Friday, January 21, 2011

Solomon Kane

The Scourge of Evil

Created by Robert E. Howard (best known for his Conan the Barbarian), Solomon Kane has origins in pulp fiction before the leap onto the big screen now, starring James Purefoy as the titular British adventurer who wanders the world in search of evil to vanquish. Serving as an origin story to introduce the character to new audiences, it's quite the standard swords and sorcery film with a tinge of theological elements, with little surprise being offered as it focuses on the man's redemption.

Damned by the devil's reaper and escaping from the clutches of having his soul claimed in North Africa, Solomon Kane finds peaceful refuge in an English church, spending a period of overturning his violent past, before being expelled to seek his own destiny. He hooks up with the Crowthorn family (the head of the household played by the late Pete Postlethwaite) who are en route to a new life in America, before discovering that most of England is now under the clutches of the mythic sorcerer Malachi (Jason Flemyng), and it is up to our hero to try and kill a lot of birds with a single stone, with the liberation of the land, the rescue of damsel in distress Meredith Crowthorn (Rachel Hurd-Wood), and hopefully, redeeming his soul as part of the process.

The storyline hinges on Solomon's downward path from ruthless warrior to a peace loving man who renounced violence, before he's being dragged back to the killing game again, with swords and that occasional (not sure why though) use of the pistols. The first half dwells on this dalliance in not wanting to break his vow of non-violence, until evil comes knocking on his doorstep, and throwing his vow out of the window in order to rid scores of faceless goons dispatched through sword parries and thrusts, coupled with plenty of CG blood and decapitations.

To expand the mythos Solomon's backstory gets brought up through a series of flashbacks, which will suggest to you its significance early in the film on how the finale will come together. Writer-director Michael J. Bassett's story and direction follows a very formulaic path that shortcuts at every opportunity, such that the final assault and battle in a castle has loopholes of The Rock proportions. The story plods between the action sequences, and just about throws plenty of stuff from a zombie sequence to a crucifixion scene even (religious imagery going into overdrive here), just because it can. Purefoy perpetually scowls throughout the film, though looks convincing enough to be the skilled warrior who relies on a rapier and a cutlass on each hand.

This is one of those films that isn't great, but isn't all that bad either provided you haven't been jaded by countless of other similar looking films, and with the lack of a main villain to complement and make the hero look good, choosing to hastily introduce him only at the end. For an action adventure it doesn't have any surprise elements, with a series of action and CG that seemed to have that ring of familiarity to it. Don't hold your breaths wondering if this could spawn off a film franchise.

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