This week, I'm starting a new feature called "Casting by Phoebe" where I take an existing IP (intellectual property) that hasn't been adapted into a film or TV show and present to you, the actors that I'd like to see in the roles of the IP's major characters. It can be a video game, comic book, novel, toy line or anything else!

For this first one, I'd like to present my casting choices for a video game that nearly everyone loves, Final Fantasy VII. While the Final Fantasy brand has seen many semi-adaptations in the past including films like Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, we've never seen a Final Fantasy VII live action movie and if they ever did one, the first one they should do is Final Fantasy VII as it has the most hard core fandom of all of the games. Heck, the fans somehow have manged to convince Squaresoft to remake Final Fantasy VII with updated graphics, so when it comes to a live action adaptation, never say never...

Although Final Fantasy VII has enough story to be probably be a TV series, I could see a movie studio like Sony, presenting a Final Fantasy VII movie in a cool three-part story ala The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings. So without further ado, here are my selections.

Cloud Strife

Taron Egerton

BIGGEST ROLE TO DATE: Gary 'Eggsy' Unwin, Kingsmen: The Secret Service
AGE: 26
WHY THEY'D BE GREAT: He is an actor that has a great intensity and can be humorous.

Tifa Lockheart

Tatiana Maslany

BIGGEST ROLE TO DATE: Sarah Manning, Orphan Black
AGE: 30
WHY THEY'D BE GREAT: She has a great range for this rugged woman and can kick butt as seen in Orphan Black.

Arieth Gainsborough

Elizabeth Olsen

BIGGEST ROLE TO DATE: Scarlet Witch, Avengers: Age of Ultron
AGE: 26
WHY THEY'D BE GREAT: Has the right look and can gain the sympathy of the audience when she dies.

Barret Wallace

Terry Crews

BIGGEST ROLE TO DATE: Terry Jeffords, Brooklyn Nine Nine
AGE: 47
WHY THEY'D BE GREAT: He has the energy and sensitivity to pull off the role of a man with difficult decisions to make.

Cid Highwind

Garrett Hedlund

BIGGEST ROLE TO DATE: Sam Flynn, TRON: Legacy
AGE: 31
WHY THEY'D BE GREAT: He can pull off the swagger and voice for this oddball character.  

Cat Sith

Andy Serkis

BIGGEST ROLE TO DATE: Gollum, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
AGE: 51
WHY THEY'D BE GREAT: He can deliver a dynamic and fun mo-cap performance of both Cat Sith and the Moggle that would be unforgettable.  

Yuffie Kisaragi

Luna Blaise

BIGGEST ROLE TO DATE: Nicole, Fresh off the Boat
AGE:  14
WHY THEY'D BE GREAT: She has the maturity and comedic timing to do this young sprites character justice.

Vincent Valentine

Will Poulter

BIGGEST ROLE TO DATE: Gally, Maze Runner
AGE: 22
WHY THEY'D BE GREAT: He can dig deep to play this dark immortal.

Red XIII (Voice)

Peter Dinklage

BIGGEST ROLE TO DATE: Tywin Lanister, Game of Thrones
AGE: 46
WHY THEY'D BE GREAT:  He plays a lion already on GOT and had a rich voice that speaks with authority.

Sephiroth

Tom Hiddleston

BIGGEST ROLE TO DATE: Loki, Marvel's Avengers
AGE: 34
WHY THEY'D BE GREAT: Because, I mean, this would cause every fangirl's head in the wolrd to explode, right?
So there they are. Agree? Disagree? Let the arguments begin!
 
 
If you saw the Emmy's earlier this week, than you noticed that everyone seems to be obsessed with Game of Thrones. Who am I kidding, I'm most definitely obsessed with it too. It's both gratifying and strange for a geek when the entirety of pop culture suddenly shares the same obsessions as you do. You get so used to people not knowing what the heck you're talking about that when others talk circles around you about the latest episode and theories or predictions therein you freeze up and look like a deer caught in the headlights! The HBO hit has become so popular that it's even gotten it's own video game. You know you've made it when video games are being made of your work.
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Congratulations, good sir!
A company called 'Telltale Games' helmed the Game of Thrones game and, surprise surprise, it became a hit. For those unfamiliar with Telltale, they started back in the early 2000s and are best known for releasing their titles episodically in a similar fashion to television and for the game mechanic of having the players make choices throughout the game that effects what happens and how it ends. They had a so-so start with some great titles as well as some pretty terrible ones.
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Ho hum.
But in recent years they've really come into their stride and it has a lot to do with a little title called The Walking Dead, yet another franchise people are obsessed with. Telltale beautifully crafted a bittersweet story that made it's players care desperately for the protagonists all with the backdrop of a devastating zombie apocalypse. The game took elements both from the TV show most people know about as well as the graphic novel series, from which the TV show is based on. Telltale's greatest strength right now seems to be making interactive fan-fictions from the most famous properties and giving players the opportunity to choose what happens in them.
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Though if I'd really had a 'choice' this annoying asshole would've been dead in five minutes.
What most people seem to forget in their GT and TWD craze is that Telltale has adapted comic books more than once and made a title that was not only well put together but intriguing and fun, heck it got amazing reviews from video game websites across the board! It was a sadly forgotten tale known as 'The Wolf Among Us'.
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'The Wolf Among Us'
The Wolf Among Us was released in October 2013, in between TWD Season One and Season Two, and is a prequel to the main storyline of a graphic novel series called 'Fables'. The basic premise is that all the fairytale characters we know and love have been banished from their own world by an enemy known only as 'The Adversary' and sent to live in our own. Most of the conflict and drama comes from them being stripped of their 'happy endings' and having to deal with the harshness and moral ambiguity of the modern world we live in. Fables is mostly a mystery/action series that follows how the characters we thought we knew live amongst us 'Mundies' (normal humans) as well as with each other, all while fighting 'The Adversary'.

Before I get to the game, I'd like to just quickly say that you should really check out the graphic novels! Not only are the stories fresh and captivating, but the art and character design is spectacular. Check it out when you get the chance.
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Fables Cover
The Wolf Among Us takes place before the events of the first issue of the Fables series, the late 80s in Manhattan. Our protagonist is Bigby Wolf, the sheriff of the fables's community known as 'Fabletown'. He is none other than the Big Bad Wolf from every fairytale you've read, now reformed he has the arduous task of hiding the Fables from the Mundy world as well as keeping fables in line. After saving a fable prostitute from his old, drunken foe The Woodsman, she has a cryptic conversation with him and later that evening Bigby finds the girl's decapitated head on his doorstep.

You play as Bigby in the game, trying to find the prostitute's killer and uncovering what may be a far bigger and more sinister crime involving the whole of Fabletown. Like most of the Telltale games, you make decisions throughout like where to go search for clues first or how to interrogate a suspect. Players will also have to respond to quicktime events for chase scenes and fights that are some of the best, if not THE best, that Telltale has ever developed. Wolf Among Us has all the tropes from the crime mystery genre and pays it's respects to classic noir. It's odd to see such fantastical elements and characters play around in this type of medium, but by God does it work well!
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Screenshot from game.
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Screenshot from game.
The art style of the game takes a different artistic approach than the comics, using much bolder and vibrant color schemes while playing around with shadows and light in a way that I haven't seen in Telltale try before. They still manage to keep the classic comic book style though, it's especially noticeable when you see the faces of the characters up close. You could probably compare this style to what is seen in TWD games, although TWD has a much more subdued color scheme with lots of bright red thrown in. They're in a zombie apocalypse after all.

Wolf got rave reviews when it was released and even won an award, yet TWD and GOT has gotten all the attention. Wolf baits us with a possible sequel at the end, so it's presumed that we haven't seen the last of Bigby, but at the same time, Telltale has yet to announce its production. We know they're giving us another season of Walking Dead, more GOT, some Borderlands (also very good), and a TBA Marvel production, but no word on more Wolf.

I just hope that they haven't ruled out TWAU as a weak contender against their other games. The game does have strong following online and in the gaming community, though the more popular titles draw in newer players who wouldn't be interested otherwise. Don't give up on Bigby, Telltale, please! We need more of the Big Bad Wolf!
 
 
So, summer is pretty much over. Here in Minnesota, it'll be below 30 degrees soon and time for some Halloween decor. This crop of summer movies that passed was a mixed bag for me. Some hits, some misses, and some unexpected surprises (The Visit, anyone?)

Now that Pumpkin Spice lattes are advertised in the windows of coffee shops of all over America, I thought I'd be a good time to look at the fall movies coming out over the next few months and gauge my excitement for them.
PictureImage: 20th Century Fox
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials / Sept. 18
I never really got into this series of books, nor did I see the first movie. There's only so much distopia that this girl can take. I hear this one is more action packed so if someone wanted to go see this, I guess I'd go, but don't expect to see a review here anytime soon.


PHOEBE EXCITEMENT SCALE:
<---------------------------------->
[x]                              
Meh.                                      Yes!

PictureImage: Sony
Hotel Transylvania 2 / Sept. 25
This one was sneaky. I recently watched the first one with Lisa who is a huge fan. I admit, it was a cute take on the monsters and genre that I love, but when I found out it was an Adam Sandler production, it left a bad aftertaste. Either way, I feel like I'm committed to this franchise now and so I'll be lining up to watch their continuing adventures. Even though Pixels (another Sandler flick) was like the worst thing of the summer.


PHOEBE EXCITEMENT SCALE:
<---------------------------------->
          [x]                   
Meh.                                      Yes!

PictureImage: 20th Century Fox
The Martian / Oct. 2
Okay, here we go. Now this one I am pumped about. I did a trailer review a while back and I did finish the book. WHOA! What a great read! This thing has everything I dig in my sci fi and the trailers look amazing. With Ridley Scott directing, Drew Goddard writing, and Matt Damon staring, this one is high on my list to midnight. 


PHOEBE EXCITEMENT SCALE:
<---------------------------------->
                                               [x]
Meh.                                      Yes!

PictureImage: WB
Pan / Oct. 9
Now, I read this one was supposed to come out in the summer, but was pushed to the fall. Usually, moves like this are a bad sign that the film is in trouble. Based on the trailers, that might be the case with this one too. This movie chronicles a young Peter Pan and is meant to serve as his 'origin story.' In this version there is a prophecy and he is the 'chosen one.' Yawn! Something about this plot feels so dated but the visuals look pretty neat so if I'm down for paying extra for 3D, maybe I'll go see it.


PHOEBE EXCITEMENT SCALE:
<---------------------------------->
    [x]                               
Meh.                                      Yes!

PictureImage: Sony
Goosebumps / Oct. 16
This one I'm solidly on the fence about. While the book series fed my love of all things horror and supernatural as a kid, but this movie looks a little... weird. I wished they had gone with a more anthology approach to match the work that was done in the TV show, but it appears they have decided to take a more... Jumani route? Apparently, this has the support or Goosebumps creator R.L. Stine, so maybe it won't be so bad.


PHOEBE EXCITEMENT SCALE:
<---------------------------------->
               [x]                  
Meh.                                      Yes!

PictureImage: Universal
Crimson Peak / Oct. 16
Yeah! Master of Darkness, Mr. del Toro is back with this R-Rated haunted house horror film. I can't wait to see what scares he has cooked up for us this time, and with this film being so close to Halloween, the timing couldn't be better. Oh, and TOM HIDDLESTON!!!


PHOEBE EXCITEMENT SCALE:
<---------------------------------->
                       [x]
Meh.                                      Yes!

PictureImage: Lionsgate
The Last Witch Hunter / Oct. 30
I really don't know much about this one. Is it based on some IP? Or is it an original creation? I like Vin Diesel and Elijah Wood, but based on the trailer, this one seems... complicated. There's witches, a dream word, monsters, hunters...ect. This seems made for the TV territory, but who knows this may be the start of a new franchise. I'll go see it of pure curiosity.


PHOEBE EXCITEMENT SCALE:
<---------------------------------->
[x]
Meh.                                      Yes!

PictureImage: Universal
Paranormal Activity 5 / Oct. 30
No thanks. Nuff said.    


PHOEBE EXCITEMENT SCALE:
<---------------------------------->
[x]                              
Meh.                                      Yes!

What movies are you excited for this fall? Leave your list in the comments below.
 
 
Ever since I was 6 years old, I've wanted to go to Disneyland. I know. How original of me, right? But could you blame my kid-self? The idea of going to a closed off place that has somehow resisted the dull and anxiety-ridden pains of the real world would be tempting for anyone, let alone a grade-schooler. While I never got my trip to Anaheim I did get a decent enough substitute, not to mention an much more reasonably priced one. The local Renaissance Festival.
MN RenFest
About 1/1000 the price of a trip to Disneyland.
A few years after my dream trip was decided, I was taken to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival and was successfully sated. I've been going at least once every year ever since and suspect I'll always find a way to visit. So you can imagine how dumbfounded I was to find out that our resident n00b, Lisa, had never set foot in a Ren Fair her whole life! Well this needed to be remedied, so I took her this past weekend and, let me say, I've never felt more like a parent my whole life.

            Her eyes were practically popping out of her head and her mouth hung open in silent awe. After only an hour of sightseeing she told me that she wished she had come sooner. When I asked her why she hadn't before I got a sheepish reply that had something to do with the cost, obnoxious renaissance actors, and the theme not being enough to hold someone's interest. This wasn't an opinion she came up with herself, this was after hearing about it from other people and it's an opinion I've heard of before. So many friends that I've recommended the Ren Fest to have voiced these same concerns and apprehensions. Well guess what, I'm going to explain why you should tell the naysayers to shove it!
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Live battles!
The Environment. The moment you approach the gates of any Renaissance Festival/Fair you know what you're getting into. One minute you're in modern society and in the next you're walking through a marketplace bustling with men and women dressed in tunics and bodices who greet you with a “Milord!” or “Milady!” On either side of you there are shops and stalls selling wares you certainly won't be able to find at your neighborhood strip mall, all while performers entertain the masses that surround them in the street. Every building you pass is distinctly Medieval/Renaissance in it's structure and design (aside from Port-a-Potties, of course). You are instantly transported to a new world and they  do it very well.
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Renfest performer.
The Entertainment. I'm thoroughly convinced anyone can find something fun to see or do at Ren Fest. Whether you feel like laughing at a comedy show, marveling at an impressive feat, or watching dances from far away lands. It's all here. There are various shows performed on stage everyday, but out on the streets you can't swing a peasant without hitting one of the many roaming performers. You also get entertainment you'd NEVER find outside of a Ren Fest. Live jousting? They've got it. Kilt or Beard competitions? It's here. Fencing duels? Of course! Riding freakin' elephants? Yep (At least in MN). You'll want to see and do everything you possibly can and will probably find that there's no way to fit it all in a day.
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Renfest cosplayers.
The Costumes. I mentioned earlier that those working or acting at the Fest wear a costume fit for the times, but they don't have to be the only ones. While it's certainly not required, guests to the Fest/Fair are free to wear their own costumes on the grounds! Being the nerdy cosplayer that I am, I've brought my share of outfits in order to really feel like part of the magic. Even better is that you don't have to wear a period costume! They have themed weekends that encompass pirates, steampunk, magic, or even fairies! I've also seen people dressed in anime, video game characters (Assassin's Creed is literally everywhere), and Tolkien-verse costumes. Yes, they may not be strictly keeping to the theme, but it's all in good fun. For me, it's amusing to think about how such characters would act in medieval/renaissance times. The interactions these cosplayers have with the actors and environment is nothing short of entertaining!

The Stuff/Food &Drinks. Seriously, guys. So much stuff! Not just renaissance related either! I could list off all of the things sold at my local fest, but then we'd be here for hours. Let's just say that there are about 250 artisans who come by to sell their wares. Yeah. The food is quite varied; you can get the classic turkey leg or you can get yourself some italian pasta or greek gyros! And, of course, there's plenty of booze to go around. As I'm not much of a beer or ale person, the option of having mead or hard cider is greatly appreciated. Might I recommend some Egyptian Mead or 'Gumption' Hard Cider? Delicious!
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Renfest food.
It's hard to put my finger on exactly what makes my local Renaissance Festival work. Everything I mentioned above certainly adds to the charm, but I'd have to say that the actors, artisans, and everyone who works there has a lot to do with it. Everyone I've encountered at Fest made me feel welcomed and like a part of this little world they created. They have a love and passion for what they do and are dedicated to getting some of that love and passion rubbed off on the rest of us (along with that fairy glitter). Well, I suppose that if my job was going from festival to festival and living in such a magical state of mind, I'd be pretty passionate too.

Have you gone to a Renaissance Festival/Fair? What do you like most about your local one? Comment below to let me know! Maybe I'll visit yours one day.
 
 
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Recently, one of my favorite shows, Hannibal, got canceled. It ran for three seasons on NBC and was, IMO, the edgiest show on network TV. At first, I didn't panic. This being 2015, it seems like every canceled show gets picked up by either a digital outlet like Yahoo, Hulu, Amazon or an analog cable network like USA or SyFy. But when the show finally released the actors from their contracts, I knew it was over.

Mindy Project Crap
How is this crap is worth saving, Hulu?!?
I like closure. I need it in my entertainment! Even if it's just, "And then they all walked into the sunset." Is that asking too much? Now, Hannibal will just be added to the list of shows, books, and TV shows that I've invested time into without a satisfying ending (except the movies).
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The visual representation of media without closure in my heart and mind.
The only silver lining to this is that Hannibal show creator, Bryan Fuller, is now involved in bringing Neil Gaiman's celebrated novel, American Gods, to the small screen in the form of a TV series. I personally love American Gods, and honestly most everything else Neil Gaiman writes. Although, the adaptations of his work can be hit and miss (see Mirrormask, actually, don't).
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That's how I felt watching Mirrormask...
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If you aren't familiar with American Gods, then stop reading now (well, after you're done with this post) and download it to your e-reader with haste! It's a great, sometimes trippy, road trip tale in which all of its characters are different gods from throughout world history that inhabit the bodies of normal humans whom are struggling to survive in modern day America. It's a touching, sad, and well-paced story that is up there with some of the best modern fiction written in the last 15 years.

If you don't know anything about Bryan Fuller, then let me school you a bit. Bryan Fuller got his start writing on Star Trek shows Voyager and DS9. While not the best stuff in Star Trek canon, it's a great place to start and gets one some major geek points.

He went on to create some of TV's most inventive, create and visually vibrant shows: Wonderfalls, Dead Like Me, and Pushing Daisies. All three of those shows, like Hannibal, got canceled in their primes. This guy can't seem to get past a third season... even though, I believe he is one of the most original voices in TV today. 
Now, if you've read American Gods and seen any of Bryan Fuller's shows, you'll realize like I have that this pairing is a match made in heaven. So expect to see some mind-bending montages, insane visual sequences and hear some thought provoking dialogue. While it's true, American Gods is only one book; I think this is a good thing. It leaves room for a writer like Bryan Fuller to expand on the original material and may provide him a limited number of seasons to create a full satisfying series, which his fans, like me have yearned for since we started our fandom for him.
Expect to see a review of the pilot when it hits the air on Starz next year.