Solomon Kane (film)
|Directed by||Michael J. Bassett|
|Produced by||Paul Berrow Samuel Hadida Kevan Van Thompson|
|Written by||Michael J. Bassett|
|Starring||James Purefoy Max von Sydow Rachel Hurd-Wood Pete Postlethwaite|
|Music by||Klaus Badelt|
|Editing by||Andrew MacRitchie|
|Distributed by||The Weinstein Company (United States) Metropolitan Filmexport (France) Optimum Releasing (United Kingdom)|
|Release date(s)||December 23, 2009 (France)|
|Country||France Czech Republic UK|
Solomon Kane is a 2009 epic action film directed by Michael J. Bassett based on the pulp magazine character Solomon Kane created in 1928 by Robert E. Howard. James Purefoy stars in the title role. Despite optioning the rights in 1997, filming did not begin until January 2008. The film is an origin story for the Kane character and intended to be the first of a trilogy. The plot follows a redemption story for Kane, from the end of his life as a privateer, through the salvation of his soul by rescuing a Puritan girl and the beginning of his life as the Puritan avenger of the source material. It was produced by a consortium of French, Czech and British companies and mostly filmed in the Czech Republic. The film was first shown at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. It went on general release in France, Spain and the UK over the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010. Reception was generally favourable, with a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 82% following the UK release; the film’s atmosphere and Purefoy’s acting attracted the most acclaim.
The film opens in North Africa, 1600, with the English mercenary Solomon Kane leading the crew of his ship into battle against the Ottoman occupiers of a fortress town. After defeating the Ottoman defenders, Solomon and his men enter the fortress and find a room of enchanted mirrors. Demons trapped within the mirrors attack and kill most of the crew, but Solomon fights his way into the throne room of the fortress. Inside, as he helps himself to the fortress’s treasure, a demon dressed in hooded black robes and armed with a flaming sword appears. The demon announces itself as “the Devil’s Reaper” and tells Solomon his evil deeds have irrevocably damned his soul, and he is now destined for Hell. After a brief duel, Solomon leaps from the throne room window into the sea. As he falls to safety, the Reaper snarls that Solomon’s soul will be the Devil’s.
Following his encounter with the Devil’s Reaper, Solomon returns to England and finds sanctuary in a monastery. The Abbot apologetically expels Kane after having a prophetic dream. Kane travels by foot to his ancestral estates in Devon, from which he had been exiled by his father in his teens. Along the way he is ambushed by robbers and, as he has fully embraced a life of peace and will not fight back, he is knocked unconscious. He is found and treated by William and Katherine Crowthorn and their three children, a family of Puritans traveling west to the New World. He travels with them but the family is itself ambushed by corrupted followers of the sorcerer Malachi and his brutal lieutenant, the Masked Rider. The marauders threaten the family and mock Kane as a “man of peace”. Kane resists the family’s call to action, and prays for guidance. The raiders mercilessly kill young Samuel. Kane realizes that he has no choice and attacks, killing most of the bandits. In the ensuing melee, William and his other son Edward are killed, and Meredith is kidnapped by the raiders. William declares with his last breath that Solomon’s soul will be redeemed if he rescues Meredith. Solomon, believing that God’s plan for him might be to use his violent skills against other killers, takes a horse, arms himself and sets out in pursuit.
Robert E. Howard was a master of his craft, but here is a case of film not capturing the nuances of literature. Well, calling Howard’s writing literature is a stretch. It was written to entertain men, not professors, and this whole bit of story was far better for reading than for watching. I am not saying it wasn’t worth watching… The effects were great and the battles done quite well. Having said that, I liked it as an entertaining fantasy “swords and sorcery” flick with great effects and passable acting. Recommended, if you like fantasy movies, or hack-n-slash in general. If you were expecting Howard’s gritty, blood-slicked feel to coat you, and the red-mist to form as you entered battle, you’ll have to READ.
I watched this on my HD Kindle and then through the Kindle onto my huge projector screen. Amazon streaming never fails even when high usage has my cable PPV movies glitching.
4 stars Highly Recommended to fantasy fans! – M.R.
Find Solomon Kane at Amazon Here