Midnight Madness day 7: Solomon Kane (2009)

Throughout TIFF, Kris and Joe will be doing "shared" reviews, in which we'll offer our opinions on a particular film in a single post. This is day 7.
And on the 7th day we saw Solomon Kane and we saw that it was... ok.

Solomon Kane is based on the early pulp stories by Robert E. Howard, who also gave us Conan the Barbarian. 
This film adaption is an origin story for the character, i guess in the assumption that more films would later follow. The director, Michael J. Bassett, stated during the Q&A after wards that he plans on making a trilogy out of his hopeful franchise.

Kane is your run of the mill action adventure fodder. It's there on screen, big, loud, and given the right mind set it can prove to be entertaining.
James Purefoy does his best as Solomon but there's just not enough in the script to make the character stand out from the genre.
You may find yourself forgetting you're not watching Viggo Mortensen or Hugh Jackman doing their fantasy action schticks, as Purfoy reads like a complete hybrid of the two.

There are moments of greatness in Kane but the film never capitalizes on these moments leading us on a disjointed adventure.
The problem with the film is that it is so average, it is just so ok that it is more annoying then if it were bad.
As it stands, Solomon Kane is an average action adventure romp that doesn't particularly do anything but just sit on screen. Not much to it.

Tonight we get trapped in Hitoshi Matsumoto's Symbol, really been looking forward to this.



Maybe I'm getting tired.  No, I AM tired.  Regardless, Solomon Kane, one of the films I was most anticipating at MM was a letdown.  It had such promise, as the original stories by Robert E. Howard (of Conan fame) that appeared in Weird Tales during the late 20s and early 30s were amazing and vivid and badass.  Unfortunately, that wasn't really translated to the screen.

There were a couple moments throughout the film where I thought, "Dope, here we GOOOO!!!!", only to have the momentum quashed by another talky scene.  Pacing was an issue in this one, and for an "adventure film" there wasn't a whole lot of action.  The soundtrack seemed to be solely comprised of music that was rejected from Lord of the Rings, and Solomon (played by Brit period drama stalwart James Purefoy) wasn't either particularly likable or hateable.  In fact, pretty much everything about this film was sort of plateau - I kept waiting for it to take off and it never did.

Let's talk for a minute about implausibility.  Now I know it's a fantasy, I know monsters like the ones in the film aren't real, but if you're going to operate within the confines of this sort of world, I'm fine with that, I love that; but you've gotta play by the rules.

Case 1: the witch that Solomon and his adopted friends (led by patriarch Pete Postlethwaite, dope as always) come across early in the film is said to have destroyed an entire village and defied the flames while being burned at the stake.  Later she is killed by Solomon's sword which he throws across a courtyard.  A witch who has the power to destroy an entire village is killed with a single blow?  Huh?  Where's the defender spell, DOOOOD?!?!

Case 2: Big magician on campus Malachi, who has been controlling the minds and wills of basically everyone (think Sarumon), is killed, and a massive hell demon beast thing is vapourized because Solomon shoots Malachi in the head.  Huh?  You can't have magic be such a big part of a story and then have the two most powerful magic wielders in the film be felled by a single mortal's blow.

Let's move on to the good.  The locations and whole world of the film were very, very cool - sort of late fall, dead leaves on the forest floor and scuttling across meadows, flurries constantly swirling, campfires giving off warm glows and wisps of smoke to ward off the darkness and the darker things that lie just beyond the darkness.  I liked this aspect quite a bit, and thought that that went a long way toward fleshing out the world in which the whole thing took place.

Costumes - in particular, I'm thinking the plague doctors and the big baddie whose name I forget right now but who turns out to be Solomon's presumed dead brother and basically the cause of that whole world-gone-to-shit thingy.  Dope costumes on those guys (and the plague doctors were in it for like 30 seconds).  The demons in the mirrors that grabbed the guys were cool too.  Oh hey mans, I'm maaaad tired.

Symbol tonight! Gon' be sick!

-the coelacanth

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