Nobody seemed to have faith in this benighted, Robert E. Howard–based sword-and-sorcery demi-epic, which is three 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-video-game, not at all bad, dotted with moments of Bosch and steady on its storytelling feet. Dyspeptic brooder James Purefoy is the Howard-esque 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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