Krull: Great Moments in Bad Storytelling

Krull: Great Moments in Bad StorytellingThere’s something grotesquely compelling about about bad movies; they enthrall, they fascinate. You spend hours staring at them wondering: “What was their secret? How did they get budget to tell a story this bad?” Krull is one of those movies, and that means it’s time for another great moment in bad storytelling.

If you’re like me and you’ve never seen Krull before, I defy you to fire it up on a random Tuesday afternoon. Give it the ’20 minute’ test – either it will capture your attention or it won’t. You’ll be sucked into the movie, or you’ll run screaming from the room – there is no third option.

The Good and the Bad of Krull

Krull is a dull hodgepodge of scifi and fantasy, a mixture of Dune and Captain Blood that manages to annoy as much as it amuses. The movie has it’s good points: The cast gives it everything they’ve got, committing to their parts even if there’s not much to work with. Expensive VFX and the stunt scenes are decent. You can trace out elements of the movie – the widow’s web, for example – inspiring Shelob’s Lair in Lord of the Rings.

But we’re not letting the film off the hook. This is ‘Krull: Great Moments in Bad Storytelling’ for a reason. All those pluses come with two hours’ worth of cringe-worthy minuses. After watching Krull I know where Mel Brooks got the majority of the Spaceballs plot. When you watch Krull, you’ll spend two and a half hours cringing through sleep-inducing cinematography, bad haircuts, and clunky dialogue.

That’s not all. Krull is full of poorly-constructed characters that seem to be a parody of themselves. Every line and action sequence of Krull pushes the movie forward like a stubborn mule. Movies are supposed to take you to a different place, right? Krull’s job is to make you wish you were at a third place altogether; somewhere bad movies were not allowed to exist.

What Went Wrong?

I’m not here to kick a bad movie when it’s down. Rather, I want to do a root cause analysis on how it happened. That’s the only way we’re going to get better as storytellers.

How could a movie with all the right elements result in disaster? I think the answer is a lot more simple than we think, and it starts from the very top. According to Wikipedia, Krull, it started out as a directive from the President of Columbia Pictures. That makes sense: the movie has all the charm of an interoffice memo.

There’s a given wisdom in the 21st century. Large creative corporations can be their own worst enemy. They’re too large, too disconnected from the audience, and they can’t get out of their own way. That wisdom comes the bad scifi/fantasy stories we got in the eighties and nineties; Krull is the proof.

So, with that analysis in place, let’s celebrate this schlocky, execrable attack on our brain cells! ‘Krull: Great Moments in Bad Storytelling’ – a cult classic, a B-movie with an A-movie budget, a dark spot on the scifi / fantasy genre. Long may it live, so that other stories may learn from its mistakes.

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