I watched Solomon Kane on-demand last night. *sigh* I really had a hard time divorcing myself from the source material. Because of that, honestly, I spent most of the movie saying "WTF?" Maybe if you've never read the original Robert E. Howard stories, you'd enjoy it more than I did.
Like Conan the Barbarian (1982), in and of itself it is a passable adventure movie, but the Kane has no more relation to the literary Solomon Kane than Conan did to Howard's Conan.
Even on its own, though, there were things going on that didn't make much sense or were disappointing.
Here be spoilers, ye have beene warned.
I expected to take the movie on its own terms. I knew from other Howard fans that this wasn't going to be Howard's Kane. But, man, I was expecting a lot more from this movie. I wish I could say it was better. About the only thing that makes it passable is the acting of Purefoy and Postlethwaite.
The plot is pure cookie cutter fantasy fodder. Kane is bad, Kane is a royal. Kane had an evil brother, Kane was disinherited, killed his brother, ran away. Kane is repenting his evil ways. ("The Shadow knows!") A sorcerer has risen, possessing people, spreading an army of possessed people and rainy English weather across the countryside. They are led by a hulking masked leader who serves the sorcerer. Want to guess who the masked man is? Want to guess where the sorcerer has setup his HQ?
This might have worked if they dropped the historical angle, changed the names of characters and countries, and just called it a fantasy world. A demonic army spreads across England in 1600 and Queen Elizabeth sends no army? Not even the miltia in the area are mustered?
Not to go back to Howard as source, but as example - Howard knew history. He not only used it in historicals (naturally,) it also informed his fantasy tales. Conan's world is a mashup of historical era and empires. Literary Kane stories are historical dark fantasies and horror. Almost all sense of history is wasted in this movie.
The final battle, too, seemed really dull and not particularly compelling. One moment Kane's shoulder is run through by a sword blade. Moments later he is fighting two-handed without losing any coordination in his wounded arm.
Typical Hollywood stuff, even if this was made outside Hollywood (and hasn't gotten North American distribution until now.)
So, aside from the predictable disappointments, there was one shining moment where I knew everyone just said, "Screw it. Give 'em what they want." ("They" being Hollywood producers, distributors, whoever.) During the crescendo battle, Kane faces off against a demon. A great, large fiery demon. For about two seconds, I thought, "It's 'Kane - the video game'!" Then the demon moved; with lava flowing under its open ribcage. It ducked its head, and bellowed and you could see the furnace fires deep in its throat.
That's right, people. Solomon Kane battles the Balrog.
|Do I look like friggin' Gandalf?|
Just like Conan the Barbarian (2011), I find myself far more disappointed than angry as a Howard fan. Cliched and predictable, unfortunately dull. Maybe if they had gone with the original sources they would have made something just different enough to stand out and be a box office success.
But we won't know until next time - if someone is willing to hold closer the sources - and if there is a next time.