Solomon Kane's Action Is Meticulously Humorless

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104 minutes. Rated R.

Nobody seemed to have faith in this benighted, Robert E. Howard-based sword-and-sorcery demi-epic, which is 3 years old, has already wound its way through Europe, and was preempted stateside by its own VOD release this past August. It is, for a contemporary CGI-fraught fantasy-slash-living-videogame, not at all bad, dotted with moments of Bosch and steady on its storytelling feet. Dyspeptic brooder James Purefoy is the Howardesque blade-wielder in question, giving up his homicidal ways in 1600s England after the Devil threatens to take his soul, and then picking them up again in a flash to battle a demonic big boss and his black-pupiled orc-ish minions, who are kidnapping urchins and laying waste to old Blighty. Predictably, everything is draped in late Gilliam, and the action is meticulously humorless — as Howard was himself. (The movie kvells when Purefoy dons the not-so-famous character's signature hat and cowl, as if we'd all go, "Solomon Kane's hat and cowl!") The site of a "failed" witch burning, exploded out around the stake and scattered with eyeless corpses, suggests a more interesting medieval pulp tale, but what we get is brisk, atmospheric, and faithful, for better or worse, to Howard's earnest voice.

 
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