For three years, I patiently waited for an American distributor to pick it up. Never happened. And, despite the temptation, I even virtuously avoided illegal downloads and unauthorized YouTube vids — but — I could wait no longer! Once Brandi told me she’d bought us a multi-region DVD player, I scooted over to Amazon UK and ordered a Region 2 PAL DVD of 2009’s Solomon Kane, based on the character created by Robert E. Howard.
Even with shipping, it only cost me five and a half bucks, American.
The disc arrived today, and I watched it this evening with Brandi.
Although not strictly faithful to the Word, Solomon Kane nonetheless captures the spirit of the Bob Howard pulp stories in a way that no other REH adaptation has yet approached. The screenplay is a bit too Hollywood boilerplate – and, thus, predictable – but the film as a whole rises above its script’s over-familiar conventions and is, ultimately, a superior entertainment. Production design, casting, photography and musical score are well above par.
James Purefoy is note-perfect as the dour Puritan swordsman, and director Michael Bassett keeps the film moving at a fair clip while still allowing the characters time to earn the audience’s sympathy/empathy. Also notable is the terrific musical score by Klaus Badelt and the gorgeous cinematography by Dan Lausten.
As for the special effects, yeah, there are a few dodgy CGI bits in the beginning and some cartoon demons in there, but it is a sword & sorcery saga, after all. I’ve heard more than a few complaints about the end of the film, but it mostly worked for me. Compared to every big budget Hollywood fantasy film I’ve seen in the last 5+ years, the climactic scene of Solomon Kane was positively restrained in its use of CGI; it was hardly the sort of pixelated overkill/cartoon orgy that’s become de rigueur these days.
It’s not Van Helsing. It’s not Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter. It’s a very modern, surprisingly mainstream special effects adventure film, and I cannot fathom why it hasn’t garnered an official U.S. release. If the suits considered it too dark, or the character too obscure, or Purefoy too unknown for wide theatrical distribution, I sorta get it. But it doesn’t explain why it hasn’t shown up on SyFy or on DVD. I’m sure there’s some good reason for it, but it’s a mystery to me.
In short, though Solomon Kane is not a perfect film, nor a literal adaptation of Howard’s prose, I loved the movie. Best sword & sorcery flick I’ve seen in ages, and far better than the most recent Conan film.
I suspect the gentleman from Cross Plains would have gotten a kick out of it, too.