By Janet Maslin

, Page 00010 The New York Times Archives

''KRULL'' is a gentle, pensive sci-fi adventure film that winds up a little too moody and melancholy for the ''Star Wars'' set, though that must be the audience at which it is aimed. It concerns a handsome prince, his beautiful bride and a band of sidekicks something like Robin Hood's, not to mention an enchanted movable mountain and a little golden gizmo that has magical powers.

If Peter (''Breaking Away'') Yates sounds like an odd choice to direct such a tale, he does rise to the challenge, giving the film poise and sophistication, as well as a distinctly British air. But these qualities, however worthwhile, may not be exactly what ''Krull'' needed.

''Krull,'' which opens today at Loews State and other theaters, concerns Prince Colwyn (Ken Marshall) and his long journey to recover the magic Glaive, a five-pronged bejeweled gadget that looks like a kitchen utensil with talons and is capable of spinning like a forked Frisbee. He is also in search of his beautiful bride, Princess Lyssa (Lysette Anthony), who looks like a storybook heroine and who is kidnapped by a red-eyed villain, The Beast, in the story's early moments.

Before the Princess vanishes, she and Colwyn indulge in some unexpectedly grown-up flirting, which is part of what distinguishes ''Krull'' from some of its kiddie-oriented competition. There are also characters who speak resignedly about death, and a bizarre but moving sequence about long-lost love. And the mostly British cast performs with more delicacy than the usual gee-whiz adventure film requires. However, ''Krull'' is muted and unemphatic, too. And for all its unusual touches, it doesn't fully feel like anything new.

A lot of effort has obviously gone into the the most ambitious episodes in ''Krull,'' most notably a sequence in which an older character called Ynyr (Freddie Jones), who has been the young Colwyn's adviser, goes to visit a woman he loved years ago. She (Francesca Annis) has been transformed into the Widow of the Web and now lives at the heart of a colossal cobweb, which is guarded by a king-size crystal spider.

As Ynyr reminds her of their youth together, the woman is transformed into the beauty she once was, and the sequence develops some emotional weight. And yet the elaborate set, which appears to be the size of a plane hangar, overpowers most of the sentiment without contributing to it. The film's visual inventions, while distinctive, aren't interrelated enough to create an overall mood.

There are hints of other movies, from ''Star Wars'' to ''Dragonslayer,'' in the screenplay by Stanford Sherman. Indeed, the story of a young hero aided by an older mentor, surrounded by a band of funny-looking sidekicks as he quests after something that will save his kingdom from ultimate destruction, is a story that's being told with some regularity these days. However, Mr. Sherman also incorporates some wit and intelligence into the proceedings. And Mr. Yates works hard to bring understatement and dimension to the material. His ''Krull,'' which is decorous and dignified throughout, has more depth than excitement.

Mr. Marshall and Miss Anthony bring the fairy-tale lovers to life very sweetly, and Mr. Marshall later embodies all the nobility and heroism any handsome prince could need. In his entourage are a Cyclops (Bernard Bresslaw), a comical magician (David Battley), and a tough-looking robber (Alun Armstrong), all of whom provide color and comic relief. The cast also includes a group of Clydesdale horses who fly. In so doing, they take off more definitively than the rest of the movie ever does.

''Krull'' is rated PG (''Parental Guidance Suggested''). It contains a few moderately gory torture and battle scenes. Janet Maslin

Quest for a Gizmo

KRULL, directed by Peter Yates; written by Stanford Sherman; director of photography, Peter Suschitzky; edited by Ray Lovejoy; music by James Horner; produced by Ron Silverman; re- leased by Columbia Pictures. At Loews State, 45th Street and Broadway; Orpheum, 86th Street and Third Avenue; 34th Street Showplace, near Second Avenue and other theaters. Running time: 126 minutes. This film is rated PG.

Colwyn . . . . . Ken Marshall

Lyssa . . . . . Lysette Anthony

Ynyr . . . . . Freddie Jones

Widow of the Web . . . . . Francesca Annis

Torquil . . . . . Alun Armstrong

Ergo . . . . . David Battley

Cyclops . . . . . Bernard Bresslaw

Kegan . . . . . Liam Neeson

Seer . . . . . John Welsh

Titch . . . . . Graham McGrath

Turold . . . . . Tony Church

Eirig . . . . . Bernard Archard

Vella . . . . . Belinda Mayne