Solomon Kane is a name pulp fiction lovers, especially those with an appetite for old school sword and sorcery might find familiar. He’s a figment of Robert E. Howard (the same guy responsible for Conan the Barbarian)’s imagination, and a handful of his early adventures graced the pages of Weird Tales, a periodical in the ’30s that also carried the works of H.P. Lovecraft (the founding father of tentacle fiction) and Clark Ashton Smith (a nightmare spinner in every vein).
Kane also made an appearance in several Marvel and Dark Horse runs, and having garnered something of a cult following, it was inevitable that he’d hit the silver screen.
News about Kane’s Hollywood stint was already circulating since last year’s San Diego Comic Con, together with talk about movie related tie-ins and new comic releases, so I was pretty excited when the movie opened here.
Having caught the disaster that was the Green Hornet (which I will write about in a day or two), I entered the theater hoping that Kane would dare to be different, and prove that you don’t need a $120 million dollar budget to do things right.
True enough, Solomon Kane turned out to be a pleasant romp. Opening in North Africa in the early 1600s, where Kane sacks an Ottoman fortress with his mercenary crew, only to run into ensorcelled mirrors, demons, and the Devil’s Reaper, a creature that reminded me a whole lot of the Lich King.
Fleeing this entity, Kane seeks shelter in a monastery, taking up the mantle of a pacifist. His reprieve is short lived, however. The abbot, who has felt the proverbial disturbance in the force, expels him, sending him back to his father’s lands. Along the way, Kane is ambushed by brigands, rescued by a family of pilgrims, the Crowthorns, and when they run afoul of evil forces commanded by the wizard Malachi, resolves to rescue the daughter, Meredith, and perhaps find redemption in the process.
I actually enjoyed following Kane’s character arc. His transformation from murderous plunderer to pacifist Puritan, to wrathful avenger developed nicely. There were strong, religious underpinnings, and a fair share of symbolism , but none of it was particularly sanctimonious or standoffish. Instead, it served to empower the story by crystallizing the beliefs and superstitions of the setting.
Another element that really wowed me was the choreography. The sword fights, especially with Kane going up against Malachi’s cronies, and again with the Masked Rider, were visually impressive, rife with dynamic movements and tight camera work. It was apparent that a lot of it was skill, rather than CG.
CG, as a whole, was used sparingly. That, of course, heightened anticipation, and made the appearance of the demon in the final scene a whole lot more impactful.
Admittedly, the movie had its flaws. For one, the pacing, especially during Kane’s journey with the Crowthorns, was a little too slow for my liking. It was also quite apparent, when it was revealed that Malachi dwelt in his home, that there was going to be a “SOLOMON, I AM YOUR BROTHER!” moment later on.
It’s a pity that Solomon Kane is showing on only a handful of screens here, and that its run is only 2 weeks.
Fortunately, though, there’s going to be a DVD release (if there isn’t one already), and those who’ve missed this amazing flick can pick it up at Borders or Kinokuniya, or something. XD