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47 out of 64 people found the following review useful:
Grown up fantasy with a heart of darkness, 18 May 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

SOLOMON KANE was really not what I expected. It's far, far better than I could have hoped. As it stands, its pretty unique in the sword and sorcery movies simply because it has proper drama, great performances and some nasty intense action along with all the traditional sword fights, magical monsters and running, jumping and chasing. Easy to level the criticism that it re-runs a few Lord of the Rings moments but it's an altogether darker and more evil version because of the grim reality the comes down with every drop of rain – and there's lots of rain – and the human and spiritual element that exists within the story. Made me think of Gladiator in some ways. A doomed soul needing redemption for his past sins? Not exactly what REH envisioned for his iconic Puritan swordsman I'm sure, but I get why writer and director Michael Bassett went down this route and for me and I'm okay with because whatever the story, the character from Howard's pages exists in a way which is surprisingly pure and the world is exactly right. He feels like the Kane I was hoping for and Purefoy manages to make him both grim and taciturn as well as offering us just enough humanity to go along with him for the ride. Some great design with nicely practical and real seeming effects with real blood and gore splatting instead of stylized CG offerings. Monsters are mostly fun and the action in intense – if a little small scale. You don't get armies of thousand of orcs here, it's all quite focused and personal. There's one act of violence near the middle which really changed the feel for me. Unexpected and shocking. It feels like a smaller budget went a very long way and it does look gorgeous. Not a kiddies movie by a long shot and one that, surprisingly, offered me a good deal of material to meditate on about the power of faith and strength of will. Kane really suffers some very heavy duty punishment in this story. I was quite shocked where they went with it and no doubt someone is going to be offended but if Bassett is trying to draw parallels to another iconic figures from history, he's not exactly being subtle. If you're a fan of Robert E Howard's books you can rest easy, if you've never heard of Solomon Kane this is a great introduction and if you just like your fantasy action adventure with a little more heart and a lot more brains, then this is for you too. 8 out of 10.