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3.6 out of 5 stars
Steamboy [DVD] [2006]
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I was sad to see the relatively negative reviews about this film as I found it to be incredible. The animation was outstanding and although the dubbing isn't perfect, i've seen a lot worse on Japanese animation dubs. The English voices fit the characters pretty well, although you can't beat the original Japanese voice and reading the subtitles. The storyline was great and yes it did feel a bit slow for the first half, but this only made the second half race forward at break neck speed and add to the drama and action, which I can only guess was the intention. I agree that this is probably the most visually stunning animation outside of Ghibli films and the level of detail is simply breathtaking. The extras disc is great, with well over an hour of interviews and featurettes that give a great view on the animators, directors and voice stars opinions on this film, as well as providing information on animation layering and other techniques. I also received some postcards, mini comic and thick book on film planning animations included with my box, but I'm unsure if this is included with this version or not, but my box is also the directors cut so I hope so. I have to say it makes for a wonderful overall package. Even if you don't get those additional items, this film more than makes up for it and you will own an amazing piece of Japanese animation that is already classed as a cult classic.

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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
I'm still learning the ropes when it comes to anime, which means I can't compare Steamboy to Katsuhiro Otomo's legendary Akira. I can, however, say that I enjoyed Otomo's contribution to the film Memories more than I did Steamboy. Both share the same kind of heavily industrial world of the past, cast in sepia-like tones reflecting an atmosphere of gloom. That was more than okay for Memories' "Cannon Fodder," but the world of Steamboy eventually grew tiresome to me. The animation of this film is excellent, but it consisted of far too many scenes of exploding machinery, to the detriment of character development and storyline. Frankly, I just didn't care about this plot all that much.
You've got a young, inventive boy who finds himself in the middle of a conflict over the nature of science. It's an argument that will erupt in loud, frightening chaos over the city of London. The boy's name is Ray Steam, and steam is definitely the key word in all of this. Ray receives a parcel from his grandfather containing an ultra-powerful "steamball," and almost at once he's forced to honor his grandfather's request to keep it out of the hands of "the Foundation." His father, however, or at least a somewhat mechanized version of him, happens to be in cahoots with the Foundation, and he begins to win his son over to his own version of science. He has used the vast power of steam to take his own father's vision of a Steam Castle and turn it into a well-armed weapon, complete with steam-powered flyers, subs, and mechanized fighters. The grandfather, looking much the worse for wear, shows up to try and sabotage his evil son's efforts, and he confronts Ray with his own peaceful vision of science. Fortunately for the audience, there's a spoiled little rich girl (by the name of Scarlett O'Hara - I kid you not) to add some life to all this philosophizing and artificiality. The whole thing soon breaks down into a not-so-small war over London. If you like explosions and scenes of utter destruction in your anime, you'll definitely want to check out Steamboy. That's about all you'll find in the second half of the film.
To me, Steamboy is a case of style over substance. None of the characters are as fully developed as I would have liked, and the whole story never manages to take on very much depth. Motion pictures, even anime, cannot live on cinematography alone if they want to be truly successful. With its underdeveloped storyline, Steamboy just didn't prove satisfying to me.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
After directing "Akira" in 1988, Katsuhiro Ôtomo avoided making another feature length anime for years. In 1991 he did a live action film, the horror-comedy "Warudo apaatoment hora" and then in 1995 he did the "Cannon Fodder" segment for "Memories." He wrote the scripts for Hiroyuki Kitakubo's "Rôjin Z" in 1991 and adopted Osamu Tezuka's manga for Rintaro's "Metoroporisu" in 2001. But it was not until 2004 that Ôtomo helmed "Steamboy" and left himself open to the inevitable comparisons of this two-hour anime with the classics in the field in which he had a major hand.
On the one hand "Steamboy" is as visually stunning as you would expect, albeit in a decidedly different way from "Akira" and "Metroporisu." This time around Ôtomo is not telling a futuristic story, but one set in 1866 in the London of Victorian England, which mandates sepia toned colors rather than working with a palate of bright neon colors. That alone justifies a different look to "Steamboy," and the chief attraction for this anime are the hand-drawn animation, enhanced by computers, of the massive machines of gears and pistons. But there is another interesting consequences to the setting of "Steamboy," which is that for the first time with a Japanese anime I am recommending that you listen to the English audio track rather than the Japanese. Since the characters are actually English, then for once it makes sense to go this route. Besides, we are talking Patrick Stewart as grandfather Dr. Lloyd Steam, Alfred Molina as his son Dr. Eddie Steam, and Anna Panquin as James Ray Steam, who is the film's title figure.
The key idea behind "Steamboy" is to recast the Industrial Revolution of the 19th-century with steam now holding a power and promise akin to atomic energy after World War II, although I guess scientifically the power is more like a jet engine (but the implications for transforming the world strike me as being more in the realm of the idealized future represented by atomic power). Ray Steam is a boy inventor who comes into possession of "steam ball," and then finds himself in a struggle between his father, who has become part-machine and power mad, and his grandfather, who turns into a wild-eyed Cassandra of gloom and doom. The evil Dr. Steam is building an army with steam-powered tanks, mechanical armor suits, and even steam jet packs for aerial assaults. If Ôtomo did not read Jules Verne at some point in his life I would be really surprised, because "Steamboy" owes as much to Verne's writing as it does to James Bond spy films and Tom Swfit adventures.
However, the story is just not up to the grandeur of the animation, which involves not only the captivating combination of hand-drawn animation and computers, but also some great camera movement. If this were a live-action film we would be talking about the impressive cinematography, especially since Ôtomo seems to make a point of going for angles you are unlikely to get in the real world. So there is more than just the retro look of "Steamboy" to recommend when it comes to the visuals of this 2004 film. But Ôtomo does not explore the steam technology as much as I would have liked, so that a promising idea becomes rather conventional and the substance behind the style ends up being disappointing. Even the big debate behind the power play is childishly simplistic, so we are not dealing with a potent allegory either. Besides, I was waiting for there to be more of a payoff to the character of Scarlett O'Hara (Kari Wahlgren). Then again, it is entirely possible that Ôtomo is never going to top "Akira" (what has James Cameron really done since "Titanic"?) and even with its faults "Steamboy" is certainly worth watching.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 18 October 2005
I enjoyed this film immensly. It had a moving and gripping storyline which kept my interest all the way through, wishing it would go on longer. The animation and graphics were increadibly polished and very impressive - clearly high budjet stuff. I am a fan of japenenese anime too and there is a lot of great films with deeper, more intreaging storylines and Steamboy has a small taste of that while being an impressive swashbuckling western style movie at the same time. Will apeal to a broader audience as a result. I got a hold of the directors cut in germany (It is available ealier than the UK here but you have to understand german to watch it) and will buy the UK copy with Patrick Stewart (Who will be brilliant in it) on January 9th when it comes to our shores.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 September 2009
Let me preface this review by saying that if you are at all fond of steampunk, disregard the two star rating and substitute it with five.
If you're not aware, "steampunk" is a style of fiction that deals with an alternate history wherein the aesthetics and steam-powered technologies of (chiefly) the Victorian era are taken to stylistic and scientific extremes.
That's what this movie is about.
You'll find within this DVD more steam-powered contraptions, gadgets, conveyances and monstrous mechanical behemoths than you've ever known you wish existed. Sadly, though, impressive as they are, they don't quite manage to carry the somewhat predictable plot and one-dimensional characters into the realm of great cinema. Sure, the imaginative steam-mechanics here will see you through the first viewing without boredom, but the movie simply doesn't have enough substance to bear repeat viewings.

Additionally, this DVD only contains an English language track. Not a great detriment, the English cast do a very passable job of it (most notably Patrick Stewart), but "anime" buffs may want to look for a version with the original Japanese voices and subtitles.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 19 July 2009
This is clearly a monster work although - like Akira - maybe somewhat overlong and a bit slow plot-wise. I'd be more than happy with the excellent animation if it had a Japanese dub to go with it (it does have two kinds of English subtitles).

I'll be looking at the Director's Cut in the hope of a Japanese dialogue track. I always find an English dub (I'm English) breaks the spell... and English never syncs properly anyway. Also, it's quite common to find key plot points rescripted for better sync (but poorer sense).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 3 January 2007
Great graphics create a very 'realistic' retro view of 19th Centuary Britain although the 'Manchester' accents are unrealistic & somewhat irritating. Also, the hero - a boy - is quite clearly voiced by a woman, which annoyed my 9 year old son!

Apart from these minor points its a very enjoyable science fiction film with little of the 'odd' behavoiur seen in other anime films - there is a fairly paraniod fear of technology thru'out the film but its not over powering.

Maybe I like it because its not great anime but my son & I found it very easy to watch with some great use of colour & some imaginative buildings & backgrounds.

Well worth a look if you like Sci Fi cartoons.
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on 27 March 2012
This is truly a great film, the story is simple and sometimes simple is best, in a nutshell its about ray steam (the main character) receives a package from his grandad which contains a steam ball, a ball that contains an almost infinite supply of energy, bad guys want it for bad things, good guys want it for good things. Its kind of based on real life, we have nuclear energy, in the film they have a steam ball, it can be used for great positive things and awful negative things. Like I say the story is pretty simple but there's plenty of twists and turns along the way and a decent amount of action. The animation of course is just eye bleedingly beautiful, for example there is a scene where a weapons exhibition is about to take place and confetti is streaming down there must be hundreds of tiny pieces of confetti on screen, each piece of confetti you see was hand drawn one by one and each piece flows and moves realisticly, the animators actually studied steam to see how it moves and flows so they could accuratly animate it on screen, that is attention to detail you just have to admire and appreciate. If you are an anime fan I strongly recomend this film, if you want to by it go for the uncut version. The cut version has about 30 mins taken out, why anyone would want that version I'll never know. There is a limited 2 disc edition which comes with a steamboy comic with translation, steamboy postcards and an artwork book. Please don't compare it to akira, otomo fans need to understand akira is one of a kind and can never be beat and im sure otomo must know himself he could never beat akira and wouldn't dare try. So watch steamboy with an open mind enjoy the nice simple story and get involved with some good characters,then you are sure to enjoy this film and there are some decent extras for those who get the 2 disc version. And make sure you watch the end credits as the scenes that take place behind the credits act as an epilogue
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 17 August 2007
I bought this as it was done by the guy who did Akira, and was quite pleasantly surprised. Given, Tetsuo and Ray Steam look very alike, thats about where the similarities with Akira end. Set in the Victorian past, and with a much simpler and linear storyline than Akira, this seems more aimed at Western audiences.

The good parts are based in the familiar settings. It's quite novel that an anime has not been set in the future, but in an alternate past. Despite some seeing this as a limitation, the writers have cleverly used the existing technology of the time to make some truly awesome weapons that look very futuristic (a flying steam castle, steampowered jets, aquatic armour suits etc). Victorian London and Manchester have been brilliant brought to life and the action and animation at some points is absolutely stunning.

The bad parts are that sometimes the voiceovers can be a bit too dramatic for the scene (not taking anything away from Anna Paquin who is terrific), and some plotlines are skipped over very fast.

But, in the whole a very enjoyable film and well worth the money. May not be for die-hard anime fans though.
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Only the truly fantastic visuals save this travesty from a one star review, from a real lover of anime at that.

So, the good stuff, yes wonderful visuals, absolutely superb although rather a lot is done in the dark, hiding the visual beauty. Overall, one of the most visually impressive pieces of anime I've seen.

Then, well, let's start with the almost universally loathsome characters, excepting of course the naive hero. And frankly who wants another truly revolting completely solipsistic Scarlett O'Hara? Not me, for sure. I'd as soon have seen her called Violet Elizabeth Bott or Veruca Salt.

No technical logic in anything, and almost the worst subtitling I've ever seen.

And horrible, awful accents, making Dick Van Dyke's cockney sound authentic.

Then the story. Perhaps there's a bit of a Pandora's Box story going on here, but in the main, I rather felt I was being lectured at on Western warmongering and imperialism of the Victorian era. By a race with wonderful record of declaring wars just after making a sneak attack. "Hello kettle, pot here. By the way, did you know you're black?"

A real shame, the first movie I have seen that really qualifies as Steampunk, truly failing big time.

Damn.

Got to stop or it will be a one star review.
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