Whether it’s due to insomnia or agoraphobia, I watch a lot of Netflix. There’s a lot of crap on Netflix, but sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised – and Solomon Kane left me feeling that way.
You might not be all that familiar with the movie, as it came out a few years ago and was more or less a blip on the radar. Starring James Purefoy as the eponymous 16th century Puritan hero, the film received generally favorable reviews but failed to ignite the kind of sweeping fervor of the other tentpole movies that year; in a field saturated with the likes of big spectacle movies such as Avatar and Star Trek, the grim, gritty and artistically moody Solomon Kane was likely lost in the shuffle despite its strong points.
Full disclosure here: Solomon Kane is one of my favorite pulp fiction characters. Created by Robert E. Howard, the same man who dreamed up Conan the Barbarian (and who happened to be pen pals with H.P. Lovecraft), Solomon is a cold, remorseless Puritan warrior dedicated to the eradication of demonic evil by any means necessary. He’s a grim, morally uncompromising swashbuckler armed with nothing but a rapier, a dirk, and a brace of flintlocks, and he doesn’t take shit from anyone or anything.
The Solomon Kane of the film is subtly different, but the changes work. Purefoy’s Solomon is more repentant, seeking the solace of a monastery at first to live a life free of violence following a harrowing encounter with the supernatural at the inception of the film. As the story unfolds, circumstances change in such a way that Solomon cannot avoid resorting to violence and eventually does so with grim resignation, as he feels straying from the path of peace will lead to his damnation; this initial reluctance may not coincide with Solomon’s original characterization but makes his development as a character much more satisfying in the end, especially when he embraces his fate as the angriest dude in a Pilgrim hat to have ever lived.
If you enjoy grim, Elizabethean-era supernatural action/adventure films with horror elements, you’ll definitely enjoy Solomon Kane. Sure, there are a few glaring holes in the plot – and a twist that is unfortunately all too predictable – but it’s a solid, enjoyable film for a fan of pulpy supernatural action. And hey, if you have Netflix it’s cheaper than buying the DVD.