Guns of the Silver Screen: V22N8

By Kyle Shea

“Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” came out in 2004, and despite mostly positive reviews from critics, it was a box office bomb. The idea behind the movie was that it was a love letter to the sci-fi films and comics from the 1930s and 1940s. Because of this, the movie is filled with amazing robots, sci-fi beasts, ray guns and mind-boggling locations done in CGI. In fact, almost all the backgrounds in the movie are done in CGI. Despite its failure at the box office, the film has garnered a cult following.

In the film, Angelina Jolie plays Commander Francesca Cook, or Franky for short. She commands a flying aircraft carrier and is hinted to have had a romantic past with the main character, Sky Captain. In one scene, Sky Captain and his former girlfriend Polly Perkins land on the carrier and Franky comes out to meet them. In her holster is a P38, a short-recoil pistol that she sadly doesn’t use in any fight. It has an odd movie prop that makes it look like an AutoMag pistol. Other guns used in the movie are Thompson machine guns used by police officers against giant robots. Sky Captain himself uses two different pistols. The first is a Webley Mk IV .38; the other is an M1911A1. Most of the other guns are either on airplanes or are Sci-Fi ray guns. One neat gun shoots a circular beam that creates a round hole in the middle of a robot.

The Walther P38 was produced in Nazi Germany. It first saw service in Sweden before Germany adopted it and used it in World War II. Over one million pistols were produced throughout the war, making it the standard side pistol of the German Army. It fires 9mm Parabellum from an 8-round magazine. It weighs less than 3 pounds and has a realistic range of around 50 meters; although with training, extended ranges could be readily engaged. Production of the P38 stopped after the war, but restarted in 1957, where it was used by the German Army again until it was replaced in the 2000s. It has also been used and found all over the world in countries like Hungary, Italy, Chile, China and Mozambique. It is even in use today in some countries and is popular with private collectors.

The Walther P38 is a popular villain gun in movies, mostly because of its use by Nazi soldiers during WWII. Almost every Nazi Officer in movies uses it, and it can be seen clearly in films like “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” “The Rocketeer,” “Captain America: The First Avenger,” and “Force 10 from Navarone.” One scene from “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” sees Indy fighting on top of a tank and being confronted by a group of Nazi soldiers. He wrestles a P38 out of the hands of one of the soldiers and shoots him. In the process, he hits two other soldiers behind him, causing him to pause and study the gun for a moment.

The visual effects of “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” are amazing to look at. The acting is good as well, with Jude Law as Sky Captain and Angelina Jolie as Franky. One problem is Gwyneth Paltrow’s acting. The character is annoying, and Paltrow does a terrible job playing her. While the visuals are impressive, some do look a little too dated. Still, this is a fun movie and worth a watch.

Many thanks to the movie firearms wizards at Bapty & Co. for letting Small Arms Review photograph this and many other movie-use firearms.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V22N8 (October 2018)
and was posted online on August 24, 2018


08-24-2018 5:06 AM

One of my favorite films

When you get the disc, don't overlook the

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