Monday, February 14, 2011

Atlas Shugged Part One ... Yikes

I can be something of a masochist when comes to watching movies. For example, a few months ago I forced myself to sit through "The Last Airbender" out of a morbid sense of curiosity. Within the first 11 minutes of the film I had given up hope and determined the movie was beyond salvage ... and then it just continues to underperform beyond my exceedingly low expectations. There are bad movie people can watch for camp value, but Airbender was just a textbook example of how not to make a movie.

I actually find films like that enjoyable on a didactic level, which is why I can't wait to watch the complete disaster that will assuredly be "Atlas Shrugged, Part 1." Look upon this work, mortals, and despair:

Good sweet Jesus does this look like a epic piece of shit. It's no wonder the film can't find a distributor and will likely have to settle for an unconventional theatrical release strategy (like viewing parties in private homes) or, perhaps more likely, go straight to DVD.

The bottom line is that this isn't a seriously made movie at all. It's what's called an ashcan copy, or a work of adapted art that's made for no other reason than to maintain a copyright claim (which tend to lapse after a set period of time, particularly when it comes to film rights). Here's Variety just before the film started shooting:
Cameras began rolling over the weekend [June 12-13, 2010] on a five-week shoot for "Atlas Shrugged Part One" with Paul Johansson directing from Brian Patrick O'Toole's script. [Producer John] Aglialoro would have lost the feature rights if the film wasn't in production by Saturday.
That's basically a polite way of saying that the producer scrapped together what they could just before the deadline. Basically, the movie was made for the sole purpose of biding time for the producers reboot the franchise a few years down the road with a better cast and a larger budget.

There wasn't so much as a single actor cast as early as two weeks before the movie started filming last spring. So there probably was not a lot of rehearsal time. Not exactly the proper way to kick off a proposed trilogy.

Perhaps an even spookier omen should be the fact that Aglialoro is also credited with writing the script. Why is that odd? It's because Aglialoro has no other experience in film. He's a multimillionaire sporting goods maker and CEO, but CEOs aren't known for writing compelling PowerPoint presentations, let alone dramatic scripts. If the dialogue in the trailer sounds like a quarterly finance report and is the only thing more wooden and lifeless than the acting, well, know you know why.

By the way, Aglialoro has had the film rights for the last 18 years. It's likely he just doesn't know what he's doing, which for Rand fans who actually want to see a quality production of the film get made in the near future is bad. Aglialoro will retain the right for a long time to come.

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