Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Steamboy - DVD review - 10/10

An engagingly beautiful and thrilling (in the way boy's adventure stories with airships and metal men tend to be thrilling) film with a Neo-Victorian Steampunk setting, Steamboy is the most ambitious and expensive Anime to date, and from where I was sitting, it appears that every penny made it on screen. I hesitate to even refer to it as a work of animation, given the strength of story, performance and visuals which often transcend the artwork supporting them. It is a rare event when I forgo the original actors' voices in a foreign film, but the English speaking cast is all star; Anna Paquin turns in a throaty tour de force as James Ray Steam, Patrick Stewart rants madly as Ray's grandfather Dr. Lloyd Steam, and Alfred Molina is quietly menacing as Dr. Edward Steam, Ray's father. A great adventure story which some might argue suffers from some slow pacing (I'd call it character and plot development), this is an Anime which, as my wife (who dislikes Anime with a passion) stated, "doesn't look or sound like Anime." It's just a solid movie, well worth seeing. I bought my copy based on the reviews I'd read, sight unseen. And I wasn't disappointed.


  1. I dislike anime with a passion too (I sympathize with your lovely wife) and continually got in trouble with my boy for referring to it as "japanimation" which, I'm told, is sort of an insult. However, I recently watched and loved "Blood: the Last Vampire" which is anime and almost the entire series of "Cowboy Bebop" which I thoroughly enjoyed so I may just have to give "Steamboy" a go. If you can promise me it won't remind me of anime in any way.

  2. It absolutely won't. It's lacking the jerky frame rate that most anime suffers from, and uses a desaturated, realistic color palette well suited to the Victorian setting. We watched "Blood the Last Vampire" while recording the second 7DF CD, and I was thoroughly impressed by the production on that short but very sweet little number.

  3. I must admit I LOATHED Steamboy, and I really wanted to like it. It seemed like a nonsensical mishmash of poorly-used literary references, bad characterization, and endless annoying screeching from young Miss Scarlett or whatever her name was. It also followed the time-honoured anime philosophy of "If it doesn't make sense and you don't know where you're going with it, just blow everything up spectacularly at the end."

    This leads me to conclude that we must have watched entirely different movies. Maybe I watched the subbed version (I can't recall) and that made all the difference.

    The animation was very nice, I'll give it that. That one scene with the cannonballs in particular.

  4. There's only one Steamboy movie. And I stand by my review. I didn't find it to be terribly confusing, at least by Anime standards (I'm thinking of Neon Genesis Evangelion here...). But I'm a sucker for Steampunk. That said, I'm not so much a sucker to say that LXG was a good movie...