Saturday, October 13, 2012

"Atlas Shrugged: Part II": "Either-Or": let the angels abduct their own kind and set up their own planet with perfect people

Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel “Atlas Shrugged” is generating its own movie franchise, namely “Atlas Shrugged: Part II”, called “Either-Or” in the book, using a theatrical distribution company by the same name.  (Lionsgate is said to have been interested in the project at first.)

As for the filmmaking, the beginning and end are the best.  The film opens at the end, as heroine Dagney Taggart (Samantha Mathis) is following another sabre jet in the Colorado mountains.  At the end, she’ll go through a time warp, crash land, and meet a shadowed John Galt (D.B. Sweeney, now about 51, but looking pretty preppie in his imdb picture).

It’s pretty apparent that the “people of ability” are disappearing, and, as in one sequence with a plasma energy innovator in Utah, by invitation only, to this ashram, which might as well be on another planet.  It’s not so clear why Dagney, and steel magnate Henry Rearden (Jason Beaghe) haven’t been abducted yet.

Just before the final sequence, the film offers a colossal train wreck in the Taggard Tunnel, no doubt inspired by similar wrecks in “Saratoga Trunk” (Sept. 27) and “The Peacemaker”, which aren’t in tunnels (but sometimes near them).  (The train might be entombed forever as a sarcophagus.)  I wish that the government parasite Wesley Mouch (Paul McCrane) had been on it.

The middle part of the film is tedious with artificial political dialogue.  It does make the points of objectivism well, and lays out the scenario for economic purification.  (What about debt ceilings and "demographic winter"?)  Because productive people have left, gasoline now costs $40 a gallon, and transcontinental flights operate only once a week.  The government has passed the “Fair Share Act” which allows it to expropriate from those according to ability and dispense according to need.  There is a line “capitalism is a failure”.

The “Occupy” protestors are evident on streets rather empty of cars.  So are counter demonstrators, who get what the government moochers have been doing.
There’s a really curious incident where a pianist and composer Richard Halley (Darren Server) who performs a piano rhapsody, sounding Ravel-like (not credited), and who never returns for the applause, rather leaving the sign “Who is John Galt?” on the Steinway piano.  Later, the script says that artists and composers destroy all their own work before they are abducted to the ashram, because they don’t want the proles to have it.  I don’t think real composers would do that.

The film ducks the question about how a society that values human life for its own sake, takes care of the less able.  If government shouldn’t to it, then the moral burden falls on individual people.  So is it moral behavior for “the angels” to desert the rest of us “cretins” and abduct their own kind? Will they just set up their own planet?  It seems that “de Tocqueville” would have allocated the responsibility to each one of us.

I have to chuckle at the implications of the "Fair Share Act".  Theoretically, since I am a sole proprietor owner of my own blogs, the government would be telling me exactly how many blog postings I could do each business day.
The actors are different, and the action more daring, yet this film comes across looking like a cable B-movie.  It’s also true that the story, based around railroads and steel, seems anachronistic, although energy crisis could bring the railroads back.

Latest official site is here

I saw the film at the Regal Potomac Yard in Alexandria, VA on a large screen, a fair turnout on an early Saturday afternoon.

Before the regular previews, Regal showed a short by Universal on the making of the film version of "Les Miserables", which is being filmed "live".

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