Archive for the ‘Adventure’ Category

Year Released : 1983

Director : Peter Yates

Cast : Ken Marshall, Lysette Anthony, Freddie Jones, David Battley, Bernard Bresslaw, Alun Armstrong, Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane

So, after a near unexpected three week break from reviewing films (I got really busy at work), I am now back and will start with a look at another film that was with me during my youth, the relatively ok known “Krull”. It is probably best known for early on-screen appearances for some members of the cast, more specifically Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane, as well as it’s unusual set design.

“Krull” is unusual in the sense that it’s one of the few films that I’ve reviewed for this site that is actually older than I am, something I will only be able to say about two or three of the more than two hundred films I’ve reviewed for this site. I really should start looking into some older films on a more regular basis.

But oh well, here’s the review.

Plot

Colwyn (Marshall) and Lyssa (Anthony) are getting married to unite their rival kingdoms when their ceremony is interupted by servants of a creature simply known as “The Beast”, a being who goes to various planets with his army and dominates until everyone is dead. The fathers of both are killed, and Lyssa is also kidnapped, leaving an unconcious Colwyn alone. He is nursed to health by several people, including Ynyr (Jones). Ynyr is familiar with the beast and claims it can be defeated with an ancient weapon known as the Glaive, a starfish-shaped blade.

He successfully retrieves it from the mountain, but encounters a large group of bandits that are lead by Torquil (Armstrong). They pledge the allegiance to Colwyn as he is now king following his father’s death, and they are later joined by a cyclops known as Rell (Bresslaw). However, the quest soon starts appearing more difficult as the beast starts to take control of the planet, as well as sending his troops out in disguise to try and kill Colwyn, claiming Lyssa as his own.

The main problem for Colwyn is that the fortress in which the beast is located changes its location each day.

Still decent after 34 years?

“Krull” has certainly not aged well, but it is still visually quite unique, which you’d expect for a film that had a budget of $47million, which was huge for the day. Infact I’d go as far as saying that this film couldn’t be more early-80s if it tried given how cheesy some of the acting it.

The acting throughout is a bit suspect, putting it nicely, but that doesn’t stop it being an enjoyable romp throughout and whilst it doesn’t have the same appeal as similar films, such as “Willow” or “Lord of the Rings”, this is definitely a fun watch.

One element that I really like is that the slayers that the beast controls are actually quite deadly, far more so than other armies from other movies. They kill a fairly large number of characters throughout the movie, and the body count of the protagonists is very high indeed. What makes the body count even more effective is that you actually have time to get to know these characters, meaning that they’re not meaningless deaths.

There is a constant threat throughout the film from not only the slayers, but also the creatures that the beast controls, and at times it does resemble a horror film in terms of its presentation. These days it would probably render a 12A rating at the cinemas due to what happens, it’s similar to how there is no chance that the original Star Wars films would get a Universal rating again if released these days.

 

Arguably the most interesting part of “Krull” is not the main plot however, it’s the character of Rell, the cyclops. The mythology in the film says that his race sacrificed one of their eyes on exchange for seeing the future, but they were cursed with only seeing their deaths. The character of Rell sees how he will die throughout the film, and it becomes a sub-plot about whether you should just accept your fate, or risk a more painful one for the greater good. I personally found the character otherwise tediously dull, but that subplot is through provoking.

Summary

Cheesy as hell and about as eighties as you can get, “Krull” is a fun romp of around two hours. Don’t go into it expecting brilliance because it is definitely one of those that will test the patience of some, but if you like fantasy and/or adventure films then I think this is for you.

It has its flaws, and it has aged horribly in the 34 years since its release, but it still has more heart and character than most similar films released these days. It takes time to develop the characters, as well as giving you something to think about.

Give it a watch.

It’s worse than Mutiny, Squire. It’s murder. And if they’re successful you won’t see anything at all because you will be quite dead!

Year Released : 1990rsz_treasure-island-tv-movie-poster-1990-1020554821_657
Director : Fraser Clarke Heston
Cast : Christian Bale, Charlton Heston, Julian Glover, Richard Johnson, Pete Postlethwaite, Oliver Reed, Nicholas Amer and Christopher Lee

I think it’s safe to say that this is a relatively well known film compared to most that I usually review, and also one of the oldest. Infact, I think that other than those that I reviewed for last year’s “Halloween Countdown” special, this is the second oldest film that I’ve reviewed for this site.

I first saw this movie when I was around eight of nine years old and I’ve seen several attempts at telling the same story since, and none have come close to the excellence of this adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel.

With my motivation to watch and review films being relatively low at the moment, I thought to myself that it is worth reviewing a film that I had already seen, and going back to my parent’s house for my mum’s birthday and seeing this on the cupboard inspired me to the point where I thought “why not?”

Plot

One day Jim (Bale) and his mother (Isla Blair) are visited at their inn by the scruffy and heavily drunk Billy Bones (Reed). He pays them at first, but he stays long after his money runs out and the family are too scared to kick him out, especially as he seems to be fearing something that is coming for him, making him even more volatile. One day that thing arrives in the form of a blind man named Pew (Lee). He hands Billy the black spot, a death sentence. Billy eventually dies from his alcoholism, with Jim and his mother looting his belongings for what he owes them. Amongst his possessions is a map.

Barely escaping Pew, Jim eventually confides in Squire Trelawney (Johnson), and he agrees to fund an expedition to find the treasure indicated on the map. Once the ship sets sail, Jim befriends the peg-legged cook, a man by the name of John Silver (Heston), otherwise known as “Long John”. Although all seems fine at first, it turns out that the treasure map belonged to Silver’s former captain, and he plans on stealing the treasure for himself. Little does he realise that the conversation with his former crew-mates is within earshot of Jim.

Jim reveals all to the officers of the ship, and once the ship makes shore, it becomes a fight for survival, both against each other and in Silver’s case, against his supposed allies.

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Why get excited about a story that everyone knows?

Yes, this is one of those stories that you would do very well to find someone that doesn’t know it. The story, and the characters, are classics in fiction and arguably the greatest piece of literature about pirates ever written. It would be easy to write this off as one of the typical books-to-film adaptations and leave it at that, but it you do that then you are missing out on an excellent adventure.

Let’s start right off and say that this feels very different to every other pirate film that I have seen. A lot of films about pirates feel clean, and somewhat polished, but there is nothing like that about “Treasure Island”, it is remarkably brutal, violent and grimy, it still amazes me to this day that it only has a PG rating because you see a lot of the aforementioned types of films that are nowhere near as brutal and get higher ratings. I suspect that if “Treasure Island” was released at the cinema today then it would have a 15 rating, at minimum.

Nothing is held back, there’s bloody fights, clips of people being shot, characters stabbing each other with swords. It’s gloriously grim and violent, and it works so well because it’s not doing it just for the sake of those things, it’s doing it to add to an already excellently told version of the story.

The characters are all portrayed superbly by their respective actors, but Charlton Heston comfortably stands out in a commanding presence on screen. I will make a bold statement here and say that no matter how many portrayals there will ever be of the character in the future (and there is at least one more Treasure Island film currently in production), no-one will come close to re-creating Heston’s performance. He absolutely nails it. Whilst the rest of the cast is excellent, Heston steals the show.

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What I especially love about “Treasure Island” is that there are a lot of minor characters that actually get a decent amount of screen time, such as Israel Hands (who can’t seem to make up his mind about whether he is supposed to be on the ship or the island), Hunter and arguably my favourite minor character, George Merry, who is played delightfully by the ever reliable Pete Postlethwaite.

For those that don’t know the story that well, George Merry is a very ambitious character and has his sights on the leadership of the pirates, even towards the end comically convincing one of the others to cut out a section of the Bible as a make-shift black spot. Realistically the character doesn’t stand a chance in hell of overthrowing Silver, and even if he did, he’s not strong enough to lead them, which makes the situation even more intriguing.

The film pays attention to the minor details that a lot of other pirate films ignore, for example, in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” quadrilogy, how often does a character fall ill? I will admit to not having watched any of them for a while, but I’m pretty certain that they’re always feeling pretty fine, whereas that wouldn’t be realistic in an environment where people aren’t eating well or taking care of themselves. “Treasure Island” addresses that and makes an interesting dynamic with a temporary truce between the two camps in order for the doctor to treat the pirates that have fallen ill.

If you somehow don’t know the story then I can’t recommend this highly enough, and I’m not just talking about the film, but the story in general.

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Summary

One of the most realistic pirate films ever, “Treasure Island” may be a story in which you know everything that happens going into it, but I would still implore you to watch this version as it is one of the best book-to-film adaptations in the history of film.approved

With an excellent cast, essentially a guide of the best that Britain had to offer twenty-six years ago, “Treasure Island” deserves to be better known, or at least watched. It was genuinely surprised that the film had as few votes on IMDB as it did (just over 3,000 at the time of writing).

I almost don’t want to post the trailer because it is one of the worst trailers for a great film that I have ever seen and doesn’t do it justice.