Krull (1983)

Krull (1983)

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She gazed in wonder at his five pronged starfish weapon thing.
She gazed in wonder at his five pronged starfish weapon thing.

Twitter Plot Summary: An epic fantasy adventure starring a bearded chap and some blonde girl. And Bernard Bresslaw.

Fantasy films were at their strongest in the 1980s, and Krull, released in 1983, is a perfect example of the decade’s offerings. What it has are some nice costume designs, even if the rest of the production has that typical 80s fantasy look. More often than not genre films from this era have a dirty, muddied look to them no matter how large the budget, and that results in them being lumbered into the same category whether they are considered good or bad.

In this particular instance, it’s an enjoyable romp through a fantasy world, but one that doesn’t make any effort to break away from the standard fantasy narrative. It can be broken down thus: the girl is kidnapped by the big bad. The hero sets out to save her, meeting an eclectic bunch of fantasy stereotypes on the way – in this case, some fighters, a cyclops, a magician (of sorts) and Todd Carty from Eastenders. Yep, even the realm of fantasy cinema isn’t safe from future soap stars. Along the way there will be danger and excitement (apparently), all leading up to a final showdown with the big bad at the end. Suffice to say, Krull ticks all of those boxes and takes great delight in doing so.

"I was in the Carry On films you know. What a drop in quality."
“I was in the Carry On films you know. What a drop in quality.”

There must have been something in the water given that Bernard Bresslaw of Carry On fame appears here as a cyclops and, more intriguingly, in a serious role. It seems that he was the only tall actor available in Britain at the time for these roles. Well, there was Dave Prowse I guess, but he was busy elsewhere. Although with all that said, Bresslaw did have previous fantasy film experience in the likes of Hawk The Slayer and Jabberwocky. He has a straightfaced role here, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t space for some amusing tropes along the way. More often than not he says he’ll stay behind while the rest carries on, then changes his mind and barrels after them in order to save the day. It seems that if he wasn’t there most of the time, they wouldn’t have made it to the halfway point let alone the location they are seeking.

The remaining cast are made up of what were at that time mostly unknowns, but today there are quite a number who went on to do bigger things. Alun Armstrong, Lysette Anthony, Robbie Coltrane and, erm… Todd Carty, all went on to have moderately successful acting careers. Liam Neeson we all know, of course. Puzzlingly the lead Ken Marshall has done little else of significance in his acting career, resorting to guest spots in a number of different shows. It just goes to show how fickle the casting machine can be, but some are clearly better at fighting back against expectations than others.

But throughout all of this my thoughts were with Alun Armstrong. A great character actor he may be, but having to amble around for the entirety of a 2 hour film whilst wearing a leather, spiked choker has got to be looked back on with embarrassment.

Score: 3/5

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