Monday, January 2, 2017

Solomon Kane

3/4

Starring: James Purefoy, Pete Postlethwaite, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Alice Kirge, Max von Sydow

Rated R for Violence Throughout

For a movie found in the discount Blu Ray bin at Best Buy, "Solomon Kane" is a better movie than it has a right to be.  It is well-acted, the special effects are splendid and it doesn't overstay its welcome.  True, it's not hard to understand why it wasn't released in theaters, but home viewing is always less demanding, so it's fitting to watch it at home.

Solomon Kane (Purefoy) is the worst sort of person.  Pirate, mercenary, murderer...all are words that can be used to describe him.  After sacking an Arabian castle, the villain finds himself face to face with the Devil's Reaper (Ian Whyte).  Apparently, if you enter into a life of crime, you make an unconscious deal to give him your soul.  And he's come to collect Solomon's.  Naturally, he refuses and flees back to London, finds God and enters into a monastery.  When that doesn't work out, he goes back to his home.  Along the way, Solomon runs into the Crowthorns, a family on their way to the New World.  When they are attacked, the father, William (Postlethwaite), tells him that there is a way to find redemption.  He tells him that if he finds his kidnapped daughter Meredith (Hurd-Wood), his soul will be saved.

The film's biggest flaw is its pace.  The first half of the film is set-up.  And yet, I'm not complaining.  The characters are interesting enough and the film moves quickly enough that I was never bored.  James Purefoy, an underrated actor, gives depth to the title character.  And everyone in the Crowthorn family is lovable.  I was surprised at how much I grew to care about the characters.

What the film lacks is joy.  Tonally, the film is dark, dark and dark.  I mean, I get that it's that kind of movie, but the film was based upon a character created by Robert E. Howard, who essentially invented pulp fiction (he created the "Conan" character).  Would it have killed the film to make it, you know, a little fun?

"Solomon Kane" isn't any kind of a masterpiece.  It takes too long to get going and has too little cheer.  And the theology that motivates Solomon is shaky at best.  For instance, if you've sworn off violence in favor of devotion to God, is it a mortal sin to commit violence to save the lives of people who were good to you?  And isn't the whole point of Christianity that no one is past redemption?

So it's not perfect.  But for what it is, I liked it.

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