Fri
Sep 18 2009 4:15pm

Coming Soon: Solomon Kane?

Solomon Kane premiered this week at the Toronto International Film Festival. From the trailer, it looks like a mish-mash of historical periods, brooding landscapes, and grim cloak and leather costuming.

Like Howard, the film’s director Michael J. Bassett appears to be playing fast and loose with adventure genre settings. Conan’s nothing more than a mixture of Talbot Mundy, Rafael Sabatini, and Harold Lamb sifted through a Bronze Age supernatural sieve; Bassett’s doing the same with ye olde fantasy tropes. His previous two films, Deathwatch and Wilderness, showed his ability to construct interesting visuals, and Solomon Kane looks to be grim eye-candy for the sword and sorcery crowd.

James Purefoy stars as Solomon Kane, the mercenary turned pacifist whose soul is lost to the Devil. Rachel Hurd-Wood and Pete Postlewaite are on hand to be killed and/or threatened in order to provide necessary character motivations and allow the story to unfold with requisite violence. We’ll get ruined castles, vampire/zombie/orcs, flintlock pistols, and buckle-adorned pilgrim hats. Not the most recognizable of genres, and in the past a hard sell. Van Helsing tried it, and before that Vampire Hunter D, and long before that Hammer Films gave us Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter. Only one succeeded in launching a successful franchise, and that one started life as a successful series of graphic novels.

There will be sword fights and pistol duels. Sauron will show up at the end to fight the outlaw Josey Wales. And as everyone knows who has watched a Sergio Leone Western, the character with the best costume will win. Then there will be sequels, and finally the world will be ready for Ravenous meets The Mummy.

We may as well get used to watching the trailer now.


Justin Howe’s short fiction has appeared in or is forthcoming from Fast Ships, Black Sails, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Brain Harvest. He neither floats like a butterfly, nor stings like a bee.

11 comments
Richard Fife
1. R.Fife
You seem put out by this, especially with what seems to be a snarky prediction of the future of the "franchise," but I am gleefully optimistic. I'm a sucker for low fantasy adventure. Will I go into this movie expecting to see a cleverly concealed parable or enlightening outlook on present society? Hell no, and thank the powers that be.

What have we gotten when the best of "heavy" SFF gets turned into movies? Rare gems like District 9 and Lord of the Rings, and then other flops that miss the point entirely like Golden Compass and Eragon.

So yes, I look forward to this, not to mention hope that this is going to part of a resurgence of interest in pulp low fantasy. While I anticipate a more steam-punkish feel to be the dominate trend, there might yet be some room for the old masters like Lovecraft and Howard.
MarcusFelix
2. MarcusFelix
Looks so cliché, I'm not impressed. I just hope I'm wrong.
Justin Adair
3. Hobbyns
Oh come on, this looks like a hoot. It sort of reminds me of Brotherhood of the Wolf. Guilty pleasures, that's what movies like this are.
Blue Tyson
4. BlueTyson
" Only one succeeded in launching a successful franchise, and that one started life as a successful series of graphic novels."

If you mean Vampire Hunter D, I believe it was a successful series of novels - manga came later.
Hugh Hill
5. ghenjei
I hope this is better than Van Helsing... Otherwise looks like a solid little Guilty Pleasure indeed.
MarcusFelix
6. Karlo G
I saw this last week at TIFF. Director and Lead were there to both introduce the film and to answer questions afterwards. The film was lots of fun; Purefoy is great fun to watch, and the cast was quite good too. The set work, costumes and makeup were top notch. Some of the set pieces were a little 'Hollywood' for my liking, but still a great movie. I hope this does well enough for them to do sequels.
Jason Lyman
7. jlyman
I had to search for the trailer as I couldn't see it in this post, but to me it looks like a fun adventure. Many films of this nature are short on plot and substance, but some days that's just what we need. An escape from the daily grind, sit back and enjoy a ride for a couple of hours without having to think too hard or too much. I am totally into seeing the film.
MarcusFelix
8. Al Harron
"Van Helsing tried it, and before that Vampire Hunter D, and long before that Hammer Films gave us Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter."

... And long before THAT, Solomon Kane appeared in Weird Tales in 1928, 46 years before Captain Kronos. As I'm sure you know.

"Like Howard, the film’s director Michael J. Bassett appears to be playing fast and loose with adventure genre settings. Conan’s nothing more than a mixture of Talbot Mundy, Rafael Sabatini, and Harold Lamb sifted through a Bronze Age supernatural sieve"

I resent the implication that Howard was a lazy, slapdash writer whose work is riddled with historical inaccuracy, when in fact he was remarkably considerate in getting details correct. I especially resent the implication that Howard was an unoriginal hack, and presenting his paradigm-shifting innovation of Sword and Sorcery as "merely" the blend of historical fiction with supernatural horror. Such reduction to its components makes any literary genre or creation look simplistic, and I don't see why Howard deserves to be singled out.
MarcusFelix
9. PainBrush
Great post mr. Harron . I haven't seen a more embarrassing display than that '*ahem*review* of fanboy geekism -name-dropping in order to try & sound 'informed' in quite a while .

1)What does the writing of R.E.Howard have to do with the 'pastiche' S. Kane movie being made by Bassett ?

2)What the FU#$ does Conan have to do with Bassett , Solomon Kane or this movie ?!?

3) Pretending to be a genre fan who is actually familiar with Mundy/Lamb/Sabatini - do you actually expect us to believe that you dislike Howards fiction ?

4)If not for the writing of Howard , would fanboys such as yourself actually be familiar with the writing , much lss the names of Lamb/Mundy/Sabatini ? -REALLY ? Did watching Dougy Fairbanks and/or Errol Flynn leaping & frollicking around cause you to rush out & buy up their books snapperhead ? -nobody believes that - so don't EVEN try .

You are very uninformed , or just plain full of sh!t J.H. - so NO . No thank you , I'll have none of your nonsense today . & MAy actually still go see this movie - since I STILL have yet to read an intelligent review . I'll have to assume the material is over & above pimple-faced angsty fanboys .

Now I'll let you get back to sifting Vampire-Hunter D. cartoons through VanHelsings underwear or however you like to take it .
(oh yeah , you get 1/2 credit for not waxing poetic on authors who commit suicide , but dollars-to-donuts you def. will next time around .) narf narf
Torie Atkinson
10. Torie
@ 9 PainBrush

Ad hominem attacks like this won't be tolerated--future comments like this will be deleted or disemvoweled. Please remember to disagree with an idea, not a person.
Erin Hoffman
11. ErinHoffman
I had high hopes for this movie -- I think Solomon Kane is by var the most interesting of Howard's characters, and there's something about the Solomon Kane stories that gives me the feeling that Howard was putting more of himself into the character than in others -- but this post is an accurate reflection of the wariness I feel toward it also. I like Purefoy as an actor, but just can't see him as Kane, and worry in general about the transition from page to screen on this one through the Hollywood filter.

I had high hopes (when I first heard it was being made I was "gleefully optimistic" too), but on another site read a preview of the movie, including plot, that basically confirmed all of my fears about it. I do suspect the trailer may wind up being the best distillation of what it has to offer.

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