Sunday, 10 April 2011


“If a man is not rising upwards to be an angel, depend upon it, he is sinking downwards to be a devil.” - Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Yesterday afternoon we watched a strange film. It is one of these relatively lately-spawned movies derived from obscure comic books, that have had or still have a cult following. It was Michael J. Bassett’s 2009 film “Solomon Kane”. Solomon Kane, the titular hero, is gaunt and dressed in black, with a gloomy demeanour wearing his trademark slouch hat. He carries a versatile sixteenth century arsenal, usually bladed weapons, often a rapier, and at least two old fashioned pistols. Kane wanders the world to vanquish all the evil he encounters in an attempt to regain his lost soul. The character was the creation of author Robert E. Howard, and the first story was published in 1928. Howard is more famous for creating the character Conan the Barbarian.

The movie starred James Purefoy in the title role, Max von Sydow as his father, Rachel Hurd-Wood as Meredith, the slight romantic interest (more so, the damsel in distress). Pete Postlethwaite as Meredith’s father, and a host of other actors hardly recognisable under tons of make-up, latex, prostheses and other monster-making devices. Michael J. Bassett also wrote the script and if the film starts with a spoken introduction by the director/writer, I tend to groan…

The film is very definitely made for fans and cult followers, and is of marginal interest to the casual film-goer. It comes with a warning of graphic violence, which is indeed well-placed. If slashing people’s heads off and curtailing of other bodily parts with rapiers is your thing this is the film for you, otherwise if you are fainthearted, stay well away! There was too much blood and gore and violence for our taste, but that is given with the gothic/heroic type of genre that this film represents. On reflection there were quite a lot of axes in the film as well, and they got a lot of use…

There is some very good cinematography in the film, especially in the quieter moments. The music tends to be generic, but at least it is not intrusive. The performances are generally OK, with some very good cameo roles (Max von Sydow is such an example), and poor Pete Postlethwaite, a very good character actor, gives his all in one of his last film roles before his death in 2011. Rachel Hurd-Wood does a good job in looking fragile and delicately beautiful, just the thing for a damsel in distress. James Purefoy looks stern and suitably heroic when called upon to do so, doing as much he could with the (mostly) nonsensical script.

The film could have actually worked really well if the basics of the plot were retained, but the supernatural elements were eliminated. However, that would not be Solomon Kane and thousands of fans would have been disappointed. If you are a fan, no doubt you have seen this film and probably enjoyed it. If you have a good stomach for graphic violence and like supernatural themes, then you will enjoy the film. If you are a bit lily-livered, stay well away. Definitely a dick flick this Movie Monday…


  1. Hello:
    Possibly we fall into the slightly lily livered category to enjoy this film and think that on balance we shall pass on it. That, despite the fact that Pete Postlethwaite is definitely one of our film heroes and we mourn his recent death - possibly at the peak of his career.

  2. awww come on
    that was an ace film
    good fun

  3. I think I will avoid this one, Nic!!!!
    Thanks for the warning

  4. I second Julia.
    Thanks for the warning.