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

 

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

SpecMusicMuse: Interview W/Dan Jolley

 

DanJolleyPhoto[1018]Dan Jolley, Author of the Gray Widow trilogy is back for another interview to talk about his second book in the trilogy, Gray Widow’s Web.

Tells us about Gray Widow’s Web.
Gray Widow’s Web is the second book in the Gray Widow Trilogy, an Urban Sci-Fi story that I actually began working on back in 1996. I wrote a first draft, but ended up shelving it… wrote a second draft ten years later, but shelved it again… and finally, after I realized how to fix a major problem with the book, re-wrote it again and immediately got it picked up by Seventh Star Press. After all that time, being able to continue the story now on a timely basis feels fantastic.

The Gray Widow story centers on Janey Sinclair, a young woman in modern-day Atlanta who, as a teenager, mysteriously gained the ability to teleport from one patch of darkness to another. Janey’s life has been marked by a series of traumas—most recently when her husband was shot during a mugging and left with severe brain damage—and after years of trying to ignore this bizarre aspect of her life, she finally decides to put it to use, and attempt to prevent other people from suffering the kind of cruelty and injustice she has.

As she soon learns, however, not only is she not alone in having a mysterious “Augmentation,” but she’s also a part of a vast extraterrestrial plot that classifies humans as raw material. The trilogy starts off in superhero-flavored waters, but becomes more and more science-fiction as the enormity of the stakes reveal themselves. (There are also not-insignificant horror elements to it.)

Alien plots aside, though, it’s really all about Janey exorcising her personal demons and figuring out how to heal herself. On one hand, she’s a stupendous badass, and can break most people off at the knees. On the other, she’s very human, very flawed, and very vulnerable in a way I hope a lot of people can relate to.Grey Widow's Web_Final_1200X800[1020]

 

In what ways is writing the second book in a trilogy different from the first?
One of my primary concerns with the second (and soon, third) book is walking the line between explaining too much of what happened before, and making things clear enough so that if you haven’t read the first book, or if it’s been a while since you did, you won’t feel totally lost.

That’s just logistical stuff, though. What I’m most concerned about is allowing the characters to grow. In the first book, Gray Widow’s Walk, Janey’s in a situation where she knows, intellectually, that she needs to move on emotionally. And the way to move on is right there, right in front of her, and she knows it’ll be good for her—but she’s torn in half about it. In the second book, Janey might finally begin to give herself permission to be happy, even as she’s facing greater threats and encountering far greater danger than ever.

Likewise, Tim Kapoor, her love interest from the first book, undergoes a pretty significant change in circumstances in Book 2, one that forcibly alters the whole dynamic he and Janey share.

One thing I’ve learned and learned well is that, in any kind of ongoing story, it’s the characters that keep readers coming back far more than any plot shenanigans. So I want to take good care of my characters. Even if that means being horrible to them.

 

In what ways are they similar?
As I mentioned earlier, I wrote the first draft of what would become Gray Widow’s Walk a bit more than twenty years ago. The story has been kicking around in my head all that time, with varying degrees of focus, so now that I have the opportunity to tell the rest of it, it’s really just a matter of getting in the right mental space. Staying in the right groove, I guess you could say. Making sure the prose style matches, making sure the hearts of the characters remain true to themselves.

Of course, I would like to believe that I’ve improved as a writer over the last couple of decades, which is why I think Gray Widow’s Web is a bit better than Gray Widow’s Walk. With any luck that trend will continue, and the third book—Gray Widow’s War—will surpass the first two.

Gray Widow_s WalkCover1200X900[1019]

Did you plan for it to be a trilogy from the start, or did it evolve that way? And if the latter, at what point did you realize it was going to be a trilogy?
I think I realized I had more to say than just what was in the first book sometime around 2006. I love the cast, I love portraying our contemporary world as it really is, and there were always elements that I had left open-ended. It took ten years, but the answers to the questions posed at the end of the first book popped into my head one day, and I realized the story needed to continue past Gray Widow’s Walk.

I have a serious aversion, though, to stories that are supposed to just go and go and… go. Stories like that usually go and go right into the ground. Whenever possible, I tell stories that have a definite, planned conclusion, simply because I think it’s wise to quit while you’re ahead. Consequently, this trilogy will tell one complete story, beginning, middle, and end. If I decide to stick around in the same world after that, I’ll start up another self-contained trilogy. Sort of the Hellboy model: a series of mini-series.

 

What kind of music helped you in writing Gray Widow’s Web?
Music plays a huge role in my creative process in general, but it’s only in the stage before I set fingers to keyboard. I love getting in the car and driving around aimlessly while listening to loud, fast, aggressive music. It does something really good for my brainwaves. If I need to come up with a new idea, or if I’m stuck on a plot point or character detail, I’ll go drive around and think, and nine times out of ten, by the time I get back the problem’s solved.

Right now my favorite band is Disturbed. Immortalized is a fantastic album, followed closely by Asylum, not only for driving around, but also for when I’m doing cardio (which I don’t end up doing as often as I should, sadly).

 

Anything you want to tell your readers about what’s to come?
Gray Widow’s War, the third book in the trilogy, will be out in May of 2018, and if I can pull off what I’m seeing in my head, it’s going to be the biggest, craziest, most nail-biting conclusion I’ve ever written in my entire career.

If you’re looking for something almost, but not quite, completely different in the meantime (to borrow wording from Douglas Adams), I also have a Middle Grade Urban Fantasy series going at the moment called Five Elements. Book 1, The Emerald Tablet, is available now, and Book 2, The Shadow City, comes out at the end of this month. It’s about four best friends in San Francisco who get accidentally bound to the magical elements of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, and end up conflicting with a century-old sorcerer who wants to merge Earth with a nightmare version of San Francisco called Arcadia. I am told by readers that it scratches the same kind of itch that the Percy Jackson books do.

 

Where can people find you online?
I’m on Twitter, @_DanJolley, and on Facebook, facebook.com/dan.jolley1. Feel free to send me messages. I am waaay better at responding to readers directly than I am at writing blog posts.

July 20, 2017 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment