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FROM THE ASHES: Segment # 13

Full Steam Ahead! 


Master filmmaker Katsuhiro Otomo returns in an epic way with Steamboy (2004); this being his largest undertaking since Akira (1988). With an insane budget of $22 million, the ability to truly flesh out an intricately detailed world presents itself. Still one of the largest and most time consuming anime film projects, Steamboy boasts a 10-year production, along with over 14 artists, 440 cg cuts, and over 180,000 drawings. With a boost from Sunrise studios, the film's animation flows seamlessly. Once again, Otomo is a writer for the film. Relative newcomer is composer Steve Jablonsky (1970-); this being his first score for an animated feature / foreign film. Some of his later notable works include: The Island, Transformers, Transformers Revenge of the Fallen, Transformers Dark of the Moon, Battleship, Gangster Squad, and Ender's Game. With such a grand sounding conglomeration, does this film own up to it? Perhaps. Beauty, after all is in the eye of the beholder.

Personally, I am a fan of this film. I enjoy the represented genres, subject matter, themes, animation, voice acting, soundtrack, color palette, detail, stylization, and many other aspects. The pacing of action vs story is well balanced; one doesn't feel bored by too much talking or not enough progression in the plot. The hero is idealistic an innocent, but still relatable. The film panders to fans of steampunk, a rather eclectic sub-culture today, but still prevalent in many branches of culture such as: mechanics, fashion, decor, engineering, music, and more. As an aspect of film I usually geek out over, I must point out that the level of realism and detail in this film greatly appeals to me. From the texture and weight alluded behind every brick of every building, to the contour of a vase of flowers on a table, the quality of line work is immaculate. In sync with the grandiose scale of the film, is the score. Steve Jablonsky's score is incredible; its loud, brassy, and adds to the thrill of the action sequences, while also emotive and uplifting in its thematic elements. Quite easily can I recommend listening to the score separately, as well as enjoyed during the film. Nostalgically, it reminds me quite a bit of The Rocketeer (1991), which is another fantastic film, and is scored by longtime screen composer James Horner. The scale and scope of this film is definitely worthy to be called epic. The voice casting is only as excellent as its script, which I found to be intriguing, intense, and a force to be reckoned with. I personally more so enjoy the English version, because the leading cast members consist of a few actors I admire such as Sir Patrick Stewart and Alfred Molina. The unique casting of Anna Paquin as the lead was a nice twist. Well acted, beautifully animated, and brilliantly scored, this film soars to great heights of achievement. No matter what, there is surely something for everyone to appreciate and enjoy from this masterpiece. Definitely not one to miss!

From The Ashes, V.~

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