You might be the sort of person who has read Atlas Shrugged five times, cover to cover. You might only know the title as that book Paul Ryan keeps talking about, or the one that Bert Cooper kept rambling on about in the early days of Mad Men. But your degree of familiarity with Ayn Rand's prolific novel shouldn't have much of an impact on your enjoyment of this trailer for John Putch's new movie, Atlas Shrugged: Part II (a followup to director Paul Johansson's Part I in 2011). Whether you know much of Rand's writing or not, the new film looks thrilling.
The trailer offers the powerful elements of the story — a tyrannical government, and the difficult question of whether one should (or even can) fight back — in a way that makes them easily digestible, but does not look to sell short their magnitude. Putch has built an entirely new cast for the upcoming film, featuring Samantha Magnis as heroine Dagny Taggart and Jason Beghe as Henry Rearden. As the two seem to embody full incarnations of Rand's characters, stimulating aesthetics and audio help to engross us in her world.
The accessibility of the trailer does lend to the idea that some of the novel's most diligent devotees might find the movie a step or two beneath the "perfect adaptation." But Atlas Shrugged: Part II seems like it will accomplish it goals: to excite, interest, and pay homage to one of the most important novels ever written. Check out the trailer below, and share your thoughts (be you a five-time reader or just a Mad Men fan).
[Photo Credit: Either Or Productions/Atlas Distribution Company]
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As with seemingly every other tentpole release to hit the multiplex this summer the action thriller Cowboys & Aliens is based on a comic book – albeit a lesser-known one. It’s directed by Jon Favreau whose previous comic-book adaptations Iron Man and Iron Man 2 proved how much better those films can be when they’re grounded in character. Unfortunately his latest effort is grounded not in character but a hook an alt-history scenario best expressed in the language of the average twelve-year-old: “Like wouldn’t it be awesome if like a bunch of 1870s cowboys had to fight a bunch of crazy aliens with exoskeletons and spaceships and super-advanced weapons?”
Like perhaps. The hook was compelling enough to get someone to pony up a reported $160 million to find out and the result is a film in which the western and science-fiction genres don’t so much blend as violently collide. After the wreckage is cleared both emerge worse for wear.
Daniel Craig stars as Jake Lonergan a stranger who awakens in the New Mexico Territory with a case of amnesia a wound in his side and a strange contraption strapped to his wrist. After dispatching a trio of bandits with Bourne-like efficiency he rides to the nearby town of Absolution where he stumbles on what appears to be an elaborate Western Iconography exhibit presented by the local historical preservation society. There’s the well-meaning town Sheriff Taggart (Keith Carradine) struggling to enforce order amidst lawlessness; the greedy rancher Colonel Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) who really runs things; his debaucherous cowardly son Percy (Paul Dano); the timid saloonkeeper Doc (Sam Rockwell) who’s going to stand up for himself one of these days; the humble preacher Meacham (Clancy Brown) dispensing homespun spiritual advice; et al.
Jake of course has his own part to play – the fugitive train-robber – as we discover when his face shows up on a wanted poster and a sneering Dolarhyde fingers him for the theft of his gold. The only character who doesn’t quite conform to type is Ella (Olivia Wilde) who as neither a prostitute nor some man’s wife – the traditional female occupations in westerns – immediately arouses suspicion.
Jake is arrested and ordered to stand trial in Federal court but before he can be shipped off a squadron of alien planes appears in the sky besieging Absolution and making off with several of its terrified citizenry. In the course of the melee Jake’s wrist contraption wherever it came from reveals itself to be quite useful in defense against the alien invaders. Thrown by circumstances into an uneasy alliance with Dolarhyde he helps organize a posse to counter the otherworldly threat – and bring back the abductees if possible.
Cowboys & Aliens has many of the ingredients of a solid summer blockbuster but none in sufficient amounts to rate in a summer season crowded with bigger-budget (and better-crafted) spectacle. For a film with five credited screenwriters Cowboys & Aliens’ script is sorely lacking for verve or imagination. And what happened to the Favreau of Iron Man? The playful cheekiness that made those films so much fun is all but absent in this film which takes itself much more seriously than any film called Cowboys & Aliens has a right to. Dude you’ve got men on horses with six-shooters battling laser-powered alien crab people. Lighten up.
Craig certainly looks the part of the western anti-hero – his only rival in the area of rugged handsomeness is Viggo Mortensen – but his character is reduced to little more than an angry glare. And Wilde the poor girl is burdened with loads of clunky exposition. The two show promising glimpses of a romantic spark but their relationship remains woefully underdeveloped. Faring far better is Ford who gets not only the bulk of the film’s choicest lines but also its only touching subplot in which his character’s adopted Indian son played by Adam Beach quietly coaxes the humanity out of the grizzled old man.
Ryan Kavanaugh is said to be circling the eternally stuck-in-development-hell big-screen adaptation of Ayn Rand's self-styled 'magnum opus,' Atlas Shrugged.
Kavanaugh's Relativity Media, according to the Risky Biz blog, could come aboard to finance the Baldwin Entertainment project with Lionsgate.
While Angelina Jolie was the most recent name attached to play protagonist Dagny Taggart, the blog says that other stars now interested include Charlize Theron, Julia Roberts and Anne Hathaway.
Given the book's themes of individualism that resonate in the era of Obama, government bailouts and stimulus packages, this could be the perfect time to finally get the book to the screen.
"This couldn't be more timely," Karen Baldwin, who along with husband Howard is producing, told BIZ. "It's uncanny what Rand was able to predict -- about the only things she didn't anticipate are cell phones and the Internet."
With the recession, the book has experienced a resurgence. As of today, it is listed as top seller on Amazon in the Literature & Fiction Literary and Classics categories.
The book, for which Rand wrote the manuscript by hand and which was published in 1957 in the U.S., has been known to polarize readers. It tells the story of Dagny Taggart, a railroad executive trying to keep her corporation competitive in the face of what she perceives as a lack of innovation and individual responsibility.
Rand butted heads with King Vidor when he directed the adaptation of her Fountainhead in 1949 for which she wrote the screenplay. For Atlas Shrugged, she long insisted on script approval while the project went through various possible incarnations until her death in 1982 and beyond.
Now the Baldwins are looking to shoot next year, says Risky Biz, driven in part by the timeliness, as well as by a clause in the option. A high net-worth individual with whom the Baldwins have partnered controls the option, explains the blog, but that option would revert to the Rand estate if production doesn't begin by the end of 2010.
The Baldwins say that while Relativity and Lionsgate are in the pole position to finance and distribute, other studio and financier suitors could yet materialize.
Still, Karen Baldwin praised Lionsgate and Michael Burns, who has championed the project at the studio, and also said Kavanaugh would be an appropriate partner. "The subject of the book would seem to fit with the kind of people who are willing to step up and take big chances," she told BIZ.
Full story: http://www.hollywoodwiretap.com/?module=news&action=story&id=34855?3e3ea140
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