Solomon Kane (2012)
Directed by Michael J. Bassett
Max Von Sydow
(world release date 2009, UK and US release dates, 2010 and 2012)
Solomon Kane is the first honorable film adaptation of the character created by Robert E. Howard in 1928. Howard’s fantasy world formed in a natural evolution from dozens of pulp fiction stories appearing in Weird Tales, alongside contemporaries such as H.P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith. Howard’s style lived somewhere between Lovecraft and Edgar Rice Burroughs combining fantasy adventure with tales of ancient gods and powerful evil entities. Howard’s most recognizable character is Conan the Barbarian; Kane should be his second.
Solomon Kane is an early archetype of the superhero, a puritan with a symbolic outfit, entirely black clothes, a long coat and a sloucher hat, and an array of weaponry, a rapier, a Dirk, flintlock pistols and a juju staff. He’s on a mission to battle evil. This film is an origin story dealing with Kane, who starts off as a mercenary only interested in the richest rewards. When an evil entity shows him the darkness that lies within his own soul, Kane flees and goes into hiding in a monastery. Marauders attack a nearby village and the evil sorcerer, Malachi, kidnaps the Crowthorn’s daughter, Meredith. Kane vows to save her as part of his own search for redemption. On his journey he battles zombies, demons, and evil swordsmen.
The film boasts impressive sets with giant statues (real sculptures made for the sets), enormous cathedrals and castles, and powerful natural scenery. The CG is well done and blended nicely so as not to be distracting, except maybe for the final demon which is of the already overused fire demon variety. James Purefoy plays the part of Kane wonderfully, garnering much admiration from Howard fans. Most of you may recognize him as the villain, Joe, in the current TV series, The Following. Although rights to the film were obtained in 1997 it had taken until 2008 to begin shooting. This was supposed to be the first of a trilogy, but I find it unlikely the other films will be made. This is one of the thousands of great stories I refer to that should be made, rather than the remakes and reboots Hollywood continues to green light. This was a foreign made film, a joint UK, French and Czeck endeavor.
It’s not perfect but I’m glad I had the opportunity to watch this and would readily watch the next two of the series if they are ever made.
A wonderful adaptation and introduction of Howard’s iconic character, with great acting, make-up, and special effects.
l give it 4.2 swipes of the sword out of five fiery demons on the anti-hero quest for redemption scale.