Today, the long delayed cinematic adaptation of Robert E. Howard's Solomon Kane tales comes to North American theaters for a limited release (it's also been on video-on-demand across the land for a while now). Despite opening in Europe way back in 2009, the stateside release of Solomon Kane was mysteriously hamstrung until this summer, when director Michael J. Bassett announced its belated debut on his blog.
Was this 1600s Protestants-and-sorcery flick worth the wait? If you're hankering for a supernatural period piece guest-starring Max von Sydow that sways between affably ridiculous and "I can vacuum my house to this," look no further than Solomon Kane.
James Purefoy of Rome plays the eponymous English mercenary-turned-pacifist, who renounces his wicked ways after running afoul of "the Devil's Reaper" (some class of Satanic manservant, I presume) while conquesting about the Ottoman Empire. Thinking his soul is damned, Solomon returns to England to mope, and falls in with a clean-cut crowd of monks and Puritans.
The emergence of an evil wizard named Malachi throws a monkey wrench in Solomon's vow of nonviolence, and — at the drop of a cockel hat — he's back chopping whatever zombie-ghoul or mutant peasant or mirror imp stands in his righteous path.
Solomon Kane isn't a profound affair. There's too much "people dramatically plummeting off of cliffs Mac and Me style" and "spooky witches magically undulating their arms" to take anything onscreen too seriously. Also, the film succumbs to the annoying tendency of historical movies to toss on ye olde blue filter to signify "audience, behold the past!" It makes one yearn for the cinematography of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, where the days of yore were full of fog and assorted derelict crap.
In short, Solomon Kane is kind of like the scene from Conan The Barbarian where Arnold Schwarzenegger bangs the sorceress, but stretched out over 104 minutes. Mind you, that's not a bad thing necessarily. Purefoy plays his pious killing machine with panache, and the cast includes such notables as the aforementioned von Sydow and the late Pete Postlethwaite. Just like its source material, this swashbuckler is heavy on the pulp.