Sometimes you wait a long time to watch that certain movie or read that special book. The anticipation can set your expectations high. Then, the moment arrives and when you finally finish the movie or book, you realize it wasn’t quite what you had hoped for. Let’s be honest, this happens more often than not. Then, on rare occasions, the wait and anticipation is worth it as the experience is well worth long road to get to the finish line. I first heard of Solomon Kane as far back as 2009, the year it was initially released. And for years I’ve anxiously and patiently been waiting for the North American release. Finally, it’s recently been released through iTunes and Amazon for rent only. And what a fun movie it was.
For starters, Solomon Kane is a character created in 1928 by author Robert E. Howard, the same man who gave the world Conan the Barbarian. Kane is a late 16th/early 17th century Puritan, a man on a never-ending quest to destroy evil. Wearing a hat, dressed darkly, and carrying sword and pistols, he is presented very well on screen by James Purefoy (Resident Evil and John Carter). I immediately envisioned Hugh Jackman in the role and constantly wondered as I watched the movie is if this is how Van Helsing should have been. Our story begins with Solomon fighting for Queen Elizabeth I against the Spaniards in Africa. Attempting to steal gold and riches, he is confronted by a reaper who claims Solomon’s soul is doomed to hell. Solomon’s fights off the reaper but must hide away in a monastery to seek redemption for his life of sin. However, the time comes when he is pushed back into the real world to seek his destiny. Now living a life of peace, he refuses to fight three men he encounters on the road, who beat him senseless and leave him for dead. He is found by a Puritan family and nursed back to health by their daughter Meredith (Rachel Hurd-Wood). They are on their way to board a ship headed for the new world. Along their travels, they encounter the remains of a witch burning and are tricked into bringing a young girl into their camp, only to discover she is the witch the men tried to burn. She marks young Meredith’s hand before Solomon dispatches her. They are then attacked by followers of an evil sorcerer named Malachi who are searching for the girl. Malachi’s men have been terrorizing the countryside, enslaving women and turning men into mindless creatures. When young Meredith is kidnapped and all of her family, except for her mother, is killed, Solomon must now fight if he is to rescue Meredith and fight the evil Malachi.
The story is set in the gloomy hills of England, where it seems to be forever cloudy and muddy. It follows the tone of movie, full of despair and lacking all hope. However, Solomon is on a quest to not only fight evil but also to reclaim and redeem his soul. Through flashbacks we learn Solomon left home at young age in defiance of his father Josiah (veteran actor Max Von Sydow). His older brother Marcus (Sam Roukin) was set to inherit his father’s land and castle while Solomon was to become a priest. Solomon believes he killed his brother while saving a girl from being attacked. In reality, his brother lived and Solomon soon realizes how different life would be for many had he actually killed his brother.
While the overall tone of the film is heavy in religious beliefs, there are also some very well-filmed action sequences. The movie is very atmospheric and sets a tone that helps the viewer immerse themself into the world that Howard has created. The acting from the entire cast is exceptional and the special effects are far above many direct-to-video movies. There are a few intense scenes, such as a crucifixion, but generally the gore is kept to a minimum. So the question is: Why has nobody seen this movie?
Tracing the film’s roots as far back as 2001 when Christopher Lambert was attached to the project and as far back as 1997, when the rights were purchased, director Michael J. Bassett (Silent Hill: Revelation) finally began production in 2008. It was completed in 2009, when it was featured at that year’s San Diego Comic Con. However, after an unsuccessful run in Europe and the UK, the movie never saw release in the United States. Even the director is puzzled why it took until the fall of 2012 for the movie to even get an on demand release. It never made its’ money back despite generally positive reviews. Finding the right audience may play a key factor but if you never release a movie, how can you ever expect to make your money back.
I highly recommend this faithful adaption of Howard’s other pulp character. Finding it is tricky at best. Besides rental-only options at iTunes and Amazon, you can find it on YouTube through various sources. Beware of eBay though as DVD and Blu-ray copies are usually outside of the North American region code. But, look long enough and there are region-free copies out there. Unfortunately, this will be our only options in the US until a distributer takes a chance and releases it. Trust me, it is well worth the wait and the extra effort.