Tuesday, 23 February 2010
Solomon Kane (2010)
(Dir. Michael J. Bassett, 2010)
An indefensible disaster of a film. The apocalyptic setting for Solomon Kane is Medieval England; although weirdly the movie's first frames convey a Union Jack, black magic and ghosts in "North Africa, 1600": superfluous subtitle of the year. Are we supposed to be thinking colonialism? This has nothing to do with the remaining hour and a half of Bassett's bland doppelganger-work.
The plot is simple enough. A spiritual plague of depravity has overwhelmed mankind as Lord of the Rings's orc-kind meets 28 Days Later's virally enraged. Solomon Kane, a reformed leader of men, is our saviour. The lad is crucified. Well, until he sees the girl who he has recently met but who matters enough to instill in him the determination to save humanity. She is the daughter of a religious orc-victim whose dying wish to Solomon is for him to rescue the girl from her kidnappers. Solomon releases himself from the cross by forcing his nailed palms free. If this isn't ridiculous enough, the holes in his palms are soon healed by pagan magic. His faith in humanity restored, he is now ready to front a resistance (don't get your hopes up: it's hardly Les Miserables). And he goes about doing this in an aristeia to humble Achilles, as some cool but exhausted special effects distract us - momentarily - from contemplating walking out of the cinema.
Peter Jackson probably doesn't know whether to laugh or cry, as Tolkien turns yet another slow turn in his grave. Solomon Kane is Strider/Aragorn, wandering out of the wilderness and into the fray. They couldn't have casted a closer-resembling man to Vigo Mortensen as James Purefoy (who plays Solomon plainly). Note, fashion adjustments from Middle Earth to Somerset: reformed leader of men is now tattooed with Biblical iconography, carries a firearm and wears a Pete Doherty hat. Briefly, Aragorn will morph into Gandolf. Even for the most uneducated in fantasy and sci-fi, the final battle between miracle-worker and flaming beast has "Thou shall not pass" written all over it. But without Tolkien's cosmic mythology or Peter Jackson's engaging set-piece cinema, there's only a ludicrous hero remaining, and it's of no consequence to my evening whether Solomon lives or dies.
From beginning to end, violent or sentimental, the score is offensively proud. Severe strings accompany sad episodes for characters who, without character, can not be sympathised with. There's also an Exorcist-girl episode not to savour, when an evil-doer disguised as a frightened child fails to rattle any audience member as her face is suddenly distorted and discoloured. Choosing from the most cringe worthy of the film's scenes is difficult, but mine would be Solomon's cheap imitation of Gladiator's inspirational, "Are you not entertained?", as our hero holds his arms out to a zooming-out camera asking, "What is it you want from me?". Answer: nothing.
Is this film so bad it's actually good? No.