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