Personal blog - and temporary home page until new website is finished - of writer, editor and graphic artist Christopher Mills

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Mark Of Kane

For three years, I patiently waited for an American distributor to pick it up. Never happened. And, despite the temptation, I even virtuously avoided illegal downloads and unauthorized YouTube vids -- but -- I could wait no longer! Once Brandi told me she'd bought us a multi-region DVD player, I scooted over to Amazon UK and ordered a Region 2 PAL DVD of 2009's Solomon Kane, based on the character created by Robert E. Howard.

Even with shipping, it only cost me five and a half bucks, American.

The disc arrived today, and I watched it this evening with Brandi.

Although not strictly faithful to the Word, Solomon Kane nonetheless captures the spirit of the Bob Howard pulp stories in a way that no other REH adaptation has yet approached. The screenplay is a bit too Hollywood boilerplate - and, thus, predictable - but the film as a whole rises above its script's over-familiar conventions and is, ultimately, a superior entertainment. Production design, casting, photography and musical score are well above par.

James Purefoy is note-perfect as the dour Puritan swordsman, and director Michael Bassett keeps the film moving at a fair clip while still allowing the characters time to earn the audience's sympathy/empathy. Also notable is the terrific musical score by Klaus Badelt and the gorgeous cinematography by Dan Lausten.

As for the special effects, yeah, there are a few dodgy CGI bits in the beginning and some cartoon demons in there, but it is a sword & sorcery saga, after all. I've heard more than a few complaints about the end of the film, but it mostly worked for me. Compared to every big budget Hollywood fantasy film I've seen in the last 5+ years, the climactic scene of Solomon Kane was positively restrained in its use of CGI; it was hardly the sort of pixelated overkill/cartoon orgy that's become de rigueur these days.

It's not Van Helsing. It's not Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter. It's a very modern, surprisingly mainstream special effects adventure film, and I cannot fathom why it hasn't garnered an official U.S. release. If the suits considered it too dark, or the character too obscure, or Purefoy too unknown  for wide theatrical distribution, I sorta get it. But it doesn't explain why it hasn't shown up on SyFy or on DVD.  I'm sure there's some good reason for it, but it's a mystery  to me.

In short, though Solomon Kane is not a perfect film, nor a literal adaptation of Howard's prose, I loved the movie. Best sword & sorcery flick I've seen in ages, and far better than the most recent Conan film.

I suspect the gentleman from Cross Plains would have gotten a kick out of it, too.


Rip Jagger said...

I want this badly. I'm like you and have been patiently waiting. Why this has not made it into the American market is an utter mystery and a shame.

Rip Off

Charles Gramlich said...

Yeah, I'd like to see this for sure.