Oh, how I wish I could get away with doing a review like the one my friend and guest to the screening of Solomon Kane emailed to me:
My Review of Solomon Kane
Dialogue (“I’m the only devil here!”) - sucks!
Premise (devil makes him do it) - sucks!
The fact that it was released in 2009 and now they’re pretending it’s a new film - sucks!
Three left thumbs – way the fuck down!
Rating: 0 out of 5!
Wellllll… I hated the movie too, but even though I am internet-based critic I cannot simply say it "sucks!"
My friend is right, though. The dialogue, premise and dodgy re-release are indeed problematic.
First of all, it is a film from last-decade and one of the main stars (Pete Postlethwaite) has been dead for over a year. However, the special effects look as though they're many moons old — based on a series of stories by Conan The Barbarian creator Robert E Howard, this slack swords-and-sorcery story from writer/director Michael J Bassett feels older than the ancient curse Solomon (Rome's James Purefoy) is saddled with.
The premise is standard issue. Fabled hero Solomon Kane was once evil but now he's good and in spite of being bedeviled and soul-damned, he is unerring in his dedication to protecting the life of a young girl to whose Puritan family he owes a debt of gratitude. Insert some florid dialogue, sword-fight after sword-fight after sword-fight, evil plotting, the triumph of good mettle, and there you have it.
1980s era sandal-schlock like Conan The Barbarian, The Beastmaster, and Red Sonja all hold a special place in my heart, so it's not the subject matter that irritates — it's the wet blanket of gloom and humorlessness. Purefoy is fine, but there is no sense of wonder in his journey, no arc, no loincloth (yep, he's covered from earlobes to ankles in thick cloaks or long leather dusters most of the time). The "Devil's Reaper" is a fitting villain, but not much is done with him aside from the occasional exposition trot-out. The CGI monsters are too lame to trot anywhere. There's an awful lot of Christian content here; praying to God, the crucifixion of Kane, and the like. Heavy-handed, to say the least.
Solomon Kane, though released years ago in Europe and available on DVD in the U.K., is going to have a premium VOD release on August 24th followed by a U.S. theatrical release on September 28th.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson