You can’t help but get swept up in this beautiful and tragic love story. Without words, Director Andrey Shuskov weaves the tale a woman who is torn between her love for her husband and her loathing for the clockwork world they inhabit.
Have you ever been watching a pirate movie and said to yourself, “Gee, what this really needs is some aliens!” Then this is the movie for you.
But seriously, it is a really cool re-imagining of the tale of young Jim’s adventure, which originally ran as a serial in a boys magazine in the 1880’s. There have been tons renditions of this story; plays, movies, comics, you name it. But this is the first one I have seen that really does anything to ‘punk’ it. Well, besides the Muppets of course, but even that was a pretty straight (if more kid-friendly) version of events.
Here is what is the same: Jim, the son a tavern-keeper, has big dreams for his future, but feels doomed to sweep up after sailors his whole life. A treasure map falls into his lap, and with the help of financial backer he sets off on a journey to find buried treasure. Jim (voiced by the adorable and talented Joseph Gordon-Levitt) befriends the cook, who turns out to be the leader of the mutinous band of pirates who make up the hastily conceived venture.
Here’s what’s different: They are freaking space pirates! They travel in ships that resemble the beautiful wooden pirate ships of old , but the sails glitter with electricity and ports perch precariously on a crescent moon.
There are aliens galore, including the catlike Captain Amelia (Emma Thompson) who is a woman in this version of the story. I love places like the Star Trek universe where no one seems to balk at how anyone else appears or acts pretty much ever, they are totally open-minded.
The whole movie is an interesting intersection of the old and new. John Silver (Brian Murray) is in fact both an alien AND a cyborg and it is his metal leg that gives him John’s iconic limp. The “map” that Jim encounters gets a nice spacey make over as a metal sphere that only he figures out how to open.
Once they reach the Treasure Planet, Jim meets a robot who has literally lost his mind (Martin Short). There is a vital part of his memory bank that is missing, but that doesn’t keep him from helping out however he can and adding fun along the way.
I thought this was a really fun movie and definitely worth watching on a big television. Too bad I missed this one in the theaters! The animation is absolutely gorgeous and is a combination of hand drawn 2D laid over 3D computer graphics.
Kids and adults will really enjoy this movie. There are clever jokes that kids won’t get but parents will appreciate. Moreso than in the book, this film really puts Silver into the role of surrogate father for Jim and explores that relationship more.
Who are your favorite spaceship and airship pirates?
When I first ran across a description for a manga Steampunk movie I admit that I was skeptical. But, I am so glad that I got it through Netflix and gave it a shot because it was incredible!
The director, Katsuhiro Otomo, is best known for his cyberpunk directorial debut Akira in 1988. I have a great respect for graphic artists and animators, and the creators of this film lend all of the attention to detail and breath-taking beauty to the Victorian era as you could hope for. The settings are primarily the Crystal Palace of the Great Exhibition in London and inside an enormous “steam castle” and they have been rendered with incredible detail.
Otomo takes a few liberties with those pesky historical facts, but you can’t go letting the facts get in the way of a good story 🙂 For instance, Steamboy takes place in 1866, but the Great Exhibition took place in 1851. Likewise you get to see the Tower Bridge totally destroyed, but it was not built until 1894. I recommend you just chalk it up to being an alternative Victorian era and enjoy the ride.
The story centers around a young boy named Ray Steam. He comes from family of talented inventors and has inherited their knack for tinkering. His father, Edward Steam and Grandfather, Lloyd Steam, have been gone for some time working on their inventions, but Ray’s world is turned upside down when his Grandfather sends him a mysterious package with instructions to protect the contents at all costs. Soon after it arrives, representatives of O’Hara Foundation (the wealthy and powerful company that sponsors his family’s work) appear and try to steal it from him. Grandpa Steam gets to Ray in time to tell him of his father’s death and to help him escape the clutches of the O’Hara cronies.
The letter from Grandpa Steam tells Ray to get the steam ball to another inventor, Robert Stephenson. By happy coincidence, Stephenson was on his way to see Ray’s grandfather so he was on the train Ray uses to escape the agents of the O’Hara Foundation. Or, at least that is what they think. But, as the train pulls into the station in London a zeppelin descends and the henchmen use a huge metal arm to capture Ray and take the steam ball to their headquarters at the Crystal Palace. When Ray arrives he finds out that his grandfather lied and his father is still alive and the steam ball is an integral part of a colossal steam-powered castle that is hidden within the walls of the Palace itself.
For a while, Ray works side by side with his father and meets Scarlett, the incredibly spoiled granddaughter of the O’Hara Foundation’s found. Unbeknownst to Ray, his grandfather is being held prisoner inside the steam castle, but he manages to escape. Ray finds him attempting to sabotage the steam castle because he knows its true and nefarious purpose. Ray has to decide where his loyalties lie and whether he is will to be just another cog in his father’s machine.
In case you couldn’t tell, I loved this movie. And don’t give me any of that “I don’t DO anime” or “cartoons are for kids,” because this film can totally stand up against any Hollywood blockbuster simply because it is animated. Illustrators and animators have the freedom to make anything they can imagine actually appear, and the massive scale of this movie would hardly be possible any other way. And never fear, just because it is a Japanese movie doesn’t mean you are doomed to subtitles. Just make sure to change the language setting on the DVD and you can watch the whole thing dubbed in English.
One of Victoriana’s headliners will always be Jack the Ripper, a serial killer immortalized in the London newspapers of 1888. A string of murders committed in the East End neighborhoods like White Chapel and Aldgate were attributed to a single person because of the distinctive way he dispensed with his victims. He was sometimes called “Leather Apron” because after he killed he butchered the bodies and left them in the open to be found. These murders predate forensic science so there was never a conviction, only a number of letters (thought to be fraudulent) that were sent to the press and signed Jack The Ripper. One that was not so signed is referred to as “The From Hell Letter” because the writer used Hell as the return address. If you want to check out the original letters you can find them here.
The 2001 Johnny Depp Thriller, From Hell, gives audiences just one possible version of events. In this adaptation of a an Alan Moore graphic novel, Depp is a detective who gets psychic visions of murders. He is based on the real life chief of Scotland Yard, Frederick Abberline who worked the Ripper case. With the help of Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid of Harry Potter fame), Abberline uses his flashes of insight to catch criminals. Unfortunately, Depp must be “chasing the dragon” (ie on opium) in order to get his visions.
When the prostitutes of London’s East Side start turning up dead, he goes to them and finds a reluctant ally in Mary Kelly (Heather Graham). She and her circle of friends are being targeted by the ruthless killer, but none of them know why. But no matter the danger, these women must work the streets or risk the wrath of a local gang, which puts them at the Ripper’s (total lack of) mercy. Abberline must discover the dark secret that connects them before there are none of them left. Ian Holm (Fifth Element, The Hobbit) and Jason Flemyng (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) round out a great cast.
I don’t always like horror films because of the gore, but I felt this movie showed just enough blood to be a Ripper film but relied on good acting while shielding the audience’s view for most of the yuckiest parts. I would call it a thriller rather than a horror movie for just that reason. I haven’t read the graphic novel, but the movie does a great job of weaving conspiracy into a tale of terror.