Monday, April 18, 2011

He Starts Monologuing!

While we're on about Randian supermen, I note with mirth that the movie of Rand's Atlas Shrugged, a barking-mad, thousand-page hymn to the divine entitlement of superior beings, has finally been released... And, by all accounts, it sucks.1

No surprise there, I suppose.  If anything, I'm surprised that a film of the book was greenlighted - not because it's the work of a lunatic, although it is - but because all of Atlas's themes were explored in far more entertaining fashion by Pixar, in 2004.  Pixar's movie featured superhuman collossi, crushed beneath the heel of a government that forces them to conform to the mediocrity of the common man; a state riddled with thieves and haters and one that, above all, asserts itself via a bunch of jumped-up, finger waggy little men ticking off their betters in annoying, high-pitched voices.

It was called The Incredibles, and not only was it vastly more enjoyable than Rand's interminable harangue, it was also significantly more concise, less histrionic and a damn sight less juvenile. It had cool action sequences and humorous slapstick, drama and a bit of emotional heft.  It was, in short, a good film.

Oh, it had the same fruity message, of course - the grasping failed suicide who owes the protagonist his life, yet repays his saviour by screwing him with the courts (Oh no, initiating violence!);  the bureaucratic hacks forcing our heroes to hide their awesomeness; the scheming, wimpy boss... In fact, most of the regular, non-super humans are either grifting, villainous midgets, victims thereof or merely stunned bystanders. 

Looters and Moochers

Helen: Everyone's special, Dash.
Dash: [sullenly] Which is another way of saying no one is.

Who's this, then?
Now, I'm not daft - I know that most of this bubbles up from comic books and superhero movies, to be appropriated and reworked for modern use.  The dodgy ubermensch undercurrents in superhero mythology have been done to death in recent years, largely because the films that don't make use of them have a tendency to go all rubber-nipples, high camp and Holy Godawful dialogue, Batman.

I raise this merely to note that it's a fitting testament to Rand's epic that its main impact on popular culture is in kids' movies, comic books, dystopian science fiction and computer games.  I guess that's what happens when you fill your magnum opus with flawless He-Men, cackling villains and wacky futuristic technology. 

1. Recall - one of the main reasons the 2011 film got made is because the US is supposedly in the grip of some titanic uprising of anti-statist yadda-yadda and more pertinently, because a bunch of wealthy wingnuts kicked in a few bucks to get the thing off the ground. 

Well, the movie's taken $1.7m in its opening weekend, which I'm told is pretty respectable for an independent film.  That said, both book and film have had millions of dollars worth of free publicity as every wacky outlet in America fluffed it as the antidote to the era of Obamafascocialism, or whatever the hell they're calling it now.  God knows how many bums on seats $1.7m buys you, but I doubt that it amounts to a sequel. 

The Incredibles, by the way, took $70.5m in its opening weekend, largely because it was distributed nationwide and wasn't shit.  Rand fans seem to have enjoyed it, though.

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