Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Unsocial Network

The trailer for Atlas Shrugged Part 1 is up. It feels roughly like a two hour version of the opening narration in Star Wars Episode One - taxation of trade routes is in dispute! - set to stock photography.

For a bit of fun, here's Hank Rearden (Grant Bowler) in a previous role:


Michael Prescott said...

I've been very skeptical of this low-budget project from the start, and after watching the trailer I have to say ... it looks pretty good.

The characters seem to be speaking idiomatic English rather than the chiseled-in-marble prose that sunk the movie version of The Fountainhead. Production values look a lot better than I anticipated. The train stuff looks like it might work.

And it's always good to see Armen Shimerman again. He rocked as the evil principal of Sunnydale High in the old Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series. My guess is he won't end being eaten by a giant snake-demon in this one.

I'm starting to think Atlas Part 1 may actually be a very watchable movie, and the start of a memorable trilogy. Color me surprised.

Very surprised.

Damien said...

Daniel Barnes,

I'm sorry, but I don't understand Australian slang.

Daniel Barnes said...

MP, look at the trailer a couple of times if you haven't already. I don't think it gets better.

Damien, "a woody" is slang for getting an erection.

Anonymous said...

If the film is anything like the trailer then it will be big on talk and low on action. But the people that put together the trailer have done a grand job. Why do you need to see the film now? :)

They have summed up part one in two minutes. All else will just be balls. Though I hope the actors who play the looters ham it up like Vincent Price used to do in the horror flicks.

Though I don't doubt objectivists will crack a 'woody' whilst watching it.

Steven Johnston

Dragonfly said...

What a terrible trailer, and so tiring with all those microsecond scenes, it's more like some arcade game, it gives me a headache. It's really beyond me how anyone can like this shit. It does look like some third-rate American television series, with its cute camera angles, stock characters and token negro. Rearden doesn't look like a tough industrialist, he looks more like a playboy, or worse: like your average cute American film actor.

stuart said...

The Objectivist predictions and speculations over the O-sites during the production of this movie were priceless. Everybody:
"We hope it's great and at last the world and we can see the total, total awesomeness of Ayn Rand and what a how hot a real rational heroine can be." This was the preamble without which your comment would not get printed anywhere. Then:

TAS (the producers) - and it's going to be so awesome that we will
make Peikoff gibber with envious rage.

ARI, Hsieh et al: "But it's going to such so bad it will disgrace the whole movement and make us a laughing stock but maybe it will ruin Kelley and the TAS so it will be worth it."

All else : "But it can't be any good because of the following two million details of budget, production, casting and screen adaptation, of which I know everything and nobody else knows anything"

Now crow is being crowed and eaten all over the place, for the most part happily, because the consensus is that it's good, much better than expected.

I thought it was good, better than the book - well, anything would be in my view, but still.

stuart said...

Daniel, thank you for your note on subtropical slang. To me heretofore a woodie has always been a California car a la "Surf City."I occasionally interact with Australians and NZers and you have saved me from serious embarrassment.

gregnyquist said...

I have to agree with Michael on this one. If the trailer is anything to go by, this thing could wind up much better than I would have ever expected. It looks like they might have done a pretty clever job at updating the work; and that they've tried to add some flesh and blood to Rand's one-dimensional characters. Of course, there's many ways a dramatization of Atlas can go off the tracks. It will be curious to see how they handle the sex scenes and all the speechifying. If they're smart, they'll let the action of the story make their points and replace Rand's long speeches with a few brief, pointed, hopefully witty comments.

I would also note that the novel becomes more ponderous and absurd as it proceeds; so while it might be possible to do breezy, entertaining version of the first third of the novel, it's hard to believe they can do anything with the final third of the novel that won't come off as ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

"...and all the speechifying. If they're smart, they'll let the action of the story make their points and replace Rand's long speeches with a few brief, pointed, hopefully witty comments."

When I comes to the "This is John Galt speaking", I pray you are right. As his speech would last a bum-numbing 3 hours. Plus, as they say in Hollywood, "you can write this s**t, but you sure can't say it(on the screen)"

Steven Johnston

Daniel Barnes said...

I think the initial snippets and backstory to the production looked SO bad it initially was heading for being Plan 9 From Battlefield Earth (who could forget the fledgling producer's comment that it would be made "in colour"!). So the fact that it has now made it to sub-miniseries level makes it seem amazing by comparison. But here's a film savvy fan of the book's view, and I tend to agree.

Look, flukey things happen in movies all the time. Juno was made for $6.5m. And you can do a lot with digital these days. I would have thought you would make money just marketing to Atlas fans if you could keep the budget low enough, which obviously they've done.

The fun will come from the ARI's reaction as the April release approaches. Pass the popcorn!

Michael Prescott said...

"If the film is anything like the trailer then it will be big on talk and low on action."

Most dramas are big on talk and low on action. I don't see that as a liability if (emphasis on "if") it's well done.

"But the people that put together the trailer have done a grand job. Why do you need to see the film now?"

The same criticism could be aimed at any trailer. They all give away the story arc, key dramatic moments, and even some of the surprises.

"so tiring with all those microsecond scenes, it's more like some arcade game"

Again, that's par for the course with movie trailers today. It doesn't mean the movie will be shot in that style.

"It's really beyond me how anyone can like this shit."

Well, I liked the new Angelina Jolie movie Salt, so maybe I have a weakness for slick, not-too-challenging popcorn cinema.

"stock characters and token negro."

Look at it this way: it's one more black person than Rand included in the book ...

"here's a film savvy fan of the book's view"

I can't judge Schilling's performance from this clip, but it seems to me that the trailer does express Rand's pro-free-market, pro-self-interest philosophy. Just look at the first scene, when Mulligan is asked if he's tired of seeing his energy used to feed others.

BTW, the slashfilm guy makes an error when he says Paul Johnannson will star as John Galt. Though this was widely reported, Johannson has denied it, saying that he appears as Galt in Part One in a few scenes but his face is never shown. This was done for convenience only; the idea is to cast someone else as Galt if and when the producers get to Part 3.

I agree that low expectations probably make the trailer look better than it otherwise would, but still ... it looks like they made a real movie out of the book, and with such dated, recalcitrant subject matter, that's hard to do.

I made fun of them before, and now I must eat my slice of humble pie. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. And pass the popcorn.

stuart said...

Michael, enjoy your pie. Elsewhere only raw crow is on the menu, with garnishes you don't want to think about.

Neil Parille said...

I agree with Michael. Looks much better than I expected.

Unknown said...

I think the $5mm budget made my expectations so low that they've been blown out of the water! But again, this is a preview - they could have taken just the best shots and some of the stylized presentation might not work as well in a full movie. But I think they might have done a good job of filming it in a slightly campy style. Will wait with popcorn for the full release.

Anonymous said...

What can you tell from a trailer? The trailers for Bonfire of the Vanities, Dune, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls, Star Wars I, and Jurrasic Park all looked excellent. But the actual films ranged from abysmal to disappointing. I guess the proof of this pudding is in the eating. I know that most dramas are big on talk but the best ones have great lines of dialogue delivered by great actors.

Steven Johnston

Anonymous said...

It has a certain "Megashark vs Giant Squid" Syfy Channel charm to it. Certainly a $5mil budget for a sprawling tale is going to look a little thin, but it's amazing what you can do with a RED camera, a grip truck, and Final Cut Pro these days.

I guessing this is going straight to DVD, or at best very limited theatrical release, right?

Mark Plus said...

The film could gloss over the problem of Galt's speech by showing Dagny's interior monologue in response to it as she listens to the radio with the gang of villains.

I still think Atlas deserves something like the Sky Captain treatment to capture its weirdness, and possibly Rand's undiagnosed prosopagnosia. She describes the heroes' faces as consisting of "angular planes," and the villains' faces as a gooey chaos, or words to that effect, which suggests that she had some kind of cognitive defect about processing the appearance of human faces. You could create this effect with cgi in post-production.

Michael Prescott said...

Glowing review of the movie here:

I hope it's as good as he says.

Anonymous said...

Anyone else think it odd that Eddie Willars, the only good guy in the novel to get shafted by the heroes without so much as a comment, is played by a black guy?