Godzilla ’98

My friends and I did go to see the 1998 version of Godzilla three times in the theaters. This is a story about that although not what actually happened.

We graduate high school in four and a half weeks but first: Godzilla. On the balance, we’ve spent more time planning for Godzilla. Ivan explained it best: graduation is already set. Maybe some of the dumb kids have to sweat passing classes or getting credits, but the four of us have been cruising for months, or at least since I found out I wouldn’t fail gym for cutting most of the last quarter. We aren’t planning the ceremony, we don’t have to pick out clothes, people will tell us where to line up and where to sit, parents will plan the parties and order the macaroni salad and the cake with our pictures on it. But none of those parents or teachers or guidance counselors got us set up with Godzilla. We had to figure that out ourselves.

It started last summer when we saw the trailer where Godzilla’s foot came down and crushed a dinosaur skeleton in a museum, which was a clever way of saying fuck dinosaurs and fuck the movie you’re about to see which was The Lost World, which we still argue about on roughly forty percent of car rides: Henry and I pro, Chuck and Ivan more con.

Godzilla would obviously not invite this kind of controversy.
Continue reading Godzilla ’98

Godzilla Extracurriculars

In the first fifty years of his illustrious career, Godzilla starred in 28 films (29 if you count 1998’s American Godzilla; he doesn’t ). He’s returning to reclaim his title as King of the Monsters in his 60th year, with a new major motion picture after a ten year hiatus. But while I assume we’re all wrapping up our four week Godzilla-thon rewatch all of the films, let’s also make time to remember his role as public figure outside of the films…and as a pitchman. Continue reading Godzilla Extracurriculars

HAIM Is the Best Band and Could Be Improved

Sportsalcohol.com co-founder Sabrina introduced me to HAIM about a year ago via their song “Forever,” before they had a proper album out. I cannot recall liking a band more instantly. Days Are Gone came out on my birthday last year, and I bought it and loved it also more or less immediately. Then, finally, after a lifetime of hard work, Marisa and I were rewarded with seeing HAIM at Terminal 5 in Manhattan last night with SportsAlcohol.com contributing bassist Jeremy, and it was fantastic. The ladies of HAIM rocked out, whipped around their hair and their different types of charisma, and the show was every bit as good as it should have been — maybe better, considering it was an hour-plus set built around exactly one album. Basically anyone who has enjoyed the band on that album would have a great time at their show.

I mean, check out this setlist:

If I Could Change Your Mind
Oh Well [Fleetwood Mac cover]
Honey & I
Days Are Gone
My Song 5
Running If You Call My Name
Don’t Save Me

XO [Beyonce cover]
The Wire
Let Me Go

AND YET: was this my ideal HAIM setlist? No. No, it was not. As good as the show was, I saw many ways it could have bee improved. Herewith, my ideal fantasy setlist for HAIM:

If I Could Change Your Mind
Wrecking Ball [Miley Cyrus cover]
Teenage Dream [Katy Perry cover]
Bizarre Love Triangle [New Order cover]
[pause for hair tutorial]
Honey & I
[banter about how cool Marisa and Jesse look out in the crowd]
Marisa and Jesse Are Our New Best Friends [new song]
Jeremy Is Also Super Cool [new song]
Days Are Gone
My Song 5
[screening of new Godzilla movie]
Running If You Call My Name
Don’t Save Me
Belle [cover of song from Beauty and the Beast]

XO [Beyonce cover]
Countdown [Beyonce cover]
Radio [Beyonce cover]
Irreplaceable [Beyonce cover]
Let Me Go
The Wire
The Wire
The Wire
Marisa and Jesse Are Our New Best Friends [reprise]

Maybe next HAIM.

HAIM darker

May Monday Morning Music Mix

Hello. You’re looking lovely this early in the morning.

Mondays can be hard, so I made you a mix. These are all songs from 2014 or songs I first heard in 2014, so consider it a state-of-the-year-so-far mix, minus the obvious (the Hold Steady, St. Vincent, Beck, and so on). All of these songs make me happy.

I know music videos aren’t a really thing anymore, but the “Water Fountain” video is worth watching, even though it has more of a PeeWee’sPlayhouse-on-Saturday-morning vibe than a case of the Mondays.


Spider Jam: Which Spider-Man Movie Has the Best Radio Song?

So, our Spider-Man podcast covered a lot of ground. We talked about how there were a lot of plot threads it didn’t tie up (like this io9 post points out), or how it wasted time tying up plot threads from the previous movie that didn’t need to be resolved (like this Vulture article notes).

We didn’t have time to discuss everything, though, and one major issue fell through the cracks: The soundtracks to all the Spider-Man movies. This was a major topic of conversation at the Mountain Dew-fueled SportsAlcohol.com editorial summit that preceded the podcast, but we just didn’t get to it on air.

Basically, a lot of ink has been spilled about how all-over-place the Batman movie songs have been, but similar consideration hasn’t been afforded to the music “inspired by” Spider-Man.

That is, until we drank all of that Mountain Dew.

Continue reading Spider Jam: Which Spider-Man Movie Has the Best Radio Song?

The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: Amazing Spider Man 2

SportsAlcohol.com’s Editorial Summit 3 coincided with opening day for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. In a discussion moderated by Marisa, we discuss the problems we had with the movie, how great Emma Stone is, the myth of the multiple villain problem, and much more.

You can subscribe to our podcast using the rss feed. You can download the mp3 of this episode directly here. You can also listen in  the player below.

Whither Betty Brant?

When it was announced that the romantic interest in Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man movie would be Mary Jane Watson, some nerds objected. Mary Jane and Peter Parker had been married in the comics for a while, but they considered Gwen Stacy (who competed with MJ for Pete’s affections and tragically died in 70’s) Parker’s true love. They eventually got their way with Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man, which used Gwen (I assume) to have some superficial differences from the movie franchise it was rebooting  just five years after it ended. Both times, I was by myself, shouting into the darkness: “What About Betty Brant?”

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Top 10 Reasons Spider-Man 3 Is Better than The Amazing Spider-Man

When Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man premiered in July 2012, the general reaction seemed to be: well, it’s better than Spider-Man 3, obviously. A few passionate defenders called Amazing a better, more faithful representation of the Peter Parker and Spidey of the comic books than the Sam Raimi take, but for the most part, the movie seems to have been met with something between an affectionate shrug and an encouraging smile. But at least it was better than Spider-Man 3. Obviously.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (for serious, you guys still aren’t going with The Spectacular Spider-Man for a sequel title?) opens this weekend to kick off the summer movie season, and while the early reviews seem a bit more mixed than its predecessor’s, it almost certainly won’t be treated with the same level of derision as Spider-Man 3. Obviously.

Now, I haven’t seen The Amazing Spider-Man 2 yet. There will be a SportsAlcohol.com editorial summit on Friday night to determine what the deal with this movie is. But I have seen The Amazing Spider-Man, and the thing about that movie is: it’s not as good as Spider-Man 3. Not nearly.

The thing about Spider-Man 3 is: it’s actually pretty good.

Not as good as Spider-Man and certainly not as good as Spider-Man 2. To be sure, Spider-Man 3 is the weakest of Raimi’s de facto trilogy, and has two major problems that feed into each other: overcrowding and retconning. Before we get to the good stuff, these problems should be addressed.

The supposed problem of villain overcrowding has been noted at least since Batman Returns in 1992, and indeed, the first series of Batman movies seemed to add bad guys indiscriminately for easy stakes-raising. But as Christopher Nolan’s Batman series has shown, multiple villains don’t have to mean jammed-up storylines: that trilogy managed to include Ra’s al Ghul, Talia al Ghul, the Joker, Two-Face, Scarecrow, Mr. Zsasz, Bane, Carmine Falcone, and Catwoman. Some had bigger roles than others, of course, but that’s pretty much the same number of villains that populate the Burton/Schumacher films.

Unfortunately, Spider-Man 3 adheres more to the Schumacher model of villains, only it’s applied to the entire cast. Apart from the introductions and transformations of Flint Marko (the Sandman) and Eddie Brock (Venom) and the revival of the Green Goblin in the guise of Harry Osborn, Spider-Man 3 adds Gwen Stacy (played by Bryce Dallas Howard) and her police-captain father while continuing to utilize its beloved supporting characters (Aunt May, J. Jonah Jameson, Betty Brant, Curt Connors) and, if anything, upping the screentime afforded to Harry Osborn and Mary Jane Watson. The movie also serves its themes of internal conflict by having several main characters toggle back and forth between personalities, essentially piling on additional characters even when familiar ones are onscreen: Peter Parker bonds with an alien symbiote that brings out a dark side to his personality. Harry Osborn loses his memory (and thirst for vengeance against Peter/Spider-Man), then regains it. Mary Jane has a real flirtation with Harry, then is manipulated by him when he re-evils.

The movie has so little actual room for its characters that it ret-cons them into the earlier films whenever possible. Flint Marko turns out to be involved in the death of Peter’s Uncle Ben, just to give him some convenient incentive to seek symbiote-encouraged revenge. Less of a direct retcon but perhaps even more ridiculous, Bernard Houseman (John Paxton), the Osborn butler for the entire series, decides late in the film to come forward and tell Harry that his father was a murderous lunatic and that Parker did not kill him, and for some reason this and only this can convince Harry to renounce his evil ways (and for some reason Bernard did not see fit to share this information sooner).

Individually, most of the movie’s characters get a moment or three where they shine. Narratively, though, Spider-Man 3 is a mess. Both of the overcrowding and retconning stem from a script that seems unfinished at best; check out that patchwork bit where local news narrates Spider-Man’s big climactic fight with Venom and Sandman. There is also, as mentioned, some whiplash-inducing twists and reversals between Peter, Harry, and MJ in terms of who is wronging who and for what reason.

AND YET: Narrative is overrated sometimes. Spider-Man 3 is a lot of fun and far more good than bad. It came out a year after X-Men: The Last Stand, and for some reason that movie got a pass as a mild disappointment from a lot of fans, while Spider-Man 3 is still held up as something as a disaster. It’s not a disaster! It’s a pretty good movie with a pretty weak script! Surely you’ve heard of this practice before. It also takes Spider-Man to some new places, which is a lot more than I can say for The Amazing Spider-Man insisting that it’s taking a different approach while more or less remaking the first Raimi movie with a minimum or imagination. If we’re going to say that Marc Webb didn’t make a terrible Spider-Man movie, then we as a culture need to admit that Sam Raimi never made a terrible Spider-Man movie.

And so:

Ten Great Things about Spider-Man 3, In No Particular Order

Continue reading Top 10 Reasons Spider-Man 3 Is Better than The Amazing Spider-Man