Friday, April 29, 2011
Atlas... Kinda Sucks. Kinda Really Sucks
Would this trailer interest you in the least if you
didn't know the source material? That's the problem.
THE KID GRADUALLY COMES RUNNING. OK. Real quick. Why the Atlas movie sucks, and why that doesn't matter.
The review from Slate deftly sums up how it sucks:
Anyone who's seen a SyFy Channel original movie in which a mutated insect battles a mutated amphibian will be comfortable with the production quality.
Ooooch. SyFy isn't exactly synonymous with low-budget excellence. But, as InstaPunk pointed out years ago, no way was Hollywood ever going to make this picture. Maybe Transmorphers-quality CGI train effects are a necessary evil. And clearly, the source material for an Atlas movie is miles ahead of the original Mansquito novella (or short story in a high school "literary" magazine, or drunken rambling of SyFy exec). This... might... not be so bad?
Anyone who's seen a faithful Christian adaptation of a Bible story will be comfortable with the style of adaptation—as much original text on-screen as the screen can hold.
Nope. Never mind. It is that bad. What Atlas, above most books, needs is an adaptaion. Not a rote transliteration. On the page, the dialogue has an air of dignified overwroughtness. Spoken aloud by CW teen-drama extras? As staid and mindless as The Greatest Story Ever Told. An Atlas movie ought to be about the ideas in the book. Not the word-for-word text. The producers' preferrence of the latter is silliness, and disaster.
It's hard to conceive how it could have turned out any worse. Any dumber. A no-budget version shot by 16-year-olds in a small backyard on Home Betamax would have been better. Attack of the Super Monsters redubbed with Galt's speech would have been better.
The hardcore Randians-- the Rand worshipers-- love it, because they eat up all but the most negative attention she gets in the world outside their echo chamber. Those of us who love her, but have more than one author on our bookshelves, are dismayed. (and if Rand wasn't gaining traction, no one would be dismayed. See?)
You know what? That's all OK. The Atlas movie may give her detractors something to snigger about, but her core ideas-- the primacy of reason and the sanctity of self-determination-- remain necessary for the ultimate survival of the American experiment. The film doesn't slow the spread of those ideas. It just doesn't help them spread as well as it should have.