The good news is that there is another movie this summer with steampunk elements! The bad news is, well, take a look, starting about 48 seconds in:

Yes, that is an airship battle, and it even looks somewhat cool. Heck, the adventure of Alexander Dumas with the coolness of steampunk sounds like its made of win, right?

Not necessarily. My problem is not with the steampunkification of Dumas, so much as it looks like there was inadequate thought put into it.

The Three Musketeers ends with the Siege of La Rochelle in 1628. Manned flight by hot air balloons was not a reality in Europe until the 1780s and even then it was very primitive.

Anachronistic technology is part-and-parcel with steampunk, but usually it is the result of accelerated technological development, not just dumped in out of the blue. If this technology existed 150 years ahead of time, other advances would have to have occurred as well, and technological advances change society. Yet, the society in the film seems to be the 1620s except for the airships.

This may seem like nitpicking, and maybe it is, but there is no reason for steampunk to be sloppy and it does the genre a disservice to be so. Of course, science fiction regularly suffers such indignities; for example see 2010’s Skyline. (Actually, don’t see it. It was that bad.) I don’t really find that comforting. First, science fiction has a long enough tradition that people can point to good science fiction films (and of course books) as counterexamples. Second, in many people’s minds, science fiction is a literary (and by extension cinematic) ghetto. Personally, I believe their opinions are wrong and likely ill-informed, but that doesn’t change the fact of their existence. Nor does it change the fact that such opinions have limited science fiction’s reach into the population’s reading habits. I would hate to see a similar thing happen to steampunk, however likely it may be.

In the end, of course, I am being pedantic and somewhat curmudgeonly, both perhaps a result of my New England upbringing. The film will likely be very fun to watch and may even serve to raise awareness of steampunk. I should be pleased that steampunk has made it as far as the popcorn movie — and I am — but I don’t want to see steampunk stop there when it can be so much more.