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Fantastic Fest Fave SOLOMON KANE is Finally in US Theaters Today, Read Monty Cristo's Review

Published at: Sept. 28, 2012, 4:53 p.m. CST by Monty Cristo

"Monty Cristo" here once again.

 

SOLOMON KANE has had a long road to its US release since playing Fantastic Fest a few years ago. The movie has been available on iTunes pre-theatrical VOD for a few weeks now, and I'm glad a few hundred of you saw it with us at SDCC this year.

 

SOLOMON KANE tells the story of a bad man turned-Puritan who has more sins to atone for than may be possible for him to redeem. After spending a long stretch in an abbey, he is pushed out into the real world by the brotherhood that took him into their healing arms. Gangs of miscreants infected with some sort of demonic possession rove the countryside. Kane comes across a family with younger children. Initially, he needs their help, but the tables turn abruptly when they are attacked by a gang lead by the ominous, merciless Malachi.

Based on stories by Robert E. Howard, the creator of Conan the Barbarian, the movie hews very close to the tone, spirit, and style of the source material. Instead of reinventing the character into a pastiche of modern archetypes and tropes like so many big-budget studio tentpoles, the filmmakers set their sights on faithfully translating the character to the screen without involving so much interpretation that the core elements that make him compelling disappear.

The story and execution may, therefore, come off as old-fashioned and not "modern" enough for some, but that's precisely why I enjoy it. I don't hold that every adaptation should be the mirror image of its source (far from it), and, in fact, SOLOMON KANE narratively works as a prequel/origin story to the established lore. It was to have served as an introduction to the character with the intent of further expanding into the existing stories, but, sadly, the holdup in finding a US distributor has all but (if not completely) killed that notion. I do think there's something to the idea of a cable mini- or maxi-series continuing the story on a network like FX, AMC, HBO, or the like. Ideally, the same creatives could be involved down to James Purefoy starring, but I have no insight to these things.

The movie generates investment into not only Kane himself, but the entire supporting cast, including one of the final performances from the great Pete Postlethwaite. I'm glad that he received credit for being the force of nature that he was in his work. As the father of the family Kane meets, Postlethwaite perfectly embodies kind, steadfast lion of tyhe pride. His wife is played by Alice Krige, whom I wish we saw more of these days. Speaking of strong father figures, Max von Sydow plays Kane's father to wonderful, touching effect. Maybe it's my daddy issues, but the relationship, though only briefly seen, really got to me. Jason Flemyng plays yet another "makeup role" as the beast-like Malachi.

James Purefoy as an actor has impressed me greatly since I first saw him in HBO's ROME as Mark Anthony. He commands the screen in both lead and supporting roles like classic leading men would. The unique vintage that breathes his style of calm assuredness is rarely found bottled anymore. Yes, he often has a smug, self-assured, crooked grin on his face, but that's representative of an actual persona, rather than the bland, blank slate generally found at the center of movies with a conventional hero at their center.

SOLOMON KANE is both the most faithful and all-around effective cinematic adaptation of Robert E. Howard's canon. The movie may not be your cup of tea, but that could also be said of the books (just as with the Ahnuld CONAN movies). I'm very glad that it is finally on big screens across the US.

 

 

Solomon Kane has been on iTunes for a while and opens in limited release across the US today in these cities (click here for exact theater locations):

Atlanta
Boston
Chicago
Denver
Detroit
Indianapolis
Los Angeles (Burbank)
Miami (Aventura)
Minneapolis (Edina)
NYC
Orlando
Phoenix (Scottsdale)
San Diego
San Francisco
Seattle

 

Support genre action if this is your kind of thing. I hope it finds its way to some cities in Texas theatrically. Hell, I wish I could set up a Tugg on-demand screening myself.

Here are some relevant AICN links from the last 3 years that may be of interest:

 

Harry's review

Massawyrm's review

a Reader Review

Capone's 2010 interview with James Purefoy about various movies

 

 

Moisés Chiullan / "Monty Cristo"
@moiseschiu
email
Arthouse Cowboy
Screen Time podcast on 5by5.tv

Readers Talkback

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  • Sept. 28, 2012, 4:59 p.m. CST

    looked great

    by tk863

    going to try to make it to Burbank this weekend to check it out!

  • Sept. 28, 2012, 5:01 p.m. CST

    ack - link to exact theatre locations does not function....

    by tk863

  • Sept. 28, 2012, 5:13 p.m. CST

    tk863

    by Monty Cristo

    Fixing....fixed

  • Sept. 28, 2012, 5:15 p.m. CST

    Nothing to do with Howard

    by Kevin

    Sad

  • Sept. 28, 2012, 5:24 p.m. CST

    It's a shame this movie is finally getting out into theatres.

    by CodeName

  • Sept. 28, 2012, 6:12 p.m. CST

    About time..

    by SoylentBlack

    I first saw this film when it was released on DVD and now own the blu-ray. This is a wee classic made in the classic style, like the original Conan. Too many people wont get it immediately cause it doesn't have flashy editing, stupid one-liners or a pounding soundtrack. But this film wont date, unlike the new Conan

  • Sept. 28, 2012, 6:16 p.m. CST

    James Purefoy is all kinds of awesome.

    by Raptor Jesus

    Still, this looks pretty bad.

  • Sept. 28, 2012, 6:31 p.m. CST

    montycristo

    by tk863

    cheers!

  • Sept. 28, 2012, 6:37 p.m. CST

    Not really understanding the gushing love for this film :/

    by James Robinson

    Saw it quite a while back... it was 'ok', and that's being kind. It was a step up from your typical Sci-Fi produced vid... but hardly worth a 2nd glance. I would suggest it if you have nothing better to do and nothing to do for a bit.

  • Sept. 28, 2012, 7:16 p.m. CST

    Captain_sprain

    by Monty Cristo

    I don't think I'm so much gushing as saying "mission accomplished, excellent work achieving what they were going for", and noting that it may appeal to those who like this specific niche and there's nothing wrong with that. Hopefully you took my review as being the same tempered endorsement it was intended to be. I do think I know what you mean in reviews I see of this and every movie that act like its the Second Coming of Jesus. Ah, hyperbole.

  • Sept. 28, 2012, 7:17 p.m. CST

    I meant Captain_spalding

    by Monty Cristo

    Goddamn iPhone autocorrect

  • Sept. 28, 2012, 7:56 p.m. CST

    Huh.

    by vanchimera

    Saw this three years ago at TIFF. It was okay, but not worth the wait some people have had to endure.

  • Sept. 28, 2012, 8:23 p.m. CST

    by Immortal_Fish

    This is what happened. Oh! And Robert E. Howard. With James Purefoy. AICN. Gosh, even Jercules articles have more meat on the bone! Lookit, gang. The first 10 minutes of this flick are amazing. Then there's like the next 45 minutes that take forever. And then the final 10 minutes make up for the previous 45. James Purefoy, as great is he is, cannot sell that 45 minute period. But damn if the remainder of that time isn't worth your while. So just know what you're getting into. And James Purefoy MUST be Marvel's Doc Strange. He MUST!! That is all.

  • Why only give Apple the props when Amazon is so much friendlier to the geek?

  • Sept. 28, 2012, 8:53 p.m. CST

    Shite

    by InFlamesJames

    Played across Europe 2(?) years ago and was critically panned. Don't bother.

  • Sept. 29, 2012, 1:09 a.m. CST

    Not shiite

    by Wyrdy the Gerbil

    it played in cinemas the UK a couple of years ago and frankly i thought it had already been released in the USA but its not shite as some would have you believe ..i read the Solomon Kane stories many years ago and the movie felt very close in spirit to them(it an original story though) its not perfect there's a large block in the middle where not much is happening but the beginning and end are good and James Purefoy is killer as Kane

  • Purefoy is the movie's secret weapon, they couldn't had chosen a better actor for the role. He's an excelent actor, and he's a total extremely believable badass!

  • Sept. 29, 2012, 7:54 a.m. CST

    re: Monty Cristo

    by James Robinson

    I wasn't referring to your article... rather this is like the dozenth or so to come out of AICN in the last several years since this film was released over seas. Like yours, many were pleased with/by the film, finding it entertaining with enough modern style action to keep the interest, but enough development to engender bemusement as the story unfolds.I can agree with that assessment, even if I did find it repeatedly 'clunky' and convenient. Too many reviews, as you so aptly put it, react as if the film were the 2nd coming. They seem almost rabidly positive, giving me that odd 'Did we see the same movie?' sensation. It's the same feeling I get when folks rave about how fantastic Michael Bays latest celluloid bowel movement was for them... I guess that's why God invented 'W.T.F.?' >_< Just saying

  • Sept. 29, 2012, 9:26 a.m. CST

    They're NOt reinventing Kane with modern archetypes you say?

    by D.Vader

    I dunno, giving him a troubled backstory full of sin that drives him with a desire to atone (instead of him just bring a straight up *good person*) sure sounds like a pastiche of modern archetypes and tropes to me.

  • Sept. 29, 2012, 9:56 a.m. CST

    D.vader

    by Monty Cristo

    I disagree. I believe that the backstory is very true to the original works. It fills in a reasonable-to-fill gap in his history in a way that draws directly from the source. Bassett really did his homework.

  • Sept. 29, 2012, 10:01 a.m. CST

    Captain_spalding

    by Monty Cristo

    I gathered we were about in agreement. I would, however, counter your notion that there are loads and loads of articles on the site writhing in ecstasy for it. I count less than six that actually review the movie in some form. I think that the "Jesus H Buttery Christ, why hasn't this been released yet?!!?!???" cries (justified, I might add) can get confused with additional critical notice.

  • Sept. 29, 2012, 10:16 a.m. CST

    the famous simon templar

    by ben sheppard

    Whatever happened to the relaunch of The Saint as tv show, with Geoffrey Moore producing in some capacity, with Purefoy as Templar? Was well up for that.

  • Sept. 29, 2012, 10:45 a.m. CST

    So Monty

    by D.Vader

    Does Kane come from a place of fighting evil bc evil is bad and he's a good person and innocence should be protected? Or is it like Constantine where he's doing it to make up for all the bad shit he did in the past?

  • Sept. 29, 2012, 1:51 p.m. CST

    When does Solomon Kane come to blu-ray in the U.S.?

    by Stereotypical Evil Archer

    Solomon Kane was playing on demand in the U.S. two years ago. That's when I saw it.

  • Sept. 29, 2012, 2:13 p.m. CST

    Worth seeing...

    by fitzcarraldo2

    but that's about all. It's a moderate action-fantasy. I do think James Purefoy is excellent and hope to see him in bigger and better tings.

  • Sept. 29, 2012, 7:24 p.m. CST

    I love James Purefoy, and really wanted to love this

    by Sean

    But was dissapointed at every turn. Aside from some good atmosphere the movie falls flat at every turn. Even Purefoy's not at his best, I'm not sure if the character failed him or vice versa but it just never gelled for me. I didn't even go into it with high expectations, just a little hope. Purefoy had a similar problem with Ironclad, a cool premise, a great cast, and solid DP work, but a weak script and piss poor pacing that derailed the film. Also the effects in this are pretty bad, like Stephen Sommers bad.

  • Sept. 30, 2012, 3:11 a.m. CST

    @d.vader I got the impression that the movie version is both

    by Bedknobs and Boomsticks

    of your versions at once. He is atoning for his sins, but only because he was told he was going to hell by a devil. So he becomes "good" for selfish reasons, but then kinda atones organically.

  • Sept. 30, 2012, 11:59 a.m. CST

    Saw this a couple of years ago...

    by Vladimir I. Lenin

    ...and it was weak.

  • Sept. 30, 2012, 8:08 p.m. CST

    Just watched this on amazon...

    by Charlie_Allnut

    It was pretty damn good all things considered! Could have been just awful. I'd put it with Outlander as an underviewed good genre flick. My gripes were a weak ending, weak villains (too generic for my taste) and terrible action choreography. The sword fighting was not very good. Watch Rob Roy or The 1930's Mark of Zorro fighting for how it should be done. If you haven't seen the Zorro film watch it - its got possibly the best sword fight ever committed to film between Tyrone Power and Basil Rathbone (a trained fencer). But overall this movie was worth seeing I thought...

  • Sept. 30, 2012, 10:47 p.m. CST

    Huh? But I bought the DVD two or three years ago...

    by Guyver1138

    I forgot where I got the DVD. I think it was eBay. It is studio release and Region 1. I watched it a couple of times and really liked it. The movie is solid and good; however, not great. I simply thought it never got a US release because of no financial backing. Now it gets a liimited US release years later? Heck, I could have done that with some copies of the DVD and a few projectors.

  • Oct. 1, 2012, 4:03 a.m. CST

    Speaking of limited sucess in the USA, yesterday i saw "Dredd".

    by albert comin

    i know, wrong thread, but i just wanted to say i enjoyed it tremendously. Every positive thing said about it is right. The movie is as good as they say it is. It does everything it set about to do and does it admirably. Comic movie adaptation at it's best. It's a damn shame the movie might not get sequelized due to the disapointing americna box office. I'd urge everybody to cast aside any douts and watch it and tell everybody they know about it and convince them to watch it. It deserves sucess. Dredd: watch it or be square. OK, thanks for your attention, i'll step out of my soap box now.

  • Oct. 1, 2012, 4:06 a.m. CST

    @Mr bedknobs_and_boomsticks

    by albert comin

    You described exactly how Solomon Kane is and does in the movie. His earlier selfish reasons is why the abbot kicked him out of the monestary, because he kenw that Kane had not yet truly abnegated from his sins. The funny thing about the movie is that it actually has a reasonably accurate depiction of the way of absolution, unlike other movies which presents themselves as dedicated to the theme and fail spectaculary (almost all of exorcism movies made by Holywood, for example).

  • Oct. 1, 2012, 5:36 a.m. CST

    @scirocco Agree. I think also the abbot had a vision/dream

    by Bedknobs and Boomsticks

    of Kane's potential as a champion against evil. Probably why the devil in the movie is eager to capture his soul before Kane discovers his destiny.

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