I was surprised to see this show up on Amazon’s Instant Video and iTunes as new releases, since I’d already seen it a few years ago and didn’t really care for it. It’s not that I don’t enjoy a little horror in my Westerns. Josh Brolin was good enough as a zombie cowboy, even if he did have to talk around that silly scar make-up. But it was ultimately too goofy, too poorly paced, and too cheap looking. Speaking of which, Meghan Fox was in it. She wasn’t nearly as memorable as the horse with twin mounted gatling guns.
But then I realized I was confusing my Biblical Name + Laconic One-Syllable Name movies. It turns out Solomon Kane is not a comic book, but a lesser known character from Conan creator Robert E. Howard. Who knew?
The movie opens and ends with sequences that any Diablo player will appreciate, but it’s got an awfully muddled midsection as it traces Solomon Kane’s journey from ruthless pirate (!) to reluctant monster hunter to avenging lawful good paladin. It takes a few suitably grim turns, but the script is too obvious, with an all too predictable third act twist. Furthermore, it mostly looks like the cheap Czech production that it is.
However, it is much better than Jonah Hex, and the similar Season of the Witch, and the shamefully bad Conan movie with Jason Momoa. Solomon Kane even has a little Postlethwaite, a touch of von Sydow, and a solid performance from James Purefoy in the lead. Purefoy knows how to scowl Jackmanly under the brim of a Puritan hat, tuck a flintlock resolutely into his belt, swoop his cape, and stride off into a flurry of CG snowflakes. Overall, he lends Solomon Kane a lot of its endearing dopey earnestness, which reminds me of 80s fantasy fare like Conan, Beastmaster, and Warlock. I can’t help but think that Robert E. Howard would be pleased.