Solomon Kane (film)
|Directed by||Michael J. Bassett|
|Produced by||Kevin Feige |
Kevan Van Thompson
|Written by||Michael J. Bassett|
|Starring||James Purefoy |
Max von Sydow
|Music by||Klaus Badelt|
|Editing by||Andrew MacRitchie|
|Studio||Marvel Studios |
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures |
|Release date(s)||December 23, 2009 (France)|
Solomon Kane is a 2009 epic action film directed by Michael J. Bassett based on the pulp magazine character Solomon Kane created in 1928 by Robert E. Howard. James Purefoy stars in the title role. Despite optioning the rights in 1997, filming did not begin until January 2008. The film is an origin story for the Kane character and intended to be the first of a trilogy. The plot follows a redemption story for Kane, from the end of his life as a privateer, through the salvation of his soul by rescuing a Puritan girl and the beginning of his life as the Puritan avenger of the source material. It was produced by a consortium of French, Czech and British companies and mostly filmed in the Czech Republic. The film was first shown at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. It went on general release in France, Spain and the UK over the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010. Reception was generally favourable, with a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 82% following the UK release; the film's atmosphere and Purefoy's acting attracted the most acclaim.
The film opens in North Africa, 1600, with the English mercenary Solomon Kane leading the crew of his ship into battle against the Ottoman occupiers of a fortress town. After defeating the Ottoman defenders, Solomon and his men enter the fortress, only to enter a room of enchanted mirrors. Demons trapped within the mirrors attack and kill most of the crew, but Solomon fights his way into the throne room of the fortress. Inside, as he helps himself to the fortress's treasure, a demon dressed in hooded black robes and armed with a flaming sword appears. The demon announces itself as the Devil's Reaper and tells Solomon his evil deeds have irrevocably damned his soul, and he is now destined for Hell. After a brief duel, Solomon cries "I am not yet ready for Hell!" and leaps from the throne room window into the sea. As he falls to safety, the Reaper snarls that Solomon's soul will be the Devil's.
Following his encounter with The Devil's Reaper, Solomon returns home to England and finds sanctuary in a monastery in the countryside. However, due to the Abbot's dreams, Solomon is soon expelled and sent back to his ancestral estates in Devon, where Solomon has not been since his father disowned him. Along the way, he is ambushed by robbers and, as he has fully embraced a life of peace and will not fight back, he is knocked unconscious. He is found and treated by the Crowthorns, a family of puritans heading west to travel to the New World. He travels with them but the family is itself ambushed by corrupted followers of the sorcerer Malachi and his brutal lieutenant, the Masked Rider. Most of the family is killed, except Meredith, who is kidnapped, and her mother Katherine. When Samual, Meredith's younger brother, is mercilessly slain right before his shocked eyes, an enraged Solomon charges into battle, killing several. The head of the family, William Crowthorn, declares as his last words that Solomon's soul will be redeemed if he rescues Meredith. Solomon, having now re-embraced a life of violence to fight off the attackers, takes a horse, arms himself and sets out in pursuit.
Solomon battles Malachi's followers across the countryside, rescuing many captives but not finding Meredith. On his journey, he meets a deranged priest who informs him Malachi's followers are taking the weaker survivors of their raids as slaves, while corrupting the strong into soldiers. The priest tries to feed Solomon to his parishioners, who have become undead ghouls. Solomon escapes, only to be set upon by the robbers who attacked him earlier, who have been turned by the Rider into soldiers of Malachi. Killing all but one of the robbers for interrogation, Solomon is told that Meredith is dead. Solomon refuses to believe this and angrily leaves the robber for the undead to feed on. Moving on, Solomon comes to a village, where he heads to an Inn and drinks to excess, his soul now definitely damned for not saving the girl. Former shipmates recognise him and try to recruit him as a leader of a resistance against Malachi. Kane refuses. However, Malachi's followers hear of this and attack the Inn at dawn, crucifying any members of the attempted resistance movement including Kane. As they move away, a cart containing Meredith passes behind them. She recognises Kane and calls out. He realises that he still has a chance to save her and pulls himself off the cross. Before Malachi's remaining men can kill him, they are killed by survivors of the resistance, who take Solomon to safety.
Kane is treated with magic by an old pagan witch and is soon ready to return to the pursuit. The resistance explain some of Malachi's background (that he was once a priest who became a sorcerer to gain power) and reveal that he now lives in Kane's ancestral home. Kane leads them into the castle via an underground passage. As the resistance fights Malachi's soldiers, Kane heads for the dungeons and frees many of the captives. He does not find Meredith, but he does find his father, emaciated and locked in magic chains. His father explains that the Masked Rider is really Kane's older brother Marcus Kane, whom Kane thought he had killed in an accident shortly after he was banished as a teenager. Marcus was, however, only severely injured and left in a coma: after the priests and healers failed to awake him, Solomon's father turned to Malachi, who brought Marcus back to life: however, Marcus was horribly disfigured and left subservient to Malachi, who turned Marcus into his enforcer: the Masked Rider. At his father's request, Solomon reluctantly shoots him dead and heads to the throne room to confront Malachi.
In the throne room, Kane confronts Malachi, who remarks everything that has happened to Solomon was meant to lead him to this place before disappearing. Solomon also finds Meredith caged in the throne room: before she can warn him it is a trap, Marcus stabs Solomon in the back with his sword. Despite his injury, Solomon pleads with his brother, but his cries fall on deaf ears so he grudgingly draws his sword and the two brothers fight to the death: after a lengthy battle, Solomon sets fire to Marcus and decapitates him. At the same time, Malachi uses Meredith's "innocent blood" to open a portal, thus releasing a demon sent to claim Solomon's soul, which attacks Kane. After a desperate fight, Kane shoots Malachi in the head, and all three souls (Kane, Malachi and the demon) are apparently pulled into Hell. It transpires that Kane, in saving Meredith from Malachi, redeemed his soul and so escapes Hell. Meredith travels to America with her mother, while Solomon, after burying his father and brother, declares that evil exists elsewhere in the world and that he will put an end to it.
- James Purefoy as Solomon Kane
- Max von Sydow as Josiah Kane
- Rachel Hurd-Wood as Meredith Crowthorn
- Mackenzie Crook as Father Michael
- Pete Postlethwaite as William Crowthorn
- Ian Whyte as The Devil's Reaper
- Alice Krige as Katherine Crowthorn
- Ben Steel as Fletcher
- Anthony Wilks as Edward Crowthorn
- Jason Flemyng as Malachi
- Samuel Roukin as Marcus Kane
Wandering Star optioned the film and book publishing rights to Solomon Kane in 1997 from the Robert E Howard Estate. In 2001 it was announced that Christopher Lambert was offered the role of Kane and was seriously "considering it as it's a very compelling part." At this point Don Murphy was a producer on the film, with Samuel Hadida of Davis Film and Paul Berrow and Michael Berrow of Wandering Star Pictures, and was attempting to set up the film with New Line Cinema. Murphy left the project in 2003 under a cloud when the negotiations fell apart with New Line. Things went quiet for a while during which time several scripts were developed around the African adventures of Solomon Kane from the classic text.
Then Michael J Basset was hired as writer and director of the film, with a brief to write an origin story based loosely on the Howard poems and classic text, and in August 2006 he finished writing the script. Finally on October 1, 2007, it was announced that James Purefoy was cast as the lead.
Principal photography began in Prague on 14 January 2008 and was scheduled for a 12 week shoot. Director Bassett says of James Purefoy that he "is a delight to work with; he is giving his heart and soul to this. He's in brilliant physical shape and his sword fighting is just brilliant to behold and he's finding depth and sophistication within the character in ways I really hoped he would." As of the end of February, sets were still being built for the later part of the production, and Max Von Sydow and Mackenzie Crook had yet to begin shooting. Jan Cileček, a Czech artist produced a number of sculptures for the film and there are some photographs available on his website.
An article in the Daily Mail states that during the production Purefoy was injured while staging a sword fight with a stuntman, resulting in his receiving five stitches to the forehead. The article also mentions that Bassett is into extreme measures "so his cast and crew have been working in the cold, the rain, and as much mud as possible.".
On April 16, Michael Bassett posted a message on his blog saying "Principal photography is completed on Kane. Now for the long-haul of post-production to get it all into shape". He also says that everything is set up for the future parts of the trilogy, which "will tap more completely into Howard's original stories." Finally he mentioned that "the final scenes of the film were shot in England on the North Devon coast. It was all done on a private estate which used to belong to the real Sir Richard Grenville."
On April 7, 2009 Bassett announced that production of the film is complete. On October 23, 2009, Bassett announced on his blog that "Kane is slowly gearing up for its first set of release dates at the end of this year and early 2010."
According to Paradox Entertainment CEO Fredrik Malmberg, the film's budget was $40,000,000 USD.
Solomon Kane's world premiere was on 16 September 2009 at the Toronto Film Festival. The film was featured at the 2009 San Diego Comic Con, which Basset and Purefoy both attended. It was released in France on 23 December 2009. It was released in Spain on 1 January 2010. The United Kingdom theatrical release was on 19 February 2010; in its first week it opened at seventh place in the UK top ten with a weekend gross of £611,886 across 259 cinemas.
The DVD was released in the UK on 28 June 2010. It was the best selling DVD in week commencing 5 July 2010.
According to Bassett's blog, the North American release of the film has been delayed for reasons unknown to him. An entry dated February 2, 2012 indicates that the film will likely be released in North America in 2012.
It was announced on March 9th, 2012 that the film would have its Southeast US Regional Premiere as the Opening Night film of Actionfest 2012 on April 12, 2012.  This will mark the second year in a row that a film starring James Purefoy and with sword and stunt coordination by Richard Ryan will open Actionfest.
The film has received mostly positive reviews. Rotten Tomatoes reports 83% of them being favourable, averaging out as 6.5 of ten.
Empire rated the film at 3/5 stars, complimenting writer-director Michael J. Bassett as handling the film "with the same level of commitment Peter Jackson brought to the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, the darker moments of which are an obvious influence on Bassett's film." The review says of the film as a whole: "For less than the effects budget of this year's other sword ’n’ sorcery adventures, Percy Jackson and Clash Of The Titans, Bassett has delivered a dark-as-balls Highlander for the 21st century, played with such conviction it's hard not to be swept along."
Total Film also rated the film at 3/5 stars with the conclusion: "A brutal fusion of angst and action, this mini-epic gives the sword-and-sorcery genre a bleak, brusque new life. Watch it for some terrific limbchopping and a mighty turn by James Purefoy." Sister magazine SFX rated the film at 4/5 stars. The review describes the location work as one of the films "great strengths", comparing the film to Witchfinder General and Blood on Satan's Claw, "a landscape alive with the sense of supernatural forces gathering beneath the frost and the empty fields." Purefoy is also acclaimed, with "a sense of huge faultlines coiling within him [which] makes for a genuinely intriguing hero." The only fault is the final confrontation, where the "clashingly mainstream touch" of a CGI demon "[punctures] the movie's careful atmosphere of pre-Enlightenment dread."
Variety gave the film a negative review, stating that the film "just isn't much fun." Bassett's direction is described as being handled "confidently if without much flair" while Purefoy "gamely endures heavy exertion throughout; it's not his fault the script lends his character might and a mission but little personality."
The Guardian also gave the film 3/5 stars. Its conclusion was mixed, stating: "There's plenty that's good here: a serious tone, steady pacing, muddy and bloody scenery and a convincing turn by Purefoy in his own west country accent. But Kane is an ill fit into the origins tale template; it's a story with few surprises."
Time Out awarded the film with 4/5 stars, giving a positive review which praised the originality of the story and sharp 17th century setting.
- "Solomon Kane". Box Office Mojo. class="reference-accessdate">. Retrieved 2010-07-05.
- Solomon Kane Assault on the Castle Clip and Behind-the-Scenes Creature Feature
- Superherohype Board
- Michael Bassett's Production Blog
- Jan Cileček's Solomon Kane Sculptures
- Daily Mail Interview with Rachel Hurl-Wood
- "'SORRY FOR THE SILENCE' - Bassett's blog". 2009-04-07. class="reference-accessdate">. Retrieved 2009-04-20.
- "'23rd October' - Bassett's blog". 2009-10-23. class="reference-accessdate">. Retrieved 2009-10-24.
- Punter, Jennie (July 21, 2009). "'Jennifer's Body' to bow at Toronto". Variety. class="reference-accessdate">. Retrieved 1 March 2010.
- IMDB description page
- Extracine, Spanish e-zine
- New Making-of Solomon Kane Featurette Available
- "UK Box Office: 19–21 February 2010". UK Film Council. class="reference-accessdate">. Retrieved 24 February 2010.
- "DVD Sales Chart week commencing: Monday 05 July 2010". British Video Association. 2010-07-05. Archived from the original on 2010-07-05. class="reference-accessdate">. Retrieved 2010-07-05.
- "Michael J. Bassett's blog". class="reference-accessdate">. Retrieved 10 February 2012.
- Soloman Kane on Rotten Tomatoes
- Hughes, David. "Solomon Kane review". Empire. class="reference-accessdate">. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
- Crocker, Jonathon (February 10, 2010). "Review of Solomon Kane". Total Film. class="reference-accessdate">. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
- Setchfield, Nick (February 17, 2010). "FILM REVIEW: Solomon Kane". SFX. class="reference-accessdate">. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
- Harvey, Dennis (October 9, 2009). "Solomon Kane". Variety. class="reference-accessdate">. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
- O'Neill, Phelim (18 February 2010). "Solomon Kane". The Guardian. class="reference-accessdate">. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
- Floyd, Nigel (18 February 2010). "Solomon Kane". Time Out. class="reference-accessdate">. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
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- Official website
- Official movie website
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- Solomon Kane at Rotten Tomatoes
- Solomon Kane Film News-Fanpage
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