MAY 10, 2013 SCREENING: KRULL (1983)
Simply put, I didn’t like this movie. I watched 1983’s Krull thinking it would be in the same vein as Conan the Barbarian (some guys swinging swords around in a quasi-Iron age setting, except with magic) In some ways, the movie resembles that, but it owes more of its existence to Star Wars, and its very much a fantasy film that uses a sci-fi look as its backdrop. Today, it very much looks like a product of its time, and the early 80s vibe hasn’t aged well in this case.
The premise mixes the sword-and-scandal combat with spacecrafts and attacks from soldiers armed with laser pistols. Apparently the way the film crew got around that seemingly contradictory mix was by giving the audience a scenario where a primitive culture is invaded by a more advanced futuristic civilization. Although that could work on paper, its not conveyed well in the movie and just confuses the audience. Other films have used a similar premise, but executed it better than its shown here.
For me, one of the more distracting elements for me was the film’s musical score. It was composed by James Horner (of the Titanicfame), a year after he did Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. As a huge Star Trek fan, I’ve easily seen Wrath of Khan a half dozen times, and the score here is so similar that numerous scenes made me think of events that occurred in that movie. Horner is a very talented composed and I don’t think the similarity was due to laziness or unoriginality on his part, but the fact that the two projects were conceived so closely together that many of the tracks he was writing for the two movies began to overlap. In any case, its impossible to appreciate the music score for this movie in its own right if you’re already familiar with Wrath of Khan.
Aside from that jarring problem, most of Krull is actually done very well. The special effects are executed well, the action sequences and story more along briskly and keep the audience engaged, and the directing and acting is certainly competent. The main problem lies at the heart of the movie – a trailer for the film claims Krull is “nothing like you have seen before”, but it came across exactly the opposite way to me. I felt Krull was a mismatch of numerous cheesy 80s movies that I had seen before. When it comes to campy 80s sci-fi/fantasy mash-ups, I’d rather watch an incoherent movie like Dune than a coherent movie like Krull, because the first example seemed to be much more bold and innovative in the choices it made.
Krull was an extremely expensive movie at the time it was made (which is hard to believe now as the film is largely seen as a “B-movie”). It was also a financial flop when it was released, and received a large amount of scathing, negative reviews (it has since become a cult classic and has a small but enthusiastic fan base). Despite the fact that I didn’t enjoy the movie, I’m not going to join the crowd in giving Krull a negative rating. It is what it is – a well-made and creative effort that really tried to accomplish something noteworthy in cinema history, but ultimately fell flat and simply isn’t engaging or memorable. Ironically, the 1987 adaptation of Masters of the Universe did a far better job at delivering a serious live action take on this type of silly fantasy epic. Maybe someone will get something out of Krull, but I didn’t.
** out of ****