For the moment, let’s try to leave aside the politics and philosophy of Ayn Rand — after all, only so many words can really be expounded on a point of view that ultimately comes down to not giving a shit about your fellow human beings. There’s a reason that it’s taken over half a century for a film adaptation of Rand’s magnum opus, “Atlas Shrugged,” to reach screens; as well as being an awful sociopath (her ideal man was a convicted murderer who kidnapped, disemboweled and chopped the legs off a twelve year old girl), Rand was also a terrible writer, whose books are full of leaden prose, heavy-handed metaphor and very little drama.
“Atlas Shrugged,” or at least the first part of a interminable-sounding four part adaptation, finally went before cameras last summer, thanks to the imminent expiry of the rights, with “One Tree Hill” star Paul Johansson (no, us neither) at the helm, and starring relative newcomer Taylor Schilling and the boat captain from “Lost” who looks like Richard Roxburgh. A trailer hit over the weekend after premiering at The American Conservative Union’s Conservative Political Action Conference; could it possibly be as bad as we predicted back at the start of the year?
You bet your ass it could. Looking for all the world like a Funny or Die parody of the novel, it’s packed to the brim with terrible readings of unintentionally hilarious lines (“Why ask useless questions? How deep is the ocean? How high is the sky? Who is John Galt?”), features more shots of poorly-rendered CGI trains than the first assembly of “Unstoppable,” and appears to have been shot by the DoP from a daytime soap opera.
On the plus side, this certainly seems to have the potential to replace “The Room” as an endlessly quotable disaster, destined to play midnight movies to drunken hecklers for years to come — we can certainly see “They are not getting my metal!” becoming a meme in years to come. On the down side, it also looks really fucking boring.
Still, congrats to Johansson & co for seemingly delivering the movie that Rand has always deserved. That’s not a compliment. Matthew Marsden (“Rambo“), Graham Beckel (“Battlestar Galactica“), Edi Gathegi (“Twilight“), Jsu Garcia (“Che“), Michael Lerner (“Barton Fink“) and Patrick Fischler (“Mad Men“), all of whom were presumably about to have their homes repossessed when the gig came along, co-star. If you’re an Objectivist, a hardcore “One Tree Hill” fan, Glenn Beck, or a masochist, you’ll be able to see the finished product soon: the picture’s being self-distributed by The Strike Productions from April 15th, timed, predictably, to coincide with Tax Day.