When I recently found out that they were making a movie version of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, I was quite conflicted. I am a huge Ayn Rand fan and Atlas Shrugged (along with The Fountainhead) is one of my favorite books. I was afraid that seeing the movie would forever ruin the image of the book that I had already constructed in my head. Movies have a bad tendency of never living up to the books they portray; and I just didn't know if I wanted to take that kind of a gamble in a game with such seemingly high stakes.
After going back and forth on the idea for about a week, I finally decided to man-up and see it. And, after having sat through it last night, I can honestly say that the movie I had in my head is in absolutely no danger of being ruined by, or even associated with the abomination I saw on the screen last night. Atlas Shrugged, Part I is, without a doubt, one of the worst movies that I have ever seen.
When the movie was over, I wanted to talk to my friend about it; but, it took several bouts of perplexed laughter before I could even get a coherent thought out of my mouth. The movie was shockingly bad. The opening credits were horrible and I immediately thought, "Well, it can only get better from here." Oh, how wrong I was! Then next hour and half felt like watching a 3-hour car wreck in slow motion.
If I had to hazard a guess as to how this all came to be, I would have to assume that there were some serious and unfortunate constraints placed upon the producers of the film. I imagine someone walked into the boardroom at some point and said something along the lines of, Ok, we're going to make a movie of Atlas Shrugged, but we have to work within some guidelines that are out of our control:
- We can't use any well known or experienced actors.
- Every 3rd scene has to be a montage.
- Every montage has to be accompanied by overlapping voice-overs.
- No camera angle can be held for more then 4 seconds.
- We can only use license-free music.
- We can only shoot any given scene once, so make it count!
- The female lead isn't allowed to blink at all during the filming.
- Every other sentence has to involve the name of a character that is never shown on screen.
- We have to consistently introduce characters with absolutely no build up and then remove them from the story, implying that something horrible has taken place.
- We can't show any nudity - oh, except for one guy's back - which we can show multiple times.
- The level of implied-sexuality has to be kept low enough so as not to offend my unborn baby fetus' sense of modesty.
- We have to shoot it like a it's a soap-opera so that we don't have to spend too much money on the post-production editing before we release it on Lifetime For Women (with dual licensing options for The Hallmark channel of course!).
- All special effects are going to be done by my cousin. He just took a weekend course in Adobe After Effects and tells that me he is gonna make our visuals rock harder than "the Wiggles in live concert."
So, when you think about it, with constraints like that in place, the movie actually came out a lot better than I think anyone would have expected. Of course, that didn't stop me from spending half the movie thinking about other things that I'd rather be watching: Twilight, the informational video at my podiatrist's office, the start-up animation of my DVD player.
And the saddest part of all of this is that I now have to go see Part II when it comes out. To only see Part I would be like hearing a horrible accident behind you and then not being able turn around and take a look; I'd have to spend the rest of my life wondering just how bad it really was! Unfortunately, I don't even know when Part II is coming out - it's not even listed in the IMDB yet!