Atlas Shrugged Part I

SmithWife and I saw the movie last night. It is to be presented in three parts, with parts II & III to be released on 4/15/2012 & 4/15/2013 respectively. I hope they make enough money that they can complete the series. I’m a big fan of Rand, but much of what makes her stuff great is not easily translated to film.

Has anyone else seen it? What did you think?

The reviews have not been kind.

I kinda suspect the Invisible Hand will prevent parts II and III from being made.

The only question is whether (and how many) die-hard Randites will see the movie regardless of reviews, and how many with insist that it’s excellent regardless of how bad it is. Sufficient numbers will make for a successful movie, and the sequels will appear.

I think it’s possible.

Much like the sequels to Battlefield Earth.

What’s interesting to me is the huge discrepancy on between the critics’ ratings and that of the general audience (as I write, 10% vs. 85% “fresh,” critics vs. general audience.)

I know that the vast majority of the “fresh” ratings from the audience are hard-core Randites, many of whom rated it positively before ever seeing it, and probably won’t change their rating even after seeing it.

But how often has a movie had such a huge disparity?

Anyway I’ve yet to see a hardcore Randite say the movie was anything but great, despite whatever almost everyone else says. It’s almost the exact opposite of “Lord of the Rings” hardcore fans. I find that fascinating.

Reminds me of the difference between the professional reviews and audience reviews concerning the movie “Left Behind.”

Ah yes, an excellent comparison!

It is a “True Believer” movie-among its followers it would be considered a sin to criticize the movie because they will consider it as an attack on their message.

Everything gets a B rating according to user reviews on Yahoo Movies. Basically, 90% of everyone is satisfied so long as it has moving pictures and is roughly what they were expecting to get. Critics they ain’t.

Hmm. I’m a pretty big fan of Rand’s novels, particularly Atlas Shrugged, but a so-so movie is a so-so movie, IMHO. If anyone asked me, I’d say you’ve got to know (and like) the story already to even tolerate sitting through the movie. It’s hard to say at this point how close it will stay to the book. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess ‘Not too’

I think a smarter approach for the studio would have been to film the whole thing, release the three parts 2 or 3 months apart, and dump the whole mess on the DVD/on demand/PPV market.

Also, as a sort of weird footnote, there were two or three groups of people that laughed a bunch of times at shit that just wasn’t funny. I’m guessing they were the “hard-core Randites” that are raving about what a genius bit of film-making it is. Blah.

Just what America needs, a movie glorifying selfishness.

The same thing happened with that Ben Stein Creationism movie. The true believers flood the RT and IMDB sites with positive reviews. The obvious point that should be made about this disparity is that the vast majority of people who go to see these movies are going to be in the choir already. Few people who aren’t already converts are going to go, except for the critics, who have to, and they all say it sucks.

The difference between this and the LOTR phenomenon you reference is that LOTR fans are just fans. LOTR is just entertainment to them. Randians are like creationists. This is a religion to them. They are enamored of the message, not the story. They are trying to evangelize the message.

I’ll probably wait to see it on cable. The trailer made it at least look better than The Fountainhead (which was just awful).

At any rate, I don’t see much difference between the “hard core Randites” who’ll like it no matter what and the “hard core anti-Randites” who will hate it no matter what. If you like a movie, it’s good. If you don’t like it, it’s bad. I don’t see that there is an objective way of determine whether a movie is good or bad (no pun intended).

The comment boards on both conservative and liberal Web sites are flooded with Randites defending it, so there is a pretty big built-in audience who are going to see it no matter what. Whether or not they’ll generate enough box office to justify a sequel or two, however, remains to be seen. It’ll be interesting to see the box offices grosses from this weekend. The number to pay attention to in this case is the per-screen average.

The per screen numbers weren’t bad, but all the Randians are going to go the first weekend. What remains to be seen is if it will have any legs past this first weekend. It did less than $2 million in its first weekend and the numbers dropped from friday to saturday, so its prospects of making back its budget (reportedly around ten mil) are iffy.

It doesn’t help that the reviews have been abysmal.

But isn’t this, to at least some extent, an indication of a poorly-done movie?

The issue of translating literature to film is one of the perennial points of controversy in the movie industry. It’s often the case that movies “ruin” the book by flattening out the story, leaving out important material, or otherwise reducing the nuance and complexity and richness of the literature.

But this is, to a considerable extent, inevitable. The script for a 2-hour movie runs to somewhere around 20-40 pages of written material, whereas even a short book generally approaches a couple of hundred pages. Movies often get criticized unfairly, i think, because the medium itself has some limitations.

Having said all that, though, it seems to me that a movie based on a work of literature should stand on its own. It should not be necessary to have read the book in order to like the film. Whether the film almost ignores the original material (e.g. the Bourne trilogy), or is very faithful to it (e.g., No Country for Old Men), the movie should stand alone. You shouldn’t need to have read and loved the book in order to like the movie.

I haven’t read it for quite a few years. Is 15 April a significant date in the book? Or just marking yearly intervals since the release of the first instalment?

I’ll certainly go and see it when it’s released here. I always thought it would be very difficult to film.

There were no sequels to Battlefield Earth written, and the film essentially covered the entire book. This is not the case with the Atlas Shrugged movies.

Its ‘tax day’ in the US.