Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Atlas Shrugged" trailer

I'm picky about the movies I watch, but I may go to see this one, though somehow I don't hold out much hope for it.

The novel wasn't bad per se, though I have never been able to get through the whole of John Galt's speech in one sitting. The trailer just looks... problematic, though.

According to Wikipedia's entry on the film, it's set in 2016. Five years from now and they still rely on trains to that extent?

That's not exactly my idea of a "timeless" setting. It's the nineteen-forties (trains, ladies in long white gloves) juxtaposed with modern times.

On the other hand, it's a dystopian version of the United States. That might explain why all the characters seem so whitebread except for Eddie Willers, the sole black person in the trailer. He was doomed from the start, poor guy.

This is also advertised as Atlas Shrugged, Part I. If John Galt's speech is included in its entirety, there will be at least three parts (and possibly a lot of popcorn hurled at the screen). That worked for The Lord of the Rings, but I'm not sure how intrigued audiences will be by Atlas Shrugged, especially since the trailer makes it look as though the film is all about running a railroad and dealing with government officials.

There's no hint of the mystery that kept me reading the novel. I didn't really care who John Galt was, but I was curious about why people kept disappearing. That was a lot more interesting than moratoriums on railroad bonds. The film will probably still do well, but I won't exactly be going into it with the delicious anticipation that I felt at the start of The Lord of the Rings.

I just hope it won't be a trainwreck (no pun intended) in progress.


Anonymous said...

Hmm, I keep meaning to read the book, but I'm not sure if that's a really good reason to get into it. The trailer looks....interesting. I shall have to investigate.

Marian Perera said...

Some parts of Atlas Shrugged are good, some are not. I definitely don't regret reading it, but I also know people who hate it with a vengeance.

What amuses me most about the film is that it's going to be released on April 15, the deadline for filing tax returns (one of the characters steals gold to refund people's income taxes in the book).

JH said...

as an ironic atlas shrugged "fan" i have a lot to say about this:

1) the trains thing is going to be pretty glaring, but i heard they're trying to justify that by saying airplanes are too expensive due to fuel costs. that said, needs more art deco.

2) the producer hadn't cast the big roles until two weeks before filming started, fired and replaced the director with someone whose experience is limited to some episodes of a sitcom in the same time frame, the screenwriter has done nothing, and the actors are tv b-listers and video game voice actors. a promising start to what is supposed to be a 4-part series

3) eddie willers being black is actually incredibly distasteful. a character defined by his inability to innovate and organize and who is entirely dependent on his superiors' largess to function is the only black cast member!

4) hank rearden's moocher bro looks like he stepped out of an ipod commercial, which rules

5) @ dldzioba i recommend reading it if you want to understand everything that is wrong with american politics

6) @ marian, re: some parts being good... there are new ideas and good ideas in atlas shrugged, but the good parts aren't new and the new parts aren't good.

all this said i am absolutely going to see it.

Anonymous said...

You're better off playing Bioshock for a look at what a Randian world would really look like.

Loren said...

I've seen some speculation that it would have been better off turning that railroad company into some big info-tech company, something like Google or Microsoft or Apple or Yahoo or Facebook. That would not only be more contemporary, but easier for much of the audience to identify with.

A comeback of US passenger railroading to 1940's levels would require *massive* investment -- lots and lots and lots of rolling stock and additional track and so forth, and electrification to make it fast. In effect, duplicating the Northeast Corridor (Boston-NYC-DC) over the more populous parts of the nation by improving existing lines or building new ones.

There is one aspect of railroading that's very "modern": high-speed trains at 200 mph / 300 km/h, like the Japanese Shinkansen ones or the French TGV's. However, such trains need their own tracks to travel at full speed, and such tracks can be expensive to build.

I've tracked the progress of construction of such tracks, and it has a very spastic quality -- it's almost a matter of political fashion. Expense? China's national railroad company has been building high-speed lines at breakneck speed -- and accumulating $200 billion in debt and causing controversy over the quality of some of its construction. The head of its HSR department was recently fired, for whatever reason.

But once such fast trains are running, they are usually profitable; it's the slower trains that often depend on subsidies. Either from some government agency or from the rest of a railroad's operations.

Marian Perera said...

JH - ...four-part series?

Crud. I have even more serious reservations now. Even The Lord of the Rings was completed in three films.

I really, really hope they're not going to deliver all the speeches (Rearden's, d'Anconia's, etc) in full.

And re : Eddie Willers being black, I just looked up what the book said about him:

"He had spent most of his childhood with the Taggart children, and now he worked for them, as his father and grandfather had worked for their father and grandfather."

In the book that sounded like a family tradition of loyalty. With Eddie Willers being the only black cast member, it comes off more like indentured servitude.

Wish I was going to see it with you. :) Right now I'm hoping to talk a friend into accompanying me (a friend who hasn't read the book and doesn't have strong feelings about Rand either way).

Marian Perera said...

ralfast - Diablo and Civilization were addictive enough for me that I won't risk any more computer games. :)

Loren - Or the film could just be set in the 1940s, with as many steam-powered locomotives as they liked.

But then they wouldn't have had the BlackBerrys and color TV, and I suppose even Eddie Willers would have been played by a white actor.

JH said...

"I really, really hope they're not going to deliver all the speeches (Rearden's, d'Anconia's, etc) in full."

well galt's speech takes about 3 hours to recite, so i think that would push this to a 6-parter.

"In the book that sounded like a family tradition of loyalty. With Eddie Willers being the only black cast member, it comes off more like indentured servitude."

haha jesus CHRIST

gypsyscarlett said...

I never imagined Atlas Shrugged being made into a theatrical film (or films). I could see it more as a miniseries on HBO or another cable channel.

I'll be interested to see how it turns out.