Punk Steamery

This is a painful thing, because I like well-done steampunk, and I sense a coming backlash for the genre. Based on a few recent movie releases, I wonder if Hollywood is to blame for the backlash, as they are to blame for so many other things, because of a weird insistence on tacking watered-down steampunk (I’m not sure if that is a good description, given that watering down something that is steam-powered would just add fuel, but leave that aside for a moment) into every movie that is set before 1940. Take Jonah Hex:

Jonah Hex went through some ups and downs as a comic book, but for a while there it was a cracking good western/horror thing. Jonah didn’t have a gadgeteer sidekick and twin horse-mounted Gatling guns, because he didn’t need them – he was all magic and occulty and such. But of course you need technology for explosions, the crutch of the lame filmmaker.

But this looks like it will be even worse, if possible:

The scary thing is that I knew within seconds of seeing the beginning of the trailer for the first time that I was going to be treated to a lame steampunk wanna-be, because some variation on the pistol-grip crossbow is an absolute necessity for those too lame to even lean on explosions. But good God, Three Musketeers?  Can’t you be satisfied with swashuckling without tacking on gratuitous gunplay, flamethrowers, and things blowing up?  I guess you’d need to be confident in your ability to choreograph a sword fight to be satisfied with that.  And let’s face it, great chunks of bullet-time slo-mo is not the hallmark of a director confident in his ability to film an action sequence.

There are plenty more examples out there of tacked-on steampunk gadgetry, but frankly the prospect of searching for trailers of crappy action movies is too depressing.  Anyway, the point is not to complain about lazy movie-making, but to complain about the fact that lazy movie-making may be screwing up books.  I’m sure there is a certain market saturation for steampunk as it is, but I have to think that having the Three Musketeers and Sherlock Holmes running around in airships shooting proto-machineguns is accelerating the whole process.  Which is a pity, because I really wanted to jump on that bandwagon.

Finally, as an apology and palette-cleanser for that Three Musketeers thing, enjoy the sword fight scene from Rob Roy:

~ by smwilliams on September 27, 2011.