KRULL Blu-ray Review
Directed by Peter Yates
Written by Stanford Sherman
1983, Region A, 121 minutes, Rated PG
Blu-ray released on September 30th, 2014
Ken Marshall as Colwyn
Lysette Anthony as Lyssa
Freddie Jones as Ynyr
Francesca Annis as Widow of the Web
Alun Armstrong as Torquil
David Battery as Ergo
Liam Neeson as Kegan
Graham McGrath as Titch
Bernard Bresslaw as Cyclops
When an intergalactic terror known as The Beast invades the planet Krull, the previously warring kingdoms settle their differences via marriage in order to fight the outside threat with a combined army. The wedding ceremony is interrupted and Princess Lissa is taken captive by the alien soldiers known as “Slayers”. It is up to Colwyn, the future king, to save her, and with help from a group of bandits, a goofy magician, a wise elder and a cyclops, he is on his way to restore freedom to everyone he holds dear. From high atop a mountain he recovers the Glaive, an ancient weapon capable of defeating the Beast, but the problem now is locating the enemy fortress, which has the ability to teleport anywhere on the planet on a daily basis. Ynyr, his trusted elder, leads Colwyn first to the Blind Seer and then to the Widow of the Web in order to locate their goal, but the information is costly and the ensuing adventure dangerous but unavoidable.
In the early 1980s, a wave of quest films filled cinemas, including Excalibur, The Sword and the Sorcerer and Conan the Barbarian. These were soon matched with more family-friendly offerings like Time Bandits, The Beastmaster and Clash of the Titans that featured more of a Robin Hood adventure vibe. The odd duck in the bunch is Krull, a film that combines science-fiction fantasy with traditional fairy tale themes, but stumbles to the finish line despite a string of competent action sequences. There's something for everyone, including sword fights, laser battles, a stop-motion spider and even a scary-looking monster villain. Borrowing from a generous lode of Hollywood history, this movie is loaded with tons of things audiences will surely find exhilarating.
Krull is a high-profile production with a lot going for it, including a generous budget (in the $45 million neighborhood), a top director (Peter Yates, Bullitt) and a cast filled with members of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Working against it, however, is the script by Stanford Sherman (Ice Pirates) that recycles material from a list of better movies and lays on a ton of exposition that drags Krull to a crawl. Yates reportedly wanted to branch out and not be known as the kick-ass action director and succeeds in draining the majority of the excitement from the battles here. James Horner (Aliens) delivers an impressive score that is more than slightly reminiscent of his Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan from the year before, but while it elevates the onscreen material, it fails to make it memorable.
The cast is decent, but the script hobbles their best efforts with a series of “and then” action scenarios (the soldiers kidnap the princess and then the thieves show up and then the quicksand eats a sandwich) without really developing the characters or themes. Ken Marshall (The Stay Awake) is our driven protagonist Colwyn, who does a fine job looking heroic, but is not particularly compelling in the role. Freddie Jones (The Satanic Rites of Dracula) does his best “Ben Kenobi” as the wise old advisor, Ynyr. Lysette Anthony (Without a Clue) is given little more to do than await rescue, and as further insult to her talents, her voice is replaced in this film with that of actress Lindsay Crouse (House of Games) in response to studio notes suggesting that she needed to sound American in order to appeal to audiences. Watch for the beautiful Francesca Annis (Macbeth) as the Widow of the Web, and early screen appearances for both Robbie Coltrane (the Harry Potter franchise) and Liam Neeson (Darkman) as Rhun and Kegan respectively, though neither appear bound for stardom in this movie.
Despite the best efforts of everyone making this picture, Krull is somehow kinda dull. Maybe it's just seeing the film as an adult or something, but as a kid this flick was super awesome. There were many late-night cable TV screenings and I tried to catch as many as possible, and even decades later I remember the time fondly. It is hard to pin down why exactly the film doesn't work on the whole; maybe it's just trying too hard to please everyone. I still enjoy this movie and can easily recommend it, but unless you got to enjoy it as a kid back in 1983, there are a lot better choices out there for you now.
Video and Audio:
Krull receives an excellent video transfer that, while not perfect, is a vast improvement over the original Columbia DVD. Presented in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, colors are strong, black levels are solid and there really isn't too much to complain about here.
In a nice switch, Mill Creek ditches the 2-channel stereo of previous Blu-ray releases and instead offers a full DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix that is surprisingly robust. Rear channels get a workout during the numerous action scenes and the music gets a real boost with the expanded presentation. Dialogue remains clear and free from distortion, a relief, since no subtitles are provided.
Nope, nada. Mill Creek shits the bed here and offers nothing, despite the previous DVD being a fully-loaded special edition. Seek it out; it's pretty awesome.