A man trying to find peace and redemption in a violent and tumultuous time, such is the story of Solomon Kane. With the Devil on his trail, Kane tries to redeem himself as a warrior, a son, and a Puritan. With three redemptive narratives packed into a movie just short of two hours, Solomon Kane keeps itself busy, but forces audiences to question whether sheer boredom or utter chaos would be preferred?
Solomon Kane begins with the best of intentions. Unfortunately, as a film, it falters. There is far too much going on in what would perhaps best be described as an origin story. One reason for this might be that Solomon Kane was originally planned as a trilogy, but after watching the first entry into the proposed film series, it’s hard to imagine there would have been anywhere else to go. One of the main problems of Solomon Kane, from a strictly filmic narrative standpoint, is that each act of the film feels as if its divorced from the previous one. The first act deals with Solomon’s wrongdoings, both as a man and a son. The film then leads him back on the path of righteousness where his commitment to non-violence is tested. This continues on into the third act where Solomon must, of course, defeat the evil and save a damsel in distress. In this sense, Solomon Kane feels more like the beginnings of a mini-series or a TV series than it does a film, as it introduces countless expendable characters that have little impact on the long-running storyline and changes locations and themes with such astounding frequency. All of this is compounded when the film ends on a classic one-liner that hints at a sequel. Having been filmed in 2009 and just being released now, any chances of a following film are relatively slim and honestly, it’s a bit of a shame.
For all of its faults, mainly stemming from a lack of character development aside from our titular character and too many messages and themes to deliver for its running time, Solomon Kane is actually a good time. Note the differentiation between “good time” and “good film.” Solomon Kane is sweeping in scope. In terms of story, it’s a bit too much, but in terms of visuals, Solomon Kane gets it just right. Sprawling landscapes, magnificent costumes, and dazzling swordplay, Solomon Kane has all the makings of a great epic in a different era. With its hokey lines that manage to be more charmingly theatrical than cringe-worthy, Solomon Kane feels out of place in 2012. Instead, it brings to mind the swashbuckling epics of Errol Flynn and the likes of the Scarlet Pimpernel and Zorro. All of this is shattered in moments that over-rely on special effects, but those instances are, thankfully, few and far between.
Much like Solomon Kane is a man without a home, or even a soul for that matter, the film itself is a film without a time period. Its overly theatrical dialogue, not without its charm, feels like it was directly lifted from Captain Blood. Its villains and demons are reminiscent of the creatures of H.P. Lovecraft. Its action is on par with the brutality and swordplay of Braveheart. Solomon Kane is somehow indefinable as it tries to be too many things, but ultimately, its numerous storylines and other faults give way to its undeniable sense of adventure.
Solomon Kane will be available on VOD on August 24th and Theatrically released on September 28th.