Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Solomon Kane (2009)

Michael J. Basset's Solomon Kane, based on Robert E. Howard's pulp creation stars James Purefoy as the titular damned soul is a great ride even if somewhat forgettable. Solomon Kane is a mercenary who has killed many men, having sold his soul to the devil for his prowess on the battlefield. Presently Solomon is a man of peace, afraid of bearing arms, lest the reaper come to collect. Joining up with a caravan (led by Pete Postlethwaite and Alice Krige in good but throwaway roles) that is destined for tragedy, Solomon is spurned back into a life of violence but for the first time he has a purpose.
The first thing I have to notice is that for a $40 million film, Solomon Kane looks much better than most of the films coming out of Hollywood right now. The creature effects are great and the moody look and feel of the film is lovely. Secondly, the cast is fantastic. James Purefoy is a gravelly bad ass, but manages to not take it too far as to be off-putting. Max von Sydow is his usually stoic, majestic self. Even a surprise third act reveal of Jason Flemyng is a fun turn. Bassett has a little tendency to let the film get a little bombastic, but the film had me so worked up, it felt genuine instead of beating me over the head over something I cared nothing about (see Transformers).
However, where the film succeeds the most (and my favorite of the film's attributes) is how respectful it is to Howard's source material. Unlike John Milius' Conan the Barbarian, which felt like it pick and chose what Milius liked best from the Conan mythos and came up with his own backstory for Conan, Solomon Kane feels like the character leaped directly from the pages of Howard's tales onto the screen. This is the film Marcus Nispel should have been watching and taking notes while filming his Conan reboot. It's a great little film that I hope to revisit when Nispel's impending disaster comes along.

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