But it is worth seeing. I found some of the more negative reviews rather hilariously funny, with their slinging of insults like 'bombastic', 'over-the-top selling of emotion', and the like. Filtered through stageplay and screenplay though it may be, this is Victor Hugo we're talking about, that literary great than which no more melodramatic can be conceived, the quintessence of melodrama sentiment and bombastic caricature turned into enduring story. It's precisely this sort of reviewing that leads people to dismiss movie reviewers as not knowing what they are talking about.
* Speaking of Hugo-esque movies, I intended to say something a while back about Atlas Shrugged Part II. Samantha Mathis was excellent; she does the exhausted-yet-resolved thing very well. In general, having the more experienced cast made the acting less bland than in the first part, and the pacing problems in the story are less pronounced. It does suffer very seriously from middle-movie syndrome: all transition and no resolution. It's also has some difficulty handling an over-strained plot, which is less troublesome in a book than on screen. This leads to inconsistent moods throughout, and on several points they go the wrong direction and make it more melodramatic than Rand does, which is impressive.
One thing they did right, and I'm not sure that it was deliberate, is actually drawing out the fact that Atlas Shrugged is science fiction: it's near-future dystopian science fiction in which the major plot devices are technological advances -- indeed, the book itself is heavily structured by the three inventions of Rearden Metal, the Galt generator, and the scientific/engineering enclave of Galt's Gulch, cloaked by its field. The movie has to turn 'near-future' into 'retro-future', but it brings out the science-fiction component well. This is emphasized by the casting, which has a number of actors who would be best known to science fiction fans (Picardo, Morales), and by the thematic focus on the generator. Playing the thing out as a science fiction movie is exactly the right way to go, and would have greatly improved Part I.
There are in-jokes that are too obvious to be coincidental; e.g., the fact that the security guard is Teller from Penn & Teller, and the fact that the Head of State is played by Ray Wise, another well-known SF actor, one of whose most most widely known recent parts was playing the somewhat goofy President Dugan in the video game Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2.
Victor Hugo was one of Rand's favorite authors, and the style of the novel owes a great deal to Hugo and Rand's understanding of how his works succeed -- right down to John Galt's extended speech, which has parallels in Hugo's infamous not-quite-digressions. From which it follows that what we really need is an Atlas Shrugged film musical.
* Anyone who has ever lived in Central Texas knows that the three weather seasons here are Hot, Temperate, and Lunatic. We are currently in the Lunatic season, bouncing back and forth between, on the one hand, days with highs in the 80s and lows in the 60s, and, on the other hand, days with highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s. This weather is extremely enervating, so things will probably slow down around here a bit.
* A new superhero:
A Samurai sword-wielding Mormon bishop helped a neighbor woman escape a Tuesday morning attack by a man who had been stalking her.
Kent Hendrix woke up Tuesday to his teenage son pounding on his bedroom door and telling him somebody was being mugged in front of their house. The 47-year-old father of six rushed out the door and grabbed the weapon closest to him -- a 29-inch high carbon steel Samurai sword.
It turns out he's also a pharmaceutical statistician, so he has the perfect cover identity. It's a better idea than a lot of superhero ideas.