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.