Category Archives: l. ron hubbard

Atlas Shrugged: Part I

Atlas Shrugged: Part I ~ There is a small subset of science fiction writers whose work has reached out into areas so not in the fiction arena. There’s L. Ron Hubbard, a pulp, sci-fi, fantasy and adventure hack who set out purposefully to create his own religion – the notorious Scientology. And then there’s Ayn Rand, whose own personal madness fueled a more philosophical movement – Objectivism. All I have to say is thank God Philip K. Dick never decided to branch out into religion, philosophy or politics.

I loved Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead,” “Atlas Shrugged,” and even her lesser known work “Anthem,” but the whole Objectivism thing kinda leaves me cold. Of course the problem here is that the brilliant Atlas Shrugged is almost a monument to the movement. That said, I was very hesitant to see the film version, or at least the first part of a two-part (quite possibly three) film adaptation.

Released last year to art house theaters and not doing well financially at all (it cost $20 million to make yet made less than $5 million at the box office), Atlas Shrugged: Part I is still an amazing film. The story, that of a future society where the intellectuals have gone on theoretical strike and brought the world to a standstill, is staggering.

The film looks great, but the problem is with the execution. The actors, mostly unknowns and character. actors, have no charisma here, and coupled with Rand’s heavy handed dialogue, the beginning is all talk and almost sleep inducing. When I was paying attention, I felt like I was being lectured and browbeaten for being a capitalist. Not good. This is a subversive Wall Street, just without Michael Douglas, and without a soul.

When the story does begin to pick up and I started to warm to a couple of the characters, Ayn Rand’s bourgeois arrogance kicks in. It’s almost as if she’s making fun of the upper class, or more accurately those folk ridiculous enough to want to make a living. The attitude is enough to pull me out of the film and keep me from enjoying on any level. It’s very heavy handed.

Don’t get me wrong, like I said, I like Rand’s writing a lot but I just don’t like being preached at. I never felt that way on the page. And of course, as noted in the title itself, this is only part if the story. Atlas Shrugged: Part II, with an all new cast of better known actors, opens to art house theaters next week. I hope it will be more like Ayn Rand’s fiction and less like philosophies.

Battlefield Earth

GREAT RETRO SCI-FI BUT…

A Video Review of Battlefield Earth

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

I hated this the first time I saw it. Now I like it a lot.

It’s very retro – like the Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers movie serials of the 1930s. You have very clearly drawn lines of good and evil. You have a hero Johnny (Barry Pepper of The Green Mile, Saving Private Ryan) to root for and a villain Terl (John Travolta whose heart and soul went into this project) to hiss and boo.

It’s great action but typical sci-fi cliché (not unlike the thousand-plus page book it’s based on). Against all odds it is enjoyable. It smacks of old movie serial in the same way the original Star Wars trilogy does.

The reason I didn’t like this film initially was probably all the backstage crap. Yes, it’s based on the aforementioned book by L. Ron Hubbard and yes, it is chockful of Scientology philosophy and yes, most of the cast are Scientologists but. But you have to put that aside when you watch. It turns up the enjoyability factor quite a few notches if you do.

The cast is very convincing and the effects top notch. They even succeed in realizing the considerable size difference between the humans and their alien foes the Psychlos. Forrest Whitaker is particularly good.

John Travolta is over the top as the villainous Terl. It should be noted he had this project on tap for so long that at one point he was slated to play young Johnny, now he’s too old.

Forget the Scientology angle and give this one another shot. It’s very good.