The Shallow Man DVD Review: Solomon Kane

I now officially love “Solomon Kane,” and here’s 10 good reasons why I think you might too:

1. James Purefoy
Purefoy, in my opinion, is still far too underappreciated. As the title character he is every bit the grizzled hero, managing to embody the vicious and the heroic in equal measure. Purefoy shares a commentary with the director on the DVD, as well as appearing on a “making of” feature, in all of which he comes across as incredibly likeable and dedicated to his character. The enthusiasm he has for Kane is obvious, so when he talks about making more of the films, I can’t help but agree that it should happen.

2. The Soundtrack
Going back to the 80s again, movies certainly never lacked for a decent theme tune. John Williams aside, just take a moment to think about films like “Willow,” “The Last Starfighter” and, of course, “Hawk The Slayer,” and there was always a rousing theme tune behind them, something to get the blood pumping and to convey an epic and heroic journey.

A hero’s theme tune is sorely lacking in a lot of contemporary films. Just look at the poor X-Men, who found themselves is a respectable film adaptation, but stripped of the cartoon TV series’ catchy intro music. In Solomon Kane, Klaus Badelt redresses the balance, presumably drawing on his previous experience scoring “Pirates of The Caribbean,” giving the entire film exactly what it needed.

3. The Look
Whenever a film has a more modest budget, it’s important to make sure that it looks as realistic as possible, so location scouting and set building can really make or break how a film is perceived. What amazed me about “Solomon Kane” is how fantastic it looks from start to finish (one CGI beastie excluded), making the whole period feel so much richer.

4. Proper Monsters
There can never be enough monsters in a fantasy movie for me, be they the Uruk-hai and Orcses in “The Lord of The Rings,” to the squealing, slug headed Slayers from “Krull.” Director Bassett utilizes his background in horror movies to deliver us a masked rider, some demonic zombie types and even, in one scene, a witch that might just as well have worn an “I Love Evil Dead” T-shirt such was its obvious homage to Sam Raimi.

There are more monsters than mentioned above in the film, so you never can tell what Kane will encounter next on his journey, but having seen a glimpse of what could lie in store for future films, consider me hooked.

5. The Emotive Impact
Unusually for a film of its type, Solomon manages to produce a couple of especially tense and threatening scenes. I found myself rooting for Kane from the start, which isn’t, perhaps, ideal when he’s a cold-blooded murderer to begin with.

6. The Direction
That this is only Bassett’s third feature film is quite impressive. I’ve seen both “Wilderness” and “Deathwatch” that came before, enjoying both despite some flaws, but the leap from those two productions to Kane is quite substantial. His direction seems so assured now that his love for the material has clearly taken his work to the next level.

7. The Special Features
Now that’s always a good reason to own a DVD, especially anything with substantial effects or make up, and there is plenty of insight on the disc, even if some are a little short and fragmented.

There’s the commentary with Bassett and Purefoy, a standalone commentary from Bassett, as well as a trailer, video introduction by Michael J. Bassett, “The Making of Solomon Kane” and “Special Effects: The Creation of the Fire Demon” features, artworks by Greg Staples, interviews with producers Samuel Hadida and Paul Berrow, director Michael J. Bassett, actor James Purefoy and composer Klaus Badelt, a deleted scene: “Cave Fight” and a “Montage Clip,” and who doesn’t love a montage?

8. The Re-Watch Value
In desperation to get this review done on time, I ended up putting it on late on a Sunday night, which meant my kids lasted all of ten minutes before passing out. Upon waking up half an hour later, they apologized and said they really wanted to see it properly from the start, so would I mind going back. In my keenness to finally share the film with someone, I did exactly that, but what amazed me was how easy it was to watch the beginning again and how quickly the time passed.

9. Proper Violence
Oh, yes indeed. With the success of “The Expendables,” there’s no better time to celebrate a love of 80s-style cinematic violence, and Kane seems to ooze with it. In the “Cave Fight” deleted scene, Bassett reveals that he loved the scene but couldn’t find a way to work it into the narrative, and more’s the pity. Still, theres plenty of limb loppage and sword swinging in the final edit, so I can’t really complain.

10. I Want More
Yes, I know it’s hardly a critical point, but allow me a little moment of selfishness. There simply aren’t enough films like this being made, so unless we support them we are in danger of having our summers ruined by substandard blockbusters, while all the interesting films fall by the wayside.

Grade ★ ★★★ out of 5 stars

Distributed by C-Interactive Digital Entertainment

Available at all Astrovision and Astroplus branches nationwide
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