When “Krull” debuted way back in 1983, I recall feeling intrigued about it: a flashy cross between “Dungeons & Dragons” and “Gamma World,” while melding elements of other fantasy role-playing games.
Herein, a nasty called the Beast attacks the sleepy world of Krull, raining destruction and high taxes on its people, who–in turn–attempt to unite between the heirs of two warring kingdoms and repel these superior armies. But alas, the big wedding is crashed by a platoon of The Beast’s soldiers: flunkies called “Slayers,” who kidnap the princess (Lysette Anthony) and kill all party guests–which is pretty damn cool–except the nubile Prince Colwyn, played by Ken Marshall (“Grandville, USA”).
After sobbing over his stolen fiance, Colwyn is then approached by an Obi-Wan Kenobi-like crackpot dubbed Ynyr (Freddie Jones), who’s always muttering about a fabled “one way” by which Krull can persevere: ^ COLWYN: “We can’t do that. It’s impossible!” ^ YNYR: (Indignant pause) ^ COLWYN: “What?” ^ YNYR: “There is one way. But it’s much too dangerous!” ^ COLWYN: “No, tell me!” ^ YNYR: “Well, okay – if you insist.”
Now roll a six-sider to determine the times this exchange is repeated, divide by one’s armor class, and you have dramatic thrust of “Krull,” as Colwyn–armed with a magical weapon that’s part-frisbee and part-Swiss Army knife–leads a lovable crew of misfits to rescue his princess and save his constituency.
As if the above weren’t a clue, “Krull” provides much swashbuckling cheese. But that’s precisely what gives the film a coy, relative appeal. Despite his role’s poor definition, Ken Marshall delivers Colwyn with some charisma, whereas the pouty Lysette Anthony–who went onto such diversions as “Playboy” and Bryan Addams videos–seems content to play damsel-in-distress. Otherwise, “Krull’s” supporting cast is loaded with Shakespearean actors–including Alun Armstrong (“Braveheart”), and an Irish guy named Liam Neeson–who interpose some genuine talent on-screen.
“Krull” also features engaging art direction, including The Beast’s jagged, globe-hopping fortress, and ambitious make-up effects that–if nothing else–seems a real challenge to function in.
Who knows how “Krull’s” Peter Yates (who directed the successful `70s dramas “Breaking Away” and “The Deep”) was press ganged into joining this odd creation. But in retrospect, perhaps we should call ourselves lucky — as a helmsman with lesser experience might have reduced what is a decent fantasy flick in “Krull” into, say, something that Dino De Laurentis might have produced.
And God knows we don’t want that.