Friday, December 6, 2013

Top 10 Magic Items of the Movies

The next installment of the Top 10 is Magic Items.  In the last two lists I looked at Magic Users: that's great for them, but what about the rest of us shmucks who don't have a magic attuned bone in our bodies?

Luckily for us, the movies present us with the magical equivalent of Q's latest gadgets.

So dig into the bag of holding and see what you pull out!  Time for:

First up: define our terms.

A magic item is an artifact or item, some physical object that someone can use to do something magical.
Not science: a garage door opener is an item you hold in your hand that appears to levitate a door, but it isn't magic.  I'm placing value based on amount and versatility of the power and effect the item would give someone, ideally: anyone. Some magic items only work for one specific person, and that's a pretty lousy item, assuming (which is likely) you are not that person.  Remember the Sword in the Stone? Great if you're the intended special dude but it's just a tease for anyone else...

Joe: "What do you have there?"
Bill: "A magic sword."
Joe: "Cool!  What's it do?"
Bill: "Not sure.  I think it's supposed to make me king, or give me power, or something."
Joe: "You haven't tried it?"
Bill: "No, I can't get it out of it's packaging."
Joe: "Oh, one of those plastic clam-shells? I hate those, I can never get it open. You tried biting it?"
Bill: "No, I mean it's stuck in this rock unless you're the right person."
Joe: "Dude... bummer... so it's just like a big rock on a stick"

So, yeah: Sword in the Stone isn't making the list, which I had reminded to me isn't the same as Excalibur: correct, but the sword lobbed by the watery tart has only one user too, and if only one person can use an item that's going to weigh against it in my assessment.

Another consideration with these things: The Fine Print: what are the downsides to using the item?
Also, the items have to be from a movie I have seen, or I can't rate it.  So on we go!

#10: The Glaive

I am pretty sure this was magic.. was it ever explained?  A fantasy medieval planet overlorded by a giant alien in a giant alien spaceship-become-dark castle. But this guy never cut his fingers off catching that thing so I have to think it's magic.  Ninja magic laser beam throwing staroomerang.  I was 14 when I saw Krull and wanted this thing soooo bad.  Good thing I didn't get it or no car tires in the neighborhood would have been safe. It's more flash than function though, I mean really... short of puncturing tires what are you going to do with this if the alien overlord never shows up to dominate your planet?

#9: The Sampo

From the tales of the Kalevala to the screen of MST3K via Soviet film making, brings us The Sampo.
The Day the Earth Froze (see full video at the end) remains one of my favorite MST3K episodes.  A tale of how Mel Brooks and C.Everett Koop conspired to hoard the means of production for their own personal selfish gain and plunge the rest of the world into eternal winter.  Now I see why it was interesting to the Soviet film industry, that's some good propaganda. The Sampo is an item, the delicate nature of which appears to require repeated rythmic hammer blows to create, and then you're left with an item which will make a never ending supply of grain, salt & gold. I am unclear if there is just one 'ON' switch and you're stuck with 30 metric tons of salt in addition to the gold you were after.  Still, could solve the world's hunger problems (who's doesn't love salty bread?) if you can keep it out of the hands of greedy witches. But don't take my word for it, watch the movie below!

#8: Brass Teapot

From the film of the same name, a quirky take on an old standard: the item that will make you rich.
This one is refreshing for a questionably cursed item in that it makes no secrets about it's harmful side effect, it's right there in the operating instructions: to make it work, it needs pain.  Have the teapot & stub your toe? Pop! it makes money.  Break your arm?  Pop-pop! Even more money! In a race between humanity's greed and capacity to inflict harm, this is a match made in heaven.. or someplace else.

But I have to think they just were not thinking creatively enough. Granted they had some creative ideas:
So I get to 'punish' you and we get free magic money? Thank you Teapot.

But why not just take the teapot where there is unchecked suffering already and just let the teapot crank out the money?  Then use the money to help fix those problems. Oh! Haha Teapot, got you! Of course, doesn't mean you have to tell your female companion about that, seeing how she's already in that black outfit and all.

#7: The One Ring

The One Ring: not #1. And for good reason. This might be the highest prized item for Sauron, but the rest of us lose a lot more than we gain.  Extended life is great, I wouldn't mind being a spry one hundred and eleventy year old someday. And the invisibility is a nice touch no doubt about it.  But the whole corrupting you into a wraith if you don't get rid of it, and the high addiction factor brings it down quite a bit.  So FDA warning label reads: may bring on wraithdom.  If it could be mass produced it'd probably be marketed as a dietary aid.  The only reason it isn't lower on the list is you could still do a lot with it, it's got huge historical significance, and the competition isn't very fierce if you're not greedy or have an unquenchable desire for salt.

#6: Magic Mirror

This one is much more valuable within-story than it would be for us.  We do have Google afterall, so a lot of this is covered already.  But this is like NSA level Google. You get to know everything, even what people are thinking.  Get creative, you could get some good uses out of that.  Probably not enough to justify a multi-trillion budget and losing what little trust and confidence might still remain of your people.. or you could just use it to ask if you're still pretty enough.  Your call.

#5: Dagger of Time

Time Travel is always high on people's wish list.  This one is pretty limited, but does seem to help keep you alive, so that's a bonus.  Makes a Prince of Persia a more impressive fighter than a Jedi Knight, so there has to be something to it.  And the blade is so small compared to a light saber. Guess size doesn't matter.  Not if you can control time.

#4: Tablet of Ahkmenrah

Make every night a Night at the Museum: and bring it out into the world.  When I was a kid I was sure my toys came alive at night and played, moved around.  A lot of kids do.  Guess our toys don't like us much since they won't do this when we're awake.  Well screw them, use this tablet to make them and every other inanimate object you want come to life and do what you want!  I am the puppet master! Oh, wrong movie. But what untapped potential. Disaster relief? Make animated statues go in and rescue people. Hostage negotiations? An army of plastic ants ought to do the trick. Plus I want to see the Statue of Liberty wrestle the Eiffel Tower! Pay Per View! And if things ever get really bad, just animate the world's mannequins and unleash your army and take over the world until you set things straight.

#3: Tesla's Machine from Prestige

I know, I know... Tesla: science.  But come on, this is clearly more magic than science.
Spoiler Alert: Ready?  If not, skip to the next or go down and watch the Sampo movie.

OK: it's not a transporter, it's a copy machine.

This is one of David Bowie's cooler ideas.  I mean Tesla's idea. Not the band Tesla, goodgod not the band.
Bowie makes this awesome magic machine and it's just wasted.
Word to the wise Tesla: don't trust Gollum around your magic items!

This thing has such amazing untapped potential.  Think about what you could do if you could copy anything. Not only is it a licence to print money, but that's got limited benefit with inflation, but think of all the good you could do!  78 people on the waiting list for a heart but you only have 1 donated?  Not anymore! Schools need computers or smart phones? Crank em out and no need to force Chinese workers to live in the factory dreaming of a suicide retirement.

Now if it would just play the B-side of Low while turned on this would really be a magical device.

#2: The Horn Resounding

It's not going to make you rich, and probably won't save the world (though it might).  But the Horn Resounding can open up a way to travel to the realm of the Gods.  I assume it could also travel to other destinations? Maybe it depends on what note you blow. Inter-dimensional travel?  Oh I can't resist that.  Every generation has wondered what if anything is beyond death, and with this magic item you get to go and find out, without having to die! I'm not sure what it says that every Viking on the ship was unable to blow the horn, but they all transported to a magic realm when the only woman on board saddled up to blow the big horn... yeah, maybe this is like one of those Roreshak tests.

It's an awesome magic item.  Much better than the other 'magic item' in Erik the Viking...

Erik's 'invisibility cloak' which was actually more of a rag on his head than a cloak, and also more of a does-not-turn-you-invisible-rag, instead encourages you to dance around and make a fool out of yourself. 

#1: The Map

With this map you have everything you need to set out on your career as a Time Bandit

Speaking as someone who has been well-bitten by the travel bug, this would be Awesome. 
A map that gives you all the secret backdoors to the shoddily-made universe.  

Travel through time!  Future or Past, change events, explore, learn, or as one bandit put it "get stinking filthy rich". So much to know! I wants it. Is this actually a magic item?  Hmmm... not certain.  Probably?  But the doors are magic and this is the key to understanding the doors, so it's all wrapped up in the same magic item concept.  Oh, and did I mention you not only get to travel through time but you get to travel to other versions of reality.. lands of myths and legends! I was sold already, but no question now. 

Downside: The Devil is after you for the map.  OK, that's bad, but still totally worth it. 


So that's my list, what's yours?
Agree with me?  Disagree?  Have other items in mind? 

For your Friday enjoyment.. get yourself a Sampo!

MST3K Says: 

"If you know what a Sampo is, write it on a piece of paper, 
throw it away and try not to think about it.
You'll be glad you did."

Music to fax yourself by:


Paul´s Bods said...

In no particular order,
Caledfwlch (excaliber) Not only does it blind the enemy but heals loss of blood...well, the scabbard does.
Dyrnwyn, the Sword of Rhydderch Hael.
The Chariot of Morgan Mwynfawr
The Hamper of Gwyddno Garanhir
The Mantle of Arthur of Cornwall
The Stone and Ring of Eluned the Fortunate
the flaming spear of the sun
the sword of the moon
the ring Andvarinaut
Ring of Dispel
Stone of Giramphiel
Ring of Gyges
The seal of solomon

ps..excaliber wasn´t the sword that was Held in the Stone. Excaliber is given to him by the Lady in the lake, the other sword was purely as a test.

Christopher Sheets said...

Paul beat me to pointing out that the Sword in the Stone and Excalibur are two different swords.

Francis Lee said...

Good list but I need to see Brass Teapot now!

Bill said...

"You tried biting it?" I laughed for fifteen minutes. Which is bad, I home sick as a dog. She who must be adored thought I was having an aneurism.

When I saw "Top Ten Magic Items" I thought of the Power Pasties. From "Flesh Gordon". Could not find a YouTube clip unfortunately. They were magical nipple pasties and the most powerful weapon in the universe. With them Dr. Hans Jerkoff stopped the unstoppable Rapist Robots from violating Flesh and Darla.

I think by the time you would have been old enough to see the film the censors had been through it so many times with their steely knives who knows what was left. All the best. Hope your feeling better. -Bill

Laughing Ferret said...

Thanks all :)

Excalibur: Ah yes, you're right. The Swird int he Stone then just really fell in my esteem for useful magic items then: definitely wouldn't pick that one. But i assume Excalibur can only be used by Arthur? It wasn't ever stated was it? If it's general access or keyed just to the one man? They did throw it back in the lake after Arthur died, so I assume he's the only one who could use it, or the next-most worthy could have used it to try to struggle on.

Bill: glad you got a laugh, sorry for the home disturbance ;) I haven't seen Flesh Gordon but after a build up like that.. well, still sounds pretty bad ;)

Michael Awdry said...

A fabulous post, l really enjoyed scrolling down to the ultimate reveal and what a choice - brilliant!

Anne O'Leary said...

I haven't seen the MSTK3 you're referring to. I'l have to check it out. A lot of these are not known to me, like the Brass Tea Pot.

If the Tardis was said to be magic that would be my number one.

Scott said...

Interesting post, again!

A few others I thought of...

Jack Sparrows Compass was kinda nifty - always know where what you want is... plus his revolving maps thing could also be useful...

Re - MiddleEarth, there are of course all the other rings to consider, not to mention a few wizards staffs! ;-)

fireymonkeyboy said...

This was a good one, I hadn't even thought of the Map when I saw the title. Clearly I need to see TB again.


Turms said...

Great list!

and that Sampo and Kalevala movie was priceless blast from the past!

But what is Sampo... well here in Finland one of the biggest insurance companies is named after the mythological item - everybody puts money in and the Sampo produces gold for the shareholders. ;-)

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