Junkfood Cinema: Krull

By  · Published on March 4th, 2011

Junkfood Cinema: Krull

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; get your finger out of your ear. Listen, do you smell something? That’s the smell of cheesy movies served up weekly in an effort to dispel any rumors of my possessing even a modicum of taste. I will mercilessly prod and poke at all the movie’s soft spots, but then swaddle it in arguably undue praise and sing it sweet lullabies of adoration.

As if this baby metaphor weren’t creepy enough, I will then spoon feed you a tasty, after-dinner treat inspired by the bad film before sending you outside to play and almost certainly vomit all over the swingset.

This week’s snack: Krull

What Makes It Bad?

Krull suffers from a debilitating British-ness. It was directed by Peter Yates (God rest him) at the legendary Pinewood Studios’ original 007 Stage (God rest it), but those facts are not the sole perpetrators of the British rash coloring Krull. The story at the heart of the film involves the abduction of a young princess and the subsequent quest of her princely fiancee to retrieve her. But the thing is, it is established that the impetus behind the union has less to do with love and more to do with…shrewd political strategy. Lyssa is the daughter of the ruler of one kingdom which has been violently feuding with the kingdom over which Colwyn’s father reigns. To stop the fighting and consolidate power, this marriage is arranged. It’s the same timeless romance one typically finds while playing Risk.

But even this hopelessly medieval pseudo love story, while displaying Britain’s legendary inability to exhibit real human emotions, is not the most detrimentally British thing about it. It’s the politeness (read: dullness) of the battle sequences that really irks me. The slayers, the army of the evil villain, stand around courteously waiting for their turn to blast people with their laser rods or possibly be graciously run through by swords. I dig the design of the slayers, I just wish they were a little more intimidating than a group of blocky dopes shambling around the castle like a cadre of armed Winston Churchills.

Oh, and the whole divergent storyline of Ynyr and the Widow of the Web is unbearably melodramatic. It’s like a miniature Room with a View in the middle the movie. They go through this whole unnecessary backstory involving vengeful infanticide all so he can learn the location of the Black Fortress? That’s great, but couldn’t this information been bestowed by a talking tree or dragon or something more interesting than a moody Madea-like character? But hey, at least there’s a giant spider to keep the kids interested while their parents…are bored.

They spend so much time on this ridiculously superfluous backstory that they end up having to drop the entire cast on flying fire ponies and have them soar over the rest of the journey. It’s like an assistant director checked his watch and realized they needed to wrap it up so they hatched a harebrained cheat. It’s the cinematic equivalent of using the warp whistle in Mario 3.

Let’s take a look at our hero for a moment. It’s interesting that Krull was made in 1983, the same year Patrick Swayze hit it big with The Outsiders because they managed to get an actor who looked just like Patrick Swayze without even trying. Not only does he look like Swayze, he’s also really whiny. So, you know, bonus. Seriously, Luke on Tatooine complaining about his canceled trips to Tosche Station is less whiny than Ken Marshall. His only marketable skill appears to be weeping and looking like a complete dork. His bad acting only works because the woman cast as his princess bride is equivalently terrible. Sure, this is the guy I want running my unified kingdom, King Wussy Pants of Hammyburgh. Although he does wear a nice pair of stripped pants. But fashion sense or no, it doesn’t stand to reason that a villain the size of a castle can be thwarted by a hero with brains the size of a Swedish meatball.

Why I Love It!

One word: glave. The glave is the coolest weapon in the history of fantasy cinema. It is a bladed throwing star stored in what is apparently the ass crack of a mountain. If your entire concept of this film is the poster, you may rightfully assume it is featured prominently throughout the film. But in fact our princely dupe finds it at the beginning of the film and is told not to use it until “the time is right.” I guess I just hoped the “right time” wouldn’t be “the last ten goddamn minutes of the film.” Yeah, why waste time with the single coolest piece of weaponry on the planet when you can spend more time with the mopey-ass Widow of the Web and her ham-fisted metaphors about time and fate? And for all its bluster, the glave proves pretty ineffectual. It knocks down a wall, disintegrates a few minions, and then fails to kill the villain. Our hero succeeds in getting it stuck in the bad guy, but not actually killing him with it. Regardless, I love the glave so much I’ve actually replaced other verbs in my lexicon with the word glave. As in, “someone’s about to get glaved” or “what the hell are you glaving about?”

Krull has a kick ass cast…apart from Ken Marshall that is. The troop of escaped criminals that end up comprising the search party features not only Robbie “Hagrid” Coltrane but also Liam “Will Totally Kick Your Teeth In” Neeson. Both of these guys are awesome in Krull in very different ways. Coltrane wears this planet’s only set of suspenders while sporting a look similar to what Nick Frost would look like if he tried playing Gomez Addams. Neeson is an adulterous womanizer said to have a wife in every village. If this movie were remade today, it would be a woman in every village whose kidnapping he could avenge by killing 50 guys. I also enjoyed David “Charlie’s Teacher from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” Battley as the piss poor sorcerer. He brings an almost Monty Python-esque humor to the piece. His habitual references to gooseberry pie made me consider it for this week’s junkfood pairing. But when I saw an actual picture of what a gooseberry pie looks like, it reminded me that only the British would eat something that resembled a baked booger tart.

Junkfood Pairing: Kruller

What do you mean that’s not how you spell it? Shut up! Not only does this sinfully sweet breakfast treat bear the name of the film, but it’s shape oddly resembles that of the mythic, albeit ultimately useless weapon featured therein. If you like your kruller strictly cake, that’s fine. But I challenge you to expand your horizons and experience the awesome might of the glazed glave kruller. It’ll glave your glave all kinds of glave.

Loosen your belt and enjoy more Junkfood Cinema

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Longtime FSR columnist, current host of FSR’s Junkfood Cinema podcast. President of the Austin Film Critics Association.