Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I watched the film Krull over the weekend I hadn't seen it in a long time. Wow I'd forgotten just how bad it is; and this isn't a 'so bad it's good' type of thing either.

Poor scripting, hammy acting, a McGuffin and deus-ex-machina heavy plot, with both logical and plot-level inconsistencies. But look at who stars in it - Liam Neeson, Robbie Coltrane, Freddie Jones, Bernard Bresslaw, Francesca Annis - just how could it be so bad?

Well we start with little explanation - a bloody great rock in space lands on a planet and attempts to conquer it while a narrator issues us with some prophecy about who can stop it through the power of marriage. Cue said couple meeting, the enemy disrupting the plans, stealing the girl and leaving the hero for dead. In steps the wise man who heals our hero and sets out to help him find the enemy fortress that inconveniently jumps location every sunrise. However first our hero must prove his worth by claiming the Glaive an ancient weapon.

Job done they head to another wise man to locate the fortress. Along the way they meet a shape-shifting mage, a band of thieves and a cyclops who all decide to help. Together they storm the fortress, rescue the girl, kill the head bad guy and presumably live happily ever after.

It's typical fantasy fare, but narratively it's handled so poorly. The first part is a mess; I'm not going to knock the special effects (it was 1983), but it's as if someone's just discovered the lightning effect in their video toolbox and wants to apply it to everything. The prison the girl ends up in makes no sense, she's looking out from the pupil of a giant eye set in a face - there's no explanation it just is. The glaive, this wonderful magic weapon,gets little build-up and is retrieved by the hero sticking his hand in semi-transparent lava to pull it out. Oh and he can't use it... sorry he can use it he's just not supposed to until the "right time". Given that later we discover this weapon can fly, instantly kill the enemy and is apparently thought controlled; this seems less destiny and more "oh shit how do we build tension when our hero is armed with an insta-kill weapon" on the part of the writers.

This fire and forget weapon matches the plot - do this, say that, next scene. They seem to be trying to pack so much in that they leave zero time for explanation or character development. As a result it becomes a little fortuitous- What's that we need to travel a 1000 leagues in a day? Why Fire mares can travel 1000 leagues in one day and it just so happens a herd of them can be found just over there. Isn't it also handy that these fleet-of-foot horses don't seem to be able to outrun our normal horses thus allowing us to herd them? One instance of this I can maybe forgive, but this is full of them.

Then there's the inconsistencies. The shape shifter messes up and unnoticed by the party turns into a puppy. The young boy who is currently travelling with them and always wanted a puppy (how fortuitous) finds him. Except it's implied that the kid knows it's the magician because when asked where he is states that "He'll turn up" while glancing at the puppy he's holding. Later he's back to being human and not one word is said. It's full of these sort of events again emphasising the crammed and rushed nature of the film.

It's just so painful to watch.