In homage to all things steampunk, the team at Geek Cufflinks spent an afternoon in their favourite coffee shop picking their all time favourite top ten steam punk movies. Join us for a tour de force of post-apocalyptic, gadgetary loaded flicks and brass goggles galore.
10. Van Helsing
“You’re a genius!” – “A genius with access to unstable chemicals!”
Powered flying circular-saw blades and gas powered crossbows interweaved with a semi human/robotic Frankenstein’s monster with electronic brain and steam powered knees ensures Van Helsing is firmly on our steampunk movie roster. Blockbuster special effects, Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale make this a movie to watch. Although fantasy rather than Sci-Fi and not an obvious choice for a steampunk flick the gothic castles, Dracula’s goggle wearing miniature minions are firm favourites here, I wonder if they want to job in our office?
9. The Golden Compass
The Golden Compass is the film of the fantasy novel the Northern Lights by Philip Pullman and although receiving a luke warm reaction in the US did very well over here – is it possible the UK audience is more receptive to steampunk? Either way, the stunning city-scale visuals and form over function equipment – checkout the airships -and neo-Victorianism clothing set this apart of an example of Hollywood steampunk at its best.
“Sparky to Big Red…”
What’s not to like about a film featuring a huge big red hero Demon out to save man-kind in a special effect laden flick? Directed by Guillermo del Toro, who went on to direct the highly rated Pan’s Labyrinth and the a small budget production by the name of the Hobbit, with Ron Perlman and John Hurt heading up the cast list Hellboy is an action packed blockbuster littered with Steampunk-esq tech and staying true to the genius of Mike Mignola who created the steampunk world of the Hellboy comics. Expect lots of goggles!
7. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Art deco sets rule in 20, 000 Leagues Under the Sea, the second Jules Vern based film to make it into our list (see Journey to the Center of the Earth) which is never a bad thing. Stunning effects – it won Academy Awards for its art direction and special effects (giant squid anyone), great acting from Kirk Douglas, James Mason and Peter Lorre make it a very watchable film but throw-in the presence perhaps the most famous steampunk vechicle EVER, monsters, a mad-inventor and you have a classic example of the steampunk film genre.
6. Journey to the Center of the Earth
If it’s an action flick for the kids you want, the 2008 Brendan Fraser version of this classic tale is what you want but if you want Victorian era style and giant steam powered tunnelling machines are you thing then it’s the 1959 classic you’ll be wanting. We’ll forgive slips from the Jules Verne story and the somewhat dated special effects because it’s still a fun movie to watch.
In Hellboy, When Professor Broom puts the old pieces of paper together, the text translates to “Graveyard 16”, not “Sebastian Plackba 16”
5. Wild Wild West
“Oh, look. My auxiliary tool kit, I forgot all about it. It must have fallen out of my pocket.”
Given the rise in popularity of steampunk, it’s surprising Hollywood hasn’t jumped on bandwagon more and thankfully with this 1999 fun action film they didn’t screw up but with Will Smith, Kevin Kline, Kenneth Branagh and Salma Hayek it’s hard to see how it could have gone too wrong. While not a favourite with critics, we liked the many mechanical inventions including steam tanks, nitroglycerine-powered bicycles and of course the giant spider.
4. The League Of Extraodinary Gentlemen
Set in an alternate universe and described as a masterpiece of steampunk imagery by some and featuring none other than the Nautilus, this has to be in any steampunk fan’s library.
The oldest film here but without doubt the one of the all-time classic steampunk films. Although not strictly steampunk as it’s artistic style is Art Deco rather than Victorian (hence it’s position in this round-up) it has all the core ingredients of a steam punk movie retro-futuristic style, steam-powered machinery, a robot, a mad-scientist and social conflict. Although in black and white and silent it spawned what seems like a million-immitations and set the tone for the genre – a must watch.
2. The Time Machine
We LOVE this film!! Although not as tooled up with steampunk gadgetary as say the League of Extraordinary Gentleman its Victorian era aesthetic, story line and wonderful adaptation of the H. G. Well’s novel put it right up there as steampunk classic and the perfect rainy-Sunday afternoon flick to watch. Note: Just in case anyone gets confused we’re talking about the 1960 film not the abominable 2002 remake!
1. City of the Lost Children
And the winner is… Not everyone’s cup of tea but thanks to stunning visuals, cool techno devices (the monocle’s of the Cyclops Gang screams out – pardon the pun if you’ve seen the film), Victorian materials, machinery, gears and goggles and alt-world setting it’s as steampunk as it gets. There’s even a cufflink in it 🙂
Do you agree with the Geek Cufflinks team? Have we missed your favourite steampunk film? Tell us with a comment below. And if you’ve seen all 10 of these films, why not treat yourself with one of our hand-picked steampunk cufflinks.
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