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Steamboy (2004) Review

Updated on September 4, 2017
Joseph Lawrence profile image

Joseph Lawrence (25) grew up in the New York area and is a recent college grad in Film Studies. He is a huge film buff and loves horror!

Steamboy theatrical poster
Steamboy theatrical poster


Produced by Sunrise and directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, Steamboy takes place during an alternate nineteenth century Europe. Science has made huge advances during this time, therefore creating a society ruled by steam-power technology. Scientist Lloyd and his son Edward Steam has discovered pure mineral water which they believe will serve as the ultimate means for powering steam engines. After a series of unfortunate events, three years later 13-year-old Ray Steam receives a small spherical steam ball from his grandfather. The film tackles the theme of family, morality, and the use of science for military purposes.

Ray and his steam-powered monowheel.
Ray and his steam-powered monowheel.

Steam Technologies

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction or fantasy which meshes technological advances with the steam-powered designs of the 19th century. The movie's devices and vehicles are all wonderful. The spherical apparatus named the steam ball, allowed for the creation of immaculate structures in the film. Such as steam castles, steam-powered monowheels, steam-propelled jet packs, and more. It felt like as the movie went on, there were more inventions and innovation of steam tech. Without a doubt, if you're a fan of the steampunk genre then this film is the one for you.

Ray escaping from a locomotive vehicle riding his mono wheel.
Ray escaping from a locomotive vehicle riding his mono wheel.

Good vs. Evil

Naturally, when there's machinery and science, there's also the question of morality. What should the new tech be used for? For war or for financial gain? Or, maybe it's a little bit of both. The narrative explores this topic and shows no one is truly good or evil. Everyone has their own motives and believe that what they're doing is right. Brilliantly, family is thrown into this mix and creates an even more convoluted but dramatic narrative.

Ray surrounded by Robert Stephenson and another adult with mysterious agendas.
Ray surrounded by Robert Stephenson and another adult with mysterious agendas.


Steamboy is a good action film, but an even greater adventure film. The characters introduced are all unique. The steampunk setting is magical and places such as England are vividly re-imagined. Even though the movie takes place in an alternate history, there are bits of real history thrown into the film. And some of the picture's most exciting moments (aside from it's drama) come from the sky battles, ground fights, and chase scenes.

Nonetheless, Steamboy is part of director Katsuhiro Otomo's previous works along with Akira and both are phenomenal. The movie is a bit long but if you buckle down and let the narrative flow then you'd have a very enjoyable watch. And of course if you're a fan of science or the steampunk genre, then this is a must see.

Steamboy is available on DVD, Blu-ray, and streaming platforms.


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    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 7 months ago from Norfolk, England

      This sounds like a good film. One I wouldn't mind watching. I like Steampunk.