x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Solomon Kane

More than 80 years after making his debut in pulp magazines and novels, the evil-fighting puritan makes his first big-screen appearance.

Director: Michael J Bassett Starring: James Purefoy, Pete Postlethwaite, Rachel Hurd-Wood

More than 80 years after making his debut in pulp magazines and novels, Solomon Kane - the evil-fighting puritan from the same stable as Conan the Barbarian - makes his first big-screen appearance. The character's origin story is one of redemption. It begins in the year 1600, with Kane (James Purefoy) an English mercenary fighting mercilessly in foreign lands. But during a raid on an Ottoman castle, the warrior learns he has spilled so much blood he is marked by the devil himself. Back in England, he dedicates himself to faith and vows never to fight again, but his oath is put to the test when marauding troops attack a family of puritans heading for America. As the group's father (Pete Postlethwaite) lies dying, he tells Kane that if he uses his strength to fight evil, he will be forgiven for his blood-soaked past. With his black cloak and wide-brimmed hat, Kane becomes a kind of 17th-century Batman with a West Country accent. The fantasy is played out on a gloomy and dramatic Olde English landscape, which looks striking despite the film's modest budget. Purefoy gives an adequately tortured performance as Kane, but the character (even down to his costume) feels remarkably similar to Hugh Jackson's Van Helsing. The movie's main flaw is its incessant moralising, which clearly hasn't been given enough thought. However, while Kane's path to righteousness feels forced and unoriginal, it's still action-packed and exciting until the bitter end.

* Oliver Good