Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"Just about the most boring fantasy film ever made."

With sword and sorcery adventure, invading aliens, star-crossed romance and a huge budget for its time, Krull aroused high expectations. Even today, it's admired for its sweeping orchestral score and sought out by the curious for early cameos by Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane. Unfortunate, then, that it's just about the most boring fantasy film ever made.

Relentlessly po-faced and momentous, this is the story of a prince who must fight his way into an alien fortress to rescue his kidnapped bride. The aliens want her because she's destined to bear a child who will rule the galaxy (convenient confidence in prophesies obviates the need for any more convincing motives), and naturally there are a number of formulaic fantasy obstacles that get in our hero's way as he wanders around accumulating resources and getting companions killed. No expense has been spared on the sets but even at the time they were overfamiliar from other genre films and from the covers of a thousand pulp novels. The film simply has no imagination of its own. It also lacks the knowing wink and sense of humour that have saved many a similar flop.

Copy picture

Ken Marshall, as the prince, is painfully short on charisma. He seems well suited to the vapid princess (whose lines were dubbed over but still sound as if they're taken from a school play). Her drippy parody of feminine helplessness serves as a dire warning of what Star Wars could have been had its producers chosen to go with their original intention to cast a beautiful actress rather that "one with a big personality," as George Lucas described Carrie Fisher. But the presence of Francesca Annes in a supporting role at least ensures star Lysette Anthony doesn't have to be wet and useless alone.

Perhaps Krull's biggest problem is that it feels throughout like a Dungeons & Dragons game - or, more precisely, like sitting in a corner at a boring party being told about the adventures of somebody else's Dungeons & Dragons character. Despite the grand themes there is little sense of emotional connection within the episodic plot and there's virtually no character development at all. The scares and sense of impending doom are completely reliant on viewers behaving as they've been conditioned to by other, better works.

Choose life. Choose your own adventure. Don't choose this.

Reviewed on: 20 Aug 2011
Share this with others on...
Krull packshot
When aliens arrive to conquer the planet of Krull they kidnap a prince's girlfriend and things get personal.
Amazon link

Director: Peter Yates

Writer: Stanford Sherman

Starring: Ken Marshall, Lysette Anthony, Freddie Jones, Francesca Annes, Alun Armstrong, David Battley, Liam Neeson

Year: 1983

Runtime: 121 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: UK, US


Search database:

If you like this, try:

The Beastmaster