Saturday, April 21, 2012

Reason Fluffs Atlas 2

Reason becomes the thinking man's Hello magazine in this new piece devoted to energetically fluffing the Atlas Shrugged 2 movie.

Amusingly, in this puff-tastic item writer Brian Doherty somehow forgets to mention that Pt 1 was one of the most notorious box office bombs of 2011. Instead, he refers to an "official critical reception" that "wasn't that great" - a masterly piece of understatement, given the average review rating of 3.5 out of 10 - and asserts that "normal folk seemed to like it better than credentialed tastemakers" despite the fact that said "normal folk" singularly failed to show up at the box office, and that as usual Randroids block voted on net sites like Rotten Tomatoes to prop up Atlas' user rating. We also hear about "encouraging" dvd and on-demand sales. No figures are mentioned, so here's a couple: it's currently ranked #1,240 in Amazon, and we know they made at least 100,000 copies due to this distinctly un-Galtian screwup.  They need about $18m or more so at $12.99 retail, do the math. Keeping with the Hello-type flavour, we also get gushing descriptions of the set design and acting that would be perhaps more appropriate for Posh'n'Becks' latest nursery interior. Even the old The Fountainhead movie gets a fluffing, with its dud reputation blamed on the studio editing it against Rand's will - despite the fact that Rand demanded, and got, unprecedented artistic control over the movie. 

A few tidbits sneak thru the PR blurbing. We learn that the real reason Part 2's been recast is because they didn't get binding contracts from the actors in Part 1 to do the followup; hence they all appear to have jumped out rather than end up once more in the same train wreck. We also learn that the producers have seemingly learned nothing from the previous debacle. They seem to think "the look" of the film is the magic bullet for success, despite the fact that the basic Randian absurdities highlighted by Greg in his great review below are the fundamental problems with the project - and that they get worse as the book progresses. In fact the producers seem to have doubled down on rather than diluted the Rand factor, with anachronistic phrases like "looters" and "moochers" now featuring prominently in the script.

In other words, no matter how much the Reason blurb-o-mat tries to talk it up, Pt 2 sounds a lot like Pt 1. Only worse.


Michael Prescott said...

"Even the old The Fountainhead movie gets a fluffing, with its dud reputation blamed on the studio editing it against Rand's will"

As I read the article, they're not trying to defend the movie. They're just saying Rand was personally disappointed with it because of an editorial change. This is true; she was livid that one line of Roark's courtroom speech ("I am the man who does not live for others") was cut. She considered it to be the most important line in the speech and apparently never forgave Warners for omitting it without her consent.

BTW, I note that the director of Atlas Part II is known mainly for episodes of Scrubs and Cougar Town. Obviously the ideal choice for a Romantic epic!

tombr said...

I see the whole main cast has changed. Now there may be good contractual reasons for this, but it is still a bit disconcerting, as if Dr Who changes actor not every whole series, but every episode.

I certainly don't think Reason is pumping up this movie; plenty of libertarians/objectivists I know have varying views about the film and what the directors have done.

And it is hard not to praise any film that puts issues about Big Government and its destructive impact in cinematic form. Such a thing is very rare. So a bit of "fluffing" is entirely justified from Reason's own perspective. I am looking forward to seeing it and making my own judgements.

behemoth said...

I was just amused to see an advertisement for Atlas Shrugged part II on, of all things, Paul Krugman's blog. I suspect Krugman would appreciate the irony.