Rightbloggers on Atlas Shrugged: It's the Feel-Good, Piece-of-Crap Movie of the Year!
So too it has been with Atlas Shrugged: Part 1, the new film based on the first million or so words in Ayn Rand's popular 1957 novel, which opened Friday.
But in this case the fans include rightbloggers, which has turned the conversation a little weird. Like traditional fanboys, they're obsessed with the new version; but unlike, say, devotees of The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest, they believe anyone who doesn't like it is trying to destroy America.
Perhaps sensing that general audiences might not flock to a movie about the evils of collectivism, the film's producers have cleverly cultivated a conservative audience, debuting the Atlas Shrugged trailer at the Conservative Political Action Conference and working with tea party and libertarian groups to get the word out.
So the brethren were fired up before the lights dimmed, and rightbloggers mostly told them that Atlas Shrugged was a must-see, whether or not they thought it was any good as, you know, a movie.
There were some old-fashioned staples of film fandom in the rightblogger colloquy, such as arguments over casting: While Right Celebrity found Taylor Schilling as Dagny Taggart only "so-so," for example, Stephen Bourque of One Reality found Schilling "quite good-looking in exactly the same way that I've always imagined. She has really terrific legs, too, which did not fall short of my mental picture. (However shallow or superficial that observation may seem, I insist upon its importance in the character.)"
"After 1,050 pages I read all those years ago, I can't recall what exactly the book said about [Taggart's] appearance," said Morgan Freeberg at Right Wing News. "My mind's-eye got all busy with it and churned out something resembling the graphic you see to the right, of a typical librarian icon image, light on the implied fetishism..." Um, we'll stop there.
But much of their commentary took a beleaguered, defensive tone. No wonder: The film has gotten mostly horrible reviews, not just from traditional critics like Roger Ebert, but also from conservative writers like P.J. O'Rourke and Megan McArdle -- though O'Rourke and McArdle made sure to add that they admire Rand and were merely protesting this shoddy representation of her work. (Oh, we've seen the film, too; it stinks.)
Aware of the negative consensus, some rightbloggers insisted that these so-called critics could not be trusted because they are elitist and leftwing.
"The reviews that I'd read by the so-called professionals who review movies, panned it," said Diary of a Mad Conservative. "The dialog was contrived, they said... Yadda yadda yadda: elite critiques from the nose in the air 'professionals'... They don't live in the same world that I do so they have no basis to make judgements for me."
Diary of a Mad Conservative then offered his own, non-professional opinion: "I've seen lots worse out of the mega Hollywood studios (I walked out of Independence Day- it so sucked.)"
"I'm shocked, SHOCKED to find out that the (typically leftist, Obama loving, America hating Michael Moore / Sean Penn praising) movie reviewers are panning the new movie, 'Atlas Shrugged'!!" cried Schteveo of Little Annie's Orphans. He was just being sarcastic, though; he knew why critics disapproved: "It's about INDIVIDUALS working for their own best interest. It's about government getting it's foot OFF the neck of the producers." And you know if there's anything film critics hate it's producers -- look how they treated Darryl Zanuck!
"You're looking particularly productive tonight, Dagny." "I should -- I rinsed my hair in the tears of union parasites."
"But face it, in real life, most 'mainstream movie critics' believe rich industrialists need to be punished and taxed to curb their 'greed,' so they're offended by this movie's themes," said Vin Suprynowicz of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, who neglected to tell us how he knew this (maybe the Review-Journal has an investigative report which is currently offline).
"I'm waiting," he added, "for the first socialist professional movie critic [voted for Obama, believes we need to 'raise taxes on the rich to make them pay their fair share'] to admit they hate the political and economic THEME of this movie and therefore can't render objective advice." Perhaps Suprynowicz should send James O'Keefe to the offices of the National Socialist Film Critics Society to do an undercover sting.
"My movie going friends all know that stellar critical reviews are the kiss of death," said Foxs News. "If you see a movie with great critical reviews, it might still be worth watching, but best to read the reviews by blogers, because they are a bit more trustworthy." Q.E.D.
Foxs News also claimed that "the media's anti-business bigotry" keeps films from being made by "independent film makers who do not produce drek with a liberal bias," and the public thus "suffers by having to put up with second rate movies, since the best talent is selected against, in favor of those stupid enough to be socialists or soulless enough to pretend to be." We've been waiting years for that explanation of the Fast and the Furious series.
"Even if the critics are using elements of truth in their reviews, could they really be trusted?" asked lygris of Rots Your Brain. "In the book, Ayn Rand mentioned how at least one journalist was smearing the main character Hank Rearden." Another Rand prophecy fulfilled!
Kushal of Unspoken Words attacked one such looter-critic, Mark Jenkins of the Washington Post, whose review also disparaged Rand: "Huh, so Mr. Jenkins doesn't like the movie because it's like the book," Kushal said. "But that confuses me. Why did he go to watch the movie if he doesn't like the book?" Our wild guess is that seeing new movies is part of Jenkins' job.
Having thus steeled their brothers and sisters against the Ellsworth Tooheys of the Left, many of the brethren offered their own boffo raves, some of which were suitable for movie ad pull-quotes:
"Wonderful and true to the book except that the setting of the movie is in 2016... The theater was filled mostly with people over thirty who probably all have read the book several times in their lives." -- airfredd2, RedState.Those who couldn't bring themselves to praise the movie insisted that it was still a triumph because it brought the Ayn Rand gospel to the benighted sheeple.
"Those used to having less certainty and more nuance in film characters will feel out of place, perhaps, but don't confuse this with cardboard characterizations..." -- Ed Morrissey, Hot Air.
"Despite the obstacles of a small budget and a cast of no-name actors, Atlas Shrugged deserves more notoriety than it will receive." -- Jason Pye.
"The two people [I went with] who never read the book found the movie to be interesting but somewhat tough to follow." -- Rhino-itall, The Aurora.