BitSnark

A place of scribblings located in the darkest corner of the internet. Yup.

I’m back! And yes, i’ve brought the Steamboy review with me!

with 2 comments

Hey all!

Sorry for the extended hiatus, but i’m back and regular updates will resume again, starting with Otomo’s Steamboy. Enjoy! ^_~

Steamboy: Directors Cut Review

Genre: Sci-fi Dystopia Disaster
Director: Katushiro Otomo
Distributor: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Duration: One movie – 126 minutes approx.
Production Creation: 2004

Plot Synopsis

In Victorian Britain, a young Manchester boy by the name of Ray Steam is hard at work on his latest invention. Like his father, and grandfather before him, Ray is a tinkerer and creator of steam powered appliances. However, when his forefathers discover how to tap the near limitless potential of Steam in Alaska, Ray’s world begins to fall apart as a group known as The Foundation raids his house trying to discover the ‘Steamball’, a solid ball of iron and compressed steam that contains the secrets of his father and grandfather’s research. Hiatus

It is up to young Ray Steam to protect the secrets of this astonishing power, lest London, the primary target of a new high-tech steam powered army led by The Foundation, falls into utter ruin.

The Review

Being some ten years in the making, Steamboy signals Katushiro Otomo’s proper return to the anime stage, being his first feature-length film since the groundbreaking Akira. Although not as adult or as head scratchingly complex in either characterisation or plotlines as Akira, Steamboy stands on its own two feet as a worthy sci-fi action piece, though it isn’t not perfect.

Steamboy is your quintessential sci-fi action adventure movie. While the Victorian setting provides a novel retro-fi styled backdrop to the action, the film largely follows standard conventions of the sci-fi action genre with a nothing-happening boy becoming a legendary hero by the end of it. Not that this is a bad thing when executed right, as Steamboy manages to do, but the film itself seems a tad long, running at just over two hours, and as such feels strained in places, especially considering how straightforward the plot and characters are.

Still long as the film may be, your attention often finds itself distracted by the staggering visuals that are on offer here. Although there is some computer aided animation in here, the great stuff comes from the meticulous hand drawn cels that make up the majority of the movie. Carrying with it the same meticulous level of detail and care that Akira did all those years ago (and Akira still looks good), every frame is literally dripping detail off the screen with a lushness not usually seen outside Akira and high-budget Studio Ghibli productions such as Princess Mononoke.

Although amazing to look at, the integration of the cel animations with those of the computer aided ones lack the near seamless standard of say Metropolis, and as a result aren’t always so smooth. But it’s truly a minor visual blemish on what is otherwise an astounding looking movie.

Moving on to the audio side of things, Steamboy succeeds well here as well, with an epic rousing score which is only slightly tempered by an initially awkward English dub. The awkwardness can be attributed to Anna Paquin’s (X-Men) initially uncomfortable turn as Ray Steam. The oddity of casting a 22 year old New Zealand woman to provide the voice of a 13 year old Manchester boy, is one that hasn’t escaped the actress either as she comments on how challenging the role was for her in an interview on the DVD. Still to her credit, she settles into the role nicely about twenty minutes in, and any awkwardness (particularly with the accent) is soon forgotten about.

Patrick Stewart (X-Men) and Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2) also lend their voices to grandfather and father Steam respectively, and pull off their roles with appropriate gusto and due aplomb. Alfred Molina, in particular having no problems lending the eccentric scientist qualities to his voice in Steamboy that he so perfected in Spider-Man 2.

Steamboy will however, unfortunately disappoint those who look at the ‘Created by Katushiro Otomo’ tag thinking this to be some gritty and cult successor, to Otomo’s 1988 opus. It is not. What it is however is an elaborate sci-fi animated feature that although straightforward and perhaps a little long, never fails to appease the senses with it’s well animated and choreographed chase, battle and war scenes.

That’s not to say this is a dumb movie, far from it, but it isn’t Akira and because of that, if you’re mind is still hankering for more of what Otomo showed you back in 1988, then your mileage may vary with Steamboy. For the rest of you, and I’m certainly speaking for myself here, Steamboy represents the kind of fresh no-nonsense animated action epic, that Disney itself would love to create. As such, Steamboy comes highly recommended.

Ratings Summary

Animation: A+
Art: A+
Music: A-
Content: C+

Overall: B-

Review by: JP Jones

Suitability for children

In Steamboy there is basically zero profanity, what there is however is a fair bit of violence with war machines, big explosions and so on. There is even a gory close up at one point of a man lying dead with a pool of blood expanding from his face. A nasty moment for sure but it’s the only thing that wouldn’t be suitable for anyone aged under 12 years old.

If you liked this why not try…

Metropolis – Columbia Tri-Star Entertainment

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Written by bitsnark

February 6, 2006 at 5:36 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Noticed
    Just noticed you, thanks for that review on steamboy – it helped me buy a great film.

    Anonymous

    February 18, 2006 at 12:17 am

    • Re: Noticed
      Thanks for the reply! I believe you are my first, so major kudos. If you can, spread the word about my anime journal, all good word-of-mouth is appreciated! Thankee! ^_^

      Anonymous

      February 18, 2006 at 2:49 am


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