Director: Peter Yates
Stars: Ken Marshall, Lysette Anthony, Freddie Jones, Brenard Bresslaw, Francesca Annis, Liam Neeson, Todd Carty, David Battley, Robbie Coltrane
Krull – a beautiful world, but one damaged by hostilities between nations. All of the conflict was forgotten when the Slayers arrived, led by the indescribable monster that lived in The Black Fortress.
In order to combat this new threat, an alliance is reached, and will be sealed by the marriage of Princess Lyssa (Lysette Anthony) and Prince Colwyn (Ken Marshall). The wedding is almost complete, when the castle is attacked by the Slayers and despite desperate fighting, they manage to kidnap Princess Lyssa and carry her off to the Black Fortress. Colwyn vows to trek to The Black Fortress, find her and rescue her.
Now this could be a problem.
You see, the Black Fortress moves overnight. It just vanishes and reappears somewhere else. So, in order to know the location of the fortress, Colwyn has to first gain the foresight of the Seer. In this, he is fortunate to have the guidance of Ynyr (Freddie Jones) who accompanies him on his quest. Before they can find the Seer, they first need two other things: more men (for they will certainly meet the Slayers again in combat); and the Glave, a weapon that’s kind of like a five-bladed throwing star, that Colwyn will need to defeat the monster. The Glave is in a high cave on top of a mountain, sat in a pool of molten rock. Tough as that sounds, the men are even more difficult to gather together.
There’s Ergo The Magnificent (“short in stature, tall in power, wide of vision, and narrow of purpose”, played by David Battley, who many will remember as the rather slimy school-teacher in Willy Wonka); Bernard Bresslaw as Rell, a Cyclops who is cursed by knowing the date of his death and therefore keeps his own company but is always around when you really need him, and a group of bandits that Colwyn manages to enlist. These include cameos from Liam Neeson, Robbie Coltrane, and Todd Carty, who UK readers will know from EastEnders and as Tucker Jenkins in Grange Hill.
After an arduous trek through the forest they find the Seer, who gives them the location of the Black Fortress, and then leads them towards it. Following a brush with Francesca Annis as the Widow of the Web (a spider-woman with a taste for male flesh) the group come face to face with The Slayers, and battle commences.
Finally, after evading The Slayer forces, they arrive at the Fortress. They have to get inside before dark, else it will leave them behind and their quest is finished forever. This they manage to do, but only at the expense of Rell, who manages to force open a crack in the rocks and holds it open long enough for the others to enter, but then is crushed.
Inside, the monster tries many tricks to separate the gang, but they finally arrive in the centre of the Fortress for the final showdown. Colwyn must kill the monster, find Princess Lyssa and get out of the Fortress before it is destroyed…
Many of the reviewers of this movie at IMDB are polarised about this typically 80s swords and sorcery offering – they are either totally for the movie, or totally against it, with one even suggesting that Krull is a great cure for insomnia! I kind of fall between the two – it’s a good movie, where the performances are generally adequate, the music score is standard fare and the location shooting is much better than the studio stuff (and it’s easy to tell the two apart – much easier than it should be).
However, this approach ignores the strengths that the movie does possess – a better than average story, and some of the performances are great, particularly from David Battley as Ergo the Magnificent. He plays the simple country magician extremely well, refusing to allow the fact that he’s a poor magician to stand in the way of his desire to impress people. Bernard Bresslaw is never stretched in the role of Rell the cyclops, but it’s good to see him playing a straighter role than he ever got in a Carry On movie. The movie also contains small roles for a host of actors that have gone on to bigger and better things – Liam Neeson (Schindlers List, Michael Collins, Rob Roy, and a small thing called Phantom…. something or other); Robbie Coltrane (The Pope Must Die, Nuns On The Run, several Bond flicks and something about a boy wizard – now what was his name?); and Todd Carty (very well known in the UK for his roles as Mark Fowler in Eastenders and the unforgettable Tucker Jenkins in Grange Hill)
As for the leading players, Ken Marshall saw too many heroic movies before playing this one, Lysette Anthony is beautiful and sexy, but as far as acting goes, rumours of her talent have been greatly overstated. Freddie Jones is good, but is limited to a few wise words and knowing glances as he guides Marshall through the maze.
Overall, it’s an OK flick. If you get the chance to watch it again, do try. But don’t be too upset if you miss it.