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The movie tells the origins of Solomon Kane and is hoped to be the first of a trilogy of movies. When the story opens Kane is a mercenary of Queen Elizabeth I fighting in Africa, but after an encounter with a demon, The Reaper, he realizes he must seek redemption or have his soul damned to Hell. He returns to Engand and lives a life of peace, converting to puritanism, but soon the doings of an evil sorceror upset his plans and he must take up arms again.
For more about Solomon Kane and the Solomon Kane Blu-ray release, see Solomon Kane Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on July 6, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: James Purefoy, Max von Sydow, Pete Postlethwaite, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Jason Flemyng, Ian Whyte (II)
Director: Michael J. Bassett
» See full cast & crew
Solomon Kane Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, July 6, 2010
Michael J. Bassett's "Solomon Kane" (2009) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Entertainment in Video. The supplemental features on the disc include two audio commentaries; introduction by director Michael J. Bassett; storyboard comparison; making of; montage clip; interviews with producers Samuel Hadida and Paul Berrow, director Michael J. Bassett, actor James Purefoy, and composer Klaus Badelt; deleted scene; special effects footage; concept artworks; and the films original theatrical trailer. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
Michael J. Bassett's Solomon Kane is a dark and at times surprisingly violent film about a man (James Purefoy, Photo Finish) whose soul is owed to the Devil. It is not immediately clear why, but as the film progresses, flashbacks from his past reveal that it is most likely because he committed a terrible crime.
Hoping to restore his soul, the man enters a monastery in the heart of puritan England. He immediately vows never to kill again and tries hard to forget his past. Unfortunately, his badly scarred body reminds him of it daily.
A priest tells the man that he must get back amongst the people to spread the word of God. The man follows his advice and leaves. Shortly after, he meets a friendly family of four on their way to the New World. They spend a few days together and the man tells them about his sins.
A gang of evil warriors appear and kill everyone but the man and the family's beautiful daughter (Rachel Hurd-Wood, Dorian Gray). They take the girl and crucify the man. Amazingly, the man is saved by a group of strangers, one (Christian Dunckley Clark) of which tells him that many moons ago he was his captain. The man and his saviors then set out on a journey to free the girl and punish the men who killed her family.
Solomon Kane was inspired by the works of American writer Robert E. Howard, who is best known for his legendary character Conan the Barbarian. Director Bassett, a lifelong fan of Kane, also wrote the script to the film.
Shot on location in the Czech Republic, the film looks gorgeous. In addition to the carefully lensed panoramic vistas, there are also a variety of beyond impressive special effects that should warm the hearts of fantasy junkies whose last serious treat was likely Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy. The final third of the film, in particular, delivers big.
While there is plenty of style in Solomon Kane, however, substance is mostly missing. Kane's character transformation, for example, is ineffective, which is why many of his brave deeds look and feel odd. His relationship with the young girl who apparently steals his heart is also notably underdeveloped. As a result, when the final credits roll Kane feels more like a fascinating stranger rather than a great hero one would want to see in action again.
The pacing of the film is also problematic. Right from the get-go everything moves at such an incredible speed that some of the footage looks as if it was taken straight out of a video game. The dialog, even for a genre film, isn't terribly strong either.
James Purefoy was definitely the right man to play Kane. He looks buff and tough, and most of the time pretty serious about hurting those who disagree with him. Someone also did a terrific job with that giant cross he has on his back. There are a couple of strong cameos as well, most notably Pete Postlethwaite (In the Name of the Father) and Max von Sydow's (Pelle the Conqueror).
Lastly, Solomon Kane benefits from a surprisingly effective score courtesy of Klaus Badelt (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl). The music truly has an epic feel that compliments the film's lavish visuals very well.
Note: Earlier this year, Solomon Kane won the Audience Jury Award at the Fantasporto, in Porto, Portugal.
Solomon Kane Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Michael J. Bassett's Solomon Kane arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Entertainment in Video.
This is a solid high-definition transfer. Fine object detail is excellent, clarity pleasing and contrast levels consistent throughout the entire film. The color-scheme is also excellent; the cold blues, greens, browns, grays, blacks and whites look terrific. Edge-enhancement and macroblocking are certainly not a serious issue of concern; neither is artifacting. Furthermore, blown through a digital projector Solomon Kane looks quite impressive, with the large panoramic scenes from medieval England being particularly striking. My only minor complain with this high-definition transfer pertains to how a few of the final scenes - and specifically the decisive clash between Solomon Kane and his enemies - look. A few of the CGI effects are indeed quite overwhelming, boasting colors that I thought looked very unnatural, and are probably more appropriate for a video game of some sort. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free SA or PS3 in order to access its content).
Solomon Kane Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. For the record, Entertainment in Video have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they split the image frame and the black bar below it.
The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is solid. The bass is strong and punchy, the rear channels very active and effective, and the high-frequencies not overdone. Many of the action scene convey impressive dynamic depth, which compliments the film's lavish visuals very well. The finale, in particular, is very intense. Additionally, the dialog is crisp, clean, stable and very easy to follow. There are no balance issues with Klaus Badelt's excellent music score either. Finally, while viewing the film, I did not detect any disturbing pops, cracks, or hissings to report in this review.
Solomon Kane Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Audio commentary - an audio commentary with director Michael J. Bassett and actor James Purefoy. The two gentlemen discuss how certain scenes in the film were shot, what sacrifices the cast and crew members had to make in order to achieve their goals, as well as how different parts of the film were put together. Generally speaking, this is an informative but quite dry commentary, which I did not find to be terribly effective.
Audio commentary - I found this commentary by director Michael J. Bassett to be a lot more detailed and inspired. Here the director focuses not only on the production history of the film but also on many of its key characters and unique locations. He also carefully analyzes a lot of the important scenes in the film.
Introduction - a short video introduction to the film by director Michael J. Bassett. In English, not subtitled. (2 min).
Storyboard comparison - a picture in picture featurette allowing one to watch the film and at the same time compare specific scenes from it to the original storyboards its creators worked with.
The Making of Solomon Kane - a standard featurette with raw footage from the film and short comments from various cast and crew members. In English, not subtitled. (12 min).
Montage clip - (2 min).
Interviews - the interviewees address the film's production history, unique story, characters, cast, memorable soundtrack, the different filming locations, etc.
-- with producers Samuel Hadida and Paul Berrow. In English, not subtitled. (13 min).
-- with director Michael J. Bassett. In English, not subtitled. (9 min).
-- with actor James Purefoy. In English, not subtitled. (9 min).
-- with composer Klaus Badelt. In English, not subtitled. (7 min).
Deleted scene - one deleted scene. In English, not subtitled. (3 min).
Special effects - a short piece about the making of the Fire Demon seen the final third of the film. In English, not subtitled. (2 min).
Artworks - a collage of conceptual artworks by Greg Staples. (2 min, 1080i).
Trailer - the original theatrical trailer for the film. In English, not subtitled. (2 min).
Solomon Kane Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
There is more style than substance in Solomon Kane, but I suppose this is precisely why many people would want to see it. For the most part, I enjoyed it. I think that if you choose to see it on a lazy Sunday afternoon, you will as well. The Blu-ray disc herein reviewed, courtesy of British distributors Entertainment in Video, looks very good and sounds outstanding. It is, however, Region-B "locked". RECOMMENDED.
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