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Robots in Movies

This post was inspired by Doug Gross’s CNN article at http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/19/tech/innovation/robots-pop-culture/index.html. The first nine robot writeups below are from him. Although they don’t have feelings, some important movie robots have been overlooked, so I’ve appended them below.  Enjoy.

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Rossum’s Universal Robots

“R.U.R.”

“Rossum’s Universal Robots — was a Czech play that premiered in 1921. It is believed to be the first time the term “robots” was used to describe artificial people (who, in the tale, are made in a factory from synthetic material). In Czech, “robota” means forced labor. As happens in these cases, the cyborg-like creations in the play seem perfectly happy to serve humans, until an uprising ends in the extinction of the human race. Can’t win ’em all. The play was a huge success and, by 1923, it had been translated into 30 languages.

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Maschinenmensch

Maschinenmensch

The first movie robot wasn’t far behind. In 1927, Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” became the first feature-length sci-fi film, painting a picture of a dystopian future that would be echoed decades later in movies like “Blade Runner.” In it, rich industrialists deploy a female robot to impersonate Maria, a woman they fear will organize the workers they oppress. Pop artists from Queen to Nine Inch Nails to Madonna have made music videos either inspired by “Metropolis” or using clips from it. A half-century after “Metropolis,” the appearance of “Star Wars” droid C-3PO would be largely inspired by the robotic Maria.

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Asimov’s Three Laws

The short story they come from, “Runaround,” was written in 1942, but would become more widely known when the story appeared in science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov’s 1950 collection, “I, Robot.” Before Asimov, most robot stories followed a similar pattern: Scientists create robot; robot goes haywire and attacks its creators. Bored with that, he set up new rules of the robotic road. His Three Laws are:

A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

• A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

• A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law

It wasn’t that things would always go well from there. Many of Asimov’s stories, and the stories and films that his laws inspired, focus on trouble that arises when robots have trouble knowing how to obey the laws in tricky real-world situations. But they are also credited with helping create the “lovable” robot in science fiction: an archetype popularized in TV and movies, from “Lost in Space” to “Star Wars” to “Short Circuit.”

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Robby the Robot

Robby made his first appearance in the 1956 movie “Forbidden Planet.” From there, he became arguably the silver screen’s first mecha-celebrity. In old Hollywood’s great tradition of over-the-top, and often misleading, ballyhoo, the movie’s poster showed Robby manhandling a maiden, but he’s actually a helpful robot with a dry wit to boot.

After “Forbidden Planet,” Robby, or sometimes just the vaguely humanoid suit, went on to appear in dozens of movies and television shows, from “The Twilight Zone,” “Lost In Space” and “The Addams Family” to the much later “Mork & Mindy” and “Earth Girls Are Easy”.

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HAL 9000

“2001: A Space Odyssey” was Stanley Kubrick’s epic, groundbreaking film from 1968, and HAL 9000 was unquestionably its star. Represented by an impassive, disembodied voice but able to mechanically control the spaceship Discovery, which he’s tasked with running, HAL represented our fears of technology gone awry as the Space Age dawned.

Instead of obeying Asimov’s Laws, HAL, first and foremost, is devoted to making sure his ship’s mission is a success. And that command has a deadly, and near-disastrous outcome. Some argue that since he didn’t have a physical form (at least by the strictest standards) HAL is not really a robot. But Carnegie Mellon thought he deserved to go into the Robot Hall of Fame with its inaugural class in 2003.

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R2-D2 and C-3PO

It’s hard to argue anyone did more to propel robots from hardcore science fiction into the wider public consciousness than these two when they hit the screen in 1977. Full of personality, gallant and always helpful, the pair have appeared in all six “Star Wars” films to date. Creator George Lucas has said that R2-D2 is his favorite character from the movies.

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Terminator

Mention any major advance of robotics, technology or artificial intelligence and, to this day, you’ll inevitably hear something like this: “Skynet just became self-aware. Skynet is the system that leads to the Terminators, the titular robots of the series of movies (and later TV shows) which began in 1984. A new embodiment of our worst fears, the robots of “Terminator” are time-traveling killing machines — and it’s all because the people in charge let what we can do get ahead of what we should do.

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Data

Call Data the “anti-Terminator.” The android from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” is a creation that science has made so painfully close to human that his hyper-powered mind can’t help but yearn to be one of us. The bad jokes weren’t enough. Ultimately, an “emotion chip” granted Data’s Pinocchio-like wish to become “real.”

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Wall-E

The idea of a friendly robot with a ton of personality was well established by the time “Wall-E” came along in 2008. But the Academy Award-winning film is arguably Pixar’s best, and a huge reason for that was Wall-E’s wordless yet emotionally moving “performance.” Like much great science fiction, “Wall-E” also tackles larger societal issues like rampant consumerism and environmental waste, while still offering up a robot who connected with millions of viewers, young and old, on a personal level.

I’d like to add the following honorable mentions that failed to make Mr. Gross’s list:

Bishopinhalf

Bishop from Aliens

Lance Henriksen plays the creepy “synthetic” Bishop, who is good at mumbly-peg, fixing radios, distracting Alien queens, and speaking after he’s been torn in half by said Alien queen.

From Wikipedia: Aliens is a 1986 American science fiction action film co-written and directed by James Cameron and starring Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, and Lance Henriksen. It is the sequel to the 1979 film Alien and the second installment of the Alien franchise. The film follows Weaver’s character Ellen Ripley as she returns to the planet where her crew encountered the hostile Alien creature, this time accompanied by a unit of Colonial Marines.

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Gigantor

Yeah, sure, it was a TV show, not a movie. But a giant robot!? That could fly!? One of my favorite shows growing up.

From Wikipedia: Gigantor is an American adaptation of the anime version of Tetsujin 28-go, a manga by Mitsuteru Yokoyama released in 1956. It debuted on U.S. television in 1964. As with Speed Racer, the characters’ original names were altered and the original series’ violence was toned down for American viewers.

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Iron Giant

You don’t want to get this robot mad. He makes Optimus Prime look like a sissy.

From Wikipedia: The Iron Giant is a 1999 American animated science fiction film using both traditional animation and computer animation, produced by Warner Bros. Animation, and based on the 1968 novel The Iron Man by Ted Hughes. The film was directed by Brad Bird, and stars Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick, Jr., Vin Diesel.

optimus

Transformers

C’mon, who wouldn’t want a Camaro like Bumblebee? Firepower AND street cred.

From Wikipedia: Transformers is a 2007 American science fiction action film based on the Transformers toy line. The film, which combines computer animation with live-action, is directed by Michael Bay, with Steven Spielberg serving as executive producer. It is the first installment of the live-action Transformers film series. It stars Shia LaBeouf as Sam Witwicky, a teenager who gets caught up in a war between the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons, two factions of alien robots who can disguise themselves by transforming into everyday machinery.

austin

Fembots from Austin Powers

C’mon, who wouldn’t want a Fembot or two? And bra-mounted machine guns!?

From Wikipedia: Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery is a 1997 American action comedy film and the first installment of the Austin Powers series. It was written by Mike Myers, who also starred as both Austin Powers and the antagonist Dr. Evil, Powers’ arch-enemy. The film co-stars Elizabeth Hurley, Robert Wagner, Seth Green, and Michael York. Will Ferrell, Mimi Rogers, Carrie Fisher, Tom Arnold, Rob Lowe, Christian Slater, Cheri Oteri, Neil Mullarkey and Burt Bacharach made cameo appearances.

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Golden Army from Hellboy II

Um, yes, I would like an army of indestructible golden steampunk robots, thank you very much. And may I just add that the sword fight in the Elven throne room is the best cinematic fight scene of all time.

From Wikipedia: Hellboy II: The Golden Army is a 2008 American supernatural superhero film based on the fictional character Hellboy created by Mike Mignola, starring Ron Perlman. The movie was written and directed by Guillermo del Toro.

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Westworld

Again with the robots we don’t know are robots? Those are the scariest kind.

From Wikipedia: Westworld is a 1973 science fiction-thriller film written and directed by novelist Michael Crichton and produced by Paul Lazarus III. It stars Yul Brynner as an android in a futuristic Western-themed amusement park, and Richard Benjamin and James Brolin as guests of the park.

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Blade Runner

No list of movie robots is complete without this film. It has some of the best movie quotes of all time (see my favorites).

From Wikipedia: Blade Runner is a 1982 American dystopian science fiction thriller film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young and Edward James Olmos. The screenplay is loosely based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. The film depicts a dystopian Los Angeles in November 2019 in which genetically engineered organic robots called replicants—visually indistinguishable from adult humans—are manufactured by the powerful Tyrell Corporation.


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The 25 Most Awesome Movie Weapons

Thanks to Mike Eisenberg at http://screenrant.com/top-25-movie-weapons-mikee-61274

We all know the weapons make the movie, right?

There is a long list of awesome weapons in the history of cinema, and it’s about time we narrow them down to the top 25 (in our all-knowing, unerring opinion).

From weapons the size of a moon to a gun no larger than your pinkie, there’s plenty of variety on the list. But we couldn’t add them all – a couple just missed the cut. The Bear Jew’s baseball bat from Inglourious Basterds, the prawn electric Tesla arc splattering gun from District 9 and the intense .50-caliber, M82 sniper rifle in Smokin’ Aces should be considered honorable mentions.

The actual rankings are based on the capability of the weapon itself. Some sit lower on the list because they would be near useless without the specific user. A few at the top of the list may have been destroyed, but it makes them no less powerful or worthy of the their rank.

Sick Stick – Minority Report

W01The sick stick is an impressive piece of weaponry. It is not lethal, but instills fear in any potential victim. Typically seen in the hands of Precrime officers, it is used in conjunction with the “halo” to subdue those suspected of a future crime. It is only used once in Minority Report, but maybe that’s for the best.

Much like a taser, the baton-shaped stick instantly causes its victims to projectile vomit. Thanks to John Anderton’s (Tom Cruise) quick reflexes, we got to see it in action during an intense chase scene.

Point-of-View-Gun – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

w02The point-of-view gun makes up for its lack of explosive power with pure drama. It packs a punch, but more of an existential one. Once it is fired, anyone in its path will uncontrollably reveal their thoughts to the shooter. According to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the gun was created by the “Intergalactic Consortium of Angry Housewives” in an attempt to control the endings to marital arguments.

Although the weapon cannot be found in the novel on which the film is based, it was a pleasant addition to the movie. And in the hands of the beautiful Zooey Deschanel, any weapon belongs on this list.

De-Evolution Gun – Super Mario Brothers

W03Thankfully, when King Koopa (Dennis Hopper) tried to use the De-Evolution gun on Mario (Bob Hoskins), everybody’s favorite plumber used Luigi’s (John Leguizamo) mushroom to block the shot. Unfortunately for Anthony Scapelli, the gun worked moments earlier. When Koopa fired the weapon, missing a diving Mario, it struck Scapelli, turning him into a chimpanzee in a matter of seconds.

The gun is truly unlike any of other weapons on the list. While it doesn’t kill, its ability to turn the toughest human into a goofy chimpanzee is quite enough to fear.

Little Friend (M-16 w. grenade launcher) – Scarface

w04One of the most quoted scenes in movie history has its fame thanks to the customized grenade launcher belonging to Tony Montana (Al Pacino) in Scarface. During his last stand, Montana fends off a handful of assassins from atop his staircase using bullets and grenades. It truly is a piece of incredible machinery, even out of Montana’s lethal hands.

While the weapon is powerful enough to kill dozens of people, it has limited magazine capacity. Moreover, it may have been Montana’s wild nature, but the accuracy is pitiful. With a few minor tweaks, it could jump up a few spots.

Bullwhip – Indiana Jones Quadrilogy

W05Most of the weapons you will find on this list have some kind of firing mechanism, but lack the iconic status of Indiana Jones’ bullwhip. It is a tough task to take an item primarily used for dominatrix bedroom activity and make it one of the most recognizable movie weapons ever. That is precisely what Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford accomplished over the span of three (OK, four) movies.

The bullwhip has saved countless lives, swung Indiana Jones over deadly pits, snagged guns from enemy hands, strangled a handful of foes and even gave the hero a chin scar as a teenager. It has been through quite the journey, and to my knowledge, has never been replaced.

Sharks with Frickin’ Laser Beams Attached to Their Heads – Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

w06This is no joke. Dr. Evil was on to something in the Austin Powers films when he asked for “sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads.” Unaware of his own budget at first, he was given sea bass with laser beams attached to their heads. But eventually he got his way.

Dr. Evil’s loving son, Scott Evil, worked hard to win the heart of his father over Mini-Me. All it took was a retro-fitted laser atop a small shark, but unfortunately for movie fans, it was only used once. Still, that laser has deadly accuracy, at least on henchmen.

Telephoto Rifle (20mm Bushmaster cannon) – The Jackal

w07Arms dealer Ian Lamont (Jack Black) gave The Jackal exactly what we wanted. The long-range gun is controlled by cell phone or computer and may be aimed using a joystick. The rounds are made from depleted uranium, adding even more menace to the already lethal weapon. Even without The Jackal behind the trigger, it would be on this list.

The only problem with the gun is its accuracy. The first time it is used by The Jackal, we get a sense of the work it needs. Of course, what is a few inches when the results are so explosive? But it drops a few spots because of this glaring flaw. If The Jackal had his way, Lamont would have lost more than his arm during the initial test shot.

Oddjob’s Hat – Goldfinger

w08Although I’m not convinced Oddjob’s hat is a bowler hat, it is deadly nonetheless. A metal razor lines the rim of his hat and can cut through a stone sculpture. Tilly Masterson saw her demise at the tip of Oddjob’s hat in the James Bond film Goldfinger.

Ironically enough, the hat was also the cause of Oddjob’s own death. But not through the expected method. Instead, he threw the hat at James Bond (Sean Connery) and missed. It became lodged in a wall of metal bars and when Oddjob tried to pry it free, Bond electrocuted the villain.

Chain Mace – Kill Bill Vol. 1

w09Quentin Tarantino has been influenced by many works, yet his style adds flair to the already dramatic moments of past cinema. Although the fight scene in Kill Bill between The Bride and Gogo Yubari is exciting and intense, it is drawn from a few existing sources. Most notably, a similar scene is found in “Musashi,” a novel by Eiji Yoshikawa.

Regardless of influence, the weapon is deadly and unpredictable. In the hands of the sinister Gogo Yubari, it is even more lethal. The ball and chain has many options. It is used to choke, slice and strike The Bride.

Although the weapon is her bread and butter, it also indirectly helped The Bride kill Gogo. With all the fancy moves Gogo used to wind up with her chain mace, it didn’t do its job. It may have taken lives in the past, but on screen the chain mace takes none.

VX Gas – The Rock

w10To be honest, nothing I can say about the VX gas rocket used by General Hummel (Ed Harris) in The Rock would do it justice. So I’m going to leave you with two quotes from the illustrious Stanley Goodspeed (Nic Cage) to get my point across as to why this belongs on the list:

“Look, I’m just a biochemist. Most of the time, I work in a little glass jar and lead a very uneventful life. I drive a Volvo, a beige one. But what I’m dealing with here is one of the most deadly substances the earth has ever known, so what say you cut me some friggin’ slack!?”

“If the rocket renders it aerosol, it could take out an entire city of people… It’s a cholinesterase inhibitor. Stops the brain from sending nerve messages down the spinal cord within thirty seconds. Any epidermal exposure or inhalation and you’ll know. A twinge at the small of your back as the poison seizes your nervous system…Your muscles freeze, you can’t breathe, you spasm so hard you break your own back and spit your guts out. But that’s after your skin melts off.”

Golden Gun – The Man with the Golden Gun

w11In The Man With The Golden Gun, James Bond’s main foe is arguably not human. While Francisco Scaramanga is a scary man, the gun he uses truly makes him venomous. In the film, his golden gun fires a customized 23-carat bullet. The gun can also be broken down and disguised as various items like a pen and cuff-link, amongst others.

The golden gun has had its fair share of kills. In the hands of Scaramanga it has murdered political celebrities, gangsters, Gibson (a scientist in the film), Hai-Fat (his boss) and agent 002 Bill Fairbanks.

Chuck Norris’ Entire Body – Every thing he’s ever done

w12Let’s face it. No body part is more revered in the action genre than Chuck Norris’ fist. Not even Bruce Lee’s legs have as much pull as the clenched hands of Norris. Thanks to Sidekicks, a film many wish to forget, I have a lasting memory of the iconic Chuck Norris. But his abilities are only superseded by his reputation.

It is truly impressive how many henchmen and bumbling assassins have been knocked unconscious at the mercy of his fists. The rest of his body does come into play during fight scenes, but Chuck Norris’ fists have taken the most fame, even crossing over into Family Guy parody. That is the stuff of legend.

Explosive Nose Charge – Mission: Impossible III

w13When we are first introduced to the explosive nose charge in Mission: Impossible III it is without warning. On a helicopter to safety, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) attempts to save his damsel in distress (Keri Russell), but she dies seconds before he can help her. A charge, planted inside her nose, created a micro-burst that essentially imploded her brain. The result was a disgusting mess of internal debris.

The device is unbelievably fast in its action. Once triggered, it is a matter a milliseconds before death overcomes its victims. Once implanted in the nose of Hunt, it took a defibrillator to counteract the charge. It is difficult to describe just how intense the moments before death can be for a victim of this weapon.

Wrist Laser – Iron Man 2

w13For anybody who saw Iron Man 2 in theaters, one of the most unforgettable scenes involved a weapon that desperately belongs on this list. When Screen Rant king Vic Holtreman told me to wait on this list until I saw Iron Man 2, my anticipation grew every day. In the film, you may recall Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) promoted his new line of weapons with which to equip War Machine. The last was the “Ex-Wife.” Naturally, I presumed this would be the epic weapon.

Boy, was I wrong. The “Ex-Wife” proved to be yet another Hammer dud, but Iron Man’s laser was quite the opposite. Out of nowhere, Iron Man warned War Machine to duck, before priming the ultimate handheld weapon. He began a sort of 360-spin move, but not before initiating a deadly laser beam from each wrist. It instantly decapitated the swarm of enemies around the heroic duo. The same eerie silence overcame audiences as when the Joker’s truck flipped in The Dark Knight.

Bow and Arrow – Robin Hood

w14The bow and arrow is not an illustrious weapon. Following a handheld laser with some wood and string doesn’t exactly win over the ladies. But Robin Hood’s weapon of choice has stood the test of time. The legend of Robin Hood is impossible to imagine without his bow and arrow.

A simple weapon, the bow and arrow needs little introduction or explanation. In the hands of many it is weak and powerless. Yet, with Robin Hood behind it, a bow and arrow can become a cultural staple. He hardly ever misses, and if he does, it may have been on purpose. This is the epitome of a weapon only as good as its shooter, and its shooter is darn good.

.44 Magnum – Dirty Harry

w15The .44 magnum pistol isn’t an overwhelming piece, but it packs a punch. And in the hands of Harry Callahan it doesn’t even need to have a bullet left in the chamber to scare a criminal. Dirty Harry is another film in which the most heavily quoted line is about a weapon.

“I know what you’re thinking — ‘Did he fire six shots or only five?’ Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve kinda lost track myself. But, being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?”

The Smith & Wesson Model 29 revolver is still popular today thanks to Dirty Harry and the film even led to a spike in sales during its theatrical release. Now you tell me that’s not an influential weapon.

Noisy Cricket – Men in Black

w16Not every weapon has to look like much, as long as its bite is big, loud and deadly. When Agent J (Will Smith) takes the puny little Noisy Cricket from Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), he is understandably upset. Only when he fires the pinkie-sized gun does he understand its power.

The weapon not only takes a chunk out of its target, but propels the shooter back dozens of feet. It is quite the weapon, but not necessarily put to its best use in Men in Black.

Rail Gun – Eraser

w17The U.S. Navy has clocked the speed of a railgun at seven times the speed of sound. Of course, you didn’t need to know that to believe it belongs on this list.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has held quite a few guns in his acting career, but few are as intimidating as his pair of railguns in Eraser. Even cooler than the explosive results of firing a railgun in Eraser is the plasma trail it leaves behind.

The swirly, blue trail is eye-popping and adds an extra level of awesome to the weapon. And don’t forget the night-vision scope on the side of the gun, which even uses X-ray technology to see through walls.

Jericho Missile – Iron Man

w18The Jericho Missile was created in respect to “how daddy did it,” and it has worked out pretty well so far. Although we only see it fire once, the missile is unforgettable. Did I mention it comes with a free Stark Industries bar/cooler?

Not only does the missile break into 16 individual missiles while in flight, but even Tony Stark guarantees “the bad guys won’t even want to come out of their caves.” The shockwave alone could do some damage, but the missile itself will blow a hole in the side of any mountain. Unfortunately, it is such a commodity, villains like The Ten Rings have been looking to unleash it on innocent civilians.

Sting – The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

w19(Note from  Henry: Here I beg to differ. If we are going to represent Lord of the Rings, then I’d submit Orcrist or Narsil or Grond)

If you are wondering how close an Orc may be to your home, it would be wise to get your hands on Sting. Luckily for its holder, the sword glows blue when Orcs are near. But it isn’t the ability of the sword that puts it so high on this list. Instead, it is the mental strength it gives its owner, Frodo, while in his possession. Of course, throughout his journey, Frodo experiences many events that help his confidence grow. But the sword was a major boost for the once fearful Hobbit.

In addition to the physical and mental advantages to Sting, it holds legendary status in the real world and Middle Earth. Fans of the Lord of the Rings franchise have been awestruck by the glowing sword since its first moment on screen. In Middle Earth it is handed off like royalty, rather than a mere antique.

Zorg ZF-1 – The Fifth Element

w20(Note from Henry: This is also my personal favorite. The gun with everything but the kitchen sink. The Fifth Element is a fun movie, but it is worth watching just for the ZF-1 alone!)

My personal favorite is also the super-villain Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg’s (Gary Oldman) favorite as well. The enhanced weapon is fitted with almost everything imaginable. While it doesn’t hold the legendary status of other weapons on this list, it deserves its place near the top. Imagine all the special features added to James Bond cars in one handheld device. That’s the essence of the Zorg ZF-1.

The ZF-1 holds a rocket launcher, poison arrow launcher, machine gun with replay capability, net launcher, flamethrower and freeze ray. Pretty handy for a light-weight gun wouldn’t you say?

Chainsaw – American Psycho, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Evil Dead

w21The chainsaw is a basic weapon by itself. In the hands of legendary villains and sinister men it is something else entirely. For example, take three of its most iconic users: Ash Williams, Patrick Bateman and Leatherface. The chainsaw can bring humor to the most sadistic moments, while the simple whirring sound can instill fear in the toughest of heroes.

The chainsaw has severed possessed hands, impaled runaway prostitutes and sliced through innocent teenagers over its illustrious history. But the chainsaw is deserving of the #3 spot because of its epic status and basic structure.

Hattori Hanzo Sword – Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2

w22“I am finished doing what I swore an oath to God 28 years ago to never do again. I’ve created something that kills people. And in that purpose, I was a success. I’ve done this because, philosophically, I am sympathetic to your aim. I can tell you with no ego, this is my finest sword. If on your journey, you should encounter God, God will be cut.”

Hattori Hanzo’s reputation for sword-making is one of the most legendary in film history. Of course, he was speaking figuratively when he claimed the sword would cut God, but honestly, I wouldn’t doubt it. Hanzo’s swords are priceless, unless you are in El Paso, where you can get one for $250.

The core of Kill Bill is a brilliant story, but it is pushed beyond brilliance by the iconic nature of the Hanzo sword. The samurai sword killed countless henchmen and took the lives of much of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. In a glorious death, The Bride sliced the top of O-Ren Ishii’s head clean off. The sword can cut through a human head as easily as it can a baseball. In addition, it makes a nice mirror.

Lightsaber – Star Wars Saga

w24The lightsaber has been the most beloved handheld weapon since it was first seen on screen in 1977′s Star Wars. Anybody who disagrees can head over to YouTube and find hundreds of homemade lightsaber fight scenes as proof. But those who possess a lightsaber in the Star Wars mythology are far more gifted than any YouTube sensation. Obi-Wan Kenobi explained it to the world in simple terms:

“This was the formal weapon of a Jedi Knight. Not as clumsy or random as a blaster. More skill than simple sight was required for its use. An elegant weapon. It was a symbol as well. Anyone can use a blaster or a fusion cutter—but to use a lightsaber well was a mark of someone a cut above the ordinary.”

Lightsabers are an intriguing weapon. Sometimes they penetrate like a regular knife, other times they slice a victim in two halves. Either way, if you get struck by a lightsaber, I hope you’ve got a spare limb hanging around. It’s favorite body part to destroy? Hands. And it comes in various colors in case you’ve got a favorite, like Forest Green.

Death Star – Star Wars Saga

w25“That’s no moon. That’s a space station.”

Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing) controlled the Death Star, which is hands-down the most intimidating weapon in history. Also known as the “ultimate weapon,” the Death Star is a floating space station the size of a moon. It has the capability to destroy an entire planet in the span of a few seconds.

Of course, both Death Stars seen in the Star Wars films were destroyed, but it does not take away from the epic status of the weapon. Though one downfall (apart from that one pesky and obvious design flaw) would be the lack of maneuverability. The Death Star is relatively slow. Unlike handheld weapons like the lightsaber, it requires a massive tactical team to fire even a single shot.

Some would argue the lightsaber is more memorable than the Death Star, but a ligthsaber is no match for the Empire’s ultimate weapon. Nor are any of the others on the extensive list above. So, pick your favorite weapon and let the debate begin.

Final note from Henry:

This is a terrific list. Honorable mentions might also include the bucket of water from “The Wizard of Oz”, the minigun from “Terminator II” and “Predator”, explosive shuriken thrown by Selene the vampire in “Underworld”, Gandalf or Saruman’s wizard staff from “The Lord of the Rings”, the (frickin’) invisible flying submarine from “The Avengers”, Thor’s hammer from (wait for it) “Thor”, and the ghost-capturing gun from “Ghostbusters.”