson is here! We're saved!

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He also brought Hagrid with him, which is nice.

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36' The hero is trying to convince the prisoner crew to join his cause: "We're defending our world from invaders." Say no more, King Stripeypants. You have my sword.

We also got dangerously close to an "'I'm your king.' 'Well I didn't vote for you'" conversation. Does the band of merry prisoners consider themselves an autonomous collective?

38' The cyclops returns. I sure hope that's Krull. He is quite a javelin thrower.

40' It appears that Krull is the name of the planet after all. Or maybe the kingdom. This is the lamest possible outcome. I'm ready to write a letter to my representative about this.

43' That axe is awesome. Why does The Glaive get all the credit?

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45' The prophet guy is green. A greenseer? How cool would it be if Krull was an influence on GRRM?

46' Oooh, The Claaaaaaw.

47' I think this is the swamp from The Neverending Story. Perhaps a giant turtle will make an appearance?

48' (Jaws theme)

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50' Oh, hello. You just became the new Krull gif.

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52' The storm troopers continue to keep Lyssa prisoner. Still don't know why.

53' The swamp is quicksand now. Apparently The Neverending Story owes this movie a huge debt. Everything in my childhood is now a lie.

55' In fairness, The Neverending Story did this scene so much better.

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TNS: "Fight against the sadness, Artax!"

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Krull: "Don't let go...Redshirt Guy"

56' The wizard just got choked out. That was awkward. Now he is evil, and we have shapeshifters. I need to lie down.

58' The cyclops knows. The cyclops sees all.

59' Throw your spear, cyclops!
Death scene. Serious nightmare material. I don't ever want to have to watch that again. I'm not going to GIF it. Nope. Do it yourself if you want to see.

60' The kid is upset about the wizard. "He was my only family." "We're your family now." Don't trust them, kid. If they were really your family, they would have already sat you down for a serious talk about your chili bowl haircut.

61' So if all that's required to kill this lady is knowing her name, why doesn't Horseshoe Dude just share it with everybody?

62' Ergo changed himself into a beagle to make the kid happy. How cute. There are beagles on this medieval/space age planet.

64' "I'm going alone." "I'll go with you." "No." (Gets back on horse)

65' "Doesn't one of your wives live near here?" Liam Neeson was a player even before he was famous.

66' Oh, Liam's wife is just there to cook them a meal. This movie might be too progressive for me.

67' The pretty girl with a tragic past is feeding the King. He's being tested!
Meanwhile, Lyssa is still trapped in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

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Or some giant's mouth or hand or something. Whatever. What is this place?

68' Hey, disembodied voice: Krull isn't an insignificant planet. You take that back.

69' This beast is literally Jabba the Hutt.
He tells her he can change into the likeness of the King. "But there's no love in that form." YOU MET HIM YESTERDAY.

70' I figured out what's bothering me about the cyclops. He's basically a Klingon with an eye attached.

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71' Okay, that wasn't fair. He's a skinnier, more ripped Jabba the Hutt.

72' All kidding aside, this spider web thing is actually pretty cool. Why couldn't they make the rest of the movie about the web, too?

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73' She's a lady AND a spider. This is still really cool looking, and the symbolism is well executed.

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Oh, here's why. They're playing a Jaws theme knockoff. I was just joking earlier.

75' I can't overstate how cool the spider is. How is this not the movie's iconic scene? They should have put that on the DVD instead of Chekhov's Glaive.

76' Horseshoe Guy made it! Why is he here again?

Spider Lady's name is Lyssa, too? Is she a time traveler? Is it her grandmother? Mother? DOES THAT MAKE HORSESHOE HER ACTUAL FATHER? WHEN WILL HE TELL HER?

77' Oh, they're different people. There was some serious paradox potential there. Why couldn't they just give the characters different names? If there's some symbolism here, I don't get it.

78' Him to her: You're ugly now. Show me your younger face.

79' The Iron Desert. The locations in this movie are all named after Robert Ludlum novels.

80' "You cannot stop time." Or can he? The Doctor should visit Krull. I'd watch that.

84' Distance on Krull is measured in leagues. Of course it is.

85' Are those...Clydesdales? Why hasn't Budweiser exploited this movie during a Super Bowl ad yet?
Sorry, they're FIREMARES.

87' Best way to tame a FIREMARE? Rope it like a regular horse and yell "Yah!" a lot.

88' The chili bowl boy is wise and learned in the lore of Krull. He knows that the Cyclops must stay in the location where they tamed the FIREMARES for reasons of continuity and probably budget.

90' Oh, there's the fire. So much fire in this movie.

91' The FIREMARES run through the air! They show a POV shot and the protagonist riding one of the beasts in front of a green screen. So now there's no doubt about where Falcor came from.

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93' We are here! We must climb the outside of the castle, because we paid James Horner to conduct the music for this movie. ALL THE CLIMBING SCENES

94' CYCLOPS IS COMING! IT WAS A FAKEOUT
I hate it when lasers interrupt a good death speech.

95' Cyclops is shot. Cyclops don't care.

96' The sun is almost all the way above the mountain. That doesn't count as sunrise?
Opportunity for Wilhelm Scream: wasted.

97' Ricochet sound effect: not wasted

This happened:

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98' Oh, there's the Wilhelm Scream. Longest one ever.
NOOOOO. They killed Liam Neeson.

99' Prisoner leader guy is ready to crush some skulls. Me, too, bro.

100' We must save the comic relief characters! Aaaaaaaaand now he's a tiger. Why a tiger and not some other animal? Because who cares, that's why.

102' The boy is walking around with the tiger. Did they really let a 9 year-old shoot a scene with a tiger?

104' Lyssa! You are Lyssa, right? I can't remember, BECAUSE WE JUST MET
I thought you could only use The Glaive once? If not, why didn't he use it before? Surely that thing can cut through spider web material?

105' You can definitely use this thing multiple times. He should have gotten The Glaive much later in the movie, then. Doesn't make any sense this way.

I've been harsh on The Glaive, but we're finally getting the action we've been waiting for.

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106' The beastie. This is the point where they ran out of money. Those effects are soooo bad.

109' "It's not The Glaive, it's you." Groan. "No, it's us." Double groan.
MOAR FIRE

110' The King is basically Tim the Enchanter.
The beastie is shouting "Noooo!" I'm going to pretend he's saying "Krulllllllll"

111' Why is the tiger dead? These metaphors are over my head.

113' Everything's falling apart. It's The Nothing! "Say my name, Bastian!"

114' The ability to conjure fire is quite convenient. And all you have to do to have this power is get married!

115' The Eye of Sauron is no more.

116' "Is this heaven?" "No. It's Krull."

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According to the narrator, their son is going to rule the galaxy. Does this mean we were robbed of a sequel? Will the prince ever have a catch with his dad? We need this movie. It's 2013; you mean to tell me there's not a Kickstarter for KRULL 2?

Donate $2500: Receive a pair of authenticated Stripey Pants worn during filming.

Roll credits

There's a credit for "Climbing Sequence." Thank you, Lorenzo Lorenzi. Cinema will never be the same.

KRULLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL
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