Steampunk is among the most popular genres at the end of the Industrial Revolution. The anxiety increases as the world sees rapid growth in manufacturing and machinery.
The subgenre makes its mark in the science fiction genre through the novel of people like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. It provides a mix of historical, horror, and even speculative fiction.
With this list of 15 Best Steampunk Movies, you can enjoy and discover the wonderful world of the genre. From black and white films to animation and even horror, there is a little something here for everyone.
1. Metropolis (1927)
German, English 2h 33m IMDb
Director: Fritz Lang
Stars: Brigitte Helm, Alfred Abel, Gustav Fröhlich
Metropolis is what many would consider futuristic steampunk. Although utilizing things such as train systems away from the ground is normal in our modern world, these concepts are pretty much new during Metropolis’s release. Ripe with social commentary, this black-and-white film is a perfect starter.
The story follows the uprising between the two factions of people living in Metropolis. The underground workers were miserable running the cogs while the people overground were enjoying a life of luxury. With this striking disparity, a fight against the system is set.
2. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
Japanese 1h 59m IMDb
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Stars: Chieko Baishô (voice), Takuya Kimura (voice), Tatsuya Gashûin (voice)
Among the steampunk movies, this magical film by Hayao Miyazaki is among the most recognizable. With remarkable influences from the Victorian industrial era, this anime film is a perfect steampunk flick for the family. It’s also amongst the most famous Studio Ghibli films of all time.
Howl’s Moving Castle follows Sofi, a young woman with a curse. With an older woman as a body, she seeks out a wizard named Howl. They must work together to remove the curse as they live in the magical moving castle.
3. Castle in the Sky (1986)
Japanese 2h 5m IMDb
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Stars: Mayumi Tanaka (voice), Keiko Yokozawa (voice), Kotoe Hatsui (voice)
Another classic from Studio Ghibli, Castle in the Sky, has many steampunk influences. As stated in The Steampunk Bible, the film is one of the modern classics of the steampunk genre. Like many in this list, it strongly influences machines and industrial aesthetics.
The film follows two children as they find the legendary castle in the sky. With pirates and agents hot on their tracks, they must do everything to reach the castle. What awaits is an old civilization far away from what they know.
4. Invention for Destruction (1958)
Czech 1h 23m IMDb
Director: Karel Zeman
Stars: Lubor Tokos, Arnost Navrátil, Miroslav Holub
Based on a novel by Jules Verne, Invention for Destruction is among the classics in the steampunk genre. Being a pioneer in steampunk cinema, it has many conventions that you can still see in the genre to this day. Complete with industrial machinery and Victorian outfits, this film is a must for any steampunk enthusiast.
Invention of Destruction revolves around the mission to stop Count Artigas, a millionaire with a plan to dominate the world. The movie is successful, becoming one of the most recognizable Czech films at its release.
5. The City of Lost Children (1995)
French, Cantonese 1h 52m IMDb
Director: Marc Caro, Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Stars: Ron Perlman, Daniel Emilfork, Judith Vittet
The City of Lost Children is a solid choice for a steampunk marathon. Complete with parallel Victorian times, the film features zany industrial gadgets. This film is perfect for you if you want your steampunk film with a thriller side.
The story follows the disappearance of children set in a dystopian background. It turns out that someone is using the children’s dreams to fuel their unaging state. With the kidnapping of One’s young brother, he must find where the lost children are.
6. Hugo (2011)
English 2h 6m IMDb
Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Lee
Hugo is an excellent steampunk family film that is fantastical and filled with cogs and clocks. Hugo story follows the titular character as he navigates life as an orphan. Hugo is left to solve the mystery behind the automaton left in his care after his father’s death.
Hugo is an adventure and drama wrapped in the Parisian backdrop. It has many steampunk elements, such as automatons, cogs, and sentient machines. You can ensure that this film is extremely well-made with countless awards, such as five Oscar wins.
7. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)
English 2h 7m IMDb
Director: Richard Fleischer
Stars: Kirk Douglas, James Mason, Paul Lukas
Set in the Victorian era, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is another pioneer in the steampunk genre. There is much to love in this film, with old machines, suits, and the vast wild ocean as a backdrop. If you are unconvinced, the film also has two Oscar wins under its belt and is inspired by Jules Verne’s books.
The film follows a team on their mission to the deep blue sea. As the ocean becomes more dangerous for ships and boats, the group of scientists must uncover the cause of the sinking.
8. Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
English, French, Spanish 1h 35m IMDb
Director: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise
Stars: Michael J. Fox (voice), Jim Varney (voice), Corey Burton (voice)
Another animated film on this list, Disney’s Atlantis: The Lost Empire, brandishes many of the steampunk conventions we love. The film’s use of machines, fashion, and general tune screams steampunk. With a fantastical adventure with excellent animation, it’s a beautiful film for everyone.
The film follows the enthusiastic lead, Milo Thatch, as he searches for Atlantis. With his team of equally fun characters, they took on a submarine and began their journey. What awaits them might be more than the island itself, but a trip to themself.
9. Steamboy (2004)
Japanese, English 2h 6m IMDb
Director: Katsuhiro Ôtomo
Stars: Anna Paquin (English version), Patrick Stewart (English version), Alfred Molina (English version)
Regarding steampunk media, Japan is one of the pioneers, as evident by its countless films and series. One of the movies in their catalog, Steamboy, features an incredible commentary on the era’s industrialization and invention. The film is filled with beautiful illustrations of steampunk inventions and stunning animations.
The story follows Rei, an inventor from England. With a mysterious ball from his grandfather, he must keep it safe while working on his career as an upcoming inventor. However, the O’Hara foundation has another goal with the steam ball invention.
10. 9 (2009)
English 1h 19m IMDb
Director: Shane Acker
Stars: Elijah Wood (voice), Jennifer Connelly (voice), Crispin Glover (voice)
2009 is such a powerhouse for animation and cinema in general. Fortunately, a steampunk animated film is one of the contenders. 9 is a 3D animated film that tackles salvation and the dark dystopia of humanity against machines.
This film follows the titular character, 9, a sentient ragdoll. With the place around him a rusty, cog-filled wasteland, 9 must find the answer behind the destruction around him. Upon meeting other dolls like himself, it seems like they are the key to the salvation of humanity.
11. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)
English 1h 28m IMDb
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Stars: Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Peter Stormare
Grim, old, with a side of rugged fairytales, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters provides excellent steampunk influences with a side of action. The movie retells many fairytales we are familiar with, but with a twist. Hansel and Gretel here are not children stumbling down the hills but seasoned witch hunters.
This film is an absolute delight if you are a steampunk fashion and weapons fan. You are in for a wild ride with this brother and sister duo with incredible fight scenes and an excellent cast.
12. Mortal Engines (2018)
English 2h 8m IMDb
Director: Christian Rivers
Stars: Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Hugo Weaving
Mortal Engines is your best choice if you want a newer steampunk film. Made in the late 2010s, the film uses CGI and excellent costuming to ensure the best steampunk experience. With outstanding performances from Hela Hilmar and Robert Sheehan, this film is teeming with a fantastic cast.
The film follows Hester Shaw, a mysterious woman on her way to stop a looming threat. With the danger of destroying everything in its path, she must act fast before the cities are conquered. With the help of her partners, they work together to stop the threat.
13. The Golden Compass (2007)
English, Icelandic, Russian, French 1h 53m IMDb
Director: Chris Weitz
Stars: Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Dakota Blue Richards
The Golden Compass combines the different Victorian influences to make this incredible family film. Based on the novel by Phillip Pullman, the film deals with many steampunk elements mixed with fantasy. This movie is an excellent watch with incredible costumes and aesthetics.
The Golden Compass follows Lyra Belacqua as she journeys to the North. With countless adventures, she must save the kidnapped children and bring them back to their families. With the help of her companions, she must face the challenges that come through.
14. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)
English, Tibetan, German 1h 46m IMDb
Director: Kerry Conran
Stars: Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Angelina Jolie
This steampunk film provides an excellent array of the casts, such as Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jude Law. With a story reminiscent of Jules Verne, you can ensure that the genre is felt within every scene of this film.
The film follows a reporter and her ex-pilot boyfriend as they investigate the scientists slowly disappearing worldwide. With an attack from a giant robot, they set on a journey to find the cause of this danger. What awaits them might be more than what they bargain for.
15. Van Helsing (2004)
Persian, English, Latin 2h 11m IMDb
Director: Stephen Sommers
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale, Richard Roxburgh
Starring Hugh Jackman, you can ensure an action-packed steampunk film. Van Helsing follows the titular character as he searches for Dracula. His companions must do everything to stop the forces of evil.
Although the film has mixed responses from critics, it is a commercial success, having made double its budget in its release. This film is perfect if you want your steampunk with a side of folklore imagining. With exciting costumes, props, and architecture, you will enjoy Van Helsing if you love the Victorian aesthetic.
With these 15 Best Steampunk Movies, you can explore science fiction’s bussing and steam-powered world. So, grab some snacks, pop one of these films, and start a marathon through the Steampunk genre.