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  • Steamboy has such a rare quality of production values that it almost merits a viewing for the aesthetics alone. But there is a story to the film; and although the hardcore fans of Otomo may have been expecting something a little deeper, and although the pacing and characterization is notably flawed, it still stands as an extremely fun yarn with no shortage of what you'd expect from a classic action/adventure flick. The film, in many respects, is comparable to works like Sky Captain and the Indiana Jones films; a classic storytelling style somewhat augmented for a modern audience.

    Numerous characters such as Scarlett and the henchmen are essentially devoid of anything resembling development. Scarlett in particular seems to have had her personal developments skipped or accelerated just to give a comic or emotional foil to Ray and the others, and it sticks out noticeably. She's given the typical "redeeming moment" at the end of the film that has no real grounding or weight considering her screen presence; it comes and goes without making a single ripple in an audience.

    Essentially, Steamboy crams too many action set pieces and grand ideas into a story too lightweight to fully support them, and the plot suffers because of it. But it's far from lacking meaning or emotion, so as long as you can detach yourself from expectations you're assured quite a ride.

    As a final note, if anyone finds the explicit diatribes concerning science a little distracting, try to keep in mind that they all come from your stereotypical mad scientists types. It becomes somewhat more plausible!
  • I was dragged to this movie by my son, knowing of Anime only Totoro, the Cartoon Network Anime shows, and passing things from the web.

    I was astounded by the superb quality of the graphics, especial the CGI macro shots, throughout the film. I found myself thinking of people seeing early Disney features in the 1930's. The visuals looking through various magnifying lenses were absolutely incredible!

    I was surprised to see how the setting in Victorian England had given me such an easier time visually comprehending familiar scenes, vehicles, etc instead of the usual anime Asian or Space-Age themes I had come to expect. In this way, I feel I was finally able to visually appreciate the quality of the artistry for the first time. Wow! The English dubbing was great, and again helped me appreciate the film. And the storyline was a perfect "Perils of Pauline" tied to a gone-bad "Mad Scientist" tale as seen in Frankenstien, the Invisible Man or any of 1,000 such movies.

    I don't understand complaints of the ending "dragging on". *spoiler<?>* If not for the extra-twists in the list 30 min, we would all be complaining that the plot was flat and the ending dragged out of a dustbin. As it was, I burst out laughing at the twist and thought it clever, along with the two more twists including the one just before final credits. If you were taking yourself (as Monday Morning Quarterback) a little less seriously, you would see it was poking fun at the notion of a hero's "heroic moment".

    Of course it was a comic book style plot, blowing up the famous historic buildings at the Victorian Exhibition using steam power! I easily accepted and enjoyed the diabolical plot twists for what they were. How can one accept the presence of a 20,000 foot tall steam powered flying rocket (built by a mad scientist and stuffed with secret weapons) and not expect escape bays, rocket packs, secret pods, and trap doors? Lighten up! Doesn't one certainly imply the other?
  • This is a review of the English subtitled version of the film and not the English dubbed version A boys own adventure as our young hero fights to keep a steam ball out of the hands of evil corporate profiteers. Set in and around London in the late 1880's this is quite simply one of the most amazing animated films ever made. Odds are you have never seen anything like it on this scale.

    As Otomo Katsuhiro pushed the field of animation with his Akira some twenty years ago, he does it again with Steamboy his long in production masterpiece. This is a film so rich and detailed you simply can not truly believe that anyone would have taken the time to do the animation. This is a film to shame most animators working in the field who keep things simple. Nothing is simple here as we get grand battle scenes in London, chases through the English country side, and huge clockwork machines that are mind boggling in their visual complexity. It has to be seen to believed.

    The characters here all arc. No one is as they seem at first or second except perhaps for our hero, Roy, who tries desperately to do the right thing with the scientific marvels his father and grandfather have given him but instead finds no one is wholly good nor evil. There is a complexity to everyone that is uncommon for most animation, both Japanese and American.Its refreshing to see that we are given real people to root for and to hiss. What happens to them may move you to tears, it did me.

    The film is constructed in essentially two half's. The first is a rollicking adventure as Roy is thrust int the fight against the aforementioned evil corporation, which, like the characters is not as clearly evil as first seems. It his here that there are several set pieces that are some of the finest things I've ever seen on film, in particular the initial chase by the bad guys to get the steam ball. It starts in Roys home, which is trashed and then continues on steam powered vehicles across the countryside before ending up intersecting with a speeding train. Spielberg could learn a great deal for the next Indiana Jones movie. This first half is near perfect in execution.

    The second half of the film is a giant set piece that begins as a small scale fight during the London Exhibition and quickly expands into a full scale war in London. Its is here that the film falters, not because its bad, rather because its not fully clear whats happening. Its as if Otomo set in motion this huge machine and didn't know how to control it. I knew over all what was going on in the big picture but I was lost as to the details. This is a damaging flaw to the film that destroys many people ability to enjoy the film. If you can let yourself go and let the film wash over you then you will be more likely to truly appreciate this film for what it is- grand story telling on a huge scale.

    I can't recommend this film enough. Certainly one of the best animated films ever made, I'm sure it will be near the top of my best films of the year.

    Lastly Stay through the credits. If its not readily apparent the pictures under the credits take the story well past the ending of the film and show you quite clearly what happens to everyone we've come to know. One can only hope that we will one day be treated with the story those pictures tell.
  • STEAMBOY is director Katsuhiro Otomo first feature film in ten years, since the release of the cult-classic AKIRA. Though he did work on a few projects in between, like MEMORIES and METROPOLIS as well as supervising SPRIGGAN and the brilliant psychological thriller PERFECT BLUE, you can easily imagine Otomo-san spending the better part of a decade honing STEAMBOY to the masterpiece it has become.

    I've always felt a great anime should do the following: create real characters, make you think, dazzle you visually, and forward the art of animation by creating new techniques. STEAMBOY does all of that. Simplified, the message of the film is that science is a tool that should benefit mankind, and not be used to fatten the pockets of warmongers. The message is not heavy handed though, as Otomo-san presents several angles and allows the viewer to come to the obvious conclusion on their own. Visually this film is stunning. Even minor touches like water reflections under bridges were added to make the film seem more real. 3D was incorporated throughout the film, which I normally hate, but instead of inserting it and having it look out of place, it is simply used as a reference, and then painstakingly traced to appear more 2D and blend in with the film. I've been waiting for someone to do this properly for years. There is a lot of camera action that you've never seen in an anime before. Rather than quick edits, some scenes are panned, zoomed, or rotated with amazing accuracy, as if they were actually filmed rather than being drawn.

    This film is full of wonder, with amazing inventions, interesting characters you quickly care about, and beautiful scenes. It plays like a classic adventure film. There is a scene where Dr. Steam turns to his grandson and says "Go Steamboy!" That choked me right up. I could not have been happier with the way this film turned out. It's a masterpiece that Otomo-san should be extremely proud of, and that every anime fan will enjoy. (9/10)
  • The latest film from the director of Akira, Katsuhiro Ôtomo, is a pacy thriller anime set in an alternate 1850s London, in the middle of the industrial age. Rai Steam is the third in a line of engineer inventors who dreams of going to the first ever Great Exhibition – when his grandfather unexpectedly returns from the United States with an new invention, the steamball. About the size of a bowling ball, the steamball is a source of immense, self-renewing power and the people who funded the invention want it back at any price. Rai escapes on his steam-powered unicycle, and the race is on. On the way, he encounters a steam-powered cyborg, a giant steam-powered "Death Star" and a feisty, economic rationalist sidekick, the Gone With The Wind-inspired Miss Scarlett (Manami Konishi).

    While the plot is nothing new – and very much in the Hollywood thriller style, the inventiveness of the world Steamboy is set in is exhilarating. Imagine steam-powered individual submarines, flying machines and more, all drawn in painstaking detail – with thousands of cogs and wheels all impacting on each other. Although some CGI is used, most of the film's made in the traditional anime style – around 180 000 individual pictures were used to make Steamboy, and it shows.

    Steamboy's a rip-roaring 'steampunk' piece of entertainment, complete with an insane despot who plans to take over the world. Although it's strange to see a film set in London where all the (Anglo) characters are speaking Japanese, it's best not to take Steamboy too seriously. Comic relief is provided by Miss Scarlett and Rai's grandfather, Loyd Steam (Katsuo Nakamura). Loyd Steam also speaks for the natural order, something that's often found in Japanese anime and was inspired by both the animist former national religion, Shinto, and the WWII atomic bombings. Unlike Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke, however, it's barely touched on here. Steamboy succeeds because of the fantastic imagination behind the animation, not for its philosophy. ***½/***** stars.
  • Admiring the gadgets, machines and all the insanely gorgeous animation you won't have enough time to wonder where the plot or character development went.

    Steamboy is set in Victorian England, the age of inventions and the industrial revolution. Dr. Steam has developed a ball that contains an enormous amount of pressure, that can be used to power huge amounts of steam machines. However, Dr. Steam's son and grandson both have their own designs...

    I've never been a huge anime fan, but I've enjoyed every film I've seen that Otomo has been involved in, and this one is no exception to the rule. Since I enjoyed it as a non-anime fan, I recommend to all others like me who are curious about anime.
  • 'Steamboy', the groundbreaking new film from the makers of 'Akira' represents the new benchmark in Japanese animation. While the underlying story that science should be used to benefit mankind and not to wage war is somewhat bland, it is the animation that captivates.

    Using both 3D CGI and traditional 2D cel animation, (which works wonderful and is seamless together) 'Steamboy' far surpasses any previous animation to date. The camera pans and swoops around our hero beautifully as we are taken into a 19th century England that is mixed with science fiction. There are inventors and machines, weapons and explosions - are encaptulated within this alternate world. This is the highlight of 'Steamboy', the world is alive and so detailed. All the machines are full of cogs and moving parts - everything seems so real and alive. 'Steamboy' has captured the industrial feel perfectly, just as well (if not better) than 'Akira' captured the 80's futuristic feel.

    If you like Japanese animation you will love and adore 'Steamboy', and if you only see one animation this year make sure you see 'Steamboy'. It's simply amazing.
  • Steamboy is the best Anime movie that has been released in North America in recent years. The story, animation, and other visual effects are all amazingly done, even though the characters are not as deep as those in Otomo's previous work, Akira. These two films have nothing in common aside from the director, and maybe a similar character animation style. So people who loved Akira and want to see something similar, stay away from Steamboy.

    When I first saw Steamboy I was quite surprised. I had foolishly believed that since the movie was created by the same guy who did Akira, it would be

    violent and somewhat depressing. But what I saw was a fast paced, beautifully animated, adventure that even a young child could enjoy. The film does have a bit of violence in it, but mainly its just explosions and a few steam burns, so fairly young children will be able to see it. The movie does deal with some serious topics like war and the possible destruction of London, but with all the action and crazy inventions kids will easily forget the plot. But even though this movie is suitable for younger audiences, doesn't mean it cannot be enjoyed by older and more seasoned anime fans. I saw the film at the Toronto International Film Festival, and there were plenty of older fans of anime clapping loudly after the credits of the film.

    The story is quite simple and centers around the adventures of a young inventor named Rei Steam. At the beginning of the film he is sent a new invention from his grandfather, and soon after he receives it he's being chased by members of the Ohara Foundation, a group that designs weapons and sells them to the highest bidding country. He later finds out that the invention he's carrying is called the steam ball, and that it's able to produce mass amounts of energy and would be able to power highly destructive weapons if put in the wrong hands. So its up to Rei and his highly eccentric grandfather to make sure neither the Ohara Foundation or the British Government get hold of the steam ball. (I purposely left out some key plot elements and some key character, but this was done so none of the surprises will be revealed)

    Steamboy is a remarkable movie created by anime master Katsuhiro Ôtomo, filled with a brilliant mix of 3D animation and hand drawn characters. Hopefully, since this movie is more family friendly that normal anime movies, it will help introduce more North Americans to the joy that is Anime.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "An invention with no philosophy behind it is a curse." - Dr Loyd Steam

    Katsuhiro Otomo's "Steamboy" transplants his 1988 cyberpunk film, "Akira", to a steam-punk setting. Here 13 year old James Steam must choose between supporting either his father or grandfather, two inventors obsessed with technology, steam and power.

    Like "Akira", "Steamboy's" a cautionary tale about the misuse of technology and the need for scientific responsibly. But where "Akira" focused on kids being corrupted by their desire to grow up, be adult and appropriate power, "Steamboy's" child hero rejects the world of adulthood, which he deems to be populated by idiotic, egotistical, power-hungry goofs.

    Visually the film is unimaginative, its vehicles are all lazily designed, the film's script is well-meaning but poorly paced, Otomo's dialogue is atrocious, and all the film's themes, ideas, character motivations and thoughts are repeatedly hammered home or spelt out in the most obvious, clunky manners possible. It's bad art, aside from one or two minutes of fine animation.

    4/10 – Worth one viewing.
  • In the year 2004, Katsuhiro Ôtomo, writer and director of the enormously influential anime, "Akira" (1988), returned to film-making after almost 10 years since his last directorial effort ("Memorîzu" or "Memories"), with another epic story of action and science-fiction named "Suchîmubôi", literally "Steamboy". In this film, Ôtomo dives into the sci-fi sub-genre commonly known as "Steampunk", stories often set in the 19th century where highly advanced steam machines are the fantastic technology of the time creating alternative history and settings. The Steampunk sub-genre shares many similarities with cyberpunk fiction, so it's probably not a surprise that the maker of "Akira", one of the most celebrated works of cyberpunk fiction, would decide to make a story for this very similar sub-genre. Ôtomo's background and the similarities between the sub-genres force an inevitable comparison to "Akira", but while "Steamboy" is far from the masterpiece that "Akira" was, it's one of the best feature length animated films of the decade.

    Set in Victorian Britain, "Steamboy" is the story of Ray Steam (Anne Suzuki), a young kid from Manchester who spends his free time working at a factory and inventing steam machines following the example of his father Dr. Edward Steam (Masane Tsukayama) and his grandfather Dr. Lloyd Steam (Katsuo Nakamura), both renowned inventors working in America. One day, he receives a box from his grandfather containing a small spheric steam machine, with explicit orders of not giving it to anyone except to famed inventor Robert Stephenson (Kiyoshi Kodama). Soon he receives the visit of agents from O'Hara, the company where his grandfather works, violently demanding the spheric machine. Ray's grandfather appears too, and helps Ray to escape with the sphere, making Ray to realize that the small machine contains a power beyond his imagination.

    "Steamboy" is definitely a classic example of Steampunk fiction as it takes a historical setting and gives it a spin by adding the element of fantastic super science. Written by Katsuhiro Ôtomo and Sadayuki Murai, "Steamboy" uses the sub-genre's setting and elements to tell a story about science, its possibilities and specially its consequences if handled in a bad way. Ôtomo uses the characters of the Steam family to describe what he sees as the two possible uses of science, and makes a sharp (although heavy handed) criticism to our modern capitalist society. In this way, it shares some of "Akira"'s themes, but "Steamboy" offers a more optimist tone, as it's essentially a story about the birth of modern science (in an exaggerated fantasy way of course) where mankind is still on time to learn the enormous responsibility of using science. Overall it's a pretty straight forward story of action and adventure, but the use of this themes through the movie makes the story really captivating.

    As expected, the animation of the film is flawless, with a great (and often unnoticeable) combination of both traditional 2-D and 3-D animation that bring the incredible Steampunk machines to life. The movie has an exiting look, mix of real Victorian designs and Ôtomo's very own sci-fi style, paying honest tribute to the pulp adventures and Victorian literature that form the basis of the Steampunk sub-genre. Director Katsuhiro Ôtomo's eye for visuals is still there, and the epic finale is one of the best staged scenes in an animated film of the last years. The movie moves at a fast pace, probably too fast for its own good, but the plot still unfolds nicely. It's certainly not a landmark like "Akira", but Katsuhiro Ôtomo has delivered another great animated story.

    I've seen the original Japanese track, so sadly I can't comment on the English dubbing. In the original audio, Anne Suzuki makes an outstanding job as Ray, not only because the character is male (and she is female), but because the character is old enough to his voice be "manly". Suzuki makes Ray very convincing, as the young kid discovering the benefits (and dangers) of science. Masane Tsukayama plays Ray's father, giving a certain dignity and power to the character and avoiding most of the clichés this kind of character tend to have. On the same tone is Katsuo Nakamura, who in turn plays Ray's grandfather. Nakamura's eccentric character is effectively portrayed by the experienced actor, and is one of the highlights of the film. Finally, Manami Konishi plays Scarlett O'Hara, the young heir of the O'Hara company, making this spoiled little brat (obviously inspired by "Gone with the wind") annoying enough for the character without going too over the top.

    Probably the film's biggest flaw is that simply is not "Akira", what I mean is that given that Katsuhiro Ôtomo's 1988 movie was such a landmark in anime, the expectations for "Steamboy" were probably impossible to live up to. However, this doesn't mean that "Steamboy" is a bad movie, simply that it can be disappointing if one is expecting another "Akira". "Steamboy" is a simple, but remarkable epic adventure with the only ambition of being entertaining. It's upbeat tone may look typical of anime at first sight, but despite this optimism, "Steamboy" offers the same dark subject that "Akira": Man must learn to use the science before it's too late. In this aspect it could be seen as a prequel (set several centuries before) to the world of "Akira", as the science in "Steamboy" seems to be getting advanced at a very fast pace. In the end, the only real flaw of the movie is that despite having a runtime of 2 hours, the film feels rushed, and leaves one wanting for more.

    Director Katsuhiro Ôtomo spend almost 10 years conceiving and developing "Steamboy", and the effort certainly payed off. Sci-fi fans will find an excellent adventure in "Steamboy", specially if they are fans of the Steampunk sub-genre. With its excellent animation and captivating story, "Steamboy" is an excellent introduction to Katsuhiro Ôtomo's work. It's not going to change anime again, but Ôtomo's movie is still definitely one of the best. 8/10
  • Steamboy was a recommendation and likely not something I would have gotten round to otherwise.

    Set in the 1860's it tells the story of two sides competing over steam power dominance and it's potential applications. Revolving around one boy and how he gets caught up in it all because of certain family ties.

    The first thing you'll notice is that it's fantastically animated, it really looks the part and though Japanese made suffers with none of the usual anime tropes. Set in England it has a fitting and very competent British voice cast including veteran Patrick Stewart who delivers as he always does.

    So it looks good, it sounds good, and this wonderful almost steampunk setting is great, so why the underwhelming rating?

    The story (Though decent enough) isn't handled as well as it should have been, at two hours they could have paced it considerably better. To make matters worse you have a number of detestable characters (And not entirely intentionally) that really damaged the film for me.

    I appreciate what they were trying to do here and entirely see the appeal, I get the impression that many will adore this. For me it was just well made but poorly constructed (If that makes any sense) and though not bad it's certainly not something I'd recommend myself.

    The Good:

    Beautifully animated

    Solid voice work

    Some great ideas

    The Bad:

    Doesn't flow very well

    Annoying characters
  • The great Katsuhiro Ôtomo (Akira / Metropolis) returns with this cool anime about a young boy's adventure in 1960s London on the eve of the World Expo. David comes from a family of inventors but when the mysterious new invention of his father and grandfather winds up in his hand, David must protect the "Steam Ball" and all the power locked inside from the hands of an evil corporation bent on grabbing the find for their own.

    The beautiful looking "Steamboy" mixes cell and CG-created animation flawlessly. Ôtomo one again proves he is one of the masters of anime with this slick and adventurous piece of storytelling.
  • The main strength of this film is the gorgeous animation. From what I have read, Otomo and his creative design team spent time on England, visiting London, Manchester and York, and studying steam locomotives and machinery from the Victorian era to beautifully recapture Victorian England, the motifs of that era, and the mechanical designs of the machinery down to the last rivet. This research paid off in the stunning detail of the movie. I enjoyed how the movie used real historic events and places, for example the Crystal Palace, Robert Stephenson, Royal Albert Hall, Queen Victoria, and the Great Exhibition as the backdrop for the movie. They showed great imagination in designing the "futuristic" elements which retains a 19th century appearance and mechanical design. Unlike other Japanese anime with their convoluted plot lines this is a straight forward action/adventure movie with the steam punk ambiance. Many reviewers have criticized the lack of character development in this film. In defense of Steamboy, this is a action/adventure file so character development is secondary. How much character development do you so in an Indiana Jones movie or a Bruckheimer blockbuster? Eddie and Lloyd Steam are basically in the movie as human symbols of the role of science in society. Eddie is the personification of science for science sake without any moral/ethical considerations. Lloyd takes the opposite view that science must be looked at in terms of the moral/ethical impact and science should be restricted if it leads to a "bad" outcome. Ray is caught in the middle conflicted about what he should do and shows concern for both his father and grandfather but he ends up doing the right thing and showing great bravery in the process. The movie strongly implies Ray grew up in a close family adding to the conflict he undergoes. There will be the analogies to Star Wars with Eddie being Darth Vader, Lloyd being Obi-Won, and Ray being Luke. Although the characters here are a not quite so black and white. Eddie is perhaps misguided but he is not evil personified as Darth Vader and Lloyd is not the calm voice of reason distilling reason to Luke as Obi-Won but more of a obsessed aesthetic proclaiming the world is ending from the wilderness. Many reviewers have criticized Scarlett O'Hara. Of course, the name directly implies she is like her namesake from Gone with the Wind. But I enjoyed her in the movie. She does provide a comic relief in an otherwise serious action/adventure and I found her more three dimensional than the movie critics. For example, she seems very imperious and bossy to her underlings, especially her butler and "director of marketing" for the O'Hara foundation, Simon, but her interactions with Lloyd and Eddie indicate she respects intellectuals, scientists, and strong willed characters unlike the sniveling Simon. For example, when she debarks from her ship she offers her hand to Simon to be kissed but then she pulls it away but when she is the dining room with Ray when Eddie walks in she allows him to kiss her hand despite his hideous appearance. When she sees Lloyd for the first time she does not recoil from his recluse appearance but calls him Dr. Lloyd and seems concerned about his well being. Although at first she belittles Ray when he argues back I think she respects that and starts to like him. Also, she finds Ray attractive because he has the great mechanical mind like his father and grandfather. She does have a softer side she shows exploring the Crystal Palace at night with Ray and I felt some compassion about her because the movie implies she has lost her father and mother and perhaps grew up in a impersonal environment although lavished with luxuries. She is conceited and arrogant but she showed a lot of "spunk" especially for a woman who supposedly grew up in the Victorian era with its restrictions on how women should act. The English dubbed version is 20 minutes shorter than the original Japanese version. From what I understand the cuts were done in the ending sequences, which is pretty long in the English version around 45 minutes. This is one film where the English dubbing might actually be better because the movie does take place in England, Sony got some great actors/actresses to do the dubbing and one can concentrate on the animation and the world Otomo created instead of your eye being diverted by the subtitles. Overall, 8 out of 10 stars.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This full-length feature took director Katsuhiro Otomo ten years and over $20 million to make. It was repeatedly delayed because Otomo kept on wanting to perfect it. Still, the story lacks originality, replaying the central conspiracy of Akira (1988) in historical dress. A huge amount of money and skill was thrown at the screen so Steamboy is gorgeously animated. It's one of the best steampunk anime, but it's flawed. It's overlong and more attention should have been paid to improve the often clichéd script. Eagle-eyed viewers will notice that a pub in the background of a street in Manchester is called the Rover's Return - a reference to Coronation Street, a long-running British soap opera "up north", and proof of how thoroughly the artists working on this film did their research.
  • Saw this at the Toronto International Film Festival, and I swooned with the massive audience in sheer awe at the absolutely astounding masterpiece that Otomo-san has created. 10 years in the making, the visual feast pays off with an incredible bang.

    Although not as violent and complex as the powerhouse Akira, Steamboy is a straight-forward sci-fi-action-adventure story set in Victorian London, England that even strangers of the anime genre can follow with ease. I can see this film being another landmark hit in North America that will hopefully draw more people to appreciate anime. When this comes out in 2005, don't miss it for the world!
  • A film by the same director of the popular anime film "Akira", but I liked this better.

    A steam-punk tale set in London at the time when steam was discovered as a source of energy, in some slightly different and parallel history than the one we live in. London during the Industrial Revolution is recreated in detail ... and more. This is not a Ghibli production, but it is just as good, and visually amazing: the natural and architectural settings are eye-popping. And I dare to say that the human characters are better drawn than in Ghibli anime films. In a way it is better than most "real" films, because anything, and I mean anything, can be drawn, even things you could not shoot on film or video, and this is the demonstration. One of those movies you are glad you lived to watch them.
  • I haven't marked this as a spoiler, but I do mention a couple of things that occur in the film. I don't think they'll spoil it though...

    I wanted to like this film SO much. I love the Steampunk genre and knowing how good the animation on Akira was I thought this would be a lush Steampunk adventure akin to Ghibli's Castle in the Sky.

    However, where that film had heart, this one had cogs and steam. Yes, it was beautifully animate and had some lovely ideas in it. The central concept of a power source that never was, and yet is so powerful it corrupts all manner of men and turns family upon itself is fascinating. It's something that I would expect to see in a futuristic sci-fi with some kind of newly discovered power. Setting it in a steam age where the power source is a new way of harnessing steam is, for me, the single best thing about this film. It's a nice twist. My main problem with it is bland characters with nothing to make you feel the ties between them. The film tries to get us to sympathise with James' plight when he makes revelations about both his father and grandfather, without EVER having shown us any kind of previous relationship between himself and them. We are asked to assume that there is an emotional tie between a boy and a father and grandfather who have been absent for an undivulged amount of time. The film asks us to feel betrayal from both the father and the grandfather towards the other, without ever having shown us that they ever did anything but hate each other. It is hard to empathise with this betrayal from two people who we have only seen mistrust each other from the outset. The film asks us to feel James' angst when Scarlett is in peril, without ever having shown us he has any kind of emotional tie to her (and quite rightly so in my opinion for she is rude, abrasive and irritating throughout the whole movie. Why the film then expects us to want James to save her is beyond me!)

    This film is actually quite cold and mean-spirited. Rarely do we see any character in it act out of anything other than their own interests. Rarely does anyone help anyone else. The characters are selfish and single-minded. I'm normally not so cynical, but maybe this is truer to life than most films. Maybe in such extraordinary circumstances, people would be so selfish. But as a piece of cinematic entertainment, it leaves me cold.

    What I DID enjoy was that the film didn't clearly outline who was "good" and who was "evil". There was a point, round about where James first meets his grandfather in the castle and stops trying to hinder him, that I almost kicked myself. It was about there that I had a revelation that the film wasn't going to tell me who to root for and I was disappointed in myself for being annoyed with the film up to that point for not making it clear who were the "goodies". Such is how used to being force fed emotion and morals by films. At that point, I was pleased that the film left it up to both James, and the viewer to decide who was "right". Yes, James makes his choice, and as the viewer we are then more likely to side with him, but at the point I described in the film it was very much up in the air and I liked that.

    Unfortunately I watched the dubbed version. Though, being set in England with English characters, maybe, for one, this was more authentic. I bought my DVD, put it in the player, went to find the language options only to discover it was an English only DVD. Yes - some of the accents were ropey to say the least, but not to the point of distraction. I'm a Midlander but I know what a broad Mancunian accent sounds like. With Patrick Stewart being from Huddersfield, not far from Manchester, I though he might've gotten the accent closest, but he seemed a little too generic northern pushing towards Lancaster. Though that is a minor quibble. And hey - maybe the granddad moved to Manchester from Yorkshire?

    Lastly - my final major quibble with the film is that by the end of it, I was left with a "so what?" feeling. Has this experience changed James in any way? Or the balance of international power? From the closing credits, I think James went on to develop a super steam train and maybe become a superhero who fought in something like WWI, brought forward maybe due to the steamball? I don't know. The film didn't focus at all on how this monumental experience of being kidnapped and, whilst aboard a pioneering and potentially world-altering piece of technology being actively and aerially embroiled in an explosive international battle for power on which two of his close family members are very active on opposite sides has affected young Master Steam and as such, I find the film again rings hollow.

    I don't just come on IMDb just to knock films. I come on to comment when something about a film is notable enough to me to comment on, good or bad. And the hype surrounding this film coupled with a certain amount of disappointment was one thing. Also, it is rare that whilst watching a film, I notice a lack of emotional connection at the time of watching. If that lack is there, it's normally afterwards that I notice so I thought this was notable.

    Technically, a very proficient film. Emotionally, lacking.

    Where this film's heart should have been, there's just cogs and steam.
  • Warning: Spoilers

    A great animated thrill-ride peopled with archetypes and insanely detailed, awe-inspiring machinery and backgrounds. Steamboy is repeatedly asked, to what is the best end of science? To make people happy? To make powerful weapons that will harm one another? (or conversely to keep them safe from their enemies)? Or to entertain them? The main characters are a wild man grandfather, whose runs about most of the movie as naked as a castaway, representing an innocent but wild and raging nature figure, and believes power should be used to make people happy through entertainment; a cyborg father, who has given up on nature and harnessed the fruits of science to produce weapons to be sold cynically to capitalist bankers and salesmen, and the boy, who must watch the two battle each other for dominance, even while various other international elements fight over their inventions. As usual, Japanese cartoon films pose more complex questions than American ones, nor do they provide the same type of easy good/bad, black/white resolutions Americans are so fond of. Instead, each character is allowed to describe their opinions, and the boy, like the audience, must observe, listen to all sides, and think hard before drawing conclusions as to where his own heart lies. Following the unquestioned policies of ones family or national alliances alone is unwise. If only all people could learn to think like this.
  • I just saw this last night at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, with subtitles in Japanese. And I loved it. I've been a passive anime watcher for years but i've more recently been more serious about seeing more.

    Steamboy had a great story, great characters, and wonderful gadgets! Considering such vapid releases as Wild Wild West, most Steampunk films are horrible. But Steamboy actually tried to tackle some ideas for once. As far as the genre of steampunk goes, Steamboy is at the top for me.

    I loved the inventiveness of the world. Virtually every frame is exactly like a watercolor picture from the Victorian era. I actually have an old book with steam engine paintings and diagrams. This film looks like it sprang to life from its pages! Go see Steamboy. If you over analyze it, yes you'll find flaws. But, honestly, I went in with no expectations and came out pleasantly surprised. Frankly, I think a lot of anime fans can be a bit snobbish when it comes to anime. They want every ounce of every frame to be perfect. I'm a casual anime fan and had a blast watching it. I plan on owning it when it hits DVD. Can't wait for a sequel.

    Bottom line: The public if fickle. One minute they like one thing the next they don't.

    Lesson: Many "great" films were financial flops in the box office.

    other anime I liked, (to give you an idea of my tastes.): Vampire hunter D, Sin, Metropolis, Full Metal Alchemist, Ghost in the Shell (feature and Stand Alone complex).
  • Sadly I have to bash this movie. I just saw Otomo's Memories (which is awesome) and so looked forward to this that I drove 50 mile0, by my lonesome, to see it as soon as it opened. Then I was disappointed.

    The animation is good enough (although sometimes overly-flashy for the sake of the flash). The story had solid potential, but the script beats you over the head with its message. It started off with promise; the audience (and the main character) don't know which side is right, but by the end it is too clear that this is bad and that is good. And this is obvious enough solely by the actions and consequences, but they also make it explicit by the dialogue, repeatedly.

    All this could have been (somewhat) overlooked if it was a sweet action anime, but the ending is just long and boring. Don't get me wrong, there's some fun steam-based sci-fi thrills, but it goes on and on unnecessarily.

    That said, it wasn't a TOTAL waste of time. It at least had ambition. Reaching for the stars and falling on your face is infinitely better than the Hollywood tradition of diving straight for the pavement.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    In this Japanese anime we find some of the old themes like the dangers of technology, humankind being changed by some powerful new technology that it's not ready to control, children as symbols of human purity, etc. I cannot really understand how two atomic bombs dropped on one's cities would affect one's perspective of the world, but enough is enough.

    I can shortly describe this a Wild Wild West meets Akira. Imagine a grandfather and father being torn apart by different views on how science should be used, by two different nations that want their genius technology, and all of it seen through the eyes of the child. Would you choose one path or the other? Should you listen to the grandfather or to the father? Or maybe you should make your own choice.

    Personally I could only identify with the father. A true scientist is always loyal to its inventions and ideology like "science was not meant for weapons" are naive. All power sources will be used for power, duh! It's like Einstein or Oppenheimer trying to detonate the atomic bombs on US soil because the power should not be used by anyone. The son made me feel a lot of pity, as he was being lied to and manipulated from the start by all the parties involved until the poor guy didn't know what to do anymore.

    But as a movie, the plot was OK, the animation great, the characters seemed underdeveloped for me and all a little insane, but that's to be expected in anime films :) I felt like the whole production was tainted by Hollywood. I can't put my finger on it though. Maybe because the sentimental ideas are so sharp and mainstream or maybe nobody really dies, except the extras. There was a lot of work put into this film, but still it left me with a feeling of something missing.

    If you liked Akira or Nausicaa, you will like this one.
  • Akira kick started anime in the West, and even today it is still a stunning movie on every level. Now so many years later Otomo is back in the director's chair with a new masterpiece.

    The animation quality is extraordinary, you will never have seen anything like this before. Imagine the most impressive animated sequences from Akira - Testuo raising Akira from beneath Tokyo Stadium - and expand upon them greatly and you will have some idea just how mind blowing this film's animation is. It surpasses even Innocence and Appleseed.

    The story is interesting, with none of the clear Hollywood evil/good character definitions. Otomo keeps the audience guessing who the hero Ray Steam will decide to side with. It's a fantastic old fashioned adventure too, packed with incredibly inventive ideas and concepts.

    One to see for sure. I haven't seen the heavily cut US version, certainly the unedited Japanese version was perfectly timed so I can't imagine how or why anyone would want to trim even a minute of it. Hopefully when it comes to DVD in the US and Europe it will be available in it's original, utterly amazing form. Otomo, welcome back!
  • "And so we come to Steamboy, a theatrical feature birthed originally from the concept of the "Cannon Fodder" short work Otomo produced for Memories, Steamboy of which centers on a young man and his journey into adulthood and maturity as wrought by political corruption, social discomfort, and familial contention. Originally released in Japan in the spring of 2004, this particular movie has acquired a unique press and popularity, and as it has come and gone through a western release in but an instant, it would appear that the mixed reviews hovering about the industry would only continue. While fans and critics are quick to note that Otomo's theatrical follow up to Akira is not as overtly dynamic as the previously mentioned, I would argue that it is just as, if not more so, ambitious. Steamboy is an outstanding movie, and although is not significantly violent with overly pretentious child protagonists, excels far beyond the dramatic integrity of its predecessor...

    "I find it incredibly disappointing and ironic that some film critics cut down this work by Katsuhiro Otomo, by observing the movie as project inseparable from the previous success of the artist. And while I give Otomo what respect he deserves as the mastermind behind this incredible project, by the pushing of a concept beyond a particular medium's limits, I still honor the fact that he looks at every project as something individual, elemental, and unique unto itself. There is an unspoken journey of maturation that each character of Steamboy must go through; and what I find many individuals overlooking, is the detailed effort that this film's creators had put into making such distinctions perceptible." --A.Bynum
  • Having just experienced the fabled and much hyped SteamBoy I cannot understand where the five years of labor have gone? It seems that the production team have spent all their energy on drawing fabulous backdrops, designing awe inspiring steam-punk gadgets and making sure that the animation is fluid and top notch while totally forgetting about story, characters and any other points that make a movie work. What you get is lots of mindless, annoying screaming (by the indifferent boy hero), cast of shallow characters and a story that is at the same time too simple, confusing, immensely boring and lacking in climax or closure.

    Beauty of the production design only goes so far and only the mightiest of fanboys really enjoys watching 30 minutes of huge steam clouds gushing thru the conveniently empty streets of London and fast pans on pipes that buckle under pressure (that Steam Tower is real flimsy I would say)over and over again. Not much good is done by the blithering of the empty shells of the characters either.

    But it's not all bad. I actually enjoyed the scene where the baddies have their war against England/product presentation and it all looks really really good (did I mention that already? :P)

    I'm sure that this movie will appeal those who like Otomo's tendency to tell the same story about a huge bulbous thing twisting chaotically in the middle of a huge city.

  • Warning: Spoilers
    I've noticed many people giving it thumbs up for the incredible animation (of which Steamboy has in droves) but giving it thumbs down for the second half of the story, where things become a bit unclear as to what is going on. The first time I watched it I had the same reaction, but on a second viewing I keyed into Katsuhiro Otomo's storytelling and it absolutely MADE the second half of it for me. Interestingly, I had the same experience with Akira and Ghost in the Shell.

    Steamboy, if taken at face value (ie steam-punk inspired action movie) will quickly lose steam at the half-way point. But for those who can see the film's many metaphors, the second half is rife with symbolism, some of which I will mention here.

    First it is important to at least understand that there are three generations of scientists being personified by the steam family, and each has played a part in the evolution of science. Grandfather (representing the generations who discovered and developed science), Father (representing the generations who have since taken science and applied it to horrendous war machines and environmentally destructive waste), and Roy (representing the next generation who must take the reigns of science and right the wrongs committed by the last generation).

    Grandfather, having seen the power and beauty of science is against using scientific might to build war machines (during this sequence, we are treated to an ever-escalating arms race of various military inventions - first infantry, then tanks, then attack boats, then attack planes, then submarines and etc etc etc). Father believes that science is all-powerful and by bringing it to everyone will create a new, better age. Roy is trapped between his loyalty to his family's heritage (the steamcastle) and what it will do to the world if they lose control of it.

    Another great metaphor is Scarlett. She's a rich little American whose father's business (unbeknowst to her) is to create and auction off war machines to the highest foreign bidder - but when she finds out, being young and part of Roy's generation - she's morally disgusted, she complains and questions them but can't really change things.

    The steamcastle and its destructive power can be likened to the current situation on earth. Our technology, though bestowing great power on the people, is also resulting in environmental disasters such as global warming and the military power to destroy the world several times over (thanks to a few thousand nuclear missiles). Only if the younger generation can steer us away from our destructive path can we avoid the consequences of global-warming (which would be a new ice age, as the planet rebels against the increasing heat) and the ultimate destruction of the human race.

    Many interesting questions and suggestions are raised: father suggests at one point that even if science fails, people would rebuild it; for once people have seen the wonders and power science provides, there is no escaping the temptation! ...of course, Father is slightly biased in his opinion since he himself has become part machine! Grandfather grabs Roy by the shoulders and tells him only HE can inherit the steamcastle and decide what to do with it. And he soon learns that no adult is to be trusted with the power of science, for when he mistakenly entrusts the steamball to Dr. Stevenson, Stevenson immediately begins rolling out his own military plan of action! Back at Stevenson's lab a disturbing image is hidden in the background: the lab's machinery is shaped like a hand holding a limp penis (as apt a description of the destructive, military sciences as I've ever seen!).

    It is later revealed that Grandfather built a carousel into the steamcastle, probably more out of the joy and wonder that he got from science in its early, explorative stages than for any practical purposes!


    There is more, but unlike much of what one reads in the newspapers and scientific journals, Otomo gives us a rather idealistic ending. Interestingly, it is Scarlett (at the helm of the steamcastle) working together with Roy, with the help of his Father and Grandfather, who manages to steer the steamcastle away from the city, and it powers down before exploding into a devastating glacial freeze. Of course, science taking a few precious steps back is excruciating and some of it explodes into ice, but they manage to contain it in the end.


    Once having realized the metaphors and symbolism stored within each sequence and each line of the film, I have no choice but to rate this film a 10. It is not just an action movie that gets bogged down by the weight of the steamcastle. It is a weighty subject and Otomo is fond of exploring it to its very limits - see this film for a moving dissection of man's relationship to technology and science! **********!
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