Top 5: Sci-Fi Handguns

I’ve mentioned, time and time again, that I am a fan of science fiction. So today, instead of dissecting and nitpicking some sci-fi movie, I’d like to take this opportunity pay tribute to the creativity and style that this particular genre has produced over the years.

And since I also have a soft spot for good looking weapons, I figured we’d kill two mutated birds with one laser blast. With that in mind, I present to you:

Travis Tee’s Top 5 Sci-Fi Handguns

Now, before we begin the list proper, let me clarify a few things.

Firstly, while I will make arguments to support my choices, this is in no way an objective list. It’s all my personal opinions and preferences, and you are more than welcome to disagree.

Secondly, my criteria is practicality and appearance, rather than how iconic or powerful the weapons are, and how good or bad the user is.

So, let’s begin.

5: Deckards Gun (Blade Runner)
Gun 5

This pistol, unofficially known as the LAPD 2019 Blaster, the M2019 Blaster or the Steyr Pflager Katsumata Series-D Blaster, is the signature weapon of Rick Deckard (and presumably the LAPD in general). As for its placing on the list, it gets high marks for its unique, interesting appearance, so much so that accurate replicas and reproductions can sell for hundreds of dollars. However, it does suffer from firing cartridges, which is odd, considering how it’s almost universally referred to as a “blaster“. I’ll get into this in more detail later, but suffice to say that this makes the gun somewhat impractical, compared to other entries on the list.

4: Moses Brothers Self-Defense Engine Frontier Model B (Firefly)
Gun 4

We move from a gun where nobody seems able to agree on an official name, to a gun with a name nobody can be bothered to remember, with most just calling it “Mal’s Gun“. Seeing as Firefly was pretty much a space western, it’s not surprising that a custom made weapon for the show would be similar to an old west revolver. And seeing as I am a big fan of old west weapons, it’s equally unsurprising that this should inch ahead of the LAPD Blaster. Of course, it suffers from the same problem, being loaded with cartridges, which prevents it from climbing higher.

3: DL-44 Heavy Blaster (Star Wars)
Gun 3

Interestingly, another weapon used by Harrison Ford on the silver screen. The DL-44 carried by Han Solo is on of the most iconic handguns of the entire genre. Its easily recognizable silhouette is a result of it being based on the Mauser C96, also known as the ”Broomhandle Mauser”. And unlike the previous entries on this list, this is a genuine blaster, in that it fires energy projectiles (in this case plasma) rather than bullets. This means that shots fired from it are, if not outright unaffected, at least far less impaired by gravity, cross winds or drag than bullets fired from a normal handgun. For all intents and purposes, they keep going until they hit an obstacle or they dissipate. This makes them more accurate, with the only drawback probably being that they are slower. This, coupled with the rugged style, lands the DL-44 on third place.

2: A180 Blaster Pistol (Star Wars)
Gun 2

Another weapon from the Star Wars franchise, this time the A180 Blaster Pistol from the spinoff/prequel/sidequel Rogue One. Keen-eyed readers will notice that, much like the previous entry, it is based on a german handgun. In this case, it’s the Luger P08. The A180 is a less powerful blaster, compared to the DL-44, but is more compact as a result, while shots fired retain the same positives. All this, and the horribly unfair fact that I prefer the Luger over the Mauser C96 on a simply aesthetic level, means that it snatches the second place on the list.

Now, before we reach the #1 spot, let’s look at a few honorable mentions, handguns that I’d like to spotlight, but which didn’t quite make the list, for one reason or another.

Westar-34 Blaster Pistol (Star Wars)
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Carried by Jango Fett, these pistols, despite a uniqe look, simply never caught my interest in the same way the other entries did. They also seem an odd choice for a famed bounty hunter. I guess it makes sense that, despite his flaws, his son Boba Fett at least had the good sense to switch to a rifle.

The Samaritan (Hellboy)
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An incredibly impressive looking handgun, but it did not make the list for three reasons. Firstly, it’s too big for anyone other than Hellboy to use. Second, it only holds four bullets, which is a bit impractical. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, while there are a few sci-fi elements, Hellboy doesn’t really count as Science Fiction…

(But really, when else will I get a chance to talk about it?)

Zat’nik’tel (Stargate SG-1)
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This is a handy-dandy, if rather unattractive little piece. It can stun, it can kill, and it can disintegrate enemies. However, from an aesthetic point of view, it’s very much hit and miss for me. It just never impressed me enough to consider it for a place on the list, I’m sorry to say. That said, I know for a fact others like it, so it deserves at least a mention among the others.

Noisy Cricket (Men in Black)
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This unassuming little thing is perhaps the antithesis of the first spot. Not so much impressive as odd looking, the noisy cricket is powerful enough to blow up… pretty much anything you aim it at. The downside is that it’s so powerful, it launches the shooter backwards at high velocity. This makes it, to put it simply, effectively useless.

Phaser (Star Trek)
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One of the granddaddies of sci fi weapons, this is essentially the swiss army knife of the genre. It can stun, it can kill, it can blow stuff up or even be made into a makeshift bomb. So why is it not on the list, you may wonder?

Well, just LOOK at it. It’s absolutely hideous. It doesn’t matter which version you pick. They may get plenty of bonus points for practicality, but the fact remains… it’s a tool. No care or concern or passion has gone into their design. Function over fashion, which disqualifies them from this list.

So, with the honorable mentions and snark out of the way, let’s get to the first spot.

1: Particle Magnum (Stargate Atlantis)
Gun 1

This gun, carried by Ronon Dex, who we have discussed once before, is resting at the number 1 spot for a very simple reason: This is what happens when Mal’s gun fucks a phaser. It has a stun setting, a kill setting, a blow-stuff-the-fuck-up setting… Even that impromptu mine aspect could probably be done by overloading the energy cell. Speaking of, according to concept art, the energy cell is rechargeable, though the method isn’t made clear.

But what it has over the phaser is its appearance. It looks great! Its design brings to mind an old black powder revolver, specifically the colt 1860 Army. And like I said earlier: I’ve a soft spot for old west weaponry.

Practicality and style. Both criteria, and the Particle Magnum aces both of them. I think Teal’c said it best about the gun.

I would very much like to have a weapon such as this!

So those are my personal picks when it comes to Sci-Fi handguns. Like I said, you are free to disagree with my picks, and I would love to hear of your handguns of choice, and the arguments for why you prefer them.

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WTFAW: Disney Triple Feature

Because I have some deranged masochistic urge to cause a crippling migraine attack, we will cover a collection of fan theories today. However, I understand they’re not just random theories, but all share some common element. So, what is that element, Dave?

Dave: All four are from Disney movies.

…Is there a theory about Frozen?

Dave: Well..

Because I don’t want to do another article on Frozen for a while. If you bring me another theory about that movie before I’ve had time to recover from last time, I will start hitting you with a stick, and I don’t know when I will stop.

Dave: Oh… in that case, let’s make a triple feature. But they’re all really good! Prepare to have your mind blown!

I don’t think rupturing a blood vessel in my brain counts as ”blowing my mind”. But fine, let’s get this over with.

Dave: The first theory is that Jane from Tarzan is the grandaughter of Belle and Beast.

Alright. What are the arguments?

Dave: There is a resemblance between them, but also, Jane could understand Tarzan, who was quite animalistic, just like Belle understood Beast.

Is that all?

Dave: No, there’s also the fact that Jane owned a tea-set with a pot and cups that looks just like Mrs. Potts and Chip. One of the cup even has a crack in it! A family heirloom, perhaps?

OK. So let’s break this down. As for the supposed ”Family resemblance”, is there really that much of a resemblance? Yes, both Belle and Jane are white brunettes, so there are some similarities, but is it really enough to say ”Yes, these two are related”? I’m not so sure.

But then there’s the idea that ”Jane understood Tarzan, like Belle understood Beast”.

Maybe you and I were watching different movies, but Beast wasn’t animalistic in the sense that he was feral. He looked like a beast, but his mind was unaltered. He could speak, reason and argue. He wasn’t a wild animal she tamed. Belle understanding him wasn’t a matter of animal/human relationships. It was a matter of being able to speak.

Dave: But what about the tea-set?

Yes, about that. It looks a lot like the one in Beauty and the Beast, I agree. But there’s one very important detail you’re forgetting about that tea-set. Do you remember what happened to it?

Dave: Uhm…

Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t that tea-set TURN INTO A BUNCH OF PEOPLE?!

I pointed this out in my article about the movie! They didn’t merge with stuff in the castle, they BECAME stuff from the castle!

In other words, the tea-set from Beauty and the Beast effectively CEASED TO FUCKING EXIST once the curse was broken!

Which means this is a different tea-set, and its appearance doesn’t prove a fucking thing!

So really, there is no evidence to back this theory up. The most you can say is ”they both wear yellow at some point”.

Next theory.

Dave: Ok, so sticking with Beauty and the Beast, you know that book Belle calls her favourite?

Yes…?

Dave: Belle is reading the story of Aladdin! Think about it. ”Far off places, daring sword fights, magic spells, a prince in disguise”! It’s all there!

Ah, ok. I can see a few flaws with that. First of all, ”Far off places”? Agrabah is a far way from France, but considering the stereotypical opening of fairytales is ”Once upon a time, in a far away land”, I don’t think that really says much.

Daring sword fights”? True, Aladdin stabbed Jafar with a sword, and swords appeared here and there… but actual swordfighting? Not really. Certainly not enough to warrant a special mention. As for ”Magic spells”, sure. But again, it’s not like that’s unique to Aladdin. Hell, it’s not unique to Disney! And then there’s ”A prince in disguise”.

Let me ask you this. What fucking movie were you watching?! Aladdin wasn’t a prince! That was the whole point of him wishing for it! That giant parade existed solely to make people THINK HE WAS A PRINCE!

That’s a PAUPER in disguise, not a prince! You got it completely fucking backwards!

And finally, ignoring all of these points, she takes that book with her and reads as she walks through town. At one point, she sits down by a fountain, and we see the inside of the book, with illustrations.

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Does this look like Agrabah to you?

Sure, you could argue it’s a westernized depiction, but the scene she describes? That doesn’t happen! I fact, the complete OPPOSITE happens, with Aladdin meeting Jasmine, not knowing she’s a princess!

All of this is also ignoring that Aladdin came out AFTER Beauty and the Beast, which sinks this whole theory anyway. Can I go nurse my headache now?

Dave: I still have one more theory .

Oh goody…

Dave: Mother Gothel and the Queen from Snow White are the same person!

Excuse me… I must have missed that. We’re talking about the same people here, right? Mother Gothel, the villain from Tangled?

Dave: Yes.

And the evil queen from Snow White? Tall, grim, flowing cape, talks to a mirror?

Dave: That’s the one.

And they are the same person? Not sisters? Not just similar? The actual same person?

Dave: Exactly.

Wow…

Dave: Yeah, isn’t it cool?

No, it’s among the dumbest theories I’ve ever heard. What I find strange is that, instead of the migraine I expected, I suddenly started tasting copper, and everything went bright red for a split second.

So what are the arguments?

Dave: Well, they look similar, they both have daggers in boxes, and they’re obsessed with youth and beauty.

I see we’re ignoring the big issue for now. Well, then. You say they look similar? In what way? What is so similar looking about them? They both have black hair and thin eyebrows? They also have different coloured eyes. Gothel has blue eyes, the Queen has green.

Dave: Uhm… but when they turn into hags, they look a lot alike!

You’re still ignoring the eye colour, Dave. But I’ll play. Let’s see, shall we?

Witch.jpg
Wow. Like peas in a fucking pod, aren’t they?

And you’re also missing the fact that with Gothel, that is how she actually looks. With the Queen, it’s a disguise.

Not to mention, their personalities are absolutely nothing alike, with the Queen being dominering, regal and cold and Gothel being manipulative and feigning affection. Both are vain, but Gothel is motivated by greed, wanting eternal youth. The Queen is motivated by jealousy, not wanting anyone to be more beautiful than her.

And the Queen has a dagger in a box? When does she ever have a dagger in a box? The only knife seen in the movie is the one carried by the huntsman. As in, his own hunting knife!

Dave: There’s another! It’s in the box she gives to the huntsman.

That box? You mean the box she explicitly told him to put the HEART in?! The one that had a dagger ON the lock, not INSIDE THE BOX?!

Dave: Well.. that dagger looks a bit like Gothels dagger…

Firstly, so what?! And secondly, no, it fucking doesn’t! It looks nothing like it! Gothels dagger was ornate, with a swirled handle and a curved handguard, and the dagger on the box was more simplistic, with a straight handguard!

Dave:… why do you know that..?

Because unlike you, I pay fucking attention!

Speaking of, there’s that small nagging issue… what was it… Oh right.

How do you explain that both these characters, who according to your theory are one and the same, both end up kind of sort of ever so slightly EXTREMELY FUCKING DEAD!?

Dave: Well, we never see the Queens body…

True, but you know what the thing is with the Queen? Her death is one of the most excessive of any Disney villain!

She’s trying to roll a boulder down on the dwarves, using a stick as a lever. Then a bolt of lightning strikes the stick she’s holding. That’s about 30,000 amperes going through your body. If that doesn’t kill you, it’ll at least hurt like everliving hell. Then the rock she stands on crumbles, and she falls down the cliff.

Given her scream lasted about six seconds before dying out (rather than abruptly stopping) I’d say we’re looking at a more than 180 m drop. In simple terms, she’s dead on impact.

And then the boulder she was going to use to crush the dwarves falls down after her!

The point I’m trying to make is that it’s probably best we don’t see her body, because she didn’t just die. She got overkilled to death.

Gothel, meanwhile, aged what is probably a few centuries in a couple of minutes, to the point where there’s nothing left of her but dust. These are observable as separate events, meaning they cannot be the same person.

In other words, this theory, which is so stupid I fear I have actually become dumber for having dissected it, is as dead as the two old bats it concerns. And I swear, Dave, that if you bring me any more fan theories today, what I will do to you will make the ordeal the Queen suffered seem like the Elysian fucking fields by comparison.

 

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Batman: Under the Red Hood

Avid readers of this blog will know that I have a bit of a soft spot for Batman. Not surprising, considering he was the first superhero I was ever exposed to, in the form of the 1989 Tim Burton movie, followed by the animated series.

And on this very blog, I have covered Batman on several occasions, most notably in the form of fan theories.

But I’ve yet to actually discuss a proper Batman movie. Sure, there was Crisis on Two Earths, but I mean a movie centered squarely on the Caped Crusader. So with that in mind, I’d like to talk for a bit about what is actually one of my favorite Batman movies.

Batman: Under the Red Hood.

Obviously, there will be spoilers, so if you plan to watch the movie (which I highly recommend) I suggest you stop reading.

With that out of the way, let’s begin.

The movie covers a new masked vigilante, known as the Red Hood, arriving in Gotham and making waves. His methods are radically different to Batman’s, in that he seizes control of drug trade and, perhaps more importantly, is not shy about killing in the process.

He is not only very well trained, but also knows a lot about Batman, including his secret identity.

It is eventually revealed that the Red Hood is actually Jason Todd, formerly Batmans sidekick Robin. For the past five years, he was believed to be dead, killed at the hands of the Joker. While that is true, he was secretely revived by the ancient Ra’s Al Ghul, using a Lazarus Pit. Now, he has returned to Gotham and has a score to settle not only with the Joker, but with Batman as well.

Of course, to comic book readers, this is all probably old news. Which might explain why the focus of the movie is not really the identity of the Red Hood.

This brings me to the reason I am writing about this movie.

You see, this movie… confuses me. Not in some internal logic way or because the concept is strange.

No, it’s because I really like this movie. Like I said, it’s one of my favourites.

Thing is… I SHOULDN’T like it.

Let me explain. There are two kinds of movies which I generally dislike.

  1. movies where nothing is accomplished, and
  2. movies with downer endings.

This movie has both. At the the end, The Joker is back in Arkham, but most likely, he will eventually to escape and cause death and mayhem again. Jason is gone for the time being, but his hatred for Batman has not diminished and he remains a powerful threat, and as a result, Batman’s guilt over his failure to help Jason is unchanged.

As Batman himself puts it

This doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t change anything at all

And he is right. Nothing has really changed from when the movie began, and the last thing we see before the credits is a flashback to a young Jason Todd, ready to head out with Batman for the first time, joyfully declaring:

This is the best day of my life

All this should make this a shoe-in for my least favorite super hero movie.

So, why isn’t it, then? Why do I like it?

I think it’s because it’s an incredibly well written character study, in terms of Batman’s relationship with both Jason Todd and the Joker, both of which are covered in this movie in very interesting ways. I have never read a single batman comic where Jason Todd appears, nor have I seen him appear in any other media, and yet this movie does a great job of giving us an idea of what he was like. Talented, but impulsive. Dedicated, but headstrong.

After the revelation that The Red Hood and Jason Todd are one and the same, Batman is troubled by the guilt over how, because of him, Jason has become a murderous criminal, which is what Batman tried to avoid by recruiting him in the first place.

Jason, meanwhile, has taken the training Batman gave him, and is working to become the kingpin of Gothams criminal world, believing that crime can’t be stopped, only controlled.

Eventually, Jason becomes such a powerful threat that his main rival, Black Mask, is forced to break the Joker out of prison to take him down.

And here is revealed The Red Hoods more immediate plan. To kidnap the Joker and force Batman to make a choice.

See, one of the reasons I like this movie is Jason’s motivation for all of this. Everyone he has killed, all the violence and extortion, it was all so he could make the showdown between him, Batman and the Joker possible.

Like I said, Batman is haunted by his failure to save Jason from the Joker, and during the climax tries to make him understand how sorry he is. Jason, in response, is insulted by the apology, because it means Batman doesn’t even know why Jason is doing any of this. He doesn’t hate Batman for failing to save him. He hates him because despite murdering Jason, the Joker is still alive.

He is angry, because his death apparently meant so little to Batman, who couldn’t bring himself to punish the man responsible, despite the Joker proving, time and time again, that he will never stop. This hearkens back to something Jason mentions earlier, namely that Batman tries to strike fear into criminals, but that strategy is useless against people like the Joker, who are not afraid of him.

In fact, the Joker at one point makes fun of Jason being dead, and when Batman becomes violent, he mockingly asks if Batman is really going to kill him this time, or just put him in hospital for a few months.

Faced with Jason’s accusation, Batman says that what Jason never understood, is that he doesn’t kill because it is hard to cross that line. It’s because it’s so EASY, and if he allows himself to cross that line, he’ll “never come back”.

I personally interpreted that as meaning, once you cross that line, killing becomes so much easier, such a simple solution. After all, Jason himself kills wantonly, and with no remorse whatsoever, because he believes his victims deserve it, to the point of considering “mercy” as only killing one person.

There is a word for someone like that.

They are called villains.

Of course, while there is some merit to what Batman says, and is probably true with other members of his rogues gallery, I’d argue there is another reason when it comes to the Joker.

That reason being: If Batman kills the Joker, the Joker wins.

What makes the Joker so dangerous isn’t his insanity or his sadistic sense of humour. It’s the fact that he considers his own death to be of little consequence, if it means breaking Batman in the process. Killing Batman is good, but doing something so terrible Batman is driven to kill him? That’s MUCH better.

So for all these reasons, the surprising character depth, the conflict, the fascinating look into the relationship between these characters, all of it outweighs the reasons I should dislike the movie.

Of course, it wouldn’t be right to make such a long-winded article, without at least a LITTLE nitpicking, right? So don’t worry. There is actually one thing which bothers me about this movie. It’s actually the same issue I have with the 1989 movie.

To put it simply, in this movie, they define the Jokers origin.

The most popular origin story for the Joker is the one presented in The Killing Joke, how he was a failed standup comedian who lost his wife and unborn child, and was roped into a robbery as part of the Red Hood Gang. During a confrontation with Batman at a chemical plant fell into the chemical cocktail that pushed him over the edge of insanity and turned him into the Clown Prince of Crime.

In this movie, we see that confrontation from Batmans point of view, and they question the Joker on what he knows about the new Red Hood.

However, the thing about the origin story presented in The Killing Joke was that it was given to us by The Joker. And the great genius of it was that he himself admits that “sometimes [he] remembers it one way, sometimes another”. In that one line, they threw a shroud of doubt on the entire thing, because it makes the Joker an unreliable narrator.

And what is especially frustrating about them cementing it as canon here is that really, there’s no good reason for it! It’s just there to justify Batman questioning the Joker, an interrogation which amounts to precisely jack shit!

Sure, it allowed the Joker to give the line about Batman possibly killing him, but really, there MUST have been some other way to allow that, without the high price.

You see, the reason The Joker is so terrifying, is that you don’t know his origin. One day, he seemingly just appeared with his joker venom and razor tipped playing cards and nobody, not even he himself, knows where the fuck he came from!

With that, he becomes a force of nature, of chaos and death, who fills graveyards and cripples young women.

Without it? He’s just a man. And a man can be killed.

And let’s face it…

That’s just not as funny.