Bassett sells ‘Kane’ to unfamiliar audience

Panel promotes film as return to classic '80s style

There’s a balance of power at every panel at Comic-Con, one between those presenting and those in attendance. And Saturday morning in Hall H featured a sharp shift between the two sides.

After “Lost” creators Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof teased the crowd with an hour’s worth of hints about the upcoming season, the next panel assempled the producer, director and star of the upcoming “Solomon Kane” to sell the violent fantasy epic (one that currently doesn’t have a domestic distributor) to the relatively unengaged crowd, most of whom weren’t at all familiar with the name.

But director Michael J. Bassett (“Deathwatch”) came armed with at least 15 minutes of footage (“If I had my way I’d show you the whole movie, but they won’t let me.”) featuring star James Purefoy hacking and slashing his way through a 16th century Europe full of dark magic. Essentially a redemption tale, the titular Kane, from “Conan” creator Robert E. Howard, is a warrior seeking to make up for his violent past… with more violence, provided largely by swords and knives.

The panel worked hard to sell the film as a return to classic, old-school ‘80s fantasy. Said Bassett, “It’s not a gimmicky picture, it’s really a classic throwback — people get hurt and the violence has a consequence.” And they had a great time talking about the physical trials of the shoot, which included facial wounds from the sword-fighting and the freezing cold of the Czech Republic.

At the start of the panel, there weren’t many cheers when moderator Quint of Ain’t It Cool News asked who knew anything about the character. But the trailer got a strong reaction from the post-“Lost” crowd, even though wardrobe and styling choices meant that Solomon Kane bears an unfortunate resemblance to Hugh Jackman in “Van Helsing.” And toward the end, they did get the crowd screaming for more clips — but it’s unclear if the Comic-Con echo chamber will be in operation by the time this film gets a release.

Bassett beseeched the audience for support: “We need to make sure that there is a perception that this sort of movie will be seen.” But while he cited “Lord of the Rings” as proof that there is an audience for adult-themed fantasy, he failed to note that people had heard of “Lord of the Rings” for more than 50 years beforehand.

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