Atlas Shrugged Producer John Aglialoro on Ayn Rand's Enduring Impact


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Movie reviews show up on the day the movie opens (usually Friday) if the distributors held a critics' preview. if not, the reviewers see the movie the way the rest of us do. Give it a few days.

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I saw it yesterday. I thought it was the worst of the 3. I'd be hard pressed to come up with anything positive to say about it.

FWIW, there were about 20 people there. It was a 2PM showing.

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more reviews:

...dinner theatre level bad in terms of production... for an indie film with a budget of substance like this film it shouldn’t look this terrible by comparison to other indie films of note that are in this same budget ($5 million). http://insidepulse.com/2014/09/14/who-is-john-galt-who-cares-atlas-shrugged-part-iiij-james-manera-harmon-kaslow-john-aglialoro-is-the-worst-film-in-a-trilogy-no-one-asked-for-a-review/

final Rand chapter Atlas Shrugged: Who is John Galt sputtered to a $509,000 conclusion http://moviecitynews.com/2014/09/the-weekend-report-105/

per screen $1,468 http://pro.boxoffice.com/statistics/bo_numbers/studio_estimate/2014-09-14 ($367,000)

"I stayed with it to the end and I was not surprised that the 10 people in the audience applauded at the end of what was the worst movie I have ever seen in my lifetime" [comment at Rotten Tomatoes] ... "at the level of low-budget TV; production design is fatally underfunded" [comment at IMDb] ... "Just got back from the 7pm showing. More than 30 people in the theater." [iMDb] "I am a tremendous fan of the novel...do yourself a favor and avoid seeing this. Keep your memories of the novel intact. Seriously, John Galt smirking while the crowd chants his name? A trashed out rover with Colorado plates driving on roads with double yellow line in the Gulch?" [iMDb]

In fairness, there are plenty of positive comments on the web. Doesn't change the financial drubbing.

Audience is on strike.

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SPOILERS ALERT. You have been warned.

Quick observation about AS 3 from a viewing last night.

As in previous installments, the casting is dreadful. The only reasonable hypothesis is that the task of finding actors was turned over to an agent who was forbidden to know anything about the original author's descriptions.

Laura-Regan-02.jpg

Laura Regan is the worst of the Dagnys. There is not the slightest hint of the fictional character's moral certitude, courage, intransigence and seriousness. If there were a role for a dim-bulb kindergarten teacher in Galt's Gulch, Regan would be ideal. But she is clearly not railroad executive material; this is not a woman who looks comfortable hopping aboard a moving locomotive, staring down a top level bureaucrat, or even reading a timetable. And, poor thing, the costume designer put her in high heels to fly her private jet. No wonder she crashed.

120705kristoffer-polaha1.jpg

Kristoffer Polaha as John Galt could be a Weight Watchers "before" model. What happened to the angular planes we associate with Rand's heroes? The most altruistic thing one can say about Polaha's performance is that he comes across a nice young man. "My name is Kris and I'll be your waiter tonight. Would you guys like to hear about our starters?" There is no sense of Galt's mental powers, charisma, or sexual energy.

And as for sex, the copulation scene below the Taggart Terminal looks like a parody of an Obsession commercial. Smirking, Dagny jumps on a table and hikes her evening gown. If she had said, "Wanna play doctor, Johnny?" it would have fit the mood perfectly. Polaha proceeds like the waiter uncorking Chenin Blanc. Camera goes all soft focus on us and the mediocre score is cranked up a notch.

The other love interest, Francisco d'Anconia, grew up with Dagny but here looks old enough to be her father. The actor's only asset is a Portuguese accent, which, for the three thousand or so people who care about the final installment, is passably close to Spanish.

Speaking of accents, what happened to Ragnar Danneskjöld? The "talent" they picked for the modern Viking looks and sounds like someone you'd find behind a beer mug at a Steelers tailgate party.

You know the movie is headed for disaster from the get-go. A tubby John Galt rises at a Twentieth Century Motors meeting and says he'll stop the motor of the world. The scene is photographed and performed with such flatness that one would have to conclude the filmmakers intended to squash any possibility of tension and drama.

We spend most of the AS 3's mere 98 minutes on Midas Mulligan's Hidden Valley Ranch, which curiously does not have a single interior or exterior touched by architectural modernism. I guess Roark is dead by now. Galt hires Dagny as his maid and gives her an advance of three gold coins, each approximately one-half ounce. They go into the village to shop. Dagny gets a small croissant and drops one of the gold pieces on the counter. No change. So much for the battle against inflation among striking capitalists.

We finally leave the Valley so that Galt can deliver the Basic Principles of Objectivism on TV to the masses gathered at the display window of an ancient appliance store, and be tortured, rescued, and revived in order to pronounce the immortal final words, "This is not the end but the beginning."

In the filmmakers' version of things, the rear entrance to State Science Institute is located in a grimy back alley in Manhattan and guarded by a lone nerdy night watchman. (None of the uniformed thugs in the movie look big or strong enough to pass the Armed Services physical.) Dagny engages in a bit of small talk, then shoots him dead and breaks in with Ragnar, Frisco, and Hank (who makes a brief cameo in the person of Rob Lowe) to release Galt from Floyd Ferris's torture device.

The device is nothing more than an old fashioned parilla, that is, a grill with electrodes attached to it. It's been around for as long as there have been evil people, box springs, and 100 or more volts in one location. Why Dr. Robert Statler would be "shocked" to see his "research" turned into something so simple is anyone's guess. What exactly did he think he invented? The rheostat?

The film is interrupted, jarringly, by black and white stock footage over which a solemn voice attempts to fill in newbies about what happened previously in Clunkers 1 and 2. Often, what is said bears little relevance to the scenes that precede and follow. Is this any surprise given that the three screenwriters have between them zero previous experience in writing for movies?

Nevertheless, I had a great time, laughing from start to finish. There were more chuckles than the last two Will Ferrell movies put together. I'll admit that my outbursts engendered some ugly glances from some of the five other people who attended the same showing.

Levity is taboo in the Holy of Holies.

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Kat and I just saw it.

She actually saw it for the second time--she went to the opening last night because it was right by her work.

There's so much I want to say, but I just have too many friends involved in this production...

I'll keep my peace for now.

I'll write about all this later when my comments will have value as analysis instead of criticism.

Here's a positive, though. This trilogy is a very good set of case studies for making an AS blockbuster series later.

Michael

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Forget about doing another AS for the big screen.

Get a Fountainhead remake instead.

-J

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In the filmmakers' version of things, the rear entrance to State Science Institute is located in a grimy back alley in Manhattan and guarded by one nerdy night watchman. (None of the uniformed thugs in the movie look big or strong enough to pass the Armed Services physical.) Dagny engages in a bit of small talk, then shoots him dead and breaks in with Ragnar, Frisco, and Hank (who makes a brief cameo in the person of Rob Lowe) to release Galt from Floyd Ferris's torture device.

Correction: she shoots him in the shoulder, then we don't see him again, not even a body. There's a hint that he's maybe bound and gagged just inside the door as they proceed to storm the place.

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No producer is going to go near Rand for another fifty years.

The good news is that in the notices people have cited here, nobody is blaming Rand or her novel as they did with the earlier installments.

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I swear, by my life and love of it, I will never see this movie.

--Brant

I will join you for that.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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I saw the first one at 11:00 AM in Chelsea, Manhattan, NY City, Ayn's city.

I had sworn to myself some five (5) decades ago, that, if, Atlas Shrugged was ever made into a movie,that I would be at the first public showing.

I loved the first one. I thought Dagny was excellent. Rearden was quite good. Lillian was excellent.

The actor who played Eddie was a good actor, however, the use of a black actor for that role was awful.

Ellis Wyatt was played by a good actor, however, his physiognomy just did not work at

all.

Akston worked. Dr. Stadler was awful.

I have not seen the second or the third as yet.

Finally, the wounding of the guard is a perfect example, if accurate, of ridiculous

political

correctness and illustrates a lack of integrity to Ayn.

Post finally, I am afraid to ask about my favorite character of the big three (3)

Ragnar...

A...

Who played the "Wet Nurse" and did he play it well?

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The three-part adaptation of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged ended with a whimper this weekend. Opening at 242 theaters, Atlas Shrugged Part III: Who Is John Galt? bombed with just $355,000. In comparison, the first two movies each opened above $1.68 million. To be fair, the second outing opened at over 1,000 theaters, and both previous movies had more marketing/publicity ahead of their launches.

Ultimately, the entire three-part endeavor will likely wind up with less than $10 million at the domestic box office (and not a whole lot overseas as well). The troubled production history is surely to blame for some of this—the cast changed with each installment—though it does call into question whether the novel is as popular as it's perceived to be.

http://www.boxofficemojo.com/news/?id=3907

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Interesting thread about this at http://www.objectivistliving.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=5075

So the Men That Made Atlas into a Movie think Dagny's shooting a guy in the heart is too coldblooded. Obviously, the presumption is that they've improved Atlas.

That scene from the novel was highly irrational, so if the goal was eliminate content from the novel which contradicted the philosophy being promoted, then it definitely would be an improvement, in that regard, to change the scene.

J

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I want to say something good about this, too.

Oddly enough, I feel inspired after seeing the movie. And this feeling doesn't just come from knowing the story and being reminded of it. Nor is this any denial of my disappointment and irritation due to the film's shortcomings. (As someone who once dreamed of writing the music to this film, my feelings about the saccharine easy-listening elevator-music score were a delicious form of agony. :smile: )

There is something visceral about seeing people on the big screen saying things that make so much sense, not as talking heads on news shows, but as characters who are living these ideas. Granted, this was unfolding in a seriously flawed production, but the characters were still believable enough to let myself go at times. And that resonated with me on a very, very deep level.

Think of it like this. Instead of seeing the movie of Atlas Shrugged according to the high expectations I had for it, I reframed it as a chick-flick :smile: (Kat's phrase), which this interpretation of Dagny (Laura Regan) practically makes Part 3. I then find the larger-than-life characters on the screen saying Rand's wonderful things stick in my mind.

Imagine seeing a romance-novel movie about a young innocent woman's involvement with a tall dark mysterious stranger, but instead of saying the cliche things, they talked about walking out on the world that did not appreciate them, etc. In a weird way, this works, at least for me.

The sticky moments may not be all that many, but they are there and they actually do stick. I'm serious. And these images that now come unbidden to my awareness are beautiful. I'm going to cherish them. I realize others will not feel as I do, but I prefer this to wallowing in the letdown (which is too real right now to let go).

I can only imagine what I would be feeling after seeing a super-production of AS done right. But I have a glimpse of it.

Michael

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Today we saw the latest Atlas Shrugged movie, Who is John Galt. One thumb up and one thumb sideways. It was good entertainment and not bad for a low budget film trilogy that went through hell to get made.

This third installment was kinda a chick flicky love story. John Galt was super hot and had great hair. Dagny, the lead character, was miscast once again, and the makeup and wardrobe for her were horrible. A well tailored suit, new purse and some eyeliner would have helped a lot, and she simply wasn't tough enough to be believable as Dagny. I guess I'm still a bit disappointed that Angelina backed out. She would have nailed that scene with the idiot guard.

The actor who played Francisco was way too old and they should have brought Beckel back as Ellis Wyatt, too, James and Floyd Ferris were very well cast. I would have loved to to have John Stossel rather than Sean Hannity in the commentary part, too. Changing casts and directors with each installment really kinda bugged me. I could not have imagined them doing to Harry Potter or Luke Skywalker what they did to Dagny. Although the movie was a decent introduction to Rand's philosophy, it barely skimmed the surface, and like the other two movies, could easily been a half hour longer, and made a lot more sense. At least the movie showed that Objectivists are really nice people... which we are.

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One of the few positive newspaper reviews mentions that Atlas III was made on only $8 million, rather than the $20 million plus for each of the previous two movies. Apparently that was all they had to spend on it! That is an incredibly low amount to try to produce a movie (most of which are now produced for over $100 million)!

If that is accurate, it certainly would explain some of the lower production values that many have noted!

CORRECTION! This article (see link, below} says that they only had $5 (as in FIVE) million to produce this movie!!! If that is accurate, then it is amazing that they could produce any movie ar all.

http://www.examiner.com/review/movie-review-atlas-shrugged-who-is-john-galt

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It looks like I'm not the only one who had this mixed reaction, noticing the flaws, but seeing some good things when looking through a romance story perspective. I just read a similar view from an unlikely place, The Objective Standard, by one Ari Armstrong (who I never heard of before).

Atlas Shrugged III: Who Is John Galt?—The Bad and the Good of It
by Ari Armstrong
September 13, 2014
The Objective Standard

After blasting some of the more glaring flaws and objecting to some of the celebrity appearances (Hannity, Beck, Paul), Armstrong continued:

That said, the film—despite its paltry $5 million budget—has a few positive qualities worth noting. For the most part, when the film seeks to convey the ideas of the novel, it gets them right. A number of the scenes are competently done—my favorite is when Dagny (portrayed by Laura Regan) responds to a failure of automated train signals by instructing her railroad employees to devise a system of hand signals. Much of the acting is competent: To a substantial degree, Kristoffer Polaha convincingly portrays Galt (despite the western kitsch of Galt’s clothing and house); and most of the actors portraying Galt’s friends in the Gulch as well as the villains do a fine job. The writers made a good choice in focusing the film primarily on the romantic relationship between Galt and Dagny and conveying the highly complex story mostly from that central thread. On the whole, I’d give the film a C-minus.

Whatever one’s assessment of this effort, the film and the trilogy have brought wider attention to Rand’s magnificent novel, and that is a good thing. Would a better film have better served this purpose? Of course. And hopefully someone will produce a better film version of Atlas in the future.


I have differences here and there with Armstrong's view, but I find it gratifying to see the essence of what I saw is the same as someone else out there.

Michael

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That scene from the novel was highly irrational, ...

J

What aspect was irrational J?

My take was why the hell was there any conversation, the guard should have been killed instantly.

A...

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17 day shoot. Below the line (excluding writers, producers, directors, actors, music score and post) is usually half the negative cost. If it was an $8 million production budget, that suggests they spent $235,000 a day on crew, equipment rentals, sets, transport, and location expense -- which is preposterous, the same cost per day as 12 Years A Slave, a vastly heavier crew with 20 make-up artists, 7 assistant directors, 67 art dept / construction / set decorators, 50 camera operators & grips. They could have shot Starred Up three times.

Joan's book has a photo of the Atlas 3 crew. $80,000 a day, tops. 17 days = $1.4 million

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Today we saw the latest Atlas Shrugged movie, Who is John Galt. One thumb up and one thumb sideways. It was good entertainment and not bad for a low budget film trilogy that went through hell to get made.

This third installment was kinda a chick flicky love story. John Galt was super hot and had great hair. Dagny, the lead character, was miscast once again, and the makeup and wardrobe for her were horrible. A well tailored suit, new purse and some eyeliner would have helped a lot, and she simply wasn't tough enough to be believable as Dagny. I guess I'm still a bit disappointed that Angelina backed out. She would have nailed that scene with the idiot guard.

The actor who played Francisco was way too old and they should have brought Beckel back as Ellis Wyatt, too, James and Floyd Ferris were very well cast. I would have loved to to have John Stossel rather than Sean Hannity in the commentary part, too. Changing casts and directors with each installment really kinda bugged me. I could not have imagined them doing to Harry Potter or Luke Skywalker what they did to Dagny. Although the movie was a decent introduction to Rand's philosophy, it barely skimmed the surface, and like the other two movies, could easily been a half hour longer, and made a lot more sense. At least the movie showed that Objectivists are really nice people... which we are.

The actor portraying Francisco was Joaquim de Almeida, who was Jack Ryan's (Harrison Ford) opponent, the renegade Columbian military Colonel Felix Cortez and Chief of Security for the Columbian drug cartel boss [i forget his name], in Tom Clancy's Clear and Present Danger (1994). If he looked the same as he did in that movie, he would have been perfect for portraying Francisco. Alas, that movie was 20 years ago, and his age shows (but with better make-up he probably could have looked a lot younger).

With Angelina Jolie, the movie could have (would have) been budgeted much higher and the big Hollywood producers, Lion's Gate, would have stayed in, and the result would have been quite different. Reportedly, she dropped-out because off the continuing production delays..

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17 day shoot. Below the line (excluding writers, producers, directors, actors, music score and post) is usually half the negative cost. If it was an $8 million production budget, that suggests they spent $235,000 a day on crew, equipment rentals, sets, transport, and location expense -- which is preposterous, the same cost per day as 12 Years A Slave, a vastly heavier crew with 20 make-up artists, 7 assistant directors, 67 art dept / construction / set decorators, 50 camera operators & grips. They could have shot Starred Up three times.

Joan's book has a photo of the Atlas 3 crew. $80,000 a day, tops. 17 days = $1.4 million

Not $8 million, apparently only $5 million! According to the IMDB and the newspaper article (see post #3, above).

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