Krull Remembered

This it was given me to know: A girl of ancient name shall become queen. She shall choose a king, and together they shall rule our world. And their son will rule the galaxy. That’s quite a bit of responsibility on someone who hasn’t been born yet.

But before we get to whether the prophecy be true, we need to talk about the 2 hour journey of awesome that is my favorite movie, Krull. This cult classic has wowed some and made perhaps many more groan. Sporting a 6.1 on IMDB and a rotten 31% on the Tomatometer, Krull can sometimes be an acquired taste. The biggest complaint about this movie is that it drags on. Indeed, this movie has the pacing of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings a healthy 20 years before that trilogy came out. It’s a bit nonsensical, but frankly that’s what adds to its charm, in my opinion. What is it that earns the place of honor as my favorite?

Let’s start with the Glaive. A perhaps inappropriately named weapon as glaives, prior to 1983, were a type of spear. This five-bladed chakram is easily the most iconic part of the movie, in some places being a literal icon, and more obviously, it’s a part of the movie’s logo. It is the single most beautiful weapon I have ever seen. A five-pronged golden, bejeweled boomerang with — the coolest part — blades that pop out from each appendage. A lot of thought clearly went into this design. Beautiful and deadly, the Glaive is truly a hero’s weapon. It is so iconic, that it redefined the word “glaive” to include other bladed boomerang weapons. A 3-pronged glaive is the core gameplay mechanic for the 2007 game Dark Sector, and it makes a triumphant return to form in the online game Warframe (made by the same developers as Dark Sector).

The soundtrack is composed and conducted by the legendary James Horner, A year after Aliens and Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan. Certainly, there are plenty of his 80s hallmarks in the Krull soundtrack, but it is beautiful in its own way. Triumphant trumpets, haunting harps, and sweet soprano chorals punctuate this soundtrack to give it is own unique feel from Horner’s earlier works. This movie is about the journey, and the soundtrack never lets you forget that, and for me, that’s what keeps this movie interesting, despite its occasionally sluggish pace. Often, there are sweeping views of landscapes (in particular, when Colwyn is climbing the mountain to retrieve the Glaive).

The set design is astonishing and easily one of the most immersive aspects of the film. The castle throne room at the start of the movie, the lair of the Blind Emerald Seer, and the Widow of the Web are appropriately majestic, mysterious, and dangerous. Some of the most amazing set design is the interior of The Black Fortress, the lair of the Beast our film’s villain. Winding hallways, expansive corridors and rooms and balconies that look like eyes and hands make the ending to Krull one of the most unique viewing experiences.

The special effects are amazing, with Rel the Cyclops having really great makeup for his one eye. Even the behind-the-scenes interviews have him with that prosthetic on, and it looks really good and natural. There is a healthy blend of stop-motion and green screen for the larger effects, and when one of the villainous Slayers is killed, their heads crack open as some kind of bloody slug burrows into the ground. My favorite scene is the Widow of the Web, featuring the best giant spider I’ve ever seen on film, with some of the most realistic movements I didn’t think possible for stop-motion. There are easily some very cheesy effects, like the lasers that the Slayers shoot and the goofy effects with the Firemares. But again, these things only add to the movie’s charm for me.

The acting for this movie is fantastic, too. Everyone in this movie takes their role seriously, even the comic relief Ergo the Magnificent. Colywn is heroic, serious, and a little naive, but not so much that he beats himself up for it. Ynyr is the wise sage, and Lyssa may be the kidnapped princess, but she’s no Damsel in distress.

One of the primary themes of the movie is love. Although Lyssa and Colwyn are from rival kindoms, they love each other enough to get married to unite their kindoms to fight the Beast and his minions, the Slayers. Love plays a big part in our heroes finding the Black Fortress. At one point, the Beast tempts Lyssa with power, by sending one of his minions to seduce (or kill) Colwyn. The Beast assumes that “love is fleeting, power is eternal.” Colwyn is able to prove the reverse is true, and the Beast further tempts Lyssa to consider the power to stop killing and burning by consenting to be his queen. Lyssa refuses, and while she may be trapped, she is still a strong female character.

Krull is a cult classic that deserves all the love that it gets. Find yourself a copy on DVD (the blu-ray transfer is trash), and just fast-forward through the slow bits. For maximum enjoyment, on your first viewing, take these slow moments as an opportunity to enjoy the soundtrack, and skip over them on subsequent viewings.

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