Robert E. Howard is most widely-known as the man that created Conan the Barbarian, but he also gave us Solomon Kane whose film adaptation is far less kitsch.

Solomon Kane (James Purefoy) was a murderer driven by his greed, but when he enters a chamber protected by the supernatural he is told he has forfeited his soul to Satan and Death is here to claim it. Managing to escape with his soul intact, Solomon devotes his life to non-violence in hopes of redeeming himself. However, when his mission leads to a path on which he must rescue a young girl, his peaceable approach may not be the key to his redemption, forcing him to choose to pick up the sword again or leave the girl to die.

The film is treated with the darkness it deserves, both in atmosphere and approach to the subject of savage redemption. Kane’s transition between personalities is flawless; he goes from ruthless killer to humbled man to tortured soul very convincingly. Though the supporting characters play a significant part in his transformation, their roles are somewhat negligible next to him.

As with most action fantasy epics of this type, magic and witchcraft have important roles in advancing the story and aiding or hindering the hero; but it is in no way the whimsical magic of children’s fantasy. Also, the past is never really gone as previous errors come back to haunt the protagonist.

Though the film is sprinkled with computer-generated ghouls and images, they blend into the story world rather than draw attention from it – the opening sequence is a good example of this. Fans of practical fantasy pictures sans extravagant CGI will enjoy Solomon Kane as the dark action adventure it is.

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