'Solomon Kane' Review: Spiritual Warrior Smites Evil in Engaging Pulp Fiction
Evil must be challenged. Good men cannot stand by while darkness overtakes the land. And even if a movie about all of the above sat on the shelf for three years it still could be worth your hard-earned cash.
"Solomon Kane," based on "Conan the Barbarian" creator Robert E. Howard's lesser known hero, wrapped production in 2009 but is only now hitting theaters and Video on Demand.
In the meantime, "Kane" co-star Pete Postlethwaite passed, we endured a wan reboot of the "Conan" franchise and people began discovering the joys of seeing first-run movies from the comfort of their homes.
If you choose to see "Solomon Kane" that way, cozy up to the biggest flat-panel set in your neighborhood. The film's vibrant action sequences and horror-like imagery deserve it.
James Purefoy is Kane, a soulless 16th century warrior who see the error of his ways when he runs into a henchman of the devil. Kane survives the encounter and vows never to raise his sword again. He's taken in by a Puritan family, led by Postlethwaite's wise character, who accept his spiritual rebirth.
Kane's life appears at ease until the family is attacked by a band of outlaws led by a masked menace known as Malachi. Kane pays a steep price for refusing to fight back and recants his pacifist ways in order to save the family's daughter (Rachel Hurd-Wood).
"Solomon Kane" is unabashed pulp, from the giddy blend of religious and horror elements to dialogue ripped from a dime store novel. Purefoy and co. treat it seriously all the same, and while a wink-wink approach would have added some humor the approach ends up enhancing the material.
Conservatives will cheer both the film's religious elements as well as its good versus evil template. Once Kane realizes the danger sweeping across the land, he doesn't blink at fighting back with all of his fury.
Writer/director Michael J. Bassett conjures up some frightening enemies for Kane to conquer, from a child-like witch to demons who snare passers by. Bassett's eye for sword battles isn't unique, but the sequences don't demand tricky camera stunts or caffeinated editing.
The story still relies on plenty of been there, fast-forwarded through that elements, like the father Kane barely knew (Max von Sydow) and some elemental sibling rivalry.
It's never embarrassing to repackage shopworn themes if the final presentation looks shiny and new. "Solomon Kane" practically sparkles with raw entertainment value.