I recently found myself searching aimlessly through Netflix in the middle of the night and I settled on Solomon Kane. Netflix describes it as follows: In this epic tale, a once-murderous sea captain is holed up in a monastery in retreat from the devil, whom the captain fears is coming for his soul.
Murderous sea captain? The devil? Sign me the hell up!
I click play and I’m pretty stoked, but then it opens on what looks to be a bunch of actors copied and pasted onto old wooden ships. This only leads to a giant castle that looked like a graphic art student’s first project. Too bad they shot this Europe where there aren’t a whole lot of old castles laying around that are available to rent for fairly cheap. Well, maybe the location guy was sick that week.
The story immediately captures me though, so I stick with it. It has cannibals, murdered women and children, crucifixions, and Satan! It’s harrowing and exciting. I couldn’t guess what was going to happen next. Also, Solomon is a well thought out and engaging character, and though I don’t know any murderous sea captains, I feel like the audience could almost empathize with his suffering. We’ve all felt alienated and alone, just maybe not with the devil tailing us along the way.
The direction was different, but solid. In most movies, we have sort of an idea of what the main character is thinking and what they’re about. This isn’t the case in Solomon Kane. There is a scene in particular that illustrates this beautifully.
Solomon lives with monks is a pious man of God. So I found myself in total disbelief when he allows a family to be murdered simply because he had vowed never to kill again. “This guy is no hero,” I thought to myself. But that’s the point, he isn’t a hero, he isn’t a villain, he’s a man just trying to save his mortal soul. It was a choice between eternal damnation or a nice family he had just met. Solomon Kane laments then vows to redeem himself by saving the one member of the family that managed to get herself kidnapped instead of chopped up.
This movie was thrilling, the dialogue bad ass and quotable, the sets beautiful, there’s a lot of great gore, but something wasn’t quite right.
Bad CGI! The hugely important beginning and amazing finale were both double dipped in green screen silliness. With such a terrifying and tragic hero, it seemed like an insult to introduce and end his story with such laughable effects.
In the end it killed what could have been an amazing franchise. Our hero cheats death and escapes the devil, and they had planned to continue his story into a trilogy. Honestly, it actually breaks my heart a little. It’s rare these days to find a horror period piece with such a great story. And in my opinion lazy CGI was the nail in the coffin.