Sunday, March 28, 2010

Solomon Kane

Year: 2009
Director: Michael J. Bassett
Cast: James Purefoy, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Pete Postlethwaite, Alice Krige, Jason Flemyng, Max von Sydow

Solomon Kane is a story set in the 1600s, when evil ran rampant across the land. We begin with the titular character leading his men on a raid in North Africa against the Spanish occupiers. He gets to the throne room after losing a number of his men, but before he can get his hands on the treasure, he is attacked by the Devil's reaper. The reaper wants his soul to take to hell for all of Solomon's crimes. Solomon refuses to give in and escapes.

In order to avoid being damned to hell, Solomon repents and spends a year at a monastery. However, the Abbott sends Solomon home, believing that his destiny lies there. In the middle of his journey, he meets the Crowthorn family, who help him after he's attacked by robbers.

Solomon bonds well with the Crowthorns, but tragedy strikes when men loyal to the evil sorcerer Malachi come calling. They kidnap the daughter Meredith and kill all but Mrs Crowthorn. Solomon is now forced to break his vow of not harming another human being to rescue Meredith and defeat Malachi. Can he do it?

The character Solomon Kane is based on the magazine character created by Robert E. Howard, who also created Conan. Basically Solomon is a man who has renounced his evil ways, and now risks his soul being damned to hell in order to do good. In other words, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Director Michael J. Bassett successfully creates a world that is bleak, brutal and dark in general. There is no bright sun, no live trees and the weather is mostly cloudy or rainy, which suits the mood of the film. However, where he succeeds in set design, he fails elsewhere. The pacing is uneven and the screenplay which he adapted is filled with some rather cheesy dialogue. These lines simply make the drama it tries to create seem forced. And to make matters worse, the villains that finally reveal themselves at the end of the film are laughable, especially the big fire monster.

But I'll give credit to James Purefoy for trying his best to bring life to Solomon Kane. He may seem like a Hugh Jackman clone on the surface, but he has enough screen presence to make his character believable. Peter Pan's Rachel Hurd-Wood, Star Trek First Contact's Alice Krige and Pete Postlethwaite provide good support as part of the Crowthorn family.

What I do like about it is the fact that Solomon is portrayed as a vulnerable character. He gets beat up, crucified and tortured and manages to show some grief, instead of being a super cool character with no emotions like most Hollywood heroes these days. But the entire film needs a better plot and better villains to make it more cohesive. In the end, it just falls short of being good.

Watch it only if you have nothing better to do. (3/5)

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