Friday, January 13, 2012
SOLOMON KANE (2009)
Directed by Michael J. Bassett
James Purefoy - Solomon Kane
Max von Sydow - Josiah Kane
Rachel Hurd-Wood - Meredith Crowthorn
A mercenary who owes his soul to the devil and has renounced violence, is forced back into his past violent life.
This is one of those movies that was released overseas, yet never made it in the US, even though the film got good word of mouth and favorable reviews. This is also one of the movies I always wondered about as I remember seeing the trailers for it, and thinking that it might be a fun watch. Yet a year later it still never appeared. So this is one of those movies that the US film distributors had no idea what to do with. Which means that it had an original story, wasn't based on another movie, isn't a remake, and isn't a sequel. So that equals basically now dead in Hollow-wood. Thankfully is was released in Europe and I was able to get a copy of it to review.
Why the hell was this not released in America? Oh, that's right, the film is completely serious is why. And it sold it as well. If the filmmakers had tried to make Solomon Kane fun or funny, it would have ended up making a mockery of itself. The reason why I say this is because the story is about Kane, who is told that his soul belongs to the Devil. This basically drives him to renounce all violence and what amounts to hiding in a monastery trying to make the world forget he even existed. It's only when Kane is faced with a choice and his inaction causes a innocent to die in front of him and the boy's family does he finally understand that he truly had no choice in what path in life he has to live. The difference between the way Kane was at the beginning of the film to when he takes back up arms is that instead of killing for glory and self profit, he kills to save someone, as well as trying to save himself, even though Kane knows his soul is damned. It's this duality in Kane that really drives the story more than anything else as the character truly shows and feels remorse for his past life. Yet when Kane is pushed he becomes more of a demon than those he is chasing and is singular in his path.
James Purefoy, who plays Solomon Kane, plays the character with no humor to him, but with a sadness through most of the film that is just always below the surface. It's this sadness that drives Purfoy's acting in the first third of the movie. It's this that shows in Purefoy's eyes and his depression of trying find his way in a world that his character left behind. The second and third acts in the film though is when we see the Purefoy's Kane become a demon and his lack of remorse. It's during this that we find out just how much of a badass Kane is thanks to Purefoy's acting. Pete Postlethwaite, who plays William Crowthorn, does a great job as usual. I really don't think he can give a bad performance no matter what he tries. In this, Postlethwaite's character plays the moral center to Kane. I say this as when Crowthorn first meets Kane, Kane is lost in more ways than one both spiritually and mentally and Crowthorn's patience and caring slowly brings Kane back to a place that can be considered living and able to function in society once again.
The look of the film was interesting due to different reasons. One of the main things that didn't register with me until after the movie was over was the use of weather throughout. What I mean by this is in that each stage of Solomon Kane's journey the atmosphere and weather changes as well. When the film starts it's nighttime which can also represent Kane's soul. I mean this by he wittingly kills indiscriminately and with pleasure. This changes to Kane being asked to leave a monastery after hiding for a year and it's snowing. During this it seems as if no one is there for Kane. Those are just two of the changes in the film which I think director Michael J. Bassett did brilliantly as it's blended in so well with the story and the cinematography that it just becomes part of the overall experience of the story. Yet there was only a couple of things that bothered me though. One was the use of CG at two points in the movie. One was toward the start of the film where it shows a city being besieged by Kane and the second was toward the end of the film with the ending creature when it first shows up. The next was that the film was building up to Kane's fight with Malachi was a little underwhelming, though it didn't really take anything away from the overall film. The biggest problem with this film unfortunately is that it was never released in the US with no reason giving. I guess it's just too original for the Hollywood remake machine.
Kane's vicious beheading of a nameless thug.
If I kill you, I am bound for hell. It's a price, I shall gladly pay.
An article in the Daily Mail in a interview with Rachel Hurd-Wood mentions that Bassett is into extreme measures "so his cast and crew have been working in the cold, the rain, and as much mud as possible."
Solomon Kane was the first movie in a planned set of a trilogy.
In 2001 it was announced that Christopher Lambert was offered the role of Kane and was seriously considering it as it's a very compelling part.
According to Paradox Entertainment CEO Fredrik Malmberg, the film's budget was $40,000,000 USD.
Solomon Kane is another creation of Robert E. Howard, who also created Conan, the Barbarian.