10 Of The Best Steampunk Movies Around
Steampunk movies can seem few and far between, especially to purists. But that’s no fun. And anyway, what’s a purist to a mash up genre?
Here’s 10 films to scratch your steampunk itch.
1. The Prestige
The Prestige was directed by Christopher Nolan, the guy that brought you The Dark Knight trilogy, Memento and Inception, and it’s great. This movie is also pretty damn steampunk.
Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman star as Victorian magicians locked in a rivalry that descends from friendly competition into obsession.
It’s got a Victorian era setting, amazing gadgets and Nicola Tesla. What more could you want from a steampunk film?
2. Laputa: Castle In The Sky
There are several Hayao Miyazaki films we could have put on this list, but Laputa: Castle In The Sky just about out-steampunks Howls Moving Castle and Nausicaa Of The Valley Of The Wind.
Laputa: Castle In The Sky is an action packed industrial era adventure. Smoke from coal powered steam engines colours the scenes as our heroine Sheeta and her new found friend Pazu race against sky pirates and evil government forces to find a legendary floating castle.
Laputa: Castle In The Sky has it all; railways, airship battles, goggles, a plucky young heroine and a giant robot. Check it out.
3. The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Retro Futuristic technology? Alternative history? Reimaginings of Victorian era stories? That’s steampunk 101 isn’t it? It’s also a pretty accurate description of The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
A sort of 19th century Avengers, the story follows a super team made up of Allan Quartermain, Captain Nemo, Mina Harker, Dr Jekyll (and Mr Hyde), The Invisible Man, Tom Sawyer and Dorian Gray on a mission to stop the nefarious machinations of The Fantom.
Despite The Extraordinary Gentlemen’s lukewarm reception it’s gained a large cult following, particularly among steampunks. And for good reason, it’s a big, continent hopping romp featuring characters we know and love, and it’s full of steampunk gadgetry.
It’s also worth reading Alan Moore’s excellent comic The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen which the 2003 movie was based on.
Can you say space cowboy?
Serenity is the movie sequel to the cult TV show Firefly, but you don’t need to have seen the excellent yet cancelled TV show to enjoy the film.
Joss Whedon’s space western follows the story of Captain Mal Reynolds and his crew of smugglers as they struggle to keep one of their team from the clutches of government assassins.
Whedon’s ability to tell team stories shines here as ever and it’s a well deserved climax to Firefly.
Serenity might not have a Victorian setting, but you’ll find more than a few browncoats among steampunks.
5. Treasure Planet
It’s treasure Island… in space!
The search for the legendary “loot of a thousand worlds” begins when 15 year old Jim Hawkins stumbles upon a map to the greatest treasure trove in the universe.
Treasure planet takes a 1800’s Galleon and it’s Victorian crew, outfits them with a few bits of future tech, and sticks them in space. And it’s all done in amazing Disney style.
6. Sherlock Holmes
Now, we can’t just include any film set in the Victorian era in our top 10 steampunk movies. But there’s just something about the aesthetic of the 2009 Sherlock Holmes movie.
Maybe it’s the focus on the gritty, industrial side of london, the gadgets, Holmes’ inventive nature and witty resourcefulness or perhaps it really is just the top hats and waistcoats, but there is something distinctly steampunk about Sherlock Holmes.
In 1930’s Paris an orphan who lives in the walls of a train station is drawn into a mystery involving a automaton and his late father – a master clockmaker.
The entire movie is shot in 3D and was met with critical acclaim, Hugo also won 5 Oscars and earned Scorsese his third Golden Globe for Best Director.
A worthy addition to our top 10 steampunk films then. Go and watch it, it’s excellent.
As the title suggests steam is everything in this movie.
In Victorian Britain young boy inventor finds himself embroiled in a deadly conflict over a revolutionary advance in steam powered technology.
Steamboy is one of the most expensive animes ever made and it shows. The drawing and animation are brilliant, exactly what you’d expect from the man that brought us Akira, Katsuhiro Otomo.
9. Wild Wild West
Wild Wild West is a steampunk western starring Will Smith, Kevin Kline, Kenneth Branagh and Salma Hayek.
It’s fun and gadget filled if not particularly good. It does however, drip steampunk.
Despite not having the best writing, direction or performances, Wild Wild West is still pretty entertaining and worth watching for a giant mechanical spider and the most tricked out train you’ve ever seen.
A young man following a star, a quest to save a beautiful lady and three evil witches. You might think you’ve seen it all before but not quite like this.
Adapted from the Neil Gaiman novel of the same name Stardust has it all; Victorian costume, sets, a world full of wonder… and it has airships. We’d better not forget the airships.
There you have it, 10 of the best steampunk movies to scratch that itch. Let us know what you think in the comments below.
If you’re looking for a more comprehensive list of steampunk movies, check out the steampunk wikia, who have a list of every film ever made that can be called steampunk (even vaguely).