20090909

Short In Stature, Tall In Power

Of all the "sword-and-sorcery" movies that came out in the early to mid 1980s, Krull is the only one I like. As I recall, it didn't get very good reviews when it was released, and it wasn't a box office success, so I can't help but feel that it's just never gotten the respect that I feel it's deserved. But then, it got a pretty decent special-edition DVD release (with commentaries, and a behind-the-scenes featurette -- narrated by Tom Bosley, no less!) a few years back, whereas Dragonslayer never has, so I could just be biased by my undying love for this movie. Sure, it has the oft-used scenario of the princess taken captive by the evil beast (quite literally Beast with a capital "B", in this case), and her lovelorn prince wrangling a scrappy band of outlaws and braving a series of hardships to come charging to her rescue, plus it was being released in the middle of a near glut of semi-sci-fi/medieval-fantasy movies (so much so that it had started becoming difficult to tell them apart), but to me this movie is like nothing else out there.

First of all, there was the toally bitchin' weapon-of-choice in the movie (this movie's Excalibur, if you will), the Glaive -- not your ordinary run-of-the-mill sword, but rather a five-armed flying blade, kind-of a cross between a starfish and a ninja throwing star. True, in real life it'd probably be about as aerodynamic as a pop-tart, but how ├╝ber-cool would it be to actually have one of those? And then there was the character of Rell, the cyclops (played by the late Bernard Bresslaw), an imposing figure who could throw his trident weapon with deadly precision from yards away, but who was just a big teddy-bear on the inside. Heck, all the characters in the movie are enjoyable for one reason or another ... but then, as I said before, that just might be me gushing on about this movie as I am wont to do.

One of the neatest things about Krull, though, is the cast ... the Brits will be able to spot two EastEnders players in their much-younger days, Todd Carty and Graham McGrath, but more significantly, we get three early peeks at actors who are at least semi-notable genre personalities now. Two of Torquil's band of escaped criminals, who end up showing their hearts of gold in aiding the prince in the rescue of his lady, are played by Liam Neeson (who would, of course, go on to play Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace) and Robbie Coltrane (who is now loved the world over as the hulking but huggable Rubeus Hagrid in the Harry Potter films). But take a close look at the lead character, Prince Colwyn himself -- if he looks familiar, that's because he's Ken Marshall, who went on to play the duplicitous Maquis operative Michael Eddington in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine).

But perhaps the most overlooked aspect of Krull, and also one of its most enthralling, is the magnificent score by James Horner. It has seen three different commercial releases over the years, in progressively more expansive forms leading up to a two-CD issue of the complete score, but none of them are in print or readily available any longer. And one of the most tragic things of all is that no pieces from this score ever seem to make an appearance on any compilation, whether it's a general film music recording, a genre-specific collection, or a James Horner anthology ... not even the wonderful and well-rounded releases by Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra have ever played a Krull selection on any of their releases. I simply don't see how that can be, as I honestly feel it's one of Horner's top three works ever (behind Titanic and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan).

As if you couldn't tell by now, I love Krull immensely and strongly recommend it to anyone who's never seen it. Unless you simply don't like anything to do with medieval-themed sci-fi/fantasy or sword-and-sorcery movies, I just don't see how you wouldn't love it. And I didn't even mention Ergo or the firemares ... wait till you see them!

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