At the Movies with James Delson

Solomon Kane – Sword and Sorcery, Robert E. Howard-Style


*** out of *****

Running time: 104 minutes

MPAA rating: R for violence throughout

The historical adventure movie has fallen out of fashion in recent decades. Except for the occasional Troy, Alexander or The Mummy, this once-dominant movie genre has mostly slipped into obscurity. Where once Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas and Charlton Heston filled the big screen on a regular basis with such classics as The Crimson Pirate, The Vikings, The War Lord and The Flame and the Arrow, there are only a few of these boys-own adventures to be found nowadays.

Yet if one seeks them out, they’re still around. One such swashbucker, Solomon Kane, can be found in theaters starting September 28th and is currently viewable on demand on television.

The movie stars James Purefoy, who played Mark Antony in HBO’s classic TV series, Rome. This charismatic, intelligent and energetic actor has been helping keep the historical adventure genre alive by portraying the sort of characters Lancaster, Douglas and Heston once brought to the screen.

Like them, he plays historical heroes with stout hearts but feet of clay. In Solomon Kane, for example, he portrays a 17th century adventurer who renounces violence in order to save his soul, but who, inevitably, must take up the sword again.

Written and directed by Michael J. Bassett, the film is a dark and moody period adventure, reminiscent of the Ray Harryhausen classics, Jason and the Argonauts and the Sinbad series as well as the atmospheric Last of the Mohicans and The Patriot.

Solomon Kane’s character was created by pulp writer Robert E. Howard, best-known for his Conan series. Kane appeared in over a dozen stories and poems written in the 1920s and 30s, mostly in the fantasy and horror fiction pulp magazine “Weird Tales.” As imagined by Howard, he was a Puritan adventurer, roaming the world to right wrongs and expunge evil in all its human and supernatural forms.

While not adapted from a specific Howard story, director/writer Bassett’s original screenplay draws upon Kane’s history and creates plot situations which fit the general direction of the hero’s legendary timeline.

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