Huddersfield’s Odeon is guaranteed to be full of screaming kids – even in the 15 rated films. Because of this they crank the film’s audio output up to timpanic-overload and have regular intrusions by security throughout most of the showings I have attended.
Add to this the hefty price (£17 for my partner and I to see Solomon Kane) and you can probably see why it’s a rare “treat”.
I’ve wanted to see Solomon Kane since I heard it was being filmed, I’m a big fan of Robert E. Howard, especially the Conan tales. I’ve never read Solomon Kane though; and this is probably why I yearned for the film.
I’m the kind of person who, once he has read a book, will tear apart any kind of alternate interpretation of that work. I hated Jackson’s Lord of the Rings for no other reason than Arwen was overused and replaced the awesome Glorfindel. I was inwardly ashamed at liking the Watchmen because it didn’t match up to my memory of the Graphic Novel.
The opportunity to reverse this trend is very rare, I have never hated a book having first seen the film (unless I hated the film, in which case it is my own fault for choosing to read the book). I loved the Conan films and have enjoyed the stories even more. I have at least one Solomon Kane book in my ever increasing pile of books to read, I look forward to reading it.
The next opportunity I will have to reverse the trend is with the excellent foreign film, Let the Right One In (soon to be remade in the states so that they don’t have to read subtitles – or handle any subtle plot.) I am assured that the novel is far better and utterly different to the film.
Solomon Kane opens with brutal bloody slaughter, showing the evil Solomon Kane sacking a North African temple (presumably a Mosque) filled with Saracens. I genuinely Laughed-Out-Loud at points, instantly taken back to the infantile joy one gets when reading Howard. There is a primal simplicity to Howard’s work, foes are hacked apart by his heroes, who are all but invulnerable to anything thrown at them. This opening sequence also reminded me of the inherent racism that can be found in Howard’s work. In the early 20th century, racism seems to have been the norm, especially when dealing with the East. Muslims and Hindus were seen to be associated with Thuggee cults and dark magics. This is reflected somewhat in this opening to the film, although carefully so as to not directly target any particular religious group. The temple looks like a temple and not a mosque and the Saracens are just warriors in pointy helmets.
What follows from this is a well crafted (but predictable) tale (yarn?) of Solomon’s inner battle against violence and ultimately his possible redemption. Scattered with flashbacks to his youth the film was initially reminiscent of Highlander with the introduction of Pete Postlethwaite as a surrogate Father figure to give Solomon purpose on his journey. It does feel like the Solomon Kane story is a channel for Howard to exploit his own puritan ideals but the film doesn’t preach.
The acting and fight choreography work well to create a sense of immersion that I feel has been lacking in many films of late, and the creature effects, whilst seeming very Mummy-esque, were equally enjoyable. There are times when James Purefoy comes across as a British Hugh Jackman but he is excellent in the role, none the less.
All in all, Solomon Kane, has done justice to my opinion of Howard and is well worth a viewing.