I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Solomon Kane

tn_solomonkaneSOLOMON KANE (James Purefoy) is a cruel bastard of a treasure hunter. I’d say he’s like a meaner Indiana Jones except in the opening scene I honestly thought he was the bad guy. He fights his way into some kind of ancient temple and even kills demons that pop out of the mirrors. But then he gets locked in a chamber with a flaming-sword-wielding-gentleman who introduces himself as “The Devil’s Reaper.” And this is when Solomon Kane realizes he’s reached rock bottom. For Richard Pryor it was running down the street on fire, alot of guys it’s waking up with no pants in an unfamiliar backyard, crawling home with no keys, having to break in, only to discover the place trashed and the wife’s closet empty, things like that. This guy it’s when the Devil’s Reaper shows up and tries to literally drag him to Hell.

mp_solomonkaneBut he says you know what pal, I’m not ready for eternal damnation yet, and please tell the Devil to go eat a dick. Well, mainly the first part. But I’m sure later he was saying to his friends Man, I should’ve been like, ‘Give my regards to Satan. And by regards I mean tell him to go fuck himself.’ That would’ve been awesome.

Anyway he manages to escape and unlike alot of us would he doesn’t just brush it off and go back to his old ways. This is a life-changing incident for Mr. Kane. He really does quit the life, goes and finds sanctuary at a monestary, becomes real pious and all that. Possibly dabbles in Christian rock, I’m not sure. He’s definitely on the self-righteous side, but I don’t think he hassles too many people about it or gets preachy. I guess the one exception would be later on when an old lady saves his ass using magic and he says, “Keep your filthy pagan magic away from me!” Not cool, Solomon. Have some manners.

But you know how it is, the Abbott has a dream that causes him to throw Solomon out on his ass. Turns out Solomon actually comes from a rich family so the Abbott didn’t feel bad telling him to go home. It’s a nice home.

On his way home Solomon gets attacked by some thieves. He tells them “I have renounced violence,” but unfortunately their response is, “Oh, that’s a shame. Because we ‘aven’t.” When he regains consciousness he’s been rescued by a family who are Puritans like him. So they hang out and do Puritan stuff. Well, they come along too late to see a witch burning, that would’ve been a nice way to spend time together. They basically come across the site of a massacre and this kid there tells them that they tried to burn a witch but the fire didn’t burn her and she burned out the eyes of all the people who came to watch her die.

Now, I know this is a fictional fantasy movie and all, and I don’t mean to be “politically” “in” “correct,” but I gotta mention something here. In my opinion there is actually no such thing as magical witches, and yet it is a historical fact that many innocent women were horribly executed by superstitious knuckleheads like this. So making a movie where they were actually correct to try to burn a witch seems like a little bit of the ol’ poor taste. In a way it’s sort of validating those nuts by depicting a world where sometimes it’s actually a good idea to burn women alive. And I’m not gonna start a picket line or anything because you’re right, alot of time has passed. But we still got countries where the men stone women to death. Which I’m against. I mean, how far is this really from a fantasy world where Jews really were out to ruin German society? If there was a movie like that and I mentioned that made me a little uncomfortable nobody would say, “Oh, come on, it’s a fantasy! It’s not supposed to be real.” So I gotta admit this witch thing made me a little uncomfortable. I hope that’s the idea.

Outlawvern.com is proud to be 100% against witch burning. Thank you.

Anyway, Solomon Kane is on this road trip to stately Kane manor or whatever, he encounters evil witches and also an army of weird veiny-headed orc dudes. These guys are led by a villain that Wikipedia calls “The Masked Rider” but I never caught them calling him that in the movie. I figured he would be called “The Masked Head-Squoosher.” This is because he likes to put his hands on potential disciples and squeeze their puny skulls until you would think their eyeballs would pop out FRIDAY THE 13TH 3-D style, but instead their heads turn monstrous and they get an orgasmic feeling that makes them yell, “It’s gooooooood!”

So these guys attack Solomon’s friends and this is where I question the movie’s morals again because this is a long scene where the Puritans are screaming for Solomon to “do something!,” and by their tone it’s very clear that what they mean is “Solomon, you have no balls and are less than a man unless you immediately toss out everything you believe in and condemn your soul to Hell by committing violence!” Which is not all that Puritan of an idea, in my opinion. Or am I confusing them with Quakers? I don’t know, maybe they’re into that, I won’t speak for them.

Anyway I didn’t think they were being fair to Solomon, but I guess he can handle it, he can make his own decisions. If he ditches his morals and uses violence he faces eternal damnation. And he decides it’s worth it: “If I kill you I am bound for Hell. It is a price I’ll gladly pay.”

As religion it’s horse shit, but as badass cinema it’s pretty good. He has a choice between not kicking ass and not going to Hell. He decides he’s more dedicated to the kicking of ass than to the not going to Hell. It’s kind of a when in Rome situation too because just doing a little violence means he’s strayed from the path of peace and Satan is gonna get him, so if he’s gonna do it at all he might as well go all out. And also he might as well wear a pilgrim hat while doing it. Good choice.

Well, the Masked Head-Squoosher kidnaps the daughter of Solomon’s host family, so the father (Pete Postlethwaite) declares (and I’m really not sure how we know he’s properly authorized to declare this) that Solomon’s soul will be saved if he goes and rescues this poor girl. So there’s his mission, he goes after her, but please note that he was already headed there anyway, because it turns out Head-Squoosher’s boss Malachi now lives in Solomon’s ancestral home.

Poor Solomon gets crucified for defying Malachi. Sound familiar? Hint: There was a certain religious figure who was also nailed to a cross. Answer: Jesus, from Christianity. What Solomon Kane does that Jesus doesn’t is tear himself off the nails and escape. Does this mean that Solomon Kane is more manly than Jesus? Yes, kind of. But Solomon Kane is just a guy you don’t fuck with, he’s not the son of God. Jesus could’ve done that if he wanted to. I know that’s easy to say, but it’s true. Jesus also chose not to wear a pilgrim hat. These are the decisions we must all make for ourselves when we are crucified.

I think this is a pretty good movie. I actually like that it has the sort of questionable ideas I mentioned. It’s provocative, it pushes buttons, makes it less boring. It’s something to think about but not offensively pushing it in your face like it thinks you’re an asshole if you disagree with it. Solomon Kane is very religious, but not evangelical. And at no point does he drive around in a bus with a giant billboard on the side promising an end to the world in 2011, like the row of buses I saw parked outside of Key Arena the other day during what was billed as an “entertaining and non-threatening” evangelical gathering.

I definitely don’t think anybody would take this for promoting a Crusades type of mentality of trying to convert or kill the other religions. It’s just a guy who has his strong moral beliefs (based on actual demon fighting experience) but seems to be destined to still get into sword fights all the time. I have always said that my favorite type of ass kicker is the Billy Jack or William Munny kind, the kind that doesn’t believe in violence but decides he has to do it anyway. The action movie that can both have and eat cake, because in my opinion alot of us like cake and therefore it is good to be able to eat cake while also maintaining possession of said cake.

So I enjoyed the character and the story, but to be honest I didn’t get as into it as I hoped. To me James Purefoy as Solomon Kane and his adventures were not as involving as my go-to example of an enjoyable non-Asian modern fantasy adventure, WOLFHOUND. Nothing against Purefoy, but he doesn’t have the type of screen presence or charisma that makes a character like this jump off the screen. He just seems like another gloomy longhair in a period piece. And this is a humorless character, he’s not exactly a fun guy to be around, so he really could use some kind of scorching intensity or something to make you not want to take your eyes off him, and to make you forget that he looks pretty similar to Hugh Jackman in VAN HELSING.

But it’s got some good ideas, the religious subject matter makes it stand out from other stories of this type, the evil mask guy is cool, there’s a cool fire monster dude that he fights at the end. The character was created by Robert E. Howard, the same guy who created Conan, and who was played by Vincent D’nofrio in that movie. The director is Michael J. Bassett, who did a movie called DEATHWATCH that I heard was good and soon will be doing SILENT HILL: REVELATION 3D.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Thursday, November 11th, 2010 at 12:48 pm and is filed under Fantasy/Swords, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

61 Responses to “Solomon Kane”

  1. When you mentioned a crucifixion I immediately thought of Conan, but hey, Jesus is good too I suppose.

  2. Ah, I must mention Purefoy’s performance as Marc Anthony in HBO’s series ‘Rome’. Definitely a highlight of that extremely entertaining show! Not to drop the B word all willy-nilly, but I would say he’s a badass character, if not the badassest on that particular program (that honor would have to go to Ray Stevenson’s Titus Pullo).

    And at only 20 hours, ‘Rome’ requires far less of a commitment than ‘The Wire’!

  3. “The character was created by Robert E. Howard, the same guy who created Conan, and who was played by Vincent D’nofrio in that movie.”

    Somehow I initially misread this as saying that in the original CONAN movie Vincent D’Onofrio had a cameo as Solomon Kane. And for a second I was like “How did I never notice THAT?”

  4. Wait, so who did Vincent D’Onofrio play in what movie?

  5. I’m a big fan of the original Robert E. Howard stories, and there was a pretty good Marvel Comics version in the early 70s, too. But this sounds like they sort of missed the point. For one thing, Howard’s version of Kane didn’t have that “Well he was evil once but now he’s trying to be good” backstory. He was just this stone-cold religous fanatic Puritan who sincerely beleived he was God’s avenger sent to purge evil from the world. The stories are as often about his rigid, unyielding beliefs running up against other’s perspectives and opinions as they are Kane fighting zombies or something. Howard, in my opinion, implies that Kane is a very repressed, almost neurotic man, and the monsters and creatures he encounters are almost metaphors for his own demons, what he fears inside himself: lust, anger, the allure of uninhibited, pagan cultures. Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter and The Conquerer Worm are the two movies I can think of that kind’ve get closest to the true spirit of the Howard stories.

    I think one of the all-time great missed opportunities of movie history was a Solomon Kane movie in the mid or late 70s starring Clint Eastwood as Kane. (Jeremy Irons in the late 80s would have been almost as good.) Well, sounds like John Milius, Oliver Stone, Dino De Laurentis (RIP) and Arnold still hold the title of Best Robert E. Howard adaptation. Not that there’s a lot of competition, which amazes me: Howard wrote dozens, if not hundreds, of short stories in his brief career, most of them are public domain now, and they’re truly a gold mine waiting to be discovered by filmmakers. And not all sword and sorcery, either: he wrote horror, westerns, historical fiction, stories about boxers, Indiana Jones-style adventures….hell, there’s an entire book collecting the stories he wrote about Europeans venturing into Afghanistan! Talk about provocative and timely!!!

  6. Actually, considering the stories have been around since the 20s and 30s, a classic Studio Era Solomon Kane film starring John Carradine, Boris Karloff or Vincent Price could have been pretty great too. Why the heck didn’t the big studios ever touch Howard or H.P. Lovecraft in the late 30s or 1940s? They were both dead, the rights couldn’t have cost that much….I’m amazed Universal never did Shadow Over Innsmouth, or Warners didn’t go after Howard’s boxing stories, or MGM never developed Howard’s stories about the Crusades or Afghanistan into a big costume drama….Did publishing in the pulps like Weird Tales and Astounding Stories really carry that much of a stigma?

  7. Not read this source material, but I thought this was pretty good when it came out in the UK early this year. The weaknesses in it for me were the big villain not having enough of a presence (he’s literally only in one whole scene), so Solomon is mostly fighting interchangable goons throughout it, and the big CGI fire monster really came out of nowhere and didn’t feel organic to what was going on. But the depressing winter atmosphere, characters and fight scenes were great.

  8. Man, I’ve been looking forward to this. I guess I should be glad it sounds like it’s at least not terrible.

  9. CC:

    In the 1930s there was no intarwebs of cult cinephiles ready to proclaim the genius of this master of that subgenre, etc. And even the existence of such cult king making is dubious. Remember, we got “Snakes on a Plane” because fanboys on comment boards went apeshit over the idea. And the realization of their idealization was just… meh.

    Also, tastes change. For example, while steampunk might be tres cool today, in the 1930s, Victorian era fantasy might resemble someone today, fetishing the 1980s. And what has that given us? “Hot Tub Time Machine?” “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World?” Uggh.

    So an era and/ or genre needs to fester and stew over time before it becomes worthy of rediscovery.

  10. The original Paul

    November 11th, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Vern, I gotta agree – burning is NOT the way to deal with a witch-infestation. You gotta take technology into account though – they didn’t have machine-guns back then.

    (Yeah, I’m a bad, bad, bad, bad person. Sorry.)

    I have to see more films… I don’t think I’ve even heard of the recent batch you’ve reviewed, including this one. Especially since there’ve been a lot of horror films in there, that’s pretty bad. I miss debating with you guys. Recently I’ve seen a lot of films I couldn’t summon up any real enthusiasm for (“Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” – sorry Vern! – “Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull”, “Frozen”, etc) and one that I absolutely loathed (“Buried”).

    I did see “Duplicity” recently though. That was a pretty good one. Definitely worth watching.

  11. Well I watched this movie while I was doing other stuff on my laptop (like a real ass-hat) and didn’t follow it too well. But from what I gathered whenever I bothered to look at the screen the filmatism was lousy and cheap-looking. But my opinion is obviously compromised here, I don’t even know why I’m posting this.

  12. Grim Grinning Chris

    November 11th, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    I thought Purefoy was great in his brief role as Edward the Black Prince in A Knight’s Tale. And I always like Jason Flemyng. I will see this.

  13. BR:

    Uhhh….What the hell are you talking about?

    WTF do Snakes On A Plane and Hot Tub Time Machine have to do with Robert E Howard and HP Lovecraft?

    The big film studios used to have hordes of people on staff who’s only jobs were to go through magazines, newspapers, recently published books and plays, ect, looking for material for the studio to purchase and adapt into films. They made so many more movies back then they do now, and they constantly needed new material. I find it almost inconceivable that either A: nobody at any of the Studios didn’t come across a Lovecraft or Howard story in one of the numerous pulp fiction magazines they published in, or B: that no one employed by those studios didn’t simply read Weird Tales for their own enjoyment and never came into work one day and dropped by the literary properties department and was like, “Hey, take a look at this new issue of ‘Tales, there’s this great story about this Conan fella…might make a swell picture!” I gotta assume this did happen at some point and they for whatever reason consciously chose not to pursue work by Howard, or Lovecraft. God knows why…Again, I think it’s amazing that all these great stories were just lying there from roughly 1926 onward and nobody seems to have officially done anything with ’em, film wise, until roughly the late 60s / early 70s.

    Then again, Lovecraft supposedly hated cinema (I seem to remember he wrote a withering dismissal of Frankenstein), so perhaps he actually turned down offers from studios. And maybe Howard just died too soon.

    I should mention that a lot of people suspect King Kong was somehow influenced by The Call Of Cthulhu (which was published before Kong was made); and that Creature From The Black Lagoon is a bit of a steal from Shadow Over Innsmouth. So maybe Howard had a similar unspoken influence on, who knows, Ray Harryhausen films or Saturday afternoon serials or something.

  14. Excellent review Vern. I really want to see this. I don’t care how faithful it is to Howard’s character. I’m a huge fan of Howard’s and I still like the Schwarzenegger Conan, even if it takes TONS of liberties with Howard’s story. A good movie is a good movie and this one looks pretty good. Thanks again for the review.

  15. CC:

    Tastes change and what is popular in one era might not be popular in another, and you can’t rush these things. My assertion to you would merely be that Lovecraft and Howard are acquired late 21st century tastes, and were overlooked in the 30s simply because they were not the rage that they were later.

    Plenty of material in the 70s or 30s were earthshattering thunderstrokes, in their time. And now are forgotten and forgettable. While plenty of material from the 70s or 30s are red hot commodities now, but in their time, would cause eyes to glaze over.

    Right now, today, we can list current movies that all of us would consider to be end-all be-all exemplars of the cinematic pantheon… but in 40 years, might be completely forgotten. And by the same token, some screenplay or book is being published or written, or some DTV plot is being rushed through onto film, that everyone is ignoring today. But in 40 years that material will be the basis of a trillion dollar franchise and capture much of the public’s imagination.

    The way of the cultural zeitgeist follows its own path, is inscrutable and unpredictable. My message to you is simply to not fret why some brilliant material is ignored and some other crap is celebrated, from one time period to the other. The reasons are unknowable. C’est la vie.

  16. Yea, I saw this, it was okay.

    RIP Dave Neihaus. Is the flag flying from the Space Needle a Mariners flag? I couldn’t tell. It’s a sad, sad day here.

  17. You’re confusing Puritan and Quaker. Or perhaps the movie was. Puritans
    were not opposed to violence at all. In fact, just the opposite, thus the whole
    burning women at the stake and such. They actually didn’t like the Quakers
    either and also did away with them – I think by hanging rather than burning –
    when they could.

    I can’t believe I just geeked out on the difference between a Puritan and a
    Quaker!

  18. “Stately Kane manor”

    Vern, you do us comic geeks proud.

  19. “…I mean, how far is this really from a fantasy world where Jews really were out to ruin German society…” Yeah, I’m gonna have to go with preeeetty far friendo. Forgive the mini soap box but with regard to slightly poor taste, I always find it a bit less than sensitive when people blithely invoke the genocidal atrocities endured by Jews in Nazi Germany for the sake of substantiating just ANY tenuous propositon. I mean, I think dog fighting is pretty inhumane, brutal, and sadistic, but I wouldn’t reference the Indonesian child sex-slave trade to make that particular point. Just sayin Main- man.

  20. Point taken Rogue, but what is another completely despicable but not as large-scale type of delusion-based form of mass execution that I could use as a parallel to the historical cases of women being burned alive? Maybe some form of genital mutilation?

  21. “completely despicable but not as large-scale type of delusion-based form of mass execution”

    that’s the process whereby thousands of idealistic young people with faith in their talents flock to hollywood to make their name in the creative industries but wind up working in porn or for temp agencies until they reach middle age, disillusioned, bereft, bitter, and without hope

  22. BR Baraka, were you that emo waiter at Electric Karma in West Hollywood this past July? I left you a good tip, man, so you could finally hire an agent! You’ll get your big break, buddy!

  23. transformer is better than this

  24. Just say no! To witch burning.

    i guess i’ll give this one a try. in for a penny in for a pound. and the hat is kindda hot.

  25. Vern, how about using the Pinochet regime in Chile as a reference from now on? After the coup in 1973 over 3000 people were killed, 80 000 imprisoned without a trial, and over 30 000 were tortured, including women and children.

  26. I thought this film and Purefoy’s performance were absolutely badass. I didn’t know that it took three hacks to chop a head of with a hunting knife untill I saw this movie. That’s some informational shit right there.

    Purefoy also deserves to be a bigger star, plus he was born in my hometown Taunton, Somerset so he automatically gets cool points in my book.

  27. Now, I know this is a fictional fantasy movie and all, and I don’t mean to be “politically” “in” “correct,” but I gotta mention something here. In my opinion there is actually no such thing as magical witches, and yet it is a historical fact that many innocent women were horribly executed by superstitious knuckleheads like this. So making a movie where they were actually correct to try to burn a witch seems like a little bit of the ol’ poor taste. In a way it’s sort of validating those nuts by depicting a world where sometimes it’s actually a good idea to burn women alive.

    That’s something that bothered me on my initial viewing of the film. However, it does bring up a valid point: if these people were really witches, then why would they let themselves get burned at the stake (or crushed, or drowned, or the other execution methods?) Solomon Kane shows exactly what happens when you try to burn a real witch, showing the folly of mob mentality.

    Also, people tend to forget that many innocent *men* were executed as witches, as much as a quarter. So it isn’t just innocent girls who were affected by this craze. And don’t forget many of the countries that stone women stone men, too.

    So these guys attack Solomon’s friends and this is where I question the movie’s morals again because this is a long scene where the Puritans are screaming for Solomon to “do something!,” and by their tone it’s very clear that what they mean is “Solomon, you have no balls and are less than a man unless you immediately toss out everything you believe in and condemn your soul to Hell by committing violence!” Which is not all that Puritan of an idea, in my opinion.

    No, I think their tone was “Solomon, could you kindly stop my family from being slaughtered?” rather than that. I think they’re kinda justified in that respect.

    Poor Solomon gets crucified for defying Malachi. Sound familiar? Hint: There was a certain religious figure who was also nailed to a cross. Answer: Jesus, from Christianity.

    While Jesus is obviously something that springs to mind when crucifixion is brought up, it isn’t like it’s unique to Christ as a form of execution. The Persians and Romans were doing it hundreds of years before he was born, after all.

    What Solomon Kane does that Jesus doesn’t is tear himself off the nails and escape. Does this mean that Solomon Kane is more manly than Jesus?

    Not necessarily: the whole point of Jesus dying is so that he can open the gates of heaven to mankind, which includes marching through Hell itself. Jesus was supposed to die, so he died. If he wasn’t supposed to die, I think it’s pretty clear a guy who could walk on water and transmogrify materials could get out of a crucifixion.

    I’m a big fan of the original Robert E. Howard stories, and there was a pretty good Marvel Comics version in the early 70s, too. But this sounds like they sort of missed the point.

    That’s putting it lightly.

    Howard, in my opinion, implies that Kane is a very repressed, almost neurotic man, and the monsters and creatures he encounters are almost metaphors for his own demons, what he fears inside himself: lust, anger, the allure of uninhibited, pagan cultures.

    You’re entitled to your interpretation of the stories, but I think that’s incidental. Kane’s primary conflict is between the Puritan ego and the Pagan id: he believes, or convinces himself that his desire to seek out adventure and exotic locals is a holy drive to rid the world of evil, but it’s an intellectual justification for his base wanderlust and search for adventure. I will say there might be some element of metaphor to it – Nakari representing lust, for example – but it’s mostly the conflict between his Puritan ideals and Pagan nature.

    I think one of the all-time great missed opportunities of movie history was a Solomon Kane movie in the mid or late 70s starring Clint Eastwood as Kane.

    That would’ve been glorious. I always wanted Hammer to do one starring Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing.

    Well, sounds like John Milius, Oliver Stone, Dino De Laurentis (RIP) and Arnold still hold the title of Best Robert E. Howard adaptation.

    Nope, it’s still John Newland and John Kneubuhl for “Pigeons from Hell,” the only actual adaptation of a Howard story. 49 years later, and still nobody’s come close. Cinematically speaking, from the point of view of adaptation, I’d say Solomon Kane and Conan the Barbarian are comparable. The latter is a much better film – very flawed, but still very good.

    In the 1930s there was no intarwebs of cult cinephiles ready to proclaim the genius of this master of that subgenre, etc. And even the existence of such cult king making is dubious. Remember, we got “Snakes on a Plane” because fanboys on comment boards went apeshit over the idea. And the realization of their idealization was just… meh.

    I really don’t see the similarity in the situations. One group is exalting the literary qualities of an author in an intellectual fashion, the other is effectively going ZOMG GREATEST MOVIE EVAR because of the rise of meme culture. It’s ludicrous to compare the two. Might as well say people clamouring for an A. Merritt adaptation are no better than the people who want a Lolcats movie starring Chuck Norris.

    My assertion to you would merely be that Lovecraft and Howard are acquired late 21st century tastes, and were overlooked in the 30s simply because they were not the rage that they were later.

    Your assertion would be incorrect. Robert E. Howard was one of the most popular authors of Weird Tales magazine, which was quite a famed little organ, and Howard experienced a massive boom in the 1960s that lasted until the ’80s. While it’s taken an obscenely long time for his literary qualities to be respected – much like Melville – he certainly didn’t become popular only at the turn of the 20th century.

  28. CC – sorry to come into this late, but to address your first point – I’m pretty sure that Howard never
    actually bothered writing an origins story for Solomon Kane. As we all know, cinema audiences need to be
    everthing spelt out to them step by step so the script had to fill in the background.

  29. Vincent D’Onofrio played Robert E Howard in “The Whole Wide World.” And also in “The Cell,” but that’s contentious.

    The Solomon Kane comics coming out from Dark Horse in the last couple of years have been okay. Better than bad, anyway, for comics about a pale guy in a hat.

    Better analogies for witch burning — Arthur Miller (playwright, raised in Brooklyn) points the way, and not just in the epigraph for “Out for Justice”: a fantasy movie about the McCarthy era where all those hollywood types really were communists.

  30. I considered mentioning that TV version of “Pigeons From Hell”. Honestly, I like CONAN more–as good as “Pigeons” is I still think the Arnold CONAN captures the spirit of Howard better. But I will concede how superb “Pigeons” is.

    I also agree on the idea of Kane using his supposed Puritan mission from god as justification for pagan adventuring–kinda the same thing I was suggesting myself, really. Both interpretations come down to pretty much the same thing, that he’s at heart a Kull / Conan-esque barbarian warrior stuck in a modern world that forces such men into all kinds of idealogical backflips to justify their natures. I think Robert E. Howard himself felt this way–if there’s one overriding theme running through all his work, it’s a yearning to have lived in a simpler, more heroic time.

  31. I’m not sure Clint would have worked. Don’t think he’s ever really done any accent other than his own, and him putting on that accent would just have sounded silly, unless he went the Sean Connery route.

    Also, I think anyone making a Howard film should put Max von Sydow in there somewhere.

  32. Got this bad boy ready to watch later on tonight. Bought it a few weeks ago and forgot all about it.

  33. Ahh , Solomon Kane . In my opinion is one of the treasures of Howard’s production . I was able to read all the stories and poems thanks to a couple of collected books published here by a small time publisher . I’ve seen the movie , here released in cinemas , and I was not disappointed … when you consider the movie an “origin story”. In the stories there are some poems with “hints” at his black past , at some secret that he’s carrying , but it’s never clear what happened . He’s very straightforward as a character , “the Weapon of God”, but almost all of the stories are African adventures in jungles and lost cities.He’s almost like a Puritan Indiana Jones , and his puritan , dark side is a good contrast with the sunny and hot African adventures he’s in . Plus his fate in God is always in danger , because , during his adventures , he comes into contact with different ancient powers , like some sort of voodoo and powerful artifacts , older than religion itself . It’s almost like Solomon Kane is the missing link between Howard’s adventurers and his take on the Cthulhu universe . So , the movie is very different , but if you consider this the origin of the character in the books , yeah , I can see that working. Now , I sure hope we will see a sequel !

  34. Oh , and R.I.P. Dino de Laurentiis .

  35. Mouth:

    I’ve never actually been to California. I was speaking more from impressions of my ex-fiance’s experiences relayed to me since she moved to LA.

    I’m afraid of earthquakes. I know for a fact that the moment I go to California, the Big One will hit. Therefore, by not going to California, I am personally saving all your sorry asses.

    All you suckers, from Seattle on down to San Diego, I fear for y’all. I’ve been to Vancouver and Las Vegas, no closer.

    I actually met Manny Pacquiao in Vegas, at a wedding, the bride was from GenSan, General Santos City, where Manny is from, knew people who knew him growing up. He was in the same hotel as the reception and she said “come to my wedding,” and he just said “sure” and showed up for a few minutes. He’s a very down to earth, deadpan, man-of-few-words kind of guy.

    We always concern ourselves with depictions of bad ass, taciturn manliness in the cinema. Well, I humbly submit Manny Pacquiao as the closest you get to that archetype, in real life.

    I know he’s been in a few Pinoy films… Vern: item #32,471 on your list of films to see, perhaps double feature it with his fight with Margarito tomorrow: “Wapakman.”

    Manny Pacquiao battles a woman with supersonic breasts, a lavaman, a giant crab, a Borg escapee from the Star Trek universe, and the requisite Penguinesque angry dwarf.

    http://twitchfilm.com/news/2009/11/manny-pacquaio-boxes-a-giant-crab-in-the-full-wapakman-trailer.php

    Apparently, the movie bombed and completely sucks, but I don’t know, how can you go wrong with that lineup?

  36. Vern, if you’re in the mood for more medieval shenanigans, may I suggest Black Death, starring Sean Bean
    as another violent man driven by his religious convictions.

  37. CC : I was also thinking about the absence of Howard , Lovecraft , Fritz Leiber and others from that circle of writers from mainstream cinema . Back then and right now . Especially after the Lord of the Rings , I was almost sure that someone was ready to re-discover Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser at least as a TV or DTV movie . That has to be the most original fantasy setting ever created , and everyone after LOTR was looking for the next big fantasy epic ( that’s why we have a Eragon movie ). It seems that now we’re finally getting some Lovecraft from Del Toro , and Howard , from the writers mentioned , is sure the most represented in cinema , but , yeah , he has written so many things in so many genres that is hard to believe that this is the first Kane adaptation. Oh well , at least we have the stories , most of them for free . Howard belongs to us , the readers . Since I’m a fan of Salgari and Stevenson I’m currently reading the Black Vulmea tales , his take on pirates stories , and , as always , they’re pretty fucking good !

  38. My buddy Azeez is from Nigeria and says that he saw two women burned at the stake as
    witches when he was younger. He said that one died, and that the other “pulled in a deep breath and blew out the bonfire from left to right” while she was tied to the stake–like Superman– and that everyone ran away screaming.

    Scary stuff. Unfortunately, I think he’s telling the truth, at least as he remembers it.

  39. I think the greatest opportunity for a good Solomon Kane movie would have been in the 60s with someone like Terrence Fisher or Mario Bava directing Christopher Lee as Kane. I can’t see anyone really getting it right today. The whole concept of doing a Solomon Kane origin story is as silly as doing a prequel to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly that “explains” in a really pat manner why Clint kicks the ass that he does. Characters like Kane and the Man work better as enigmas – they show up, they wreck people, and then they depart and the audience can only infer what their underlying reasons are.

  40. Warner Bros. presents…a new chapter in the epic legend…

    THE MAN WITH NO NAME: HIS NAME IS STEVE

  41. Andy: You said it, man. Ab-so-lutely right. Mario Bava or Terence Fisher with Christopher Lee? Holy god, that’s perfect. Better then Clint, who couldn’t do the accent, I’ll admit.

    Kermi: Howard wrote a bunch of stories about a Texas Gunslinger having adventures in Afghanistan. Now, I ask you: HOW. THE HELL. has Hollywood missed them?!? They make Pirates of The Caribean, they make those new Mummy movies, they make Sahara, for god’s sake–everybody’s desperately still trying to rip off Raiders….YO, DUMMIES! It’s right there in front of you and it’s FREE!!!

    As far as post-LOTR fantasy franchises, they spend millions on a Percy Jackson And The Olympians movie, but nobody touches Bran Mak Morn, or Niord and the Valley of The Worm (which is basically Conan vs. Cthulhu, and yes, it’s as awesome as it sounds) or Kull The Conquerer, or….Sigh. Don’t get me started.

  42. I love the original stories (REH is one of my gods), but this movie is not bad at all. I own it in Blu-ray!

  43. Almuric, that would be a badass movie -i liked that book more than John Carter, and i really like John Carter books-

  44. I think Vern’s concern that the anti-witch aspect of the film are irresponsible has a solid basis. You don’t need to go back to the 17th century to find examples of Christians killing people because they thought that person was a witch. Today in Africa there are many modern day examples of individuals either being killed or harassed because the local evangelicals think they are witches.

  45. I think a movie depicting Jews ruining German society would be refreshing. So long as those Jews can shoot fire from their eyes and curse motherfuckers with some kind of Yiddish. I know the Jews were the victims. You know the Jews were the victims. Which is probably why it would be an interesting angle for a fictional fantasy movie to take. Thank God Vern doesn’t make movies or that scene about the Jews in Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat movie would have never been made. What did you go to jail for anyway Vern, being a pussy?

  46. Let the record show that some homophobic individual posted here calling me gay and trying to tell me I “stole material” from an Ain’t It Cool News review, then linked to some nonsense I’d never seen before where he wrote a bunch of unfunny gibberish comparing Solomon Kane to Mel Gibson and saying how many times it made him cum in his pants.

    I found it in the “pending posts” and I chose not to approve it because as far as I can tell he’s just trying to spam the url to his shitty review. If you actually were serious about that though bud please contact me with an actual email or at least give some vague explanation of what part you are falsely accusing me of ripping off. Or also if you need some writing tips or anger management advice please let me know.

    thanks bud

  47. oh, what the hell, here’s the “review”:

    http://www.aintitcool.com/node/44148

    ’cause on second thought it IS kind of funny. I can’t tell if Harry is playing along or if he didn’t read any of that before posting it as a “review.”

  48. Woah, this reads like a spot-on parody of a Neil Cumpston review.

  49. “he looks pretty similar to Hugh Jackman in VAN HELSING.”

    Hugh Jackman´s Van Helsing looked like Vampire Hunter D. Vampire Hunter D looked like Robert E. Howard´s Solomon Kane.

    ***

    And yes, that homophobic maggot´s review is mierda.

  50. It’s as if Peter Griffin from Family Guy came to life and wrote a film review. Whilst drunk and/or high.

  51. VERN: I’ve been holding back, my intention hasn’t been to start a big hate fest on your talkback…but I’ve really had enough of Harry Knowles’ contributions to pop culture and to Hollywood. It embarrasses me that he has become a spokesperson for these things that I love – being film, comics, cable TV. His writing’s a mess, and that is a major problem if he’s chosen to communicate his ideas exclusively in that medium. I know he LOVES these entertainments he so fervently documents, but he’s spent all his time sitting on ass, watching, missing the forest for the trees. I don’t necessarily think he understands the medium past the point of any fanboy who has it in him to pop in a DVD or flip open a comic book. Most of the time he posts poorly-spelled, grammatically incorrect, mostly autobiographical gibberish about his blissful marriage (I’m happy he found love, but I’m really not interested in hearing about it on a movie website), a party he recently attended, or a celebrity he recently spoke with/twittered/fellated. Can’t he retire to his comfy chair in Austin and hand the torch over to someone with a greater grasp on this stuff, who actually has the capacity to enrich us as readers, rather than to just tell us shit we already know and reaffirm beliefs we already have?

  52. I’m with you on that, Patrick. I second that emotion. Harry’s writing is unreadable.

    On the other hand, I enjoyed his site for years; there is some worthwhile content and shit- most of us first encountered ol’ Vern over on the AICN. So I won’t dwell on the more annoying aspects of the whole experience. IE: Mr. Knowles himself.

    Glad you got a chance to let it all out.

  53. Haha thanks Bryan.

  54. somehow I missed this review the first time around, maybe I was too busy playing Fallout New Vegas?

    anyway CC: I think it’s because stuff like Robert E Howard and HP Lovecraft (ESPECIALLY Lovecraft) were just plain too weird for mainstream movie audiences back then, some would say Lovecraft is STILL too weird (hence Universal being reluctant to make At The Mountains of Madness)

  55. Very late to the party, if anyone reads this.

    I liked this. It looked really cool and atmospheric. Purefoy was fine and the story was simple but told effectively enough. The main villain was a miss (partly because the actor is so recognizable as a very non-villain guy) and the obvious CGI demon didn’t work at all.

    I also could have done without the tying of the main plot into Kane’s family backstory, but I guess that’s a thing you absolutely must do these days in a film.

    Still, it’s an effective little fantasy action film. And it certainly didn’t shit the bed like Conan the Barbarian 2011. I have high hopes for Basset and Silent Hill Revelations.

  56. Just caught this at Actionfest, and liked it alot better than i expected. Purefoy was fantastic (I haven’t seen Rome so I think the only thing I’ve seen him in was John Carter, where he was pretty charming) – the character development was good, the story was clean and simple, the action was pretty good. Nice mix of swashbuckling, western, and horror, much more successful than the similar Season of the Witch (which i still liked) The last 10 min. or so isn’t quite up to snuff with the rest of it, but it’s by no means bad.

    Btw, not only did Kane look alot like Hugh Jackman as Van Helsing, but he also looked a hell of alot like V from V for Vendetta. Wasn’t Purefoy supposed to have played him as well?

    Oh and it’s funny that I just mentioned how strong Pete Postlethwaite was in Clash of the Titans ’10, using only 5 min. of screentime. Here he plays almost the exact same role but gets a little bit more time, and he’s excellent yet again. The world truly lost a great actor in him.

  57. Neal, Mouth, how can I identify you guys? I’ll be wearing a salmon colored shirt tomorrow and planning to see TRAILER WAR, GANG STORY, WILD BUNCH (I mean, come on), I DECLARE WAR and TRANSIT.

    Also I look like Fred Topel.

  58. I guarantee Mouth is gonna be the only one there dressed like a riverboat gambler.

  59. Fred, I’ll be wearing a blue-ish henley (if that’s what those are called) and I’ll be at Goon, Sinners and Saints, and Transit. Yes, I’m actively choosing a showing of Goon over The Wild Bunch. There goes any credibility I may have had.

  60. Dude, GOON is on VOD and just as good on TV as in a theater. Just sayin’.

    I guess I win ActionFest for going to see THE WILD BUNCH like you’re supposed to. :)

  61. So I just caught this one on TV and I enjoyed it, but mostly for nostalgic reasons. It reminded me of all those cheap sword & sorcery movies, that I saw on TV as a kid. And I liked that it took its time until the action started. The one thing that I have trouble buying into, is that there is no easier way for the devil to snatch one guy’s soul.

    What really made the movie for me, was Jason Flemyng’s extended cameo as evil wizard at the end. Mostly because I Jason Flemying makes everything better and I loved his crazy ass make up.

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