Scott M. Sandridge

A Work in Progress

Alita: Battle Angel Vs. Captain Marvel—The Fabricated Fight That Should Not Be

I thought about doing a review of each film separately, but after watching both I came to realize how integral both films currently are to our culture, why the cultural “catfight” being brewed (seemingly by design) between the two fandoms is both silly and a distraction to what makes these films so important, and how it’s entirely possible to love both, or even dislike one, without having to automatically be a racist misogynistic bigot troll (blah blah blah)…or a Russian bot, or even an SJW.

But first, let’s start with a brief one-sentence synopsis of each film:

Alita: Battle Angel—Female heroine with amnesia goes on a quest of self-discovery to learn who she is. Stumbles from time to time due to her pride getting in the way, but overall has a good heart. Along the way she discovers that she’s the most powerful weapon ever.

Captain Marvel—Female heroine with amnesia goes on a quest of self-discovery to learn who she is. Stumbles from time to time due to her pride getting in the way, but overall has a good heart. Along the way she discovers that she’s the most powerful weapon ever.

Granted, each story treats that theme in different ways, taking different paths, with different revelations, and providing different plot twists. They’re even in completely different genres (Post-Apocalyptic Cyberpunk for Alita: Battle Angel, Superhero Sci-Fi/Fantasy for Captain Marvel). But essentially, both stories are about the same thing: a story of empowerment by coming to terms with one’s true identity. And that is why the entire “us vs. them” dichotomy seen in the reviews of certain critics ring hollow and disingenuous while relying solely on vague, shallow phrases vapid and meaningless while resorting to idiotically trivial nitpicks like the size of Alita’s breasts or whether or not a butt double was used for Carol Danvers. None of which matters in the slightest when it comes to how relevant that is to the story or the execution thereof. And the fact that such established publications like Vanity and Salon, or even the New York Times, would allow such trivial garbage “reviews” to grace their pages (online or off) solely for the sake of clickbait, or to pander to a corporation (*cough* Disney *cough*), or hell, for any reason whatsoever, merely shows how far the mainstream media in the U.S.A. has fallen.

And don’t even let me get started on how some even misrepresented certain scenes or even flatout made things up just to maintain a predetermined, obviously biased, and (dare I say it) sexist and puritanical narrative. All of which they have every right to do. They can put anything they want in their publications, it’s their choice. Just don’t expect rational, sane people to take such publications seriously when they print such low quality, trivial, trash. It’s almost like fact-checking and vetting has become nonexistent.

Also, to the mainstream media: for the record, it is impossible to “whitewash” a Martian Cyborg. Did these people even bother to research the source material? Or, hell, even watch the movie?

So yeah, let’s nitpick over trivial crap instead of talking about the relevant and timely themes in these films. Such as the dystopian nature of Alita’s world or Alita’s willingness to risk death just to get her memories back, demonstrating how important identity is to the human condition. Or how humanlike her berserker body molds itself into, in response to how Alita subconsciously sees herself as, in contrast to the cyborg monstrosities she battles who look as inhuman as they themselves are on the inside. But I guess such discussions are too “deep” for modern day “critics” to handle.

And let’s completely forget how Captain Marvel, after finally breaking out of Kree brainwashing, realizes she had just spent six years as a soldier serving in an unjust war. Or how Nazi-like Kree society resembles in their views of Kree superiority, collectivistic attitude and disdain for individualism, or their desire to genocide the Skrulls. Because how could that possibly be relevant to modern day, right? Nah, the size of her ass or the actress’s out-of-context remarks in regards to a completely different movie are what everyone should talk about instead. Proving that sometimes, the Internet media can be just as lame as the mainstream. Granted, a lot of that was in response to how Captain Marvel was marketed. But criticizing a film before it was even out based solely on how it was marketed is, to quote Iron Man, “not a great plan.” Also, it’s not good film criticism.

It’s almost like our clickbait media with their clickbait ways are in the process of turning our society into a shallow, vapid, clickbait society. And if that’s so, we’re doomed. Because if our views on entertainment can be so easily manipulated, then one can only imagine how much more easy it would be for more important views (like on politics or science, for example) can be just as manipulated. But then, hasn’t that always been so, at least to some extent?

I went and saw both movies, and here is my honest opinion on both. Both movies had their good points and a couple flaws here and there like every movie does. Both movies made me laugh. Both movies made me cry. And both movies had me cheering on the protagonist. And both movies had me thinking about things I hadn’t thought about for a long time. And that is all anyone can ask from art.

Both movies were entertaining, and both movies had important messages about the nature of identity, the individual vs. the collective, and how under the right conditions good people can be manipulated into doing the wrong things (Hugo, in Alita: Battle Angel, and Carol Danvers in Captain Marvel). They are both movies worth seeing, both for their entertainment value and for what they can teach us about the human condition. And they are worth seeing multiple times because each time you watch them you discover something new; that is, as long as you’re looking for answers to much deeper questions than whether or not a female cyborg from Mars should have breasts and/or look Japanese, or whether or not an actress should smile more.

My advice: go watch both movies and see for yourself how good or not these two movies are. And if you like them, watch them again. Especially if you like Alita: Battle Angel because of the two that film is certainly the underdog of the two and needs all the support it can get (Marvel will make sure their movie makes what they want it to make). Fuck what all the critics with political agendas say, on both sides of the extreme. If there is a “culture war” being waged (fabricated or not) then it is imperative for all of us as individuals to take the power back and make up our own minds on what should be considered part of our overall culture, and not let collective extremism on any side dictate what we should or should not enjoy as our entertainment.

Feel free to like both movies, or to dislike either one, or to dislike both. But make sure your opinion is based on what is actually there and not some fabrication created for you by so-called “critics” with obvious agendas. And I’m not talking about all critics. I’m sure that for every faux “critic” with an agenda, there are hundreds of true critics who have reviewed these films honestly and based their opinions on what was actually in these films. I even personally know a few of them. But alas, the outrage mobs have been drowning these voices out for quite some time now. And it’s getting tiresome, for everyone.

Alita: Battle Angel Trailer

Captain Marvel Trailer


March 15, 2019 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SpecMusicMuse Double Whammy – Review of The Kingdom of Vosh: The Chained Princess, Plus an Interview w/ Jason C. Conley

SpecMusicMuse Review—The Kingdom of Vosh: The Chained Princess by Jason C Conley

Vosh_white_COVERPrincess Jasper is your typical rich spoiled brat until her father’s kingdom gets overthrown by Lord Buul, a deformed brother she never knew she had. Chained to a monstrous creature named Vork, she escapes with Vork’s aid. And with a motley band of misfits, that includes a boy trapped inside a steam-powered machine and a handsome pirate she knows she shouldn’t trust, Jasper must find a way to retake her father’s kingdom from the clutches of her tyrannical brother.

Fantasy meets steam in an epic battle of good vs. evil that resembled some of my favorite Anime, all the way down to the bizarre misfits and “OMG!” plot twists. All rolled up in timeless and age-old themes, both philosophical and political, that wholly relate to the modern day. Jason C. Conley’s The Kingdom of Vosh: The Chained Princess is, to put it mildly, an epic undertaking.

The oft-cheesy dialogue and extreme characterization is typical of Anime, and one could say a requirement for the genre, but which might be off-putting to the casual novel reader. There are some things that work in an animated film, or even in a graphic novel, that just doesn’t come out right when attempted in novel format—and vice versa. That being said, I personally like the Anime-ish feel that it gave, but I’ve been an Anime fan since the first day I watched Akira.

I also found the POV shifts irksome and even confusing. While the occasional switch from Jasper’s first-person POV to Buul’s third-person POV was an interesting experiment, I think it could have been handled a lot better. For one: section breaks (***) between the paragraphs where the shifts occur would’ve been nice. And second, it sometimes seemed that Jasper’s POV would sometimes border on the omniscient.

It could be that I was reading an ARC (and if so, it’d be nice if small presses would start putting “Advance Review Copy” somewhere on their, well, advanced review copies) and the problems I encountered with clunky POV shifts and a couple minor grammar snafus and typos that make grammar Nazis like me want to yell “Aw Seig Hell No!” won’t be present in the official finished copy. I hope so, because it’s a great story well worth its chance in the spotlight, and I would hate to see editorial problems (and easily fixable ones at that) get in the way of its success.

Best to read while listening to: the soundtrack to the Elder Scrolls series.


JasonCConleyInterview With Jason C. Conley

Why did you decide to become a writer, and when?
I don’t know if it was such a conscious decision or not.  It came out of necessity to bring this story out of my head!  It kept bothering me. Like a pesky neighbor’s dog, it kept barking in my ear all night.  So I had to shut it up and get it on paper.  Luckily, it was interesting enough to get a few people’s attention!

I sensed a bit of Anime influence in The Kingdom of Vosh. How close to, or how far off, the mark am I on that?

Pretty close.  Anime, comics, old serial action adventure movies from the 60’s, even videogames, they all played a part in influencing this story. Stuff like Ninja Scroll, Akira, or other over-the-top stories with wild characters and a damaged antagonist.  Movies like Clash of the Titans, (the old one), or Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts, The Wizard of Oz, anything concerning a grand quest that included crazy creatures and wild technology.

I also noticed some themes, and events, in the story that parallels our modern day world.

Now here we go!  That’s more like it.  Are you sure you’re ready for the answer?  Absolutely!  I am an observer by nature, a listener.  And what I have observed and been awoken to, especially since 9/11, is a world that has been overtaken by lies from the elite.  Now this isn’t necessarily something new, but the scale and magnitude of such deception and the means by which they are willing to go to maintain control certainly is.  Rogue elements within our government, usually part of the military industrial complex or financial system, have within the past sixty years, since JFK, orchestrated a coup over the American people.  Other similar groups overseas have done so with different means, specifically overwhelming debt creation such as what is going on in Greece.  The result is a massive population that is being steered and milked and driven into the ground by a very, very, select few.  We are being lied to on a grand scale.  Our financial system is collapsing, the dollar is losing its buying power.  Wall Street is at record highs but so is the unemployment rate, homeless rate, bankruptcy rate, divorce rate, and violent crime rate. There is a worsening disconnect between these ruling elites and the ‘unwashed,’ and I believe we are coming to a very critical point in time where these two bodies are going to collide.

This is how tyrannies are formed, not overnight, but through deceit and manipulation.  Patiently. And one of these techniques is what’s called a “false flag” operation.  This is taught in military handbooks as a way to control, distract, and confuse the enemy into believing a person or group is responsible for an act when in reality it is another.  Hitler did this in 1933 by burning down the Reichstag building and blaming it on the Communists, thus giving rise to the Nazi party in Germany and solidifying his control.

More recently, in 1962, the US Joint Chiefs secretly authorized Operation Northwoods as a way to bring the US into war with Cuba.  The head of every branch of the US Armed Forces gave written approval to sink US ships, shoot down commercial aircraft and blow up buildings in Washington DC and Miami and then blame the terrorism on Castro.  It is only through the denial by then President Kennedy that this plan was stopped.  Ironically, Kennedy was then assassinated the next year by who the elite called a “Cuban sympathizer.”

Now what is even more troubling is the rise in advanced weapons technologies such as the drone program and the NSA spying programs.  These weapons of war are now being turned on the populace they were sworn to protect.  Under who’s orders?  What cause?  Security?  Who’s?  Over 30,000 drones will be in the skies over the US within the next six years. Who are they watching?  It’s certainly not Al-Queda.  That’s a Washington Times article.  That should send chills down your back as the Constitution is rolled over. The question is how far will the public allow this to go?  It’s only by waking up to what is going on around us will we not find ourselves under a tyrannical government.  It is allowing the tools of tyranny to be available on a massive scale to control and potentially enslave millions of people.

Oh, but I’m an alarmist though, right?  We are Americans, we would never do such a thing to our own people.  Right?  Ask the Japanese Americans who were put in internment camps during WWII or my own ancestors, the Cherokee Indians, who were removed from their own lands and slaughtered in the Trail of Tears.  We forget how brutal and indifferent people can be if it is not happening to their immediate circle.  And that’s not even touching on 9/11.

So yes, to answer your question.  But I was nowhere near as heavy handed in the book as I was just now. We have to get these ideas into the general lexicon of the people because they don’t realize the deception that is taking place. A well informed public is a safer public.

What attracted you to Steampunk?
The overall asthetic appearance of the technology as well as the way it seemed like anyone could build it in their garage if they had the time.  It’s partly why it’s taken off like it has in Cosplay at conventions.  It’s because it is buildable by everyday Joes out there!  It’s the common man’s jetpack.

How did the idea for The Kingdom of Vosh develop?
Through my artwork mainly.  I was the artist throughout the book, even creating the cover back in 1999.  I would imagine these characters and how they would appear and then sit down and draw them.  Stories began to swirl and eventually a plot materialized.  It was my intention to bring it to life as a graphic novel but I settled on just an ordinary novel with my artwork before each chapter.

Has music ever helped you in your writing, or influenced your writing in any way? And what kind of music works best for Steampunk?

I wrote The Kingdom of Vosh while listening to movie soundtracks, namely Daft Punk’s Tron soundtrack and the Dark Knight’s soundtrack.  It was that techno-funk, pulsating groove that got me into the world. Metal clanking and thumping in rhythm, then some crazy techno whir as it pulsated with the beat, it seemed to fit the genre well.


The Kingdom of Vosh: The Chained Princess by Jason C. Conley is now available!  Hardcover, Paperback, or digital.
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December 15, 2013 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment