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Three Phoenix Destinations for Summer Movie Role Playing

We maintain that summer movie season is the best three months on any geek's calendar. Between the online discussion boards, midnight screenings and the glut of merchandising that follows, creative misfits and obsessive code monkeys have plenty of fodder to fuel their expanded universe fantasies.

But there are those with an everyday existence so mired in drudgery that not even a two hour escape to the multiplex can wash away their despair. For these Walter Mitty-types, there is only one solution:

Live Action Role Play.

We get it. Life is but a stage and all that, so we've rounded up three local spots where you can (kinda) re-enact this summer's biggest blockbusters.

(Warning: There be spoilers ahead)


Ridley Scott's Alien prequel spins a yarn about a scientific expedition to a desolate alien planet. Outside of putting yourself in cryostasis or seeing Charlize Theron in her underwear, you can replicate a similar experience in northern Arizona.

Back in the days of the Apollo program, NASA concluded that the best way to test their future moon explorers would be to run them through their paces at various geologic points of interest in the high country including Sunset Crater, Cinder Lake and Meteor Crater. Today you can traipse around the same sites frequented by Armstrong and Shepherd or just imagine you're on a green screen and sprint about mindlessly while screaming at the sky. Your choice.

Bonus: If you really want to relive the movie, complete with the whole "malicious parasite in your drink" we recommend (read: warn you against) a little roadside cafe in the area where you can probably get giardia from anything on the menu.


Between The Hunger Games, Snow White and The Huntsman, The Avengers and last weekend's premiere of Brave, the bow and arrow is now the must-have accessory for 2012. New, would-be marksmen can practice their skills at the Paseo Vista Archery Range in Chandler and meet experienced arrow slingers at the park every Saturday morning.

For those looking to occupy even more of Merida's medieval world, Arizona's local SCA group, The Kingdom of Atenveldt is planning their two-day long Baronial Championship Event near Willow Springs next month, with competitions in rapier, hardsuit and archery. With the rash of bear attacks (is that you, Mor'du?) in northern Arizona as of late, we can't think of any other clan we'd rather go camping with.

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The Dark Knight Rises

With less than a month from Christopher Nolan's final bat-outing, fanboys everywhere are clamoring for anything remotely related to the Dark Knight universe. Our suggestion? The Valley's very own bat cave.

Lying a quarter-mile west of 40th Street along the Arizona Canal, a colony of bats, 20,000 strong makes their home in a flood-control tunnel. No, bat-brain you can't stand in the swarm of the tiny, protected species, but you can go solemnly brood near dusk whilst blasting Hans Zimmer through your ear-buds. You know you want to. Just leave your cape and cowl at home, lest you disturb the normals having dinner at Chelsea's Kitchen just down the road.

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