The Trilogy is Complete.
September 19, 2014 5:46 PM   Subscribe

The final film in the Atlas Shrugged trilogy (previously) is now in theaters and the reaction has been a stupendous... meh.

The first film debuted over three years ago (on April 15th) and starred the future Piper Chapman as protagonist Dagny Taggart. The film was torn apart by critics and made less than five million dollars in ticket sales against a twenty million dollar budget.

John Aglialoro, the businessman who funded the first film, initially washed his hands of the series. He would later be convinced to soldier on with the project and sixteen million dollars in debt were sold in order to finance part two.

The second film premiered a month before the presidential election in 2012. Samantha Mathis stepped in to now play Dagny Taggart. The reviews were even worse than for the first film and it went on to gross just over three million dollars, again falling significantly short of the film's budget.

In the face of such overwhelming evidence against the perceived market demand, could the producers continue on and finish the series? Most definitely, and this was accomplished in part by a Kickstarter effort by the producers which raised almost twice the money they were asking for from donors.

The third film is currently in theaters. The actress who plays Dagny Taggart this time is Laura Regan, and though the star power has dimmed significantly on this third outing, it does have high wattage cameos by the likes of Ron Paul, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck. As of this posting, there are only nine reviews for the film at Rotten tomatoes, but nevertheless the rating sits solidly at zero percent.

The folks at AV Club has taken particular delight in keeping track of this underwhelming series and their lengthy reviews for the trilogy (Parts one, two and three) are good reading.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI (132 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
The enity known as Rory Marinich had an amusing series of live tweets for the last movie from a Nearly empty theatre.
posted by The Whelk at 5:50 PM on September 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


The final installment of producer John Aglialoro’s three-part adaptation of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged is prime Mystery Science Theater 3000 fodder, cut-rate to the point of incoherence. Composed in large part of stock footage and stock photos overlaid with text and narration, it’s a movie where everything, from the sets to the cast and crew, is an unconvincing, low-cost substitute for something else.
posted by Nevin at 5:56 PM on September 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I really, sincerely tried to watch the first one, and got probably 45 minutes in before I couldn't take any more. I do intend on finishing it sometime, from what I can tell it's a masterclass on how not to make a movie.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 5:57 PM on September 19, 2014


If a CEO wanks in a theater, does it make a sound?
posted by The Power Nap at 5:59 PM on September 19, 2014 [18 favorites]


Don't really have an opinion on this movie, but what the fuck happened to Samantha Mathis' career?
posted by signal at 5:59 PM on September 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


From the Rotten Tomatoes comments: Rand's parable is meant to showcase just how much our world needs the best of us, but this adaptation only does so accidentally -- by revealing what movies would be like if none of the best of us worked on them.

these characters are so far from how real humans interact it's more like who is john gort amirite
posted by Existential Dread at 6:02 PM on September 19, 2014 [46 favorites]


That this film adaptation of the charter text of libertarian thought could not have been made by purely capitalist motivations -- only through public fundraising and immense debt -- is certainly the demonstration I needed of the ideology's real-world practicality.
posted by ardgedee at 6:08 PM on September 19, 2014 [188 favorites]


On the plus side, it's one of the few movies that's far better than the original book.
posted by uosuaq at 6:09 PM on September 19, 2014 [16 favorites]


But did they have that really cool small gauge railroad up in the mountains? Guess not but that would have been the coolest.
posted by sammyo at 6:10 PM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Any remember a decade or so ago when there were rumors that actors like Angelina Jolie and/or Brad Pitt would be in an Atlas Shrugged adaptation?
posted by octothorpe at 6:10 PM on September 19, 2014 [6 favorites]


Meh? That's nearly raves for this series.
posted by wotsac at 6:14 PM on September 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


I will see this when it plays a double bill with the Nicholas Cage Left Behind movie.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:15 PM on September 19, 2014 [7 favorites]


Audience Shrugged.
posted by yoink at 6:16 PM on September 19, 2014 [71 favorites]


“I never intended for you to occupy this room”

I don't know, I can see myself using that line a lot.
posted by Wolfdog at 6:16 PM on September 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Waiting for the JJ Abrams reboot.
posted by Mcable at 6:16 PM on September 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


Waiting for the musical.
posted by Wolfdog at 6:18 PM on September 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Waiting for the JJ Abrams reboot.
posted by Mcable at 9:16 PM on September 19 [+] [!]


The copper mines are extra shiny and have waaaaay more lens flare.
posted by Fizz at 6:19 PM on September 19, 2014 [9 favorites]


waiting for the theme park
posted by poffin boffin at 6:20 PM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


For a time I thought Rand was the real deal, loved the books, loved tracking down writings by her and her first officer, Leonard Peikoff... then I discovered girls, cars, beer, music... all those teenage things.
posted by Cosine at 6:22 PM on September 19, 2014 [7 favorites]


The folks at AV Club has taken particular delight in keeping track of this underwhelming series.

Well, yes. When you write reviews sometimes it is fun to go to town on just how terrible something is, and in this case it's all the more enjoyable because it provides some catharsis for one's ire over the effect Ayn Rand's ideas have had on North America's socioeconomic state. My only regret is that Ayn Rand didn't live to see her shitty book get totally savaged.
posted by orange swan at 6:25 PM on September 19, 2014 [9 favorites]


My only regret is that Ayn Rand lived.
posted by uosuaq at 6:29 PM on September 19, 2014 [13 favorites]


For a time I thought Rand was the real deal, loved the books, loved tracking down writings by her and her first officer, Leonard Peikoff... then I discovered girls, cars, beer, music... all those teenage things.
posted by Cosine at 9:22 PM on September 19 [+] [!]


Like many people I've talked to, I "discovered" Ayn Rand in highschool and for a while I thought myself clever for agreeing with her ideology and politics. And then I found myself in the real world and realize how absurd so much of what she put forward. I basically grew up.

I'm not saying this is everyone's experience. There are obviously people that agree with her personal brand of politics, but many people I talk to seem to have had that same experience of growing up and away from her.
posted by Fizz at 6:29 PM on September 19, 2014 [8 favorites]


* “I thought maybe I’d never work again,” Schilling says of the film's poor reception. “And it’s this weird thing where you take jobs because you’re so young and new, and think, Will I even be able to pay my rent?”

Poor Schilling. You know she had to be totally freakin' excited to get that part. I'm not saying she's an Ayn Rand fan, but she definitely expected the movie based on an extremely popular book to turn into the kind of blockbuster that would make an actor's career.

Good that things worked out for her despite that.
posted by riruro at 6:30 PM on September 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Ayn Rand is like Pink Floyd -- essential and formative at ages 14-16, but if you're still clinging to it at 30, something has gone terribly wrong.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:33 PM on September 19, 2014 [70 favorites]


Fizz: My mother gave me The Fountainhead when I was 12, a few years later when I came to my senses I quizzed her about giving me the book, her response "Oh, I thought it was crap, but it was long enough that I knew it would keep you out of my hair for a long while."

I got a somewhat different response from her that same year when I revealed that I also no longer believed in the bible.
posted by Cosine at 6:37 PM on September 19, 2014 [38 favorites]


Wait all three films have a totally different cast from one another?

That is fantastic.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:41 PM on September 19, 2014 [15 favorites]


I just checked my favorite torrent site to download the movie and I sorted the results by leechers.
posted by ryoshu at 6:41 PM on September 19, 2014 [45 favorites]


Waiting for the musical.

GREED
I'm gonna feel it forever
I'm gonna get a piece of the pie -- mine!
Gonna take it from wherever
People will see me and cry. Greed!
I'm gonna make my own heaven
Play this life like a game. Greed!
I'm gonna live forever
You'll never forget my name
posted by Kevin Street at 6:42 PM on September 19, 2014 [17 favorites]


My only regret is that Ayn Rand lived.

Perhaps she didn't.
posted by zamboni at 6:42 PM on September 19, 2014 [7 favorites]


Its Rotten Tomatoes score is currently two points higher than its series-projected score of negative two percent.
posted by BiggerJ at 6:43 PM on September 19, 2014 [6 favorites]


BitterOldPunk: Heresy! "s/Pink Floyd/The Doors/" #fixeditforyou
posted by djeo at 6:44 PM on September 19, 2014 [16 favorites]


I won't ever see this, but I was so disappointed to learn that they didn't actually film the three hour Galt speech. Even if you were down to D-list actors who could never have carried it, what the hell else is the point of an Atlus Shrugged movie trilogy?
posted by figurant at 6:45 PM on September 19, 2014 [19 favorites]


Ayn Rand is like Pink Floyd -- essential and formative at ages 14-16, but if you're still clinging to it at 30, something has gone terribly wrong.

This is true of The Wall, but certainly not Piper at the Gates of Dawn or Meddle.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:46 PM on September 19, 2014 [30 favorites]


essential and formative at ages 14-16, but if you're still clinging to it at 30, something has gone terribly wrong.

I will say this, reading her work led me to look up a bunch of financial and economic terms/words that I did not know during my teenage years. Makes you think critically about economics and social class/status. In that respect, I should thank her for providing me some form of knowledge and information.
posted by Fizz at 6:46 PM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Don't really have an opinion on this movie, but what the fuck happened to Samantha Mathis' career?

Like most female hollywood starlets in the mid list, she turned thirty, is my suggestion.
posted by smoke at 6:49 PM on September 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


You should have read the Illuminatus! trilogy instead.
posted by uosuaq at 6:50 PM on September 19, 2014 [19 favorites]


what the fuck happened to Samantha Mathis' career?

To be fair, Christian Slater’s career isn’t in a much better place right now.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 6:56 PM on September 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I would fund the living shit out of Telemachus Sneezed.

Also, Laura Regan? Hunh. She's one of those actors where I definitely notice her every single time she shows up. She has a certain je ne sais quoi. Also, she was in the movie They, which I remembered as being pretty okay, and she was also in the movie Dead Silence, which is fucking garbage.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:59 PM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ayn Rand is not like Pink Floyd. Not even close. No, Ayn Rand is in fact Limp Bizkit...the Limp Bizkit of being Ayn Rand.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:01 PM on September 19, 2014 [45 favorites]


In my head there is a sequel to Pump Up The Volume where Mark has turned into the boring suburban sellout it's clear he was always going to be, and Nora hosts a really cool podcast.

In reality, I follow Samantha Mathis on Twitter.
posted by dumbland at 7:01 PM on September 19, 2014 [8 favorites]


I would fund the living shit out of Telemachus Sneezed.

If Atlas can Shrug and Telemachus can Sneeze, why can't Satan repent?
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:02 PM on September 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


One of them was a drug-fueled, self-indulgent, puerile act whose most popular work got made into a movie...and the other one was Pink Floyd. </Bill Maher>
posted by uosuaq at 7:07 PM on September 19, 2014 [15 favorites]


(OK, I'm in the Mouse House having a beer and reading this on my phone, but you all are doing a great job. Keep it up.)
posted by eriko at 7:11 PM on September 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


So I was reading a bit from one of the reviews to my wife, and mis pronounced "Ayn" like the word "aim", only with an "n".

She corrected me: "Duh, 'Ayn' rhymes with 'mine'!!!"
posted by notsnot at 7:13 PM on September 19, 2014 [9 favorites]


from one of the Rotten Tomatos reviews:
Rand's parable is meant to showcase just how much our world needs the best of us, but this adaptation only does so accidentally -- by revealing what movies would be like if none of the best of us worked on them.
sick burn
posted by idiopath at 7:15 PM on September 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


Kris Polaha (the guy who plays John Galt) went to my high school.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:20 PM on September 19, 2014


"Waitaminute — Nobody remembered to bring an inexhaustible labor force of scriptwriters and film crew??? What's the plan now, genius?? WE'RE ALL GONNA HAVE TO LEARN iMovie!!!"
posted by LastOfHisKind at 7:22 PM on September 19, 2014 [27 favorites]


This was much better when it was 'Firefly'.
posted by CynicalKnight at 7:24 PM on September 19, 2014


So can someone with a better knowledge of the movie theater business than me explain how this ended up on screens at all? As a theater owner I would have a very good indication that I could be running Ishtar in that theater and bring in a larger audience.

Where does it show, and why?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:25 PM on September 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


Oh, and thank you for the post. Very nicely done.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:26 PM on September 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


"I enjoyed the comments on metafilter more than the movie, which I didn't even watch." ~ Metafilter.
posted by Fizz at 7:30 PM on September 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


Ayn Rand is not like Pink Floyd. Not even close. No, Ayn Rand is in fact Limp Bizkit.

Agreed. Floyd, Rand, and Bizkit are all fit for teens, but while Floyd is a gateway band toward boundary-pushing music, Rand and Bizkit are simply outgrown and looked back on with appropriate embarrassment.
posted by p3t3 at 7:31 PM on September 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


My favorite part of the A.V. Club review: "It’s so Z-grade incompetent and inadvertently absurd that quibbling with its ideology seems like unnecessary snark."

And I get the feeling that's a pretty fair review: It's not being trashed as a movie because the reviewer disagrees with it. It's just a bad movie, period.

I can't help but take some delight in the hilariousness of the diminishing returns of this trilogy. The first one wasn't good, no, but possibly good enough ... and how far they fell after that. In my mind, it feels pretty deserved, honestly. Not even in a "I disagree with it so it has to suck" way. But just ... if no one wants this, stop making it. Isn't that what these movies are supposed to be about? The free market or something? Or am I misunderstanding the ideals of libertarianism completely?
posted by darksong at 7:33 PM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]




The AV Club review makes it sound like sub-MST3K moviemaking, like something that wouldn't even be good enough to get on the show.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:37 PM on September 19, 2014


Waiting for the JJ Abrams reboot.

Atlas Flared.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:38 PM on September 19, 2014 [20 favorites]


If we could only get the Libertarians to fund a few hundred more movies we could crush them financially once and for all.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:38 PM on September 19, 2014 [18 favorites]


I should mention that, in spite of my description, only the third AV Club review is over their standard three paragraphs, but if you wish to see their dismantling of the first film at length, it was the subject of a "My World of Flops" article.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 7:40 PM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


The local small theater carried the first movie.. but passed on the others... so I was sort of clueless it even continued.

I'd wager a chunk o change that those "luminaries" paid to be in the movie and was part of the financing scheme.

Additionally I find it mildly distressing that a Terry Gillium Film struggles to find a release company in the US, but all three AS flicks seem to manage that just fine.
posted by edgeways at 7:43 PM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Did they at least get Mathis to come back for the regeneration sequence?
posted by baf at 7:44 PM on September 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


Why the fuck isn't the third movie just a Limp Bizkit concert movie? Think about it, you guys. Really think about it. Couldn't the third movie just have been "Sour" played over footage of OBAMA'S AMERICA.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:52 PM on September 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Apparently the selling point for two sequels was the idea that since the previous episode was so bad, the next one couldn't help being better.

As Yogi Berra or somebody else once said, "In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they aren't."
posted by Repack Rider at 8:02 PM on September 19, 2014 [13 favorites]


I guess nobody went to the openings for the new movie. They're too crowded.
posted by uosuaq at 8:12 PM on September 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


I wish they did a version where Glenn Beck played all the leads--like that talented kid on YouTube who used to do all those scenes a few years ago. I would have totally pitched in on that Kickstarter.
posted by sourwookie at 8:14 PM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Additionally I find it mildly distressing that a Terry Gillium Film struggles to find a release company in the US, but all three AS flicks seem to manage that just fine.

To be fair, God pretty clearly hates Terry Gilliam.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:17 PM on September 19, 2014 [18 favorites]


who cares what the critics think as long as it's a work of integrity?
posted by philip-random at 8:24 PM on September 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm sure it will be a good tax write-off.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:29 PM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


So I was reading a bit from one of the reviews to my wife, and mis pronounced "Ayn" like the word "aim", only with an "n".

I just say "Ann." If an aficionado would prefer that I say it some other way, let's negotiate a price.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:30 PM on September 19, 2014 [66 favorites]


Why the fuck isn't the third movie just a Limp Bizkit concert movie?

OK, come on, even Randians don't deserve that fate.
posted by kmz at 8:31 PM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


To be fair, God pretty clearly hates Terry Gilliam.

And we intoned the sacred truth: God Hates Gilliam.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:33 PM on September 19, 2014


Ajax Farted.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:46 PM on September 19, 2014


LastOfHisKind is referring to Bob the Angry Flower's Atlas Shrugged strip.
posted by JHarris at 8:57 PM on September 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


I just want to binge-watch all three films while doing bumps from a vintage McDonald's coffee spoon.
posted by dr_dank at 9:07 PM on September 19, 2014 [9 favorites]


Promising more Ayn Rand on the big screen seems like a great way to take the suckers for a ride.
posted by telstar at 9:09 PM on September 19, 2014


Poor Samantha Mathis.

We will always have Pump Up the Volume.

Jam me, jack me, push me, pull me. Talk hard.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:15 PM on September 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


THANKS OBAMA!
posted by blue_beetle at 9:53 PM on September 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Dammit, I meant one point higher than negative one percent. If Metafilter charged users money to edit posts and comments after time runs out they'd become richer than Google within a week.
posted by BiggerJ at 10:26 PM on September 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm here to be a contrarian about this. I know you're shocked.

When I was a kid, I was oh-so impressed with Rand. All these years later, I can probably still regurgitate parts of it. And, like most people, I kept a little of the good, and outgrew the mostly bad.

But I can still recall the impact it had on me as a kid. And I strongly believe that a set of well-crafted movies could be made to punch hard at that demographic with some slick and sexy propaganda. Plenty of stuff even more vacant headed has done so. Maybe it couldn't have been a morally good set of movies. Nor a truthful piece of art. But it could have been an entertaining set of movies aimed at people functioning at that 14-year-old level I was at. And I'd have enjoyed them just for the sheer nostalgia.

I don't think it would be an impossible project at all, nor a laughable one.

But, of course, these are not that set of movies. At all.
posted by tyllwin at 10:50 PM on September 19, 2014 [6 favorites]


I am so very, very happy that when I finally tried to read The Fountainhead (somewhere around 17) I found it so literarily awful that I discarded it less than a quarter of the way in. Probably sooner.

It was only when I encountered Objectivists galore on USENET, years later, that I realized the bullet I'd dodged.
posted by dhartung at 11:02 PM on September 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


Waiting for the musical.

Here's a start!
posted by lukemeister at 11:04 PM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


A girl I know was a little too impressed with The Fountainhead and was just starting on Atlas Shrugged. Rather than try to talk her out of it I just had a nice shiny hardcover of this, which I had just finished, delivered to her. She's never mentioned Rand since.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:17 PM on September 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


The idea that someone could create an Atlas Shrugged movie that would entertain, but would most likely be immoral and untruthful doesn't seem to run that contrary to what others have said.

And if the only claim is that is that it could entertain 14 year olds? Well, after The Transformers series I'm pretty sure you could add Megan Fox's butt and a bunch of explosions and 14 year olds would sit through the movie version of The Critique of Pure Reason.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:41 PM on September 19, 2014 [7 favorites]


Who is John Galt?

No match for nameserver "JOHNGALT"
posted by twoleftfeet at 11:56 PM on September 19, 2014 [6 favorites]


I feel like the title for this could have been "Audience Shrugged".
posted by happyroach at 12:16 AM on September 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


Shruggenfreude.

> Ayn Rand is like Pink Floyd -- essential and formative at ages 14-16, but if you're still clinging to it at 30, something has gone terribly wrong.

Oh, PLEASE. I listen to a huge profusion of music, mostly from the last decade, I play electronic music myself, but I still am very happy to hear Floyd when it comes on, particularly those albums that haven't been played to death on the radio (Meddle, Obscured By Clouds, Ummagumma, etc).

Floyd has essential value. Rand is only valuable as a cautionary tale.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:53 AM on September 20, 2014 [8 favorites]


Your favorite Rand sucks.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:56 AM on September 20, 2014 [13 favorites]


There was a review in the Financial Times a few days ago; one line from it that I remember was that the film is a sort of "Fifty Shades of Hayek". The general tone of the review seemed to lament that they did such a shoddy job of making a case for free-market capitalism, with the poor production values and logical inconsistencies and all.
posted by acb at 4:18 AM on September 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


So can someone with a better knowledge of the movie theater business than me explain how this ended up on screens at all?

There's two reasons for limited releases: Oscars and money. Obviously this dog isn't gonna be winning any Oscars (unless there's a new category: Worst Movie) which means it doesn't have to be released for the required minimum number of theaters/weeks within the year its up for the Academy's consideration, so the reason is money..... specifically, in this kind of situation it'll be tax write-offs. If a movie isn't released, then you can't write it off a as the loss it is.

(This is also why several years ago when Brooke Shields starred in a movie adaption of the Brenda Starr comic strip, it ended up being 'released' on something like nine screens (nationally! nine screens total!) for one week.... if they'd just shoved it into the back of the vault and intentionally lost it (as much as the producers might have preferred that), they couldn't have taken that tax write-off.)
posted by easily confused at 4:43 AM on September 20, 2014


Were there zombies? I bet it'd be pretty good if there were zombies all throughout.
posted by sammyo at 4:49 AM on September 20, 2014


And I strongly believe that a set of well-crafted movies could be made to punch hard at that demographic with some slick and sexy propaganda. Plenty of stuff even more vacant headed has done so. Maybe it couldn't have been a morally good set of movies. Nor a truthful piece of art. But it could have been an entertaining set of movies aimed at people functioning at that 14-year-old level I was at. And I'd have enjoyed them just for the sheer nostalgia.

I very much agree with this, tyllwin. I personally can't stand Ayn Rand, but from what I have heard of the book, the material is there for a great movie (or at the very least, an entertaining one). And lest we get too Schadenfreude-y about all this, it's not like this was their only shot. In five or ten years, somebody could come along with money and talent and do a "reboot" that preached less to the choir and did more to convince a new generation of minds. Is it likely? No, but it's possible.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 4:51 AM on September 20, 2014


But I can still recall the impact it had on me as a kid. And I strongly believe that a set of well-crafted movies could be made to punch hard at that demographic with some slick and sexy propaganda.

I don't see the need. Seems to me the nerd/geek youth have done an admirable job of hanging onto Rand well into their 20's and 30's. Fact is, the most vocal and hard-hitting Libertarians I've known were all from the Dev and IT departments.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:17 AM on September 20, 2014


Now Thorzdad, we've apologized for that many times.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:27 AM on September 20, 2014 [6 favorites]


If a movie isn't released, then you can't write it off a as the loss it is.

Ah. So most likely ala The Producers there is someone somewhere having nightmares that this will become a sleeper hit.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:29 AM on September 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


No discussion of Atlas Shrugged is complete without Kung Fu Monkey's timeless take:

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."
posted by HillbillyInBC at 5:56 AM on September 20, 2014 [18 favorites]


This is also why several years ago when Brooke Shields starred in a movie adaption of the Brenda Starr comic strip...

For anyone else wondering how in the world they missed that news, "several years ago" was 1989.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:07 AM on September 20, 2014 [6 favorites]


I just ran through Escape From Terra a few weeks ago after someone linked to it in derision, and while for the most part the entertainment value was how cheesy and ridiculous the libertarian space utopia was I did enjoy the story arc in which an Elon-Musk-esque character begins the era of interplanetary colonization by accepting a contract to deorbit the ISS at the end of its lifespan, then surreptitiously hijacking it and boosting it to Mars. That could make up the plot of a cool movie, as long as it didn't involve extensive monologues about Norman Borlaug.
posted by XMLicious at 6:42 AM on September 20, 2014


Ayn Rand is like Pink Floyd

I will fight you
posted by flabdablet at 7:47 AM on September 20, 2014 [5 favorites]


Ah, i'll need to see this one eventually.

I remember on the eve of the first film, certain online conservatives were predicting that it's release date would come to be known as "the day it all changed." That it would so totally capture the imagination of the public that widespread discontent would cripple our evil government, while bleating liberals protested showing of the movie -- which would be doing Titanic-style repeat business -- howling that it must be outlawed and all copies destroyed, so that society might remain in the clutches of the looters and moochers.

They may have been a tad optimistic, just a tad.
posted by ELF Radio at 8:09 AM on September 20, 2014 [4 favorites]


The Blathering of the Shruggalos
posted by tonycpsu at 8:11 AM on September 20, 2014 [21 favorites]


everything I know about Ayn Rand I learned from The Illuminatus! Trilogy - which is also a book to obsess and change teenager's lives, but encourages healthy activities such promiscuous sex and drug taking rather than sick ideas like capitalism.
posted by jb at 8:17 AM on September 20, 2014 [12 favorites]




The Ayn Rand book I read in high school made such a big impression on me that I remember absolutely nothing about it.
posted by freakazoid at 8:44 AM on September 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


Hmmm. Atlas Shrugged could have been made into pretty excellent camp. Definitely musical worthy if we adapt the monologues into song and dance numbers. The more I think on it the more tragic this seems as a missed opportunity.
posted by wobh at 8:45 AM on September 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


(Also, I'm really glad it was Heinlein who got me in and out of my libertarian phase rather than Rand.)
posted by wobh at 8:54 AM on September 20, 2014 [3 favorites]


Oh my god the trailer for the Brenda Starr movie is exactly how I imagined it

Sadly, that movie was filmed right in my hometown of Jacksonville. There was a feeling at the time that this was our ticket to stardom and other big movie shoots would come here (like they used to in the days of silent films). Instead, the name Brenda Starr had become a kind of reminder on how unlikely that will ever be.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 9:08 AM on September 20, 2014


waiting for the theme park

If you search for libertarian paradise on google this is the second result.

Curiously, I've not heard any of the libertarians here in the US are clamoring to move.
posted by winna at 9:11 AM on September 20, 2014


I think an Atlas Shrugged movie might actually be watchable, if you shot it in a pure Art Deco CGI, sort of like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow only a decade and a half earlier period and even more stylized, and cast the heroes with the most chiseled actors you could find and had them play every line with pure commitment. This movie errs mainly in trying to make it look and feel real, when of course the key to Rand's novels is that they take place in an imaginary universe in which her ideas make perfect sense, and people behave in the manner her beliefs require them to.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:27 AM on September 20, 2014 [13 favorites]


I agree with the people who say that in the right hands Ayn Rand's core concepts from Atlas Shrugged could very easily be made to appeal to and draw in teenagers and even older people. For an excellent example of this, look at Frank Miller's Martha Washington Goes to War.

It's basically Atlas Shrugged minus Rand's godawful writing, minus Rand's utterly implausible setup, and plus some characters you can actually care about. And while the core philosophy is still terrible, the comic is well done and enjoyable even to someone like me who really hates the philosophy. It's a vastly better libertarian/Randite recruitment vehicle than a movie version of the book.

If they'd made a movie, or even a series of movies, loosely based on Atlas Shrugged rather than being semi-slavishly devoted to the idea of simply translating the book to film, they may not have made a blockbuster, but they'd have almost certainly made a profit and probably made some movies that could drag a few vulnerable teens into the Cult of Rand. And by "loosely based" I mean "without the train obsession, without the horrible stilted dialog, without the utterly unbelievable plot, and without wretched sexist BS Rand wrote in".

The basic idea that the smart/able/whatever people will bugger off somewhere and let the world that rejected them burn, because only their super awesome awesomeness was keeping the world going, is one all but designed to appeal to alienated teenagers who think of themselves as better than everyone else but somehow kept down by the evil system (which is to say, most of them).

The only scene from the book I'd keep in the movie is the part where Taggart is at a party and feels that she, and she alone, is really a real person enjoying herself and that the others are all just hollow shells of people putting up a false front of enjoyment. That sort of teen angst coupled with a belief in their own superiority is spot on for a successful Atlas Shrugged movie.

Miller did it successfully by making his protagonist a hyper competent black woman who was a soldier for a corrupt system which she eventually realized was corrupt and then helped defeat thanks to her awesomeness.

If they wanted to keep the corporate executive thing they could make their new Taggart an internet executive, or an airline executive, or **ANYTHING** but a train executive. Make Reardon a brilliant programmer who invented a new game so super awesome that everyone wants to play but The Authorities want to ban because it's too good, too successful. Only Taggart trusts in Reardon's awesomeness enough to put his game on her network, and she's making money but then the evil government and her evil brother shut it down because they're evil and they hate the freedom of Reardon's game.

And in the background, John Galt, a rogue scientist/engineer who developed a quantum computer (see, gotta get the modern buzzwords in there somehow) that requires no power beyond a good hot cup of coffee realizes that the governments of the world want to crush the internet because it threatens their stranglehold on power. It can break any code in the world and in that manner demolish The Government's ability to keep the people enslaved to the NSA (make the Evil President a black Obama expy for extra goodness, or possibly a Hillary expy).

Taggart, at first, doesn't realize that the whole system must collapse so the really good people can rise to the top, but Galt is drawing all the competent people (largely found among players of Reardon's game) into his secret enclave (which is like totally built in an awesome place like under a volcano or something, not some lame valley in the Rockies).

In the end, Taggart realizes the truth, and brings down her whole network, the last shreds of the internet that were still functioning, and the Evil Government and the Evil Proles fall apart in a post-apocalyptic sort of way, leaving the world clear for the Good People from Galt's Top Secret Volcano Base to repopulate.
posted by sotonohito at 9:34 AM on September 20, 2014 [10 favorites]


It'd still be a shitty, cliched, movie but it'd be better than what they came up with.
posted by sotonohito at 9:35 AM on September 20, 2014 [4 favorites]


(BTW, I just realized that the phrasing of my earlier comment might give the impression that I'm the author of the novel I linked. That wasn't intended and I'm not.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:38 AM on September 20, 2014



Ayn Rand is like Pink Floyd

I will fight you


okay, okay -- Rush then.
posted by philip-random at 9:50 AM on September 20, 2014 [5 favorites]



I think an Atlas Shrugged movie might actually be watchable, if you shot it in a pure Art Deco CGI, sort of like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow only a decade and a half earlier period and even more stylized, and cast the heroes with the most chiseled actors you could find and had them play every line with pure commitment.


I think I might just love this movie. Though my dream Atlas Shrugged was more of an Airplane style comedy.
posted by philip-random at 9:58 AM on September 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


OMFG I just realized that the key to a perfect Rand movie is to cast a 36 year old William Shatner as the hero. What might have been.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:06 AM on September 20, 2014 [7 favorites]


We don't use money in the 23rd Century.
posted by Flunkie at 10:45 AM on September 20, 2014


If you do this story with a bit of invention and wit don't you get Iron Man, roughly?
posted by colie at 10:52 AM on September 20, 2014 [6 favorites]


Iron Man is (arguably) satire. But maybe there's an Objectivist corollary to Poe's Law.
posted by dhartung at 1:36 PM on September 20, 2014


If you do this story with a bit of invention and wit don't you get Iron Man, roughly?

I will fight you.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:53 PM on September 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


I mean, for Pete's sake, Iron Man was conceived by Stan Lee, whose entire life's work* is summed up in one sentence: "With great power comes great responsibility."

Which is perhaps the perfect, exact opposite of Rand.

* Lifted from Voltaire.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:56 PM on September 20, 2014 [3 favorites]


Definitely musical worthy if we adapt the monologues into song and dance numbers.

I once started working on a scenario that was a combination of an adaptation of Atlas Shrugged and a Kylie Minogue jukebox musical, precipitated by the song "Get Outta My Way" (which is also Galt's rallying cry in THE BIG BORING SPEECH).
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 2:24 PM on September 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


uosuaq: "On the plus side, it's one of the few movies that's far better than the original book."

I actually feel this way about Slumdog Millionaire vs the book it was based on, Q & A.
posted by Deathalicious at 2:57 PM on September 20, 2014


Yeah, the idea that a Rand-imagined Tony Stark (she's kicking herself in her grave for not thinking of that name) would stop building the arsenal of democracy for altruistic reasons, as opposed to having a sulk because nobody appreciates him, doesn't fit at all.

In her version of Iron Man the terrorists come close to winning because he's off having a good cry and a wank rather than building smart bombs, but he comes back in the eleventh hour, and after an interminable lecture and everybody apologizing and calling him Sir he saves the day.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:51 PM on September 20, 2014


@Cool Papa Bell, actually Tony Stark was invented by Stan Lee to go against the spirit of the times (the 1960's). Here's a quote from Lee on the topic:
I think I gave myself a dare. It was the height of the Cold War. The readers, the young readers, if there was one thing they hated, it was war, it was the military....So I got a hero who represented that to the hundredth degree. He was a weapons manufacturer, he was providing weapons for the Army, he was rich, he was an industrialist....I thought it would be fun to take the kind of character that nobody would like, none of our readers would like, and shove him down their throats and make them like him....And he became very popular,
In some ways he was deliberately antithetical to Lee's "with great power comes great responsibility" ethos.
posted by sotonohito at 5:00 PM on September 20, 2014 [3 favorites]


It's too bad that they had such a low budget. With a bit of motion capture and CG they could have made it so the villains were actual strawmen.
posted by ckape at 6:03 PM on September 20, 2014 [4 favorites]


There is an Objectivist superhero created by a man who drew many classic Marvel comics, and he is insane.
posted by Kevin Street at 6:43 PM on September 20, 2014 [6 favorites]


I love what Ditko's Objectivist superhero bizarrely shouts as he knocks out the bad guy:

YOUR GOALS WERE NEVER REALISTIC!
posted by Flunkie at 7:30 PM on September 20, 2014 [4 favorites]


And I strongly believe that a set of well-crafted movies could be made to punch hard at that [14-16 yr old] demographic with some slick and sexy propaganda.

or you could just remake "Porky's". Why kill yourself?
posted by Artful Codger at 8:11 PM on September 20, 2014 [5 favorites]


In some ways he was deliberately antithetical to Lee's "with great power comes great responsibility" ethos.

Wow, you're completely misreading Lee's quote and the actuality of the character.

Lee is saying that an anti-military audience of the time would initially, naturally hate Tony Stark because he's a rich, flashy playboy military industrialist. He's going to stand in contrast to sad-sack Peter Parker, whom the audience naturally identifies with. But the audience, prepared to hate Tony, will get the rug pulled out from under them, because here's a hero they'll come to care about despite his background.

And then, in his first issue, Tony is driven by guilt over the death of Yinsen, the scientist that helps him escape. Once free from imprisonment, Tony turns around and frees a nearby village from its invaders.

Rand doesn't do guilt. Rand doesn't turn around and save the village.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:48 AM on September 21, 2014 [4 favorites]


One thing the Marvel Cinematic Universe has done nicely is portray Tony Stark as an incomparable genius billionaire playboy...who is completely unable to function as a human without the emotional and physical support and teamwork of other people. And his British nanny computer. Anytime Tony goes off to be a solitary lone wolf privatizing world peace, it ends really badly. (Lookin' at YOU, Age of Ultron killer robots.)
posted by nicebookrack at 11:09 AM on September 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


My experience has been that people who discover Rand in high school terms to be thoughtful people who generally graduate to more nuanced postitions. Those who discover and like it later in life tend to be scary.
posted by cell divide at 8:18 PM on September 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


Were there zombies? I bet it'd be pretty good if there were zombies all throughout.

I sometime watch Zombie Flicks as if there are no zombies at all. I imagine the protagonists as delusional/psychotic libertarians fighting for "liberty" through hordes of (innocent) statists.
posted by CitoyenK at 9:53 AM on September 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


okay, okay -- Rush then.

OH NO YOU DINT
posted by disconnect at 10:26 AM on September 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


I sometime watch Zombie Flicks as if there are no zombies at all. I imagine the protagonists as delusional/psychotic libertarians fighting for "liberty" through hordes of (innocent) statists.

this is a zombie film I suspect I would love, right down to the infighting among the "survivors" that ends up killing most of them.
posted by philip-random at 12:13 PM on September 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


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