Topher Grace as Alec: To me, That 70's Show is absolutely hillarious; a half-hour laugh-fest. To my brother Todd, it's an insult to his intelligence. A big contributor to this laugh-fest (or this insult to the intelligence, however one views it) is Topher Grace, who stars on the show as Eric Forman. For someone whose only acting experience prior to this show was school plays, Grace does a great job as Eric. Methinks the kid is a natural, and more than that, just dye that big mop of brown hair blonde and you have Alec! Phantasy Star Gaiden as your first feature film... now that is a great way to start a successful career in showbiz! I only wonder if Kenosha, Wisconsin is anything like Tedo Village...
Meryl Streep as Alis Landale: I thought very carefully about the subject of who to play the adult Alis Landale seen in Phantasy Star Gaiden. After thinking long and hard, I decided, Who better to portray one of the greatest heroes of all time than one of the greatest actresses of all time? Streep is an actor's actor; a phenom of the screen; a natural talent if there ever was one. The list of classic great films Streep has starred in is a long one, and it includes: Kramer vs. Kramer, Postcards From The Edge (which is not, contrary to popular belief, about the last dungeon of Phantasy Star IV), and my personal favorite Streep film, The Bridges of Madison County. Meryl Streep is a legendary actress, more than worthy of portraying the legendary Alis Landale.
Warwick Davis as Dirk: And the man earns his second Phantasy Star movie role! Is casting Davis in the role of another white-bearded little person role typecasting? Probably. But the only typecasting it reinforces is the one Warwick Davis very much deserves: his reputation as the best little person actor alive today. Davis's career reads like a study in diversity: Wicket the Ewok in Return of the Jedi, an evil leprechaun in the horror series of the same name, the title character in Willow, and multiple roles in Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace. Give this talented, deserving actor a white beard and a sluice key and get Warwick Davis back to the Phantasy Star set!
Robert Beltran as Lars: I looked long and hard at Lars's nose and chin and tried to figure out what Hollywood superstar had a similar nose and chin. And then it hit me all at once: Robert Beltran! He's tall, soft spoken (which is how I imagine Lars), and he has a thin Lars nose. Beltran is best known as Commander Chakotay on Star Trek: Voyager, on which he's used to calling Kate Mulgrew "Captain." Therefore, it should be easy for him to call Meryl Streep "Master," right? I realize that this role is little more than a cameo -- when I first played through Phantasy Star Gaiden, Lars was in my party for about all of five minutes -- but nevertheless, Robert Beltran is the best person for this role. (And Lars's helmet will even cover up that huge tattoo he has on his face.)
Harrison Ford as Morg: Can you say "$20 million cameo," kids? I knew you could. My ideal choice for this role is a younger Charlton Heston, ripped right out of the original Planet of the Apes, but Harrison Ford's studly face also makes for a good live-action version of Alec's father's chisled features. Further, I realized that Harrison Ford was already in two of the greatest movie series of all time -- Star Wars and Indiana Jones -- and so he definitely belongs somewhere in Phantasy Star, as well. Two minutes of screen time... $20 million paycheck... Harrison Ford would be making over $150,000 a second to cameo as Alec's dad. Wow. Now if we could just get him to reveal to Alec, "I found your Mirror of Wisdom in a far-off land... in the canyon of the crescent moon..."
Lori Loughlin as Alec's Mom: Now before you lynch me and brand me a lunatic for casting a former cast member of Full House, of all shows, in Phantasy Star Gaiden, hear me out. Doesn't Alec's mom just look like she was ripped right out of a sitcom? Part of me suspects that Mina and Alec's health is restored when they visit Alec's house not because of rest, but because Alec's mom just pulled a hot batch of cookies out of the oven, or something. Besides all that though, Lori Loughlin also has a coolness factor to her for starring in the 1980s movie Rad. (Five bonus points if you've heard of that movie; ten if you've seen it.) And the best part? The way women go nuts over Harrison Ford, maybe she'll even agree to play the role of his wife for free!
Ben Stein as The Elder: Okay, I know he's not bald, and I know he doesn't have a mustache, but even still, Ben Stein would make the perfect elder! No matter what Mina and Alec do, be it find an ATV or find a dwarf mechanic, all he has to say to them is, "Do your best." Imagine that line being spoken in the monotone voice that Ben Stein used in the movie that made him famous, Ferris Bueller's Day Off. My only question is, Could we work in an Alisland game show called Win The Elder's Meseta?
Wilford Brimley as Old Rob: Ahh, Wilford Brimley. I have such fond memories from my youth of watching Our House, on which Brimley played crabby old Gus Witherspoon, grandfather of Shannen Doherty in her pre-90210 days. Anyone Gus met got a firm-dressing down from the old codger, but in the end, Gus always offered sound advice, and though he wouldn't smile, you'd see through his veneer into his heart of gold. Frankly, I don't know if any of this sounds a thing like Old Rob, but Wilford Brimley sure looks a lot like Old Rob, and dammit, I have such a soft spot in my heart for good ol' Gus.
Paul Bearer as Popo: This casting hit me the very first moment I saw "the clever Popo" (which is hopefully pronounced "poe-poe," not "poo-poo"; I giggle uncontrollably anytime I think of a man named "poo-poo"). Sneaky and coniving, with greasy-looking, thinning black hair... Rotund, the buttons on his button-up shirt bulging under his girth... Ugly tie, face curled in a hideous expression... Did I just describe Popo, or the World Wrestling Federation's Paul Bearer? The answer: both! This one truly is a no-brainer. Maybe Popo stole Lao-Tse's map because he's a member of Cablon's Corporate Ministry of Darkness?
Jack Elam as Lao-Tse: The most distinguishing characteristic about Lao-Tse is his eyes, and so the number one thing I searched for in an actor to portray Lao-Tse is someone with memorable eyes. My first choice was Keye Luke, who portrayed Mr. Wing in Gremlins, the shop owner who refused to sell Gizmo to Rand Peltzer. However, sadly, I learned that he passed away from a stroke in 1991. And so, I chose Jack Elam, an actor who, thanks to his immediately recognizable off-kilter left eye, which was left blinded after a fight when he was a child, is one of those actors whom everyone has seen, but nobody remembers where. What you don't know is that Elam is a distinguished character actor who has a penchant for playing bizzare, wacky characters -- and as wacky as Popo is, he's got to have a wacky teacher. Therefore, thanks in part to his acting ability and in part to his left eye, Jack Elam wins the role of the man who gives Mina and Alec their map, the Mindwarp-ing Lao-Tse.
Mother Angelica as The Church Nun: Is there really any other choice for this role? Okay, maybe Sally Field, but... no, Mother Angelica is perfect for this role! For the uninitiated, Mother Angelica is the founder of the EWTN cable network. Her program Mother Angelica Live airs twice a week and it's by far one of the best shows on the Global Catholic Network. She's a very wise lady, a future saint, and the perfect choice for the role of the Church Nun in Phantasy Star Gaiden. And she doesn't even need to be sent to wardrobe!
Jesse Ventura as The Weapons and Armor Store Clerk: The Body, The Mind, The Governor... The Alisland Arms Dealer! Before becoming Governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura got lots of experience with weapons, to prepare him for this Phantasy Star Gaiden role. First, he became a master of foreign objects during his days in the World Wrestling Federation. Later, he weilded a mean nightstick in his role as an Arkham Asylum guard in Batman and Robin. And finally, in Predator, he carried one of the meanest machineguns I've ever seen in my life. Add in the fact that he's an absolute spitting image for the weapons store clerk, and ladies and gentlemen, we have our casting! The real question is... can their governor beat up Motavia's governor?
Cablon created with CGI technology: Same as the other films' Dark Forces, the best way to bring Cablon to the screen is through CGI technology. (I also envision some way-cool Bracelet of Kura effects being brought about the same way.) By making him on the computer, I envison a very cool Cablon on the big screen: 12 feet tall, 500 pounds, dripping with drool and saliva every time he zaps Mina with Hewn... I also reccomend his death be brought about by turing him into a bubbling pile of purple goo on the floor. In short, CGI can take everything menacing about Cablon and multiply it for the screen, while taking everything cartoony about him and leaving it in the game.
Of course it is terrible to be born a monster! But I couldn't stand by while you tried to get revenge by creating monsters!
|Please send all comments and feedback to mike at ripplinger dot us|