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Solomon Kane (2009)
The Weinstein Company
Blu-ray Disc Released: 7/16/2013
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 7/16/2013
In my recent review for6 Souls, I wrote about the phenomenon of shelved movies -- films that were shot and completed, but not released. There have been many examples of this over the years, and for some reason, many of them have been linked to the Weinsteins, either when they were with Disney or after they struck out on their own to form The Weinstein Company. Why do these Oscar-winning producers get involved with movies, only to keep them away from the movie-going public? In most cases, once you watch the movie, you can get an idea why. But, I'm not sure why, up until now, Solomon Kane has been released everywhere else in the world but the U.S.
Solomon Kane opens in North Africa in the 1600, where we find the titular character (James Purefoy), who is clearly a pirate of some sort, pillaging a city. There, he is confronted by a demon who has come to claim his soul. According to the demon, Kane's soul was promised to the devil as part of a deal. Kane escapes and devotes his life to the church in hopes of saving his soul. After a year of living in a monastery, Kane sets out to find his destiny. He encounters a family of pilgrims, lead by William (Pete Postlethwaite), and he joins them. Unbeknownst to Kane, a plague of evil is spreading through the land, and the followers of someone name Malachi are killing innocents and taking hostages. When the pilgrims are attacked, Kane swears to get vengeance. However, Kane is riding into a situation in which he must confront his past.
Solomon Kane was created by Robert E. Howard, who is best known to most as the creator of Conan the Barbarian. The lesser-known Kane shows that Howard was far from one-dimensional, as it's a very different character. At the outset, he is a ruthless, remorseless man. But, seeing his fate, he then changes his ways and becomes a man of peace. It's interesting to watch this formerly violent character do anything do avoid raising his hand against another man for almost half of the film. However, when duty calls, Kane realizes that his fighting prowess and has knack for strategy is his gift and that it can be a force for good. The story also involves some twists as Kane's journey leads him into his own past, forcing him to confront long-forgotten memories.
So, the question here is, why was this movie unseen in America for so long? Honestly, I don't know. The film isn't great, but it's better than a lot of other things which I've watched. The lack of star-power may have something to do with it. James Purefoy has done a lot of things here and there (he popped up in the first season of Revenge), but he's not a household name. Of course, they could have marketed the film on the fact that he looks just like Hugh Jackman in this. The film certainly sets itself apart from other movies in the genre. While the subject matter places it squarely in the "sword & sorcery" realm, the fact that it's set in the 17th century is certainly different. And, as noted above, Kane is a different kind of character -- he's a badass who's doing everything that he can to avoid a fight. The battle sequences are well-done, there are some unnerving scenes where we witness what Kane must go through, and the visual effects work well. The film was directed by Michael J. Bassett who then went on to director Silent Hill: Revelation. So, if you wondered how he got that gig, it was because he'd directed a pretty good movie which had been seen around the world.
There's no doubt that we are spoiled in America and pretty much have everything we want, when we want it. But, occasionally, we have to wait. Based on some comments that I've read around the web, many people were anxiously awaiting Solomon Kane. Will they be disappointed? That depends. If they were expecting the greatest action film ever, then yes. If they had hoped for an action movie which has some exciting scenes, but also isn't afraid to go to some dark places, then they will find something to like here. If anything, this should appeal to fans of things like Game of Thrones. Solomon Kane is a different kind of action hero, and that's a good thing.
Solomon Kane wears an odd pilgrim-like hat on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of The Weinstein Company and Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 23 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look good, although we don't get many bright colors here, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The dark tones look true and there's no bleeding of the image. The level of detail is good and the scenes in the forest show great depth. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The action scenes sound great, as we are treated to detailed stereo and surround sound effects in which we can make out individual sounds. The subwoofer effects are nicely done, most notably in the finale. The stereo effects show good separation.
The Solomon Kane Blu-ray Disc contains many extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Writer/Director Michael J. Bassett and James Purefoy. "The Making of Solomon Kane" (12 minutes) is a fairly standard featurette which offers comments from Bassett and the cast and some on-set footage. There is a lot of re-hashing of the story before we get to an overview of the actors. The piece also looks at the costumes, visual effects, and the sets. The Disc contains one DELETED SCENE which runs about 2 minutes. "Special FX: The Creation of the Fire Demon" (2 minutes) examines the computer modeling and green-screen work which went into the scene. We get Interviews with Bassett (9 minutes) and Purefoy (9 minutes), where they each discuss their work on the film and their influences. The final extra is a gallery of "Original Concept Art".
Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.