Michael J. Bassett weighs in on Conan

Stonecold-mike of the Robert E. Howard Forums alerted me to this interesting development:

I was sent a note from someone saying that Solomon Kane is available as a download through Netflix.  Sadly this does not appear to be true – at least from Netflix in Canada where I am right now.  Solomon Kane remains unavailable in North America for what I now understand are stupid legal reasons that I can’t share…Maybe they’ll get sorted, maybe not. (BTW, if it is available on Neflix USA – can someone tell me.)….but this article from Salon.com feels like a small vindication.


Though I’d love to take a crack at Conan and I don’t want to insult the people who made the new one but it wasn’t great and I could do better for a smaller budget.  How Conan got that massive release and Kane has still absolutely nothing – not even DVD – breaks my heart.  I don’t even mind of people hate my film, I’d still at least like them to have the chance to form an opinion.

Well, then…


Folks familiar with my review of Solomon Kane and subsequent musings, the DVD, and its relation to the source material, will know I’ve been pretty tough on the film for its divergences from the source material and its historical flubs, be it comparatively minor blunders like the Union Flag appearing years before the Union Flag was designed, to more serious issues like the weird Catholo-Puritanism religious confusion. However, there’s a critical difference between Solomon Kane and Conan the Barbarian: the guy who directed Solomon Kane actually knows how to direct a film. Thus, while I shudder at what Bassett might do with Conan given his handling of Kane – my hyperbolic fear is we’ll discover his mother was a Stygian sorceress, “explaining” his hatred of civilization and sorcery while adding a Freudian subtext to his dealings with women – and considering I had serious problems with Solomon Kane, I can’t disagree that he would’ve made a more coherent, interesting and worthy film.

This puts me in some contention with those Howard fans & scholars who liked Conan and didn’t like Kane, but all things considered, I truly think that Kane was just a better film.  It was closer to REH’s world and creation than Conan, it was more tightly edited, better choreographed, more interestingly designed, better scored, infinitely better acted – and, yes, better directed, no question.  The action scenes in Kane made me cringe in the right way – mostly because you could actually see what was happening – and the supernatural creatures were infinitely more frightening and well-conceived than the ones in Conan.  And, just like Momoa, Purefoy could’ve made a brilliant Kane in an actual adaptation.

Bassett wouldn’t be my first choice by any means, not just because of Kane, but because I’d much rather he make a fantastic Elric film. After Conan, I don’t want to see Nispel anywhere near a property I love again. So it might be damning with faint praise, but frankly, I think the Conan film franchise could do much worse. Kane didn’t even do much worse than Conan at the box office, $19 million in the foreign market compared to Conan’s $27 million – and that’s with barely a fraction of the media saturation and brand equity of Conan.