Category Archives: Atlas Shrugged Movie

First mini-review of the Atlas Shrugged Part 2 movie

Pieced together from Q&A in a thread at IMDB, by someone who saw an advance screening:

Bottom Line: Definitely better than the first. I and literally everyone I talked to and overheard agreed. It was better directed, has some decent comedy, and was even pretty suspenseful at times. But…

It’s still a TV movie. It still looks and feels extremely cheap. The acting is mediocre and “stage-like” with the exception of the new Rearden who was actually pretty damn good. Everything still feels clunky and disconnected like the writer was just trying to pack as many plot points from the book into the movie as much as possible. It gets especially bad when they try to do “big speeches” like Rearden’s trial and Fransisco’s Money Speech (even cringe worthy).

I didn’t like Samantha Mathis but others I spoke with disagreed. I don’t think she looked right for the part in the first place (age and beauty wise). I much preferred Schilling who I also thought was good in AS 1.

Morales doesn’t have much screen time but I thought he was very awkward with the “money speech” but competent aside from that.

The speeches were understandably highly condensed though as far as I could tell, much of it was verbatim or close paraphrasing. Basically they were turned into extended dialogues where the hero will say three or four sentences worth of clunky Rand dialogue (which works a lot better on paper) and then the villain will respond with an obvious looter one liner like, “But what about the public good!?” (which also sounds a lot better on paper). Then everyone just stands around staring, or in the case of Rearden’s speech, clapping.

The run time was a little under two hours. You are right about the movement and progression of the film. It seems like the director responded well to the common criticism of AS1 that it was too many slow board rooms and not enough plot progression.

I am predicting that they [reviewers] will be slightly more generous to Part II because it is a better movie and the critics will have lower expectations. The latter will probably be the bigger factor for audiences and critics alike. One of the producers (not Aglialoro) spoke before the screening and outright said, “we could never make the Atlas Shrugged movie you envisioned in your mind.” I think as long as people know they are walking into a TV movie, they can find something to enjoy.

“Does the story serve the politics, or vice versa?”

As with the book, the two are completely intertwined and inseparable. The movie has NO significant deviation from the book whatsoever aside from shortening the whole thing.

“how much enjoyment can somebody who doesn’t necessarily agree with Objectivism be likely to have watching the movie?”

As an Objectivist, I don’t think a non-Objectivist will get much out of the movie. For those who know little to nothing about Objectivism, it can be a clunky introduction to some basic political and ethical concepts, but for those who know the philosophy and reject it, I seriously doubt any minds will be changed.

TIME magazine: Ayn Rand fans get a film of their own

TIME magazine has a new article by Alex Altman about the Atlas Shrugged movie, titled “Atlas Shrugged, The Movie: Ayn Rand Fans Get Film Of Their Own.” Since it’s pre-dated for Monday, April 25, 2011, the article must be in their print edition, as well.

It begins:

John Aglialoro is on a quest. Aglialoro, 67, is the CEO of a fitness-equipment company, a former U.S. poker champion and an objectivist â?? a subscriber to Ayn Rand’s doctrine of rational selfishness. In 1992 he bought from Rand’s estate the movie rights to Atlas Shrugged, her 1957 novel about the heroes who prop up society and the parasites who leech off their efforts. His dream was to make a film that honored Rand’s philosophy.

For 20 years the dream eluded him. Studios shied away from the project. Scripts were written and discarded. A deal to have Angelina Jolie play heroine Dagny Taggart fell through. Even Rand’s acolytes feared that a thousand-page doorstop whose emotional climax is a lengthy monologue on the virtues of unfettered capitalism would flop as a film.

See the full article for more.

Reason Mag: Scenes from the 38-year struggle to film Atlas Shrugged

Brian Doherty has an excellent article in Reason magazine about the history and making of the Atlas Shrugged movie, titled simply “Atlas Shrugged: The Movie.”

His article provides a lot of behind-the-scenes information I had not heard before, such as this:

They now had just weeks to get a film into production. Kaslow and Aglialoro hired director Stephen Polk but then fired him less than two weeks before shooting had to begin for reasons neither side will publicly discuss. Polk, in an email interview, refers merely to “complications,” adding that he was impressed with Aglialoro’s willingness to spend whatever it took to make the movie’s production values fit the subject. “It’s always been John’s movie,” Polk said, adding “I hope it is all he hopes it will be and inspires people to read more Rand.”

Prominent casting agencies refused to deal with the project, partly because many assumed Aglialoro was deliberately shooting any old thing to retain the rights, as opposed to making a movie he intended to release. While Kaslow had suggested they essentially shoot a 90-minute demo that would help bigger studios wrap their heads around and hopefully agree to fund a more lavish version of Rand’s famously huge and daunting property, Aglialoro stood firm on making the movie he’d been planning for decades.

Kaslow brought in Brian O’Toole, a screenwriter whose official credits are mostly horror films but who had a reputation as a wiz at fixing up book adaptations. Kaslow describes the script they started withâ??he declines to name the writerâ??as “more a reimagination of the book than a direct adaptation.” But “then John said, â??Let’s just go by the book, a direct adaptation, use her words when we can use her words.’ We really don’t have time to test the logic if we decide to go outside the boundaries of the story.”

The article contains a lot of interesting information about director Paul Johansson. Perhaps most interesting is that he and the producers parted ways before the film was done being edited:

Johansson has some Roark in him. Filming Rearden’s office scenes, he confronts Kaslow about plans to recut the movie after Johansson is done. Johansson is shooting a scene at Rearden’s desk. A statue of Atlas holding up the world is centered between Rearden and his computer monitor. Kaslow doesn’t like how it looks. “Why are you bothering to tell me this now?” Johansson snaps at Kaslow, in front of Kaslow’s young son. “Aren’t you just going to take the film from me and do whatever you want to it afterward anyway?” The director makes things so uncomfortable for Kaslow and his son that they leave the set.

After they leave, Johansson talks, frustrated, about philosophically minded businessmen who have never made a movie trying to impress their friends at think tanks and presuming they can do better than the man they hired for the job. When I sit in on a session months after the shooting is done, where actors were re-recording some of their lines over finished video, Johansson is not around. A man involved in post-production work alludes to irreconcilable differences between Aglialoro and his director. Johansson tells me, in the spirit of Roark, that “if I was to go out and cheer for something and take credit for something I didn’t completeâ??I have a son coming. I want him to know his father is someone who doesn’t do that. I can’t take that credit” for the finished film. “That film is John Aglialoro’s film.”

Read the full article for much more.

New article in TIME magazine online about the Atlasphere and the Atlas Shrugged movie just published an article about the Atlasphere as well as the Atlas Shrugged movie, penned by Claire Suddath, who spent this week talking with members of our dating service.

Her article is titled “Single Objectivist Seeks Same” and begins:

Let me get one thing out of the way: I have never read Ayn Rand. In fact, until recently I was one of those uneducated boors who thought the author’s first name was pronounced Ann. A few of her readers have corrected me over the years, but for some reason, I assumed they were joking â?? which is also what I assumed when they told me that they’d just read a great book about government intervention in the railroad industry. (That book is now a movie, Atlas Shrugged: Part I, opening Friday in the U.S.)

But then my editor asked me to look into the dating website the Atlasphere, on which Randians can search for their soul mate among fellow objectivists. I didn’t have time to read all 1,200 pages of Atlas Shrugged or even the 680-page The Fountainhead beforehand, so I did what any self-respecting journalist would do: I called up a friend. “Quick, can you explain Ayn Rand’s personal philosophy to me in one sentence?” I asked Fahad Siadat, a professional musician who just finished reading Atlas Shrugged. I know this because he’d cornered me at a dinner party and told me all about it. Which is what people tend to do when they’ve just discovered Ayn Rand.

See the full article for more.

WSJ: Remembering the real Ayn Rand

Writing at the Wall Street Journal, Donald Luskin has an excellent article “Remembering the Real Ayn Rand” that begins by discussing the new movie:

Tomorrow’s release of the movie version of “Atlas Shrugged” is focusing attention on Ayn Rand’s 1957 opus and the free-market ideas it espouses. Book sales for “Atlas” have always been briskâ??and all the more so in the past few years, as actual events have mirrored Rand’s nightmare vision of economic collapse amid massive government expansion. Conservatives are now hailing Rand as a tea party Nostradamus, hence the timing of the movie’s premiere on tax day.

When Rand created the character of Wesley Mouch, it’s as though she was anticipating Barney Frank (D., Mass). Mouch is the economic czar in “Atlas Shrugged” whose every move weakens the economy, which in turn gives him the excuse to demand broader powers. Mr. Frank steered Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to disaster with mandates for more lending to low-income borrowers. After Fannie and Freddie collapsed under the weight of their subprime mortgage books, Mr. Frank proclaimed last year: “The way to cure that is to give us more authority.” Mouch couldn’t have said it better himself.

See his full article for much more, including a sensible discussion of the ways in which big businessmen are often no friends of capitalism and the ways in which Rand was neither a conservative nor a liberal.

Mr. Luskin is co-author with Andrew Greta of a new book, scheduled for publication next month, titled I Am John Galt: Today’s Heroic Innovators Building the World and the Villainous Parasites Destroying It. Judging from this article, I guessing it’s pretty good.

Earlybird reviews of the full Atlas Shrugged movie: “Spectacular,” “Solid,” “Faithful”

Detractors of Atlas Shrugged would never be pleased with any faithful adaptation of the novel, and so this movie’s primary audience is those who enjoyed the novel, are generally sympathetic to Ayn Rand’s ideas, or both. (If their response is positive, then the word-of-mouth buzz should attract the curiosity of many people who aren’t yet familiar with the novel.)

On this front, it looks like Aglialoro & Co. have scored a direct hit. The early reviews are quite positive.

Read the details on the Atlas Shrugged movie blog.

Hans Schantz: Iâ??ve seen it. Itâ??s awesome.

Atlas Shrugged movie co-blogger Hans Schantz and I were offered tickets to the pre-release screening in Los Angeles yesterday. I was unable to attend, but Hans was there and he has posted his initial reactions over at Ã?therCzar.

He begins:

I just attended the pre-release screening of Atlas Shrugged Part One, and Iâ??d like to share my first impressions. Take this as an initial installment toward the much more thoughtful (but equally enthusiastic) review Iâ??ll compose at leisure over the next few days and publish at the (fan-run, unofficial) Atlas Shrugged Movie Blog.

When I heard my favorite novel was being made into a movie, all the available omens boded ill: a â??low-budgetâ? production, with â??no-nameâ? stars, made independently â?? without the adult supervision of a real Hollywood studio, and rushed into production at the last minute to avoid loss of rights. It sounded like a recipe for disaster. Scratch thatâ?¦ it WAS a recipe for disaster. I mourned the might-have-been movie Iâ??d been waiting my entire adult life to see. I regretted the lost opportunity. I averted my eyes to avoid the painfully unfolding train wreck.

Slowly the evidence began chipping away at my erroneous conclusions.

See his full post for much more.

Also, don’t miss first full review of the movie, by Atlas Society founder David Kelley.