1. The Wild Wild West
The Wild Wild West (1999), starring Will Smith and Kevin Kline. The pair ride aboard a steam locomotive filled with unusual things like a pool table that rotates and slides under the train, while searching for the arch-villain Arliss Loveless, a legless ex-Confederate general who has built a giant steam-powered spider-like behemoth, that shoots nitroglycerin from its canons. Plenty of gears, pistons, and steam belching to go around. Even a baddie with an ear trumpet fused to his head!
2. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) – or LXG if you’re cool. This film, starring Sean Connery has gadgets galore, plus a who’s who of characters, including Dorian Gray, Captain Nemo, the Invisible Man, Professor Moriarty, Jekyll and Hyde, and more. The good guys go all over the place chasing the head bad guy M, even using Nemo’s Nautilus and a cool car that’s about a city block long. Unfortunately, the car and the Nautilus brings us into Dieselpunk territory, so beware!
3. The Time Machine
The Time Machine (1960). Anything written originally by H.G. Wells is bound to be steampunk since he wrote it during the Victorian era. No internet! No tv, not even broadcast channels! It doesn’t bear thinking about. Anyhow, here we find the hero scientist (George, I think), running his time machine into the future. He’s apparently cobbled his machine together in the garage out of an overstuffed chair, some brass tubing, and a big wheel in the back. In the future, he meets the peaceful hippies called the Eloi, and the icky Morlocks. It doesn’t take long for our hero to teach the Eloi how to be destructive and kill the other guys. Yaay!
Hugo (2011). If this movie doesn’t scream steampunk, I’ll eat my bowler hat. One of the first fancy 3D movies out, it’s filled with giant gears, a big clock, all happening in a Parisian train station. But best of all is the animatronic man that can draw pictures and other stuff. The film is also filled with a big homage to pioneer special effects filmmaker Georges Melies – the guy who made the scene where the man on the moon is poked in the eye by a rocket.
5. Journey to the Center of the Earth
Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959). Thrill to the pulse-pounding background music as a band of explorers go deep underground in Iceland where they find giant mushrooms for one thing. The Victorians are led by none other than James Mason, and co-starring Pat Boone. You’ll be hard-pressed to remain in your seat at the sight of a giant ol’ iguana and a massive red snake pestering the group in the early days of greenscreen. The scientist in you can ponder how a huge thunderstorm somehow takes place underground.
6. Any Sherlock Holmes Movie
Any Sherlock Holmes movie, from way back in the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce days to Robert Downey Jr/Jude Law days. It’s Rule Victoriana time, with all that plush upholstery, Sherlock’s various experiments, horse-drawn carriages and even a sneaky injection or two of Columbian marching powder.