1884

1884 is an upcoming film by Terry Gilliam, a member of the Monty Python comedy troupe, that has an undeniable Steampunk flair to it. The trailer below is precisely the sort of thing the  Victorians would have imagined their future. The film will use animation, live-action puppets, CGI characters and the eyes and mouths of real actors.

As Variety says, it “imagines a film made in 1848 with steam power, narrating a tale of laughable imperialist derring-do and espionage set in a futuristic 1884, when Europe is at war, steam-powered cars fly in the sky and man has landed on the moon.”

I’m really excited about the prospects for this film. It seems perfectly whimsical and light-hearted… I can’t wait to see this put into full production.

The Warrior’s Way

Recently, a new film has surfaced which many people in the Steampunk community are heralding as an excellent example of Steampunk film. It’s called The Warrior’s Way, directed by Sngmoo Lee and starring Geoffrey Rush and Dong-gun Jang.

Personally, I’m not sold on this as Steampunk film by the trailer alone. Just because it’s set in the Weird West doesn’t necessarily mean its Steampunk.

For me, there has to be a element of the impossible for it to be a true Steampunk film. The Warrior’s Way isn’t Steampunk in the same way that Moulin Rouge! is not a Steampunk film. Technically, it could have happened. There technically could have been a courtesan who fell in love with a writer and an evil duke stood in the way in their love. Just ask their could have easily been an assassin who refused a mission and had to flee his nation to escape the wrath of his master.

Steampunk film has to have impossible tech to it to be a proper Steampunk work. It doesn’t have to have airships per say, but in my opinion it does have to have an heavy element of impossible tech. And I don’t really see that in The Warrior’s Way.

It remains to be seen if I am right or wrong. It’s scheduled to be released on the 3rd of December, 2010.

The Marionette Unit

A new film currently in production flew on to my radar today, and it looked so positively unique that I had to share it with you all right away.

It’s called the Marionette Unit, Directed by Azhur Saleem, produced by James Boyle and written by Paul B. Adams. Executive Producers are Abi Caruthers and Jett Dunlap.  It has an amazing concept sure to excite Steampunks. Here’s the summary of their film, straight from their website:

In a Victorian London where technology has progressed beyond man’s ability to control it, and the population willingly endures brutal surgery to connect themselves to the Marionette Unit, one man battles for their freedom.

Sounds intriguing, yes? Then watch the trailer.

The Marionette Unit it is currently in the very long process of production. According to their blog, the production team is currently working very hard to prepare a feature length script draft to pitch to the film scene in London and LA to find support and backing.

So, at the moment, The Marionette Unit is not certain to come to theaters. To show your support, consider joining their Facebook group or following their blog. I personally really hope this film happens… it sounds and looks so interesting!

Boilerplate the Movie

ComicCon always tends to bring out announcements of Hollywood adaptions of graphic novels, and I’ve already told you about the plans for the Cowboys and Aliens adaption.

There’s another Steampunk quasi-graphic novel adaption on the horizon, this one from markedly better source material (in my opinion) than Cowboys and Aliens.

Boilerplate is a fictional robot created by author Paul Guinan as a pitch for a graphic novel series. The website for the pitch featured many “archival” photos of the robot with many of history’s influential people. The photos were apparently so good that Guinan suspects a third of his website’s visitors thought Boilerplate was real.

Here’s a trailer for the book, which gives you a brief understanding of Boilerplate’s activities:

So now there’s a Boilerplate movie in the works. It’s going to be directed by J.J. Abrams under his Bad Robot label. This is one film I’ll be very interested in as both a Steampunk and a historian.

You can check out Boilerplate’s website by clicking here. You can also purchase the book, Boilerplate: History’s Mechanical Marvel, by clicking on the cover below:

And for all you fans of Boilerplate, you’ll be happy to know that Paul Guinan is listed as one of this year’s Participants at SteamCon II. I’m hoping to get my copy of Boilerplate autographed when I meet him there!

Jane Austen does Fight Club

A few days ago, a trailer for a new version of Fight Club surfaced. It’s just… well, here it is.

AHH! It’s freaking awesome! Definitely Steam and Punk! Yay!

Jane Austen’s Fight Club was directed by Emily Janice Card & Keith Paugh, and written by Emily Janice Card. And really, I can’t seem to find out any more information about it. Why was it made? Who are these actresses and actors and how did they get talked into doing this? How come it is so freaking awesome? I want answers! I need to know! 😡

My attempts to find out if this is going to be expounded upon into anything more than the trailer have presently been unsuccessful, but I sincerely hope that the creators do a short film at the very least. The concept is just too brilliant not to flesh out.

I know I’d watch it.

News from ComicCon: Cowboys and Aliens

ComicCon has come and gone, but one announcement made there as created quite a bit of excitement for Steampunks, especially those with a strong interest in the Weird West vein.

Cowboys and Aliens, a sci-fi western film directed by John Favreau and starring Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig, was announced at Comic Con. At the panel, there was a lengthy clip of footage from the movie which excited the viewers. In fact, everything I’ve heard from those who attended the panel said they were impressed by what they saw.

Call me a pessimist, but I’m a bit hesitant to get overly excited about another sci-fi Western after the train wreck that was Jonah Hex. Both were inspired by mediocre graphic novels. Both involve weird, supernatural tie-ins to the Western backdrop. Both were only slightly Steampunk. And we all know how badly Hollywood has historically done with portraying Steampunk retro-futurism.

The film film is set to come out next year, but you won’t find me counting down the days to its release. It has a lot prove before I can say I’m willing to see this in theaters.

For a full review of the panel at ComicCon, click here.

Wormtooth Nation

The weekend is just on the horizon and to celebrate, I have a Steampunk web series that was later combined into a feature film, Wormtooth Nation. The film is about a young man who wakes up in a subterranean city not knowing who he is or how he got there. The residents of the city are on a quest to find the surface, but they keep losing their memories.  Here a trailer:

Wormtooth Nation is based loosely off of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In the FAQ, they explain that Geoff and Cullen were both in a production of the play and thought, “Hey, this is a cool story! What if we were to make this story, only it’s not like this story at all?”

This production has been nominated for for numerous awards, and it’s really quite amazing for a student production. I’m expecting to see many great things out of Cullen and Geoff in the future.

If you happened to enjoy Wormtooth Nation, you can buy it on DVD here. You’ll be happy to know that should the production team make any money off of Wormtooth Nation, they intend to give all profits back to the community. Way to go, gentlemen!

Jonah Hex Review

A while back, I wrote a post on what was then the upcoming film of Jonah Hex. In it, I expressed the guarded hope that this newest Hollywood attempt at Steampunk would not be as horrific as the 1999 Wild Wild West film and had thus learned its lesson from the film’s failure. Jonah Hex, I had hoped, would be a wonderfully dark blending of the comic book source material of an anti-hero bounty hunter barely better than the people he hunts down and the Steampunk aesthetic.

Apparently, I am too much of an optimist.

I have not yet seen Jonah Hex, but the fact is that I don’t need to see it. Not when you get ratings and reviews like this, it’s not worth the ten dollars to pay to revel in the disaster that is Jonah Hex. Part of me wants that laugh out loud at the sheer ridiculousness of this crappy film, but the other half is making me want to bury my head in my hands in shame. What the hell is this mess? Why is Hollywood so good at making Steampunk look absolutely inane?

There’s so many things wrong with this film, I don’t even know where to begin making recommendations. As for recommendations for you, my fellow readers, may I suggest curling up with a good book over wasting a good hour of your life allowing your brain to molder at the sight of Jonah Hex.

Master of the World

This evening, I have for your viewing entertainment, a film hosted by Hulu, Master of the World. It’s a film adaptation of two of Jules Verne’s last novels, Master of the World and Robur The Conqueror.

In 1848, a fanatical inventor seeks to fly around the world and stop war from his flying airship (the "Albatross")...a cross between a zeppelin and a helicopter. (via Hulu)

Made in 1961, this film does have some bad aspects to it, as well as some dated special effects, but it is an interesting look at Jules Verne that predates the concept of Steampunk by a good twenty five years or so. Plus, Vincent Price plays Captain Robur, the airship’s Captain, which certainly is a draw because Vincent Price is awesome (duh).

The film is about Captain Robur’s attempts to enforce peace around the world through his superior technology, claiming that he created the Albatross to wage war against war. He takes prisoners upon his craft so they can witness his efforts to force the nations of the world to lay down their weapons and embrace peace.

So if you are in the mood for a little retro film and can tolerate it’s dated shortcomings, low budget, and timeline inaccuracies, Master of the World is an excellent way to increase your exposure to proto-Steampunk works. Some of the ethics within the film are quite interesting and still have modern application, such as the question of if violence should be used to enforce peace. Its an interesting and complex idea, and Master of the World is just one of many attempts at an answer.

Heartless: The Story of the Tin Man

This evening, I have for you a wonderful story about how the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz came to be: Heartless The Story of the Tin Man by Whitestone Motion Pictures. It’s a bit of a tearjerker, though, so have a well-stocked box of tissues nearby when you watch this wonderful short film. Make sure to turn up the sound… some of the dialogue was a bit quiet for me.

Part Steampunk, part fantasy, this film is fantastic and very well made. It restores my faith in short films after the disappointment that The Anachronism was. I really enjoyed the costuming for Heartless, and the whole concept of the Master Tinner is just brilliantly Steampunk.

I feel that this could have easily been a feature length film and still kept my attention. And oh dear, it was so sad… at least it ended on a good and hopeful note.

You can learn more about the film at Whitestone Motion Pictures on their website, where you can watch many production videos and also download the soundtrack for the film for free (yay!). You can also follow Whitestone Motion Pictures through their Twitter feed here.