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SOLOMON KANE (2012)

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SOLOMON KANE (2012)

Thursday, 12 September 2013 02:42

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The Buzz:

     When people think of Puritans, they're generally associated with lame things like repression, scarlet letters, and killing a whole bunch of Indians. “Badass” is seldom mentioned in the same sentence as “Puritanical,” but Solomon Kane was a Puritan who had the good fortune of being created by Robert E. Howard, the originator of Conan the Barbarian. As a result, he travels the globe slaying demons and generally kicking monumental amounts of ass while only taking occasional breaks for dour monologues about God and the state of every man's soul. If you liked Ironclad, this is another gritty, visceral action movie in which James Purefoy stabs a lot of people and name-drops Jehovah on a regular basis – I'm actually not sure if he's ever starred in any other kind of movie.

 

It's a well-known fact that Puritans were so hardcore they had to buckle their hats on.

That doesn't even make sense!

 

Life of the Party (Positives):

     Solomon begins the story as a ruthless pirate captain, who is apparently so evil that Death shows up to personally drag him to Hell. As a result, he swears a vow of nonviolence and joins with a Puritan family traveling to America, determined to find a peaceful life. This allows the movie to start off with some high-quality fantasy battle scenes, but then take a relaxing break while Solomon and his friends talk about redemption, develop their characters, and lay the necessary foundation for Solomon to go on the quest for revenge that we all knew was coming eventually. That said, the first act is quite well-performed, and the more sinister elements of the story are introduced nice and slowly, leading the audience back to the action and monsters at a natural pace, and also mirroring the main character's reluctance to return to a life of warfare.

 

     Once the evil sorcerer's army begins laying waste to villages, though, the brutal fight scenes pretty much only stop to make room for the brutal crucifixion scenes. The swashbuckling choreography is all really good, providing all the hard hits of Ironclad but without the shakey-cam that obscured crucial detail. Purefoy is a really good martial artist, wielding his characters' signature pair of swords with impressive power and finesse against a variety of barbarian warriors, zombies, and giant lava demons. This movie has a fairly unique visual style due to its early 1600s time-period – right on the cusp of the modern era, complete with gunpowder and classy-looking hats, and yet with enough room in the shadowy corners of the world for a nefarious wizard to rule from a massive castle. It's tough not to make comparisons to Van Helsing, which also injected dark fantasy into a semi-modern setting, but whereas that movie got intentionally campy with its James Bond gadgets and comic-relief, Solomon Kane remains true to its sombre, pulp-era roots, and can therefore be taken much more seriously.

 

 

Potential Hangovers (Negatives):

     Aside from the slightly unusual time period and a few unique visuals, there is nothing particularly original about Solomon Kane. Don’t get me wrong, this is an entirely competent sword-and-sorcery film, and all the elements are of the highest quality, it just doesn’t do anything really new. If you’re entertained by sword-fights, cool creature effects, and dramatic monologues delivered through clenched teeth and heroic stubble, then watch this movie, just don’t expect it to throw you any unexpected twists.

 

     One other minor critique is that the visual design is universally bleak and dreary. It’s a somber story, of course, and the Puritanical culture didn’t allow for a whole lot of colorful outfits, witty banter, or happiness of any kind; that was sort of the point. Still, when you’re watching one dark scene with characters dressed in all black walking through the snow, and cut directly to a dark scene with characters dressed in all black, but now they’re walking through the rain, it’s visually tiresome and makes large swaths of the movie feel kinda one-note. On the other hand, we should probably count our blessings that this movie was made by European filmmakers and not by Hollywood, who would have tried to shoehorn in a comic-relief version of Kane’s African sidekick N'Longa from the original books (played here by Johnny Depp).

"Nazghul? Hey man, you can't just throw the N-word around, that's OUR word!"

 

The Vibe (Guy's Night, Casual Gathering):

     Solomon Kane is a serious movie about a serious character, in which the swordplay is seriously awesome. Although the setting and script are completely lacking in mirth of any kind, this film is not quite so heavy, gory, or sadistic as Ironclad while still possessing all the intense historical action. I'd recommend Solomon Kane to Robert E. Howard fans who were disappointed with the recent Conan remake and wished for something a bit less frivolous, or if you're just craving fantasy action and want to try a more obscure franchise. With all the monstrous characters sprinkled throughout, this wouldn't be terrible Halloween-season viewing, or for around Thanksgiving, what with the pilgrim angle.

 

+ James Purefoy once again displays his mastery of the "grim, historical badass" archetype

+ Cool visual effects and costumes

+ Drama and action are blended in a good ratio

- Pretty dreary in both story and appearance, with little to shake things up

 

Read 901 times Last modified on Thursday, 12 September 2013 17:42

About Us

Tanked Matinee is the place to go for good drinking movies. What do we mean by that? Simply speaking, we evaluate and recommend entertainment media based on how much fun it is to watch with friends on the sofa and a cold beer in hand.

Everyone knows "The Godfather" is a great movie, but is it as great to drink with as "Roadhouse?" We can appreciate "Citizen Kane" as a masterpiece of cinema, but is it as good a centerpiece for your party as "Santa Clause Conquers the Martians?"

Tanked Matinee appreciates film as art, but when you're kicking back on Friday night with a tall Rum & Coke, you're not looking for art, man, you want to be entertained. We're here to recommend the best movies for your night in, whether it's a big party, small get-together, or just a quiet night alone with a bottle of wine or three.

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