Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
Steamboy Movie Poster Image
Animated film is too violent for younger kids.
  • PG-13
  • 2005
  • 126 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 8 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The young and resourceful hero is a good role model. A bratty rich girl (named, if you can believe it, Scarlett O'Hara) is less admirable, but seems to change her attitude by the end.


Plentiful destruction, even if the body count seems ludicrously low. A father tries to kill his son.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie is not for younger kids. It's very violent, with lots of destruction and a father trying to kill his son. It shows a society being transformed by scientific leaps in steam power. You might talk with teens about how electricity and now computers have done the same, and whether some humanity has been lost along the way. You might also take the opportunity to do some research into real-life wonders of the Great Exhibition, like the Crystal Palace.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 5 and 10 year old Written byconnielove93 November 2, 2011

Steam on the Rise!

Beautiful movie about the role of science in war. Steamboy is breathtakingly detailed and ambitious beyond anything I have ever seen in the realm of animation!!... Continue reading
Adult Written bythinkingfather July 18, 2010

Tough, Intense, Insightful and Discussion required with a mature tween or a teen.

Visually a stunning movie with a very well developed viewpoint against the use of science as a war mongering tool by anyone. The movie has many intense moments... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bywho3697cares May 26, 2009
Mediocre anime film that has an unoriginal plot but plenty of visual treats. It is superior to some of the sappy crap Disney has been releasing over the past 25... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bymoviemogul 2.0;... April 9, 2008

Honestly? I would put this right up there with "Princess Mononoke"

I saw this in theatres the day it came out, being a huge manga fan (contributed by the fact that I'm Korean), and was not disappointed in the least. As I s... Continue reading

What's the story?

Set in 1866 in England, STEAMBOY centers on Ray Steam (voiced by Anna Paquin), the resourceful teen son in a family of inventors, but he hasn't seen his father Edward (voiced by Alfred Molina) or his grandfather Lloyd (voiced by Patrick Stewart) since they left to invent the Steam Ball, a small metal sphere of ultra-compressed liquid so mighty it could run a city. The Steam Ball arrives in the mail and Ray is told to protect it no matter what. Right away, a gang tries to take the Steam Ball. They're allied with Edward Steam, who was badly wounded in a lab accident but has rebuilt himself as a sort of cyborg. The same mishap has left Ray's grandfather Lloyd wildly opposed to technology, and the raving old man gets locked in the bowels of the Steam Castle, the family's fortress-style display at London's Great Exhibition that needs the Steam Ball to work. Ray is torn between his grandfather, who tries to sabotage the Steam Castle at every opportunity and his father, who wants to create more and more machines. The Steam Castle is a showcase for new weapons, offered for sale to the nations of the world. Edward thinks this is a good thing; Lloyd does not, and neither do the authorities and rival inventors, who launch an attack. London turns into a battleground and each side unleashes wilder and wilder engines of destruction (throughout, however, human casualties remain extremely low).

Is it any good?

Reportedly the most expensive Japanese-animated cartoon yet made, Steamboy takes place in Charles Dickens' time but is as full of incredible gadgets as any science-fiction epic. This retro-futurist Victorian action movie is like Jules Verne on steroids, with wondrous Industrial-Revolution machinery grown to Tokyo-stomping heights and visually realized by star animator Katsuhiro Otomo. His sci-fi epic Akira, back in 1989, opened the floodgates for Japanese animation in US theaters. Earlier it had been restricted to home-video imports, syndicated TV, and bootlegs. Akira's sprawling cityscapes and intrigues deserved the biggest screens it could get. But Akira was also dark, violent, and pessimistic.

Steamboy is similarly visionary but a little more family-friendly. It's a pretty noisy spectacle, but you can lose yourself in Otomo's sumptuous designs, cathedrals of gears, cogs, screws, flywheels, and pulleys. And this is a too-rare case in movie science-fiction where the special effects make a viewer think, about the onslaught of technology, about where human progress is going, and where it's been.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the benefits and negatives of technology. How do they compare? Families can also discuss the potential dangers of technology. Can you think of some real-life events in which these dangers were evident?

Movie details

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