A nomadic 16th century warrior, condemned to hell for his brutal past, seeks redemption by renouncing violence, but finds some things are worth burning for as he fights to free a young Puritan woman from the grip of evil.
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Michael J. BassettÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s adaptation of Robert E. HowardÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Solomon Kane is the exact kind of film that IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d have somehow managed to see when I was 12 or 13 and fallen completely in love with. Thanks in part I guess to the fact that I havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t grown up that much, I still love it. A pure, unsophisticated (in the best, most honest way) adventure film not designed to appeal to multiple demographics, it doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get goofy to skew young, or have much in the way of romance. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just a damned, pissed off dude with swords, hacking and slashing his way through the demonic hordes of evil men stopping him from finding the evil sorcerer that holds the key to saving his immortal soul.
Like the adaptations of Robert E. HowardÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s other, more famous creation Conan the Barbarian, Solomon Kane is unremittingly dark: itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s scary, dirty and violent through and through. At the same time, however, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s got a really charming innocence, a freedom from gimmick or the need to cast splashy stars. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d watch Solomon Kane or something like it every other week, and gladly give up all the $200M dollar blockbusters, good and bad, to secure a steady supply of well crafted pulpy adventure films, pirate films, jungle explorer films, swordfight films, genres that are largely ignored, to our detriment. The filmÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s complete absence of irony, its lack of a need to Ã¢â‚¬Å“put a fresh spinÃ¢â‚¬Â on an old genre is refreshing and a pure pleasure. The genre doesn't need a "fresh spin". Solomon Kane is proof it just needs filmmakers that like the material and a cast that can act.
James Purefoy is pitch-perfect as the troubled, murderous puritan, and the rest of the cast, including vets Pete Posthlewaite and Max von Sydow. The effects are used sparingly but to spectacular effect, and the filmmakersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ reliance on physical props in incredibly detailed sets is another nostalgic pleasure. The morning after the screening, I went and picked up some Robert E. Howard books, which I hope will help me prolong the pleasure I got from Michael J. BassettÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s film. As a new, medium-budget hack-and-slash film with no stars, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a shame that it is for the moment, a unique pleasure. 8.5/10