…*sigh* If there was any proof that Ayn Rand’s novel should never have been made into a movie, this newly-arrived trailer is it.
Ayn Rand presented her philosophy in totally stark terms. Everything that conforms to her idea of right is depicted as good, everything that doesn’t is scum and there is no middle ground. Furthermore, the story’s vast majority is made of people talking, threatening and waxing philosophical. A film adaptation needed a cast and crew who could make all of that entertaining. I’m not seeing that here. Furthermore, compressing the story into a single trailer-sized tidbit simply amplifies all the dialogue without nuance. I’m willing to believe that all of this can be made more tolerable if spread over feature length, but it’s just too much for a trailer.
Furthermore, the story (and I’d presume the movie as well) are dealing with epic stakes. Huge corporations are going out of business. Economies are being destroyed. There’s famine, there’s mass death and the world’s greatest minds are all disappearing. You’d think that any competent film-maker trying to bring in a new audience would highlight the enormous scale first with just a taste of the underpinning philosophy, instead of doing it the other way around as this trailer did.
Also, this film clearly takes place in the present-day. Though Rand never specified any specific years or eras in which her story takes place, there’s just no way that this can take place in the age of cell phones, the Internet and GPS technology. It’s just impossible, as it opens up way too many plot holes. I can only assume that this choice was done for budgetary reasons and hope that they found a way around these problems. But somehow, I doubt the latter possibility.
Then there’s the acting. On the one hand, Rand specifically wrote her protagonists to be devoid of emotion in their dealings with people. This is an author who wrote to preach the virtues of logic unclouded by subjective feelings and biases without proof. On the other hand, it gives Taylor Schilling and Grant Bowler (Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden, respectively) absolutely nothing to work with. I’ll grant that they look the parts — far better than I’d have thought possible, I confess — but they either can’t act with this material or they can’t act period. Moreover, I notice that these two were given huge amounts of screen time in the trailer, but Francisco D’Anconia — a character every bit as vital and arguably more fun — got nothing. I can’t imagine why.
I’m also disappointed in our villains, but for a totally different reason: None of them are slimy enough. Oh, they’re transparent douchebags, to be sure, but the antagonists in Rand’s work actively believed in what they were doing. They didn’t just tear down the accomplishments of others for their own benefit, they thought that they were making the world a better place in the process and they were enjoying their freedom to do so. The antagonists in the trailer, on the other hand, look to be playing their parts entirely straight. There’s no joy in what they’re doing, there’s no fun in watching them and I think it’s a safe bet that there won’t be nearly as much fun in watching them get what they deserve. What a damn shame.
Atlas Shrugged, Part I will be released this coming Tax Day, April 15th. Still haven’t made up my mind if I’m going to see this debacle through to the end. Then again, there’s still the possibility that the film may be dumped so quietly that I won’t get a chance to see it.