Thursday, August 26, 2010


Katsuhiro Otomo directed Akira, based on his own manga, and it's easily one of the most famous anime in existence. Which is part of why it's surprising that it's one of only two animated films he's done. Yeah, he's done segments for three different anthology movies, and dabbled in live action recently, but it's still weird that Steamboy is just his second real film. It also makes it a bit more disappointing that it isn't better. Steamboy starts out quite strong, and the animation throughout is pretty incredible, but the whole second half of the movie felt like kind of a mess to me. I enjoyed it overall, but it seems like it could have easily been much greater.

Anyway, the movie is the definition of steampunk. Ray is a genius young inventor in England, the man of the house while his father and grandfather are searching for a pure water for a more powerful steam in America. Quickly a package from his grandfather arrives at the same time as a couple representatives from the organization he was working for. Inside is a strange ball, a device key to their plans, and Ray has to escape from the organization in what I thought was easily the film's most thrilling sequence. Eventually though he finds out there's more to what's going on than expected, and what follows is an absolute ton of disagreement and argument about the purpose of science and technological advancement.

The second hour of the movie is basically a smattering of action scenes as two sides fight each other with elaborately built equipment and try to win over Ray with their arguments for what's right. And it's really not as exciting as that sounds. Eventually he gets fed up with the both of him and just focuses on saving the various people he cares about after a behemoth of steam-powered technology goes haywire. All that stuff is really cool, I just they weren't by far the most interesting thing in the story. And I also wish it didn't take so damn long for him to become the titular Steamboy. It's like a superhero origin story that goes overboard with the origin part and forgets the superhero part. The end is fairly thrilling though, and suggests further adventuring that I kind of wish the movie itself had been about. A decent work, but it seems muddled in its own philosophical ideas and doesn't have nearly the impact of Akira.

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