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Solomon Kane Blu-ray Review

Solomon Kane (2012) movie poster Solomon Kane

US Theatrical Release: September 28, 2012 / Running Time: 104 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Michael J. Bassett / Writers: Michael J. Bassett (screenplay); Robert E. Howard (Solomon Kane character)

Cast: James Purefoy (Solomon Kane), Pete Postlethwaite (William Crowthorn), Rachel Hurd-Wood (Meredith Crowthorn), Alice Krige (Katherine Crowthorn), Jason Flemyng (Malachi), Mackenzie Crook (Father Michael), Patrick Hurd-Wood (Samuel Crowthorn), Max von Sydow (Josiah Kane), Sam Roukin (Marcus Kane/Overlord), Ian Whyte (Devil's Reaper), Anthony Wilks (Edward Crowthorn)

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Nicolas Cage must not have been offered the lead role in Solomon Kane because it's the kind of movie he'd never say no to. Reminding us of at least six Cage films from the past decade, Solomon Kane involves a deal with the Devil,
a renegade antihero who speaks dramatically in hushed tones and over-the-top outbursts, an abundance of fire and action, fantastical visual effects, and interesting hairstyles. It's more or less an early 17th century version of Ghost Rider with a horse replacing the motorcycle.

Solomon Kane was shot all the way back in the beginning of 2008 (several months before Cage filmed his own period fantasy Season of the Witch), which explains how it features Pete Postlethwaite, who passed away in early 2011. Since premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2009 and enjoying standard theatrical release in most of Europe throughout 2010, Solomon only made it to the United States last August, first on Video on Demand, followed a month later by a 15-theater engagement too limited to warrant box office tracking.

What's a pacifist supposed to do to help others and save his soul?, Solomon Kane (James Purefoy) asks God.

In that time, many a period action flick has faltered financially, including Jonah Hex, John Carter, Cowboys & Aliens, and Conan the Barbarian, whose creator, pulp fiction writer Robert E. Howard, introduced the character of Solomon Kane back in 1928. Without a respected visionary at the helm (screenwriter/director Michael J. Bassett's few credits include 2012's unloved Silent Hill: Revelation 3D) or a star more famous than veteran support James Purefoy, UK production Solomon had virtually no chance of attracting a large American audience, yet it somehow raised a $45 million budget, of which its $19.6 M foreign gross did little to recoup.

Solomon Kane (Purefoy) is a fearless ship captain and warrior, who one day draws a visit from the Devil's Reaper who explains that Solomon's life of greed and murder has cost him his soul, to be collected in the near-future. Solomon donates everything he has to the Church and embraces peace, but he is asked to leave the monastery where he has found sanctuary. After a run-in with robbers, Solomon is aided by the Crowthorns, a Puritan family (headed by Postlethwaite).

While the guilt-filled Solomon resists the combat he loved, he still faces trouble from the sorcerer Malachi and his followers. It is established that Solomon must save the Crowthorns' kidnapped, kind-hearted teenaged daughter Meredith (Rachel Hurd-Wood, Wendy of 2003's Peter Pan) in order to save his own soul and break that pact with the Devil.

Though he passed away in January 2011, Pete Postlethwaite lives on in the overdue American release of "Solomon Kane." Max von Sydow couldn't have spent more than two days playing Josiah Kane, father of Solomon.

Despite the wide aspect ratio, adequate budget, and deservedly R-rated violence, Solomon Kane somehow feels more like television than cinema.
The vengeful, now reluctantly violent protagonist who appeared in nine stories published in a magazine called Weird Tales, drums up a little bit of interest. But much like John Carter, his appeal is kind of lost in adaptation almost a century late. There aren't obvious failings to single out and call attention to, but nor is there anything to latch onto in enjoyment. The ending doesn't ever seem in doubt and encounters featuring a priest who isn't as he seems and a crucifixion that doesn't take are not terribly interesting or sharply executed.

Bassett, a former electronic press kit creator most recently found directing cable television's "Strike Back" and "Da Vinci's Demons", has only made four films in a decade and does not seem to be looking to expand his dance card or impress his way into better or better-paying jobs. That he is the one to finally bring Howard's character to the big screen has to count for something, but good luck finding anything resembling passion in this filming or its original story supposedly intended to start a trilogy.

The film's largely no-name cast does include Max von Sydow, an actor accomplished and old enough to forgive and not second-guess some of the questionable recent projects he's agreed to pop up in, like this and the wretched Branded. Playing Solomon's father, von Sydow is used sparingly, but the same description could apply to much of the cast, as Solomon tries to do right and overcome the powerful sorcery he's up against.

Extending its reputation for doing everything more slowly than other movies, Solomon Kane finally hit home video this week ten months after opening in U.S. theaters. We review The Weinstein Company and Anchor Bay's Blu-ray edition here.

Solomon Kane Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.35:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled in English
Release Date: July 16, 2013
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25)
Suggested Retail Price: $26.99
Blue Keepcase
Also available on DVD ($22.98 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

On a technical level, the Blu-ray's feature presentation does not disappoint in any way. The 2.35:1 picture is sharp and clean. It's complemented by a lively 5.1 DTS-HD master audio mix boasting good bass, immersive sound design, and just a few dynamic peaks and valleys that may require volume adjustment. English SDH and Spanish subtitles are attached to the film, which leaves its few ancient Arabic lines untranslated.

"The Making of 'Solomon Kane'" takes us behind the scenes of this early 2008 UK production. You'll never believe it, but that giant fire demon from the film was actually computer-generated imagery.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Blu-ray's extras begin with an audio commentary by writer/director Michael J. Bassett and leading man James Purefoy. Bassett sounds like he could be a David Walliams character. The two men speak of the film with heavy admiration, reflecting on their production experiences and Bassett revealing he's given the period setting considerable thought and investigation.
Though they understandably stop shortly into the film's interminable end credits scroll, this track is slightly better than expected.

Video extras, all of them presented in standard definition, kick off with "The Making of Solomon Kane" (11:47), an ordinary, general, promotional featurette that gathers enthusiastic, plot-descriptive remarks from the cast and crew and a tiny bit of behind-the-scenes footage.

Bassett introduces a deleted scene (2:26), a dramatic cave fight that's oddly presented in between a wooden horizontal bar and a standard black one, the former curiously covering the tops of numerous extras.

"Special FX: The Creation of the Fire Demon" 2:00) simply breaks down what went into generating the fiery giant. It's what you'd expect: layers of three-dimensional computer animation and effects dropped into and blended with real or artificial environments.

Writer/director Michael J. Bassett (no relation to Angela) is less serious than his film for reasons he explains in this interview. Greg Staples' illustrations from a slideshow of original concept art feature more light and color than the film wound up with.

An interview with Michael J. Bassett (8:51) allows the filmmaker to speak at greater length of his love of fantasy fare, his intention for a serious tone, the film's casting, dismissed ideas, and religious themes.

A James Purefoy interview (8:32) finds the leading man opening up about his tastes,
his research, and the challenges of production from cold crucifixion to a fiery sword fight.

Finally, "Original Concept Art" (1:15, SD) shows off look-establishing visuals by Greg Staples.

The disc opens with menu-inaccessible trailers for Erased and Pusher. Solomon Kane's own trailer isn't included.

The menu applies an orange border and sword cursors to a looped, standard 30-second montage. Like other Weinstein Blu-rays, this one sadly doesn't support bookmarks or resume playback.

No inserts or slipcovers spruce up the standard blue keepcase, but the disc it holds at least bears a thematic label design.

Solomon Kane (James Purefoy) swings his sword in a rainy slow-motion sequence in the sword and sorcery flick bearing his name.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Even in the unlikely event that you hold a special place in your heart for the adventures of pulp fiction icon Robert E. Howard, Solomon Kane probably won't do much for you. Undoubtedly, "R-rated fantasy action film" will attract a certain audience and while the movie earns that description, it doesn't offer anything compelling or memorable.

The Blu-ray provides a quality feature presentation and an okay commentary plus 25 minutes of video supplements. It's not a disc worthy of your collection, though, or even of your time.

Buy Solomon Kane from Amazon.com: Blu-ray / DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
New: 6 Souls • Evil Dead • Dead Man Down • Pusher • Jack the Giant Slayer • Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters • Rectify
Season of the Witch • Drive Angry Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance • Ghost Rider • Once Upon a Time: The Complete First Season
James Purefoy: John Carter • Camelot | Pete Postlethwaite: Dark Water • The Usual Suspects • James and the Giant Peach
Jason Flemyng: Stardust • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button • X-Men: First Class • Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book • Kick-Ass
Alice Krige: The Sorcerer's Apprentice • Stay Alive | Mackenzie Crook: City of Ember • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Max von Sydow: Branded • Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close • Wild Strawberries
Les Misιrables (1998) • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

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Reviewed July 18, 2013.



Text copyright 2013 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2012 RADIUS-TWC, Essential Entertainment, Davis Films, Samuel Hadida, Wandering Star, Cap Films,
2013 The Weinstein Company Home Entertainment and Anchor Bay Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.