There are two types of Howard adaptations: those that can, through contrast and comparison, make you look at the source material in a new way, or at least appreciate it even more; and those that don’t, because they are so trite and shallow they don’t even warrant further discussion. Conan the Barbarian, with its Nietzsche allusions and philosophical metaphors, is of the former: even if you despise it, you can look at the original stories in a way that you might not normally due to the differences of the two creations. Conan the Destroyer, Red Sonja and Kull the Conqueror? Meaningless, bereft of depth, no more worthy of discussion than a satirical newspaper cartoon. In my opinion, despite its considerable faults, Solomon Kane is of the first variety.That's rather a more positive review than I was expecting. I'm actually fond of James Purefoy as an actor, though he wouldn't be my first choice to play Kane. So, it gladdens me a little that the film might not be wholly irredeemable, even if it's about as far from its Howardian origins as Milius's Conan the Barbarian. That means it might be worth seeing if only as a conversation piece (assuming it's ever released in North America) -- which is higher praise than most films get these days, especially ones based on writers of whom I am fond.
Bassett’s interpretation of Kane’s origin is wholly alien to just about every Howard fan’s I know, but it’s at least derived from the source material. He made Kane into the character he is not because of some arbitrary factor like a star that needed a vehicle or cashing in on a current fad, but because it was part of the story he wanted to tell. It’s an intellectual decision on his part, one that you can disagree with, and one that you could accuse of being hackneyed and cliche, but it’s one that can be respected as an artistic choice. The same simply can’t be said for the other films, which function purely as mindless action flicks, vehicles for their respective stars, with no thought to any sort of dimension. Conan the Barbarian and Solomon Kane are films that can be argued against: the other three are films that can just be ignored.
More food for thought.