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Solomon Kane Movie Reviews and Comments

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#1 Strom

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 05:19 AM

Ran across the first movie review on Solomon Kane from TIFF

Solomon Kane (dir. Michael J. Bassett)

Originally conceived by Conan the Barbarian creator Robert E. Howard, Solomon Kane is the most deadly puritan you?ll ever come across ? a badass-turned-pacifict-turned-badass. To give you an idea, at one point he gets crucified by his enemies, tears himself off the cross and kicks their asses. It?s a ridiculous moment in a ridiculous movie, and if that?s the sort of scene that?d turn you off, steer clear.

Even for b-movie fans, Kane is a bit of a slog. The plot is by the numbers, milking an unsurprising twist for the majority of its run and relying on cliched dialogue that isn?t quite over-the-top enough to be awesome. Despite a handful of memorable scenes (including an appearance by Gareth from the British version of The Office), there?s really not enough in Solomon Kane to recommend it, but it?s hard not to be at least a little impressed with a film that?s willing to crucify its main character halfway through.

www.ffwdweekly.com/calgary-blogs/stranger-in-the-alps/2009/09/11/tiff-day-2-coen-brothers-george-clooney-michael-haneke-and-a-nija-puritan-171/


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#2 Crom's bells

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 05:26 AM

Thanks Strom, keep us updated :)

#3 nephron

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 05:46 AM

Between CtB & this new flick, if someone ever wants to film "A Witch Shall Be Born" (my favorite REH story), the crucifixion scene will be so hackneyed as to not mean anything.

#4 Ironhand

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 11:09 AM

Between CtB & this new flick, if someone ever wants to film "A Witch Shall Be Born" (my favorite REH story), the crucifixion scene will be so hackneyed as to not mean anything.

I'm afraid you're right. I wish they hadn't done that. On the other hand, maybe no one will ever film AWSBB, and then we won't have to worry about it. <_< :(
"Did you deem yourself strong, because you were able to twist the heads off civilized folk, poor weaklings with muscles like rotten string? Hell! Break the neck of a wild Cimmerian bull before you call yourself strong. I did that, before I was a full-grown man...!" - Conan, in "Shadows in Zamboula", by Robert E. Howard
"... you speak of Venarium familiarly. Perhaps you were there?"
"I was," grunted [Conan]. "I was one of the horde that swarmed over the hills. I hadn't yet seen fifteen snows, but already my name was repeated about the council fires." - "Beyond the Black River", by Robert E. Howard

Read my Conan screenplays at The Scrolls of Ironhand (in particular my transcription of THE FROST GIANT'S DAUGHTER in Act II of "The Snow Devil") at
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#5 crossplain pilgrim

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 04:07 PM

Ran across the first movie review on Solomon Kane from TIFF

Solomon Kane (dir. Michael J. Bassett)

Originally conceived by Conan the Barbarian creator Robert E. Howard, Solomon Kane is the most deadly puritan you?ll ever come across ? a badass-turned-pacifict-turned-badass. To give you an idea, at one point he gets crucified by his enemies, tears himself off the cross and kicks their asses. It?s a ridiculous moment in a ridiculous movie, and if that?s the sort of scene that?d turn you off, steer clear.

Even for b-movie fans, Kane is a bit of a slog. The plot is by the numbers, milking an unsurprising twist for the majority of its run and relying on cliched dialogue that isn?t quite over-the-top enough to be awesome. Despite a handful of memorable scenes (including an appearance by Gareth from the British version of The Office), there?s really not enough in Solomon Kane to recommend it, but it?s hard not to be at least a little impressed with a film that?s willing to crucify its main character halfway through.

www.ffwdweekly.com/calgary-blogs/stranger-in-the-alps/2009/09/11/tiff-day-2-coen-brothers-george-clooney-michael-haneke-and-a-nija-puritan-171/


I don't intend to defend SK from every negative post, as there will be, I am sure, quite a few more. And certainly everyone is not going to like Kane. There are very knowledgeable, admirable people, some of them on this forum, who hate "Lord of the Rings." People have their own points of view. However, I did go to some trouble to research Mr. Haneke as his remarks had an unpleasantly arch and dismissive tone. He's a steady contributor to the Huffington Post, a mostly political site whose contributors are well known for sharp criticisms of practically everything. I could not find any genre titles in the voluminous film reviews that Mr. Haneke has archived on his own personal site. If he has reviewed many, he certainly didn't think those reviews were worth saving. There was one review of "Batman" with what appeared to be a negatively worded title, but alas, the link to the actual review was no longer working. He did in one article make a reference to "300" in which he raised the question of it being either racist or just infantile fanboy fun with blood and gore. The overall impression I got was Mr. Haneke is not a lover, or even interested in fantasy and S&S films.

His throwaway statement that the crucifixion scene "was a ridiculous scene in a ridiculous movie" was a very strong statement and without any explanation. When a reviewer doesn't trouble to explain such a draconian criticism, it is a good sign he didn't think the film was worthy of that much serious thought. Also, the statement about "Even for b-movie fans, Kane is a bit of a slog." More than a whiff of condescension there for this type of film and its fans. I am one of those fans and I personally grow weary of mainstream reviewers who give the impression that they are slumming when they review a genre film.
A wild moon rode in the wild white clouds,
the waves their white crests showed
When Solomon Kane went forth again,
and no man knew his road.

"Solomon Kane's Homecoming"

#6 amster

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 04:33 PM

Originally conceived by Conan the Barbarian creator Robert E. Howard, Solomon Kane is the most deadly puritan you?ll ever come across ? a badass-turned-pacifict-turned-badass. To give you an idea, at one point he gets crucified by his enemies, tears himself off the cross and kicks their asses. It?s a ridiculous moment in a ridiculous movie, and if that?s the sort of scene that?d turn you off, steer clear.


Sounds pretty friggin' ridiculous alright, and it doesn't get my hopes up. And its been done so many times that it has become a cliche'...and a ridiculous one at that. It happened in the The Sword and the Sorceror. Van Damm pulled the same stunt in Cyborg. At least Milius had sense enough not to have Conan tear himself from the Tree of Woe. That would have been stupid.

His throwaway statement that the crucifixion scene "was a ridiculous scene in a ridiculous movie" was very a very strong statement and without any explanation. When a reviewer doesn't trouble to explain such a draconian criticism, it is a good sign he didn't think the film was worthy of that much serious thought.


With respect, Pilgrim, does such a scene really require an explanation why its ridiculous? Its ridiculous because its beyond the realm of believability. The Romans crucified literally thousands of prisoners. Is there even one historical account of such a prisoner physically tearing himself from a cross? You're the history teacher. You tell me. REH would never put such a scene in a SK story. We know that for a fact because Conan is considerably more physically powerful than Kane, and its a feat that even he couldn't pull off.

Edited by amsterdamaged, 12 September 2009 - 04:40 PM.

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--Robert E. Howard to Harold Preece, ca. June 1928--

#7 crossplain pilgrim

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 05:20 PM

As always, amster, you have your own opinion. Context weighs a lot. I remember the absolute ridicule of the scene where Kane shoots from their horses the two riders on each side of him. Having seen the clip, and the closeness of the riders, it does not appear to be so utterly out of the question for a man of Kane's martial prowess. Folks, it is an action movie. And remember, in the stories Howard clearly intimated that Kane at times had superhuman strength and skill due to the power of his faith. However, amster, I have not seen the scene in question, so I don't know how I can defend or join in your criticism until I do. I will certainly get back to you at that time.

Here is another TIFF review. Brief, but more positive and more in line with the majority of reviews I have read. I find it interesting that this is the first one that questions James Purefoy's performance as Kane. For the most part, his interpretation of the lead character is often singled out for praise.

Solomon Kane

Director/Country/Time: Michael J. Bassett/United Kingdom/104 min.

Cast: James Purefoy, Pete Postlethwaite, Max Von Sydow

Program: Midnight Madness

Headline: Hellbound warrior seeks redemption through ass-kicking

Noel?s Take: As Robert E. Howard?s second-most famous pulp hero (after Conan The Barbarian), James Purefoy is oddly mercurial, looking nondescript in one scene of Michael Bassett?s swordslinging adventure Solomon Kane and then ferocious in the next. At times Purefoy seems to lack the necessary charisma to play a man who?s hounded by literal and metaphorical demons, yet even with a near-blank at the center, Solomon Kane is still very good B-movie fare, rendered with imaginative creature designs and a crisp, clear narrative (if maybe not enough moments of wit). Reminiscent at times of Clint Eastwood?s Unforgiven?or a Shaolin monk kung fu movie redressed in chainmail?Solomon Kane is, first and foremost, a ripping good yarn. And there have been too few of those lately in this particular movie genre.

Grade: B

One additional thing: the reviewer once again assumes there have been a number of S&S films with which Kane is a welcome change. Actually, there have been almost none.
A wild moon rode in the wild white clouds,
the waves their white crests showed
When Solomon Kane went forth again,
and no man knew his road.

"Solomon Kane's Homecoming"

#8 amster

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 07:05 PM

As always, amster, you have your own opinion. Context weighs a lot. I remember the absolute ridicule of the scene where Kane shoots from their horses the two riders on each side of him. Having seen the clip, and the closeness of the riders, it does not appear to be so utterly out of the question for a man of Kane's martial prowess. Folks, it is an action movie. And remember, in the stories Howard clearly intimated that Kane at times had superhuman strength and skill due to the power of his faith. However, amster, I have not seen the scene in question, so I don't know how I can defend or join in your criticism until I do. I will certainly get back to you at that time.



You're right, of course, and I too will wait to see the film before rendering a final judgement. But I wouldn't be surprised if it plays off exactly as its described, because its common in films these days for writers and directors to completely ignore the laws of physics when having their heroes perform heroic stunts. Indiana Jones escapes a nuclear explosion by hiding in a refrigerator. John (Die Hard) McClean outruns explosions. Even our friend echorock has Conan pull a sword out of his own midsection and get right back to business as if it were merely a flesh wound. Heroes in movies routinely get riddled with bullets, all of which miraculously manage to completely miss any vital organs. Is it too much to ask for a bit of realism for a change?
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--Robert E. Howard to Harold Preece, ca. June 1928--

#9 Guest_tbrittreid_*

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 08:24 PM

Comments on a few scattered comments:

I had the exact same thought as crossplain pilgrim on the "double shooting" when I watched the trailer a very few minutes ago ("...it does not appear to be so utterly out of the question...."). I also agree with his concern about the implications of the reviewer's not backed-up comment re: the crucifixion, "...a ridiculous scene in a ridiculous movie...." Which brings me to:

Concerning the victim of a crucifixion freeing himself: In Cyborg Jean-Claude Van Damme's character was, as the title would suggest, more than human making that one a bad example (I think; the film was muddled and difficult to follow :blink: , and it has been nearly 20 years since the one and only time I've watched it, leaving me quite open to correction).

"Genre" does NOT mean "science fiction/fantasy/horror." The Western is a genre; the swashbuckler is a genre; War is a genre; comedy is a genre; soap opera is a genre, etc., etc., etc. The increasingly frequent misuse of this word is quite worrisome. :angry:

I guess that's it. I hope I haven't come across particularly harsh. ;)

#10 crossplain pilgrim

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 08:49 PM

I, of course, agree with your comments, tbrittreid. As for the misuse of the term genre, I freely admit that I am guilty of it. No excuse. I recall reading part of an article that lamented the misuse. However, I am once again reminded of the old "Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" analogy (which doesn't quite fit exactly, but what the heck), "When myth becomes reality, print the legend." The misuse of genre has gone on for so long and is so widespread, I think it is pretty much ingrained in the public consciousness. Much as the phrase, "That doesn't compute." Or, "don't disrespect me, man!" For me the term genre means a particular type of film which has a specific, definable style that appeals to a distinct portion of the movie audience, such Italian westerns, screwball comedies, conspiracy theory films, etc. In that context, describing Sword and Sorcery movies as genre films seems to fit.
A wild moon rode in the wild white clouds,
the waves their white crests showed
When Solomon Kane went forth again,
and no man knew his road.

"Solomon Kane's Homecoming"

#11 Grimr

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 11:59 PM

Solomon Kane is still very good B-movie fare, rendered with imaginative creature designs and a crisp, clear narrative (if maybe not enough moments of wit). Reminiscent at times of Clint Eastwood?s Unforgiven?


I think this reviewer needs to decide whether SK is a 'B' movie, or, as he then says, 'reminiscent' of an oscar winning film which is considered by many to be one of the best westerns of all time...c'mon...which is it?
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#12 crossplain pilgrim

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 02:48 AM

I thought about that, too, Grimr. I think he was referring to the fact that Eastwood's Will Munny was a pathetic, burned-out, guilt ridden remnant of a man until the final scenes when he regains his killer mojo and wipes out Little Bill and his henchmen with relative ease. From what I know of the film, there are some similarities. But it's a stretch. I think that reviewers who haven't seen a lot of S&S films are sometimes hard put to come up with decent analogies.
A wild moon rode in the wild white clouds,
the waves their white crests showed
When Solomon Kane went forth again,
and no man knew his road.

"Solomon Kane's Homecoming"

#13 Guest_Sermon Bath_*

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 03:21 AM

critics hate all movies...except the ones they know nobody will ever watch

#14 Ironhand

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 05:51 AM

No critic ever scared me away from a movie I knew I wanted to watch. :angry:
"Did you deem yourself strong, because you were able to twist the heads off civilized folk, poor weaklings with muscles like rotten string? Hell! Break the neck of a wild Cimmerian bull before you call yourself strong. I did that, before I was a full-grown man...!" - Conan, in "Shadows in Zamboula", by Robert E. Howard
"... you speak of Venarium familiarly. Perhaps you were there?"
"I was," grunted [Conan]. "I was one of the horde that swarmed over the hills. I hadn't yet seen fifteen snows, but already my name was repeated about the council fires." - "Beyond the Black River", by Robert E. Howard

Read my Conan screenplays at The Scrolls of Ironhand (in particular my transcription of THE FROST GIANT'S DAUGHTER in Act II of "The Snow Devil") at
http://www.scrollsof...d.us/index.html or at
http://www.delicious...ic=ConanProject

#15 awesomeshotdude

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 10:27 AM

No critic ever scared me away from a movie I knew I wanted to watch. :angry:


The same is true for me, Ironhand. I don't even bother to seek critics review on movies anymore as I more often than not find that their reviews are out of whack with the movie. I really do think most critics are more interested in sounding witty than they are in giving a solid and fair review of a flick....oh well.

I have to ask, what defines 'B' grade ? Solomon Kane has been labelled as that more than a few times yet it's end budget was something nearing 50 mil wasn't it ? So is it the budget, the directors status, the actors it includes....or can a 'B' grade movie only be rated as such well after it has been released and a good cross section of the community have subsequently labelled it as 'B' grade.....
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#16 Crom

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 04:13 PM

No critic ever scared me away from a movie I knew I wanted to watch. :angry:


The same is true for me, Ironhand. I don't even bother to seek critics review on movies anymore as I more often than not find that their reviews are out of whack with the movie. I really do think most critics are more interested in sounding witty than they are in giving a solid and fair review of a flick....oh well.

The only review site I ever visit is Rotten Tomatoes. They compile the good reviews with the bad reviews and produce a percentage. At the least it gives me a rough idea how well the film is doing with the overall reviewing population. But that's just a guideline. For me it always comes down to whether the film is something I really want to see.

I have to ask, what defines 'B' grade ? Solomon Kane has been labelled as that more than a few times yet it's end budget was something nearing 50 mil wasn't it ? So is it the budget, the directors status, the actors it includes....or can a 'B' grade movie only be rated as such well after it has been released and a good cross section of the community have subsequently labelled it as 'B' grade.....

I think it's just a moniker stuck on it at some point. Waterworld, one of the most expensive films ever made, and starring 'A' lister Kevin Costner, has been described as one of the best 'B' movies ever made. Maybe it's a genre thing. Sorry, CP ;).

As for the Huffington Post reviewer, where he writes says it all.

#17 crossplain pilgrim

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 10:09 PM

That's a good point, CJ, about "Waterworld" being considered a "B" picture, a term a number of critics are applying to "Solomon Kane." There might be some confusion on that term, as a few of the reviewers grade films as "A," "B,"C," "D" and "F." In the days of classic Hollywood the major studios made "A" pictures that had big budgets, major stars, top-notch directors, and a first class production team. The so-called "B" pictures had much smaller budgets, shorter running times, and often starred lesser actors or actresses who normally played the character roles or second leads in "A" pictures. Most of these films were meant to play as second features on a double-bill, or in small towns and drive-ins. They were often more melodramatic and less sophisticated than the larger budgeted productions.

The most popular genres in these "B" films were westerns, horror films, crime stories, and low-brow comedies along the lines of the "Bowery Boys" films. Occasionally a "B" picture turned out so well that it became a major hit like horror film "The Cat People." There was a time you could tell a "B" film just by the cast, for instance if the lead was Steve Cochran, George Montgomery, Tom Conway, or Rod Cameron, it was a "B" picture.

Nowadays, the old studio system is long gone. The definition of a "B" picture is a lot harder to nail down. A major production nowadays like "Batman Begins" usually boasts a budget well in excess of a hundred million dollars. However, there are romantic comedies starring the likes of Sandra Bullock or gross-out flicks starring someone like Seth Rogan that have far smaller budgets, but are still considered "A" pictures.

I could make a case that "Solomon Kane" is an "A" picture due to the high production values and scope. If you look at the supporting cast, Pete Postlethwaite, Max Von Sydow, and Rachel Hurd-Wood, they usually appear in "A" films. However, I don't think Miichael J. Bassett would claim to be on the "A" list for directors, though I think he is on his way if Kane scores. James Purefoy, as much as he is admired as an actor, is not an "A" list star just yet. The strongest evidence that Kane is a "B" movie is the fact that it is a Sword and Sorcery film, a genre that does not have a history of appealing to a wide swath of the movie audience.

But does it really matter how you label a film anymore? Who even uses that outdated term "A" and "B" pictures besides a few film critics and industry insiders? "District 9," a "B" picture made in South Africa, has grossed to date 108 million dollars at the box officer. More than an awful lot of "A" films. Most people, I think, just choose a film that promises to entertain them with a story in which they are interested. That is surely the way I feel about it.
A wild moon rode in the wild white clouds,
the waves their white crests showed
When Solomon Kane went forth again,
and no man knew his road.

"Solomon Kane's Homecoming"

#18 Waldgeist

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 10:55 PM

The A and B thing nowadays often is slapped uppon a movie based on it's "cheesyness" to a modern day audience. From today's standpoint, Howard is the godfather of cheese, because his stories, dialogue, characters are larger than life, they are epic and nowadays everything that is "theaterlike" is considered to be cheesy and some braindead (sorry) critics decided that this cheese factor decides a movie to be cheap and therefore B-rated. (you've heard some critics call the second Transformers B-like because of that over-the-top aspect or most Vin Diesel films)

I just say... some can handle the cheese, heck even love it, count me in yum yum, and some are lactose intolerant and shy away from everything that has some fat and taste on it. ;) (uh.. that analogy just made me hungry *rushes to the fridge*)

Cheers,
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#19 Strom

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Posted 14 September 2009 - 01:10 AM

Day 2 of TIFF brings another review of Solomon Kane:

To adapt Robert E. Howard's lesser-known sword and sorcery hero Solomon Kane would probably have been a difficult task for any filmmaker, let alone one who has never done anything quite so big or epic, but Michael Bassett jumps in head first and ends up waist-deep as he tries to capture the tone and feel of the warrior-turned-preacher fighting injustice in the dangerous forests of 17th Century England.

First, we get a prologue showing the prior incarnation of Solomon Kane, a fierce warrior killing for gold and money without thought of consequences, he ends up being the last man standing on one such pillaging mission, left alone to accept the devil's claim on his soul. The story then jumps forward after Kane has spent a year in a monastery trying to find redemption by renouncing the violence that previously comprised his lifestyle. He meets a family of pilgrims making the journey to America but they fall afoul of a group of vicious bandits who have become the henchmen of the demonic "Malakai" and his masked warrior.

The results are an impressive looking film on a reasonably limited budget, technically spectacular in terms of production design, cinematography and its epic score. Storywise, it leaves a lot to be desired, because it has many tonal and pacing problems, mainly because like the source material, it's all handled very seriously.

Much of that comes down to the fact that Bassett has filled the cast with strong dramatic actors who tend to hold the film's gravitas. James Purefoy isn't bad as Kane, but he definitely turns it up a few too many notches as he barks out his lines and keeps things very serious, which makes it difficult to warm up to him as a character. In fact, you're apt to feel absolutely no emotional connection to him or the family he's sworn to protect whatsoever, which is a problem, a BIG problem. It's also a problem that the decently-choreographed action scenes seem to be scarce, allowing the movie to regularly get bogged down in exposition and all-around overacting. The film should build up to a spectacular ending but instead goes in a way that's fairly expected and predictable, which is somewhat disappointing.

Possibly diehard fans of Howard's anti-hero might appreciate the effort by Bassett, as might those who can appreciate a movie merely for its FX eye candy. Even so, Roy Thomas' comic books remain the best introduction to the character while this film is a decent though unspectacular companion piece at best.

www.comingsoon.net/news/torontonews.php?id=59075


I hope the movie will get picked up and not go to cable or DVD. These TIFF reviews are not reassuring. :(

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#20 amster

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Posted 14 September 2009 - 01:33 AM

Possibly diehard fans of Howard's anti-hero might appreciate the effort by Bassett, as might those who can appreciate a movie merely for its FX eye candy. Even so, Roy Thomas' comic books remain the best introduction to the character while this film is a decent though unspectacular companion piece at best.

www.comingsoon.net/news/torontonews.php?id=59075


sigh.... <_<

Solomon Kane is not an anti-hero. He's always unwaveringly on the side of good.

The best introduction to the character are the original REH stories.

Idiot film critics. :angry:

That's all.
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Money and muscle, that's what I want; to be able to do any damned thing I want and get away with it. Money won't do that altogether, because if a man is a weakling, all the money in the world won't enable him to soak an enemy himself; on the other hand, unless he has money he may not be able to get away with it.
--Robert E. Howard to Harold Preece, ca. June 1928--