Reviewed April 10th, 2001 by Todd Terwilliger
I had not seen Krull in at least ten years. Yet, before this new DVD edition began spinning in the platter, certain scenes still sprang fully formed in my mind. Unsure of whether the actual product would stand up to my memories, I was somewhat pensive as the disc began to play.
Before I delve into the film itself, I must comment on the quality of the menus. They are absolutely awesome. From the spinning Glaive (more on that later) to the transitions between pages, the menus look and feel very slick.
Now, onto the film: A creature of immense power and evil, known only as the Beast, has landed his black fortress on the mostly peaceful planet of Krull. The Beast unleashes his army of slayers. Even more diabolical, the Beast kidnaps Princess Lyssa (Lysette Anthony) just as she is about to unite the kingdoms of Krull by marrying Prince Colwyn (Ken Marshall).
Colwyn must oppose the Beast. It is not an easy task. He has no army left and he has no weapon. Also, the black fortress moves to a new location each day. In order to get to the fortress, he needs to know not where it is now, but where it will be. Luckily for him, a guide has been prepared for these times: Ynyr (Freddie Jones). First, Ynyr knows the weapon needed: the Glaive, a magical weapon that looks somewhat like an oversized throwing star. If Colwyn can retrieve the Glaive from its volcanic chamber, he'll only have to raise an army, predict the future, and defeat the Beast to triumph. That doesn't seem so tough, now does it?
While Colwyn is gallivanting around the Krullish (Krullian?) wilderness, Lyssa must fight off the machinations of the Beast. The Beast wants Lyssa as his bride, to seal the deal (so to speak) on his expansion. Lyssa clutches to love while the Beast tries to lure her with power.
Although it has some trappings of science-fiction, Krull is rooted strongly in the realm of sword and sorcery, with emphasis on the sword. There are some innovations to the traditional fare, most notably the Cyclops and the Widow of the Web. The scenes between Ynyr and the Widow are outstanding. The Cyclops does not follow the Greek tradition, instead featuring a different origin of their singular eye.
Of the cast, the most well known faces come from some of the smallest parts. Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane make early career appearances as two members of a robber band that Colwyn recruits to join him.
Visually, Krull looks as good as it's ever going to get. Most of the film takes place out of doors and the scenery is fantastic. There is a wide palette of colors and they all look great, from the earth tones of the swamp to the greens of the forest and the Emerald Seer's lair. It is not, however, devoid of faults. The quality of the picture varies quite a bit, from outstanding to substandard. This speaks to the varying quality found in the film source. While some scenes are free of any scratches, nicks, or marks, others are not so lucky. Grain is held to a minimum but is most noticeable during the Black Fortress special effects shots.
The audio side of Krull is equally well taken care of. Krull has been remastered in a Dolby Digital 5.1 track that is surprisingly good. From the opening credit shot of the glaive spinning across the screen, the soundtrack features good movement across the soundstage. Dialog is clear but a bit low on the volume. The LFE is used sparingly. I thought that more effects could have used the “punch”, such as the horses' hoofbeats but it's a small complaint. For the sonic purists among you, there is also 2 Dolby Digital 2.0 surround track.
Columbia has stacked the disc with a truckload of extras. There are many, the main attractions being a commentary with the director and stars Marshall and Anthony, a behind-the-scenes commentary, a Marvel comics video adaptation, and an original featurette. This is a great collection of extra features for what is essentially a cult disc. Kudos go to Columbia for taking the time to include this bevy of bonuses.
I love Krull but it is what it is: a low budget fantasy epic. No matter how good the transfer and sound, it will not please everyone. The combat sequences are horribly choreographed and badly sold by the actors. The special effects are dated. However, look beyond these and you'll find a surprisingly provoking film with a workable mix of romance, adventure, and fantasy. The excellent work Columbia has done on this film only adds to the value of the package. This is truly a special edition.
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