Steampunk Movie Top Ten – No.6 & No.5

Recently I polled active members of the Pandora Society’s Facebook group to nominate and vote upon their favorite “Steampunk” movie. Many films were nominated, but this week we shall present those that were voted into the top ten by looking at two films per day as we count down to the Pandora Society’s favorite “Steampunk” film ever!

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No.6 – 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

20000 PosterReleased 60 years ago in 1954, and drawing from Jules Verne, a founding father of Steampunk, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea offers so much that is quintessentially Steampunk. “A ship sent to investigate a wave of mysterious sinkings encounters the advanced submarine, the Nautilus, commanded by Captain Nemo.” (imdb.com), and it is the Nautilus that provides the primary source of this movie’s Steampunk qualities. The vision and imagery provided by this classic film has become the measure by which so many Steampunk creations have been compared; famous Steampunk Maker Jake von Slatt uses 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea when describing many of his creations and how they might have been used Captain Nemo aboard the NautilusIn conversation this film is frequently used as a means to describe Steampunk to those wishing to under what the genre is about . . . it is no surprise that this film made it to the Pandora Society’s top ten . . . if you have yet to watch it, remedy that soon.

 

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No.5 – League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Based on the graphic novels by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neil et al., the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was a promising movie when it first was announced, however, since its actual release in 2003, it has become somewhat of an embarrassment to many Steampunks, or is it more of a guilty pleasure?

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The source material is widely respected as one of the greatest examples of Steampunk that one can find, and Alan Moore was a genius in taking Victorian fictional characters, that are all public domain, and reworking them into a hybrid with the James Bond secret agent genre. In fact, the Moore invented character of Campion Bond is the first person we meet in Volume One, but he did not make it into the film. The plot of the movie deviates greatly from the graphic novel, dropping characters, and adding new characters like Dorian Gray and Tom Sawyer . . . actually aside from the origins and recruitment aspect, the movie completely abandons the plot of the graphic novel!

But the change in plot is not the greatest sin of this movie, it is the change in characterization that creates the fatal flaw that robs this film of its potential glory. Aside from voice work, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was Sean Connery‘s last film and he is the reason that this film is not as amazing as it could have been. Connery plays the aging Allan Quatermain, the quintessential adventurer explorer. The graphic novel’s plot presents all the members of the League as an ensemble cast, but the film becomes a star driven story to elevate Connery’s presence and justify his cost, and this is where it begins to unravel. In the graphic novel Quatermain is a wreck of his former self, we first encounter him as a drug addict in an opium den in Cairo, Egypt. The storyline witnesses his recovery and restoration as a result of his work with the League. This could have provided Connery with some great material with which to work, but instead Connery’s Quatermain is without character flaws and is supposedly superior to the rest of his team which he constantly moans about and just comes across as a grumpy old man apathetically making what would be his last movie . . .

Remove Connery and the rest of the film is a good adventure with excellent performances from actors who claim ownership of their roles such as Naseeruddin Shah as Captain Nemo, Peta Wilson as Mina Harker, Tony Curran as the invisible man Rodney Skinner, Jason Flemyng as Jekyll & Hydeand Stuart Townsend as Dorian Gray. Visually it is a great film with wonderful sets, great costuming, and special effects. Personally, I think it would be fantastic if the BBC were to make a television adaptation of the graphic novels, but in the meantime there is enough to enjoy about League of Extraordinary Gentlemen if you can learn to ignore Sean Connery. 

 

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Next up, movies four and three in our top ten countdown, but previously eight and seven 🙂

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