• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

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TITLE: Steamboy

YEAR: 2004

Genre: Anime and Superhero/Comics

When director/writer Katsuhiro Otomo, the creator of the legendary Japanese anime masterpiece Akira, takes ten years and over 180,000 drawings to create his follow-up film one knows that anticipation for his next project will be tremendous. Eventually becoming the most expensive anime film ever created, the follow-up Steamboy costs a whopping $22 million which is astronomical numbers for an anime project. It is amazing that its distributor Sony ended up burying the release in the United States, receiving a limited release mostly to big city art house theaters and skipping mid and small-range markets completely. Although a stylish and creative endeavor, Steamboy relies too much on an American blockbuster mentality to make the project memorable or essential on most levels.

Ray Steam (voiced by Anna Paquin) is a young man who works at a textile mill in Manchester, England, during the Industrial Age, but his ultimate goal is to be an inventor and display his steam-powered creations at the upcoming 1866 Great Exhibition. Ray’s life changes forever when he received a package from his grandfather Lloyd (Patrick Stewart) that contains a metallic ball that contains a mechanism that can deliver an almost unlimited supply of energy. All of a sudden, Ray is being chased by an organization called The O’Hara Foundation that desires to take the ball and use its power for its own ill-gotten gains. Ray escapes on a steam-powered unicycle and eventually meets Scarlett O’Hara (Kari Wahlgren), a spoiled brat who is related to the operators of the foundation, and her father Edward (Alfred Molina). Edward makes Ray and an insistent Scarlett on a tour of his “steam castle”, a floating building with a jet propulsion system that freezes the ground and floods cities in its path. Ray knows that he must stop Edward and his crazed schemes and uses his inventions to become Steamboy, the first steam-powered superhero.

Steamboy reminds me a lot of the typical Michael Bay film: visually stunning and aesthetically pleasing but hollow to the core in terms of plot or character development. On the positive, Steamboy is extremely creative and displays a steampunk world vivid in imagination including steam-powered submarines, cyborgs, and zeppelins only imagined by the most creative souls. The film is also visually stunning as the two dimensional animation is spectacular and unlike any other film in memory. That being said, Steamboy suffers from a stereotypical plot of a young boy who uses a suddenly obtained power to save the world from an evil despot. Other standard blockbuster type of characters are present, including a beautiful and sometimes vapid female character that just has to be saved by the hero repeatedly, a heroic character that is slightly nerdy yet cute in a charming kind of way, and an evil corporate-type that does not have a shred of decency or humanity anywhere in his soul. Lots of over the top action sequences are included and an obligatory huge explosion wows the fans at the end, and as a result the fan feels a “been there, done that” type of mentality. More time should have been invested in a quality storyline and subsequent script to raise Steamboy into the category of a great overall production instead of just a visually dramatic one.

In today’s film market where just about every big budget film has amazing special effects and visuals, film makers have to understand that a return to good story telling will raise their finished product above and beyond the pack. Unfortunately, Steamboy is one of those films that is visually stunning and quite creative in its approach but left the originality at the door when it came to writing a good script. More immature fans who just want a steampunk-themed popcorn flick will find Steamboy fun enough, but more mature watchers looking for a film that is as mentally appealing as it is visually will quickly forget this effort.

* * 1/2



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