Solomon Kane

Solomon Kane (film)
Solomon Kane

I saw this last week, but haven’t had time to draft up a review. So here it is. Better because it’s had time to mature. Or something.

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Bad man turns good then turns bad because badder men make him only it’s a good thing.

Robert E. Howard is most famous for bringing Conan to the world of fantasy. He did create a few other characters, such as King Kull, Sailor Steve Costigan and the Puritan warrior Solomon Kane.

Kane makes for an interesting hero. A sailor and soldier who has fought under Admiral Drake. He turns to a life of treasure hunting and greed, caring not a jot for the lives of anyone. Until he finds out that Satan’s decided that his soul would make a very tasty morsel, renounces all evil and locks himself away in a monastery.

The very opening scene is incredibly Indiana Jones-esque as Kane (James Purefoy) and his band of not-so-merry men find a temple ripe for the ransacking. As the men are plucked off, Kane concentrates on only gold and glory. This is the turning point in his life.

The character we encounter shortly afterwards is a changed man, hiding so that his soul won’t be nabbed and used as a toothpick by the Lord of Darkness. Kane can no longer lead the life he did. Kill another man and his soul is forfeit.

Kane is soon befriended by a small family (including Pete Postlethwaite), travelling home by horse and cart. Unfortunately for Kane, or actually more unfortunately for the family, nasty men are busy killing menfolk and enslaving their women. One such party provokes Kane to such a degree that blood is spilt and he finds himself on a quest while trying to keep the devil off his back.

It’s a simple plot, but played well. There are no great surprises and it follows sword and sorcery rules – which it should as Howard pretty much wrote the book on them. There are witches, mutants, wizards, devilspawn, lackeys, maidens, lords, intrigue, betrayal, swords, axes, zombies… it’s all there.

Like The Wolfman which I saw a short while before, this is as good an example of this genre as you’re likely to get in this modern day. Well made, well acted and lovely effects. Just right for switching the brain off and enjoying a little brutal action.

It really has me hoping that someone has the guts to make a new Conan film with a decent cast and a proper budget. As long as they stick closely to one or other of the books.

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