The slow-motion, unnatural posing, climactic music, and dramatic stares are in full swing to amplify the action. The dialogue is also designed to make Kane and his cohorts more formidable, but with an undeniably generic, battle-hardened grit attached to every grumbled word, it sounds catchpenny. The fight choreography isn’t as shabby, utilizing creative bloodshed for a few moments of genuine gusto, while computer generated effects aid the witchcraft and extensive makeup.
Costumes are exciting and elaborate, the character designs are amusing (especially the Overlord, a villain visualized to magnificently embellish the characters created by author Robert E. Howard, of Conan the Barbarian fame), and the sets (filled with mud, rain, sludge, and flames, or Malachi’s immense, bloodstained throne room) are thrilling - but all are wasted on an overdramatic twist of the commonplace antihero who must reluctantly return to the darkness of his past. It’s similar to John Ford’s “The Quiet Man,” Anthony Mann’s “Man of the West,” Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven,” or perhaps most famously, George Stevens’ “Shane.” The references are Westerns, but “Solomon Kane” is comparable in purpose to the top-form lone warrior roles established in such films. Director Michael J. Bassett’s Kane doesn’t possess the depth or subtle ferociousness of the aforementioned films’ leads, however, instead fumbling over a simpler revenge story. The pervasive religious themes are a touch puzzling, continually contradicting allegiance, belief, and motive – moving further away from creative moviemaking. At least the swordplay is decent, even if “Solomon Kane” can’t breach its predictable, one-track, specific target audience mindset and appeal.
- Mike Massie