Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Unwanted Trilogy of ATLAS SHRUGGED

Ayn Rand's sci-fi novel Atlas Shrugged has been controversial since its initial publication. It tells the story of a near-future US government pushed to collapse by wealthy financiers who oppose its generosity. In 2011, the film adaptation Atlas Shrugged: Part I was released, and a trilogy was promised if Part I did well. Atlas Shrugged was a massive flop, both commercially and critically. I never saw it, and didn't think much about it, so I was surprised when I saw Atlas Shrugged Part II on Netflix. When I went on Wikipedia, I discovered there's a Part III in development.

I found myself asking, "what's the point?" There's clearly no demand for the trilogy at all among movie-goers. No one went to see the first movie, and the second movie did just as badly, which means audiences will most likely shun the third movie as well.

The movies aren't even great pieces of filmmaking. The low budget, bad writing, weak special effects, and bad acting are frequently cited in all the negative reviews. So clearly there isn't a lot of effort being put into these movies.

Behind the movies is a political agenda. With its pro-capitalist and anti-government stance, the novel Atlas Shrugged has become a favorite of the hard-line Republican groups such as the Tea Party. They banded together to create Atlas Shrugged: Part I. Despite Part II's failure, conservative groups lobbied and scraped together the money to make Part II. Now the failure of both is in their rear-view mirror as they doggedly pursue a third.

I can't help thinking that the only reason the Atlas Shrugged trilogy exists is because certain political groups want it to exist. They want to be able to say, "Here's the movie version of Atlas Shrugged," regardless of popularity or even quality. I guess they hope the movies will legitimize the novel and make its message more popular. It's kind of weird that a movie like this can get made when better movies can't even get financing.

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