Solomon Kane, Conan and Red Sonja

The Nemedian Chronicles takes a look at reviews of the Solomon Kane movie and the current status of Conan and Red Sonja’s big screen adaptations.

Solomon Kane, Conan & Red Sonja

“For less than the effects budget of this year’s other sword ‘n’ sorcery adventures, Percy Jackson and Clash Of The Titans, Bassett has delivered a dark-as-balls Highlander for the 21st century, played with such conviction it’s hard not to be swept along.”
– David Hughes, Empire Magazine

“A brutal fusion of angst and action, this mini-epic gives the sword-and-sorcery genre a bleak, brusque new life. Watch it for some terrific limbchopping and a mighty turn by James Purefoy.”
– Jonathon Crocker, Total Film

I saw a screening of Solomon Kane with some friends and we all came away impressed. The movie follows the title character, a 16th century Puritan adventurer created by pulp fiction writer Robert E. Howard, in a tale of redemption to save his soul. Premiering at the Toronto Film Festival in September and later released in France on December 23, 2009, the U.K., French and Czech co-production was filmed mostly in the Czech Republic and made for $40,000,000 USD. Though that amount may seem small compared to other movies of the genre, under director Michael J. Bassett’s direction and leading man James Purefoy’s performance the film shines like one with twice its budget. The supporting cast, sets and cinematography were all solid across the board. The best thing about the movie? It’s not campy. The mood and story is dark and serious and that’s the way Robert E. Howard’s character should be treated. There were some reviewers who commented it took itself a little too seriously. I say go watch the old Conan or Red Sonja movies if you don’t like it. If the filmmakers don’t take it seriously how can you expect the audience to do the same? As the credits rolled I hoped the people making the new Conan and Red Sonja movies do as good a job as the people behind Solomon Kane did.

James Purefoy as Solomon KaneJames Purefoy as Solomon Kane

Conan, another creation by Robert E. Howard, has a new movie set to be released in late 2011. It is currently in production and is expected to wrap in early June. It stars Jason Momoa (Stargate Atlantis) as the Cimmerian and directed by Marcus Nispel (Pathfinder). Anyone who has seen Pathfinder know Nispel will have no problem pulling off the look for the Hyborian world but the jury is still out on whether Momoa can fill the shoes of a role memorably played by Arnold Schwarzenegger in two Conan movies. The new film version of Conan is based on how he is described in Robert E. Howard’s original novels and will follow him on a quest to avenge the murder of his father and the slaughter of his village.

Jason Momoa as ConanJason Momoa as Conan

Other notable cast members include Ron Perlman (Hellboy) as Conan’s father, Rachel Nichols (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra) as Tamara and Stephen Lang (Avatar) as Khalar Singh. Rose McGowan (Planet Terror), contracted to play Red Sonja in her own film, is surprisingly playing an evil half-human/half-witch and not the “warrior woman out of majestic Hyrkania”. Back in 2008 Red Sonja director Douglas Aarniokoski teased a possible Conan cameo. Now it looks like we will not be seeing the two characters together on the big screen. Of course there’s always the small screen team-up of Conan and Red Sonja to hold us off.

The filming status of Red Sonja is currently on hold. Originally set to start filming in early 2010 with a late 2010 release date, the movie has seen its share of delays. There were even rumors of a lead actress change. Producer Robert Rodriguez explained, “If I kept the project myself, we could’ve just made it, but it belonged to another company that had financing problems.” He went on to say the company was actually waiting until they made the Conan movie before they start Red Sonja to “see how that works for them.”

Rose McGowan as Red SonjaRed Sonja delayed until ?

Though my friends and I were pleasantly surprised at how well Solomon Kane turned out and were excited about the potential of the future Conan movie, we lamented at the possibility that we may never see Red Sonja on the big screen again. Some have speculated the casting of Rose McGowan in the Conan movie as a character that was not Red Sonja was the proverbial nail in the coffin for any movie starring the She-Devil with a Sword. I would have to disagree with that but if the Conan movie doesn’t perform well at the box office next year, does that close the door on the start of Red Sonja? Hopefully her movie isn’t contigent on his success. One of my friends commented that maybe Rose McGowan being cast as a half-witch in the Conan movie was a smoke screen and she will be appearing as Red Sonja after all to keep it a surprise. That’s a possibility but more likely it’s just wishful thinking. There’s a chance the next time we see a Red Sonja movie it’ll have a new star, director and writer attached.

How cool would it have been to have a Robert E. Howard movie for three consecutive years — Solomon Kane in 2009, Red Sonja in 2010 and Conan in 2011? (I know Red Sonja was more of a Roy Thomas creation but for the sake of argument, just go with it.) A trifecta of sword-and-sorcery films starring a Puritan, She-Devil and barbarian? It would have been something special for fans of all three properties, but at this point there’s a better chance of them appearing in a comic book together.

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