As I’ve brought up before, I’m a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000 as well as their successor, RiffTrax. Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett always come up with hilarious commentary to add to any movie, whether it’s terrible like Birdemic or amazing like The Avengers. Granted, I wouldn’t listen to their Riff on Schindler’s List, but it would probably amuse at least a few people. But, last night I watched a movie that was in an interesting place for me: Krull. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a 1983 Sci-Fi/Fantasy film that is famous for having the glaive, a weapon so wildly impractical that every kid thought it looked badass, including me.
SYNOPSIS OF KRULL
Aliens known as Slayers, led by a creature called “The Beast,” (Trevor Martin) arrive on Krull, a planet which is basically a sword-and-sorcery setting from almost any film of that genre. They interrupt the wedding of Prince Colwyn (Ken “I was on DS9” Marshall) and Princess Lyssa (Lysette Anthony), kidnapping the princess and promoting them to king and queen through murdering their parents. Colwyn then goes on a quest to find the Glaive, an ancient weapon, which he finds in like 10 minutes, then spends the rest of the movie with various sidekicks, mentors, and comic relief (including a young Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane) trying to find the Beast’s castle. When they do, the Glaive doesn’t kill it, but fortunately Colwyn and Lyssa’s love gives him pyrokinesis and he burns it to death.
Here’s the thing: I loved this movie when I was a kid. I genuinely remember it fondly and I actually thought it was a legitimately good film… but I also probably hadn’t seen it in over 20 years. Tonight, with Kevin, Mike, and Bill, I experienced this movie again, and I realized how absolutely bat-shit insane it is and how bad my recollection of the film was.
This is not a great movie. It’s a really, really fun movie to watch, but it is not a well-crafted film. For example, there are a lot of pacing problems. Colwyn’s quest for the Glaive is just him climbing rocks for like 10 minutes and pulling it out of a lava river WHICH DOES NOTHING TO HIM AT ALL. Is it just him or could anyone have pulled it out because lava isn’t hot on Krull? I mean, it’s not really explained.
After that, it’s just a matter of collecting side-characters and going through mini-quests until they get to the castle. Here’s a list of things that they have to do in the movie: Find a seer to find the Beast’s castle, take the seer to a special place, find another seer after the first one dies, find super-fast horses to get them to the castle before it moves, get inside the castle before sunrise. If you’re paying attention to that list, yes, part of the film is literally pointless because they leave a crippled blind man on his own to be murdered.
The side characters are also really generic: Wizard comic relief (David Battley), bandit leader and his troupe (Alun Armstrong), seer and his apprentice (John Welsh and Graham McGrath), and old advisor who narrates the film (Freddie Jones). The biggest stand-out is the stoic cyclops (Bernard Bresslaw), who weirdly says he has to stay somewhere to die at one point, then apparently changes his mind and sacrifices himself in a different place after waiting like 10 minutes.
However, offsetting all of that is that the visuals and effects are actually pretty awesome, which explains why the movie cost $47 Million in 1983. Some of them haven’t aged well, but, for the time, they’re not too bad. Apparently, a lot of the budget was because they kept changing the script and even genre of the movie that they had to rebuild the huge sets over and over again. I can’t find any evidence of it on here, but I assume the alien parts were because some movie about Space Wizards by some guy named Lucas had great effects and made a lot of money.
Then, there’s the Glaive. The Glaive looks awesome. It looks so amazingly awesome. It’s completely impractical as an actual weapon, even more so than a lightsaber, but dammit, South Park thought it was so cool they gave Jesus one and it was the most bad-ass Jesus on film. But, here’s the thing I never realized: It’s almost completely useless in the movie. I counted: It is only thrown six times. Of those six, twice it’s used just to cut through objects (once acting like a rotary saw on a metallic wall), once it misses, twice it kills henchmen, and once it gets stuck in the Beast after barely wounding him. The Glaive, the most awesome looking projectile ever, kills either two or three mooks. That’s its total contribution to the film.
Naturally, all of these things were used as fuel for the comedy engine that is RiffTrax and it was freaking amazing. They’re doing it again on Saturday the 25th of August, so you can still catch the show. I can’t remember many of the specific jokes, but almost all of them were hilarious. It’s interesting to have them walk you through the reality that some of your childhood films haven’t aged well, but it definitely was an experience I’ll never forget.
If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.
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