Atlas Shrugged: Part I - A Review

This review will be a little bit different from many other reviews you may have seen. I read recently that only 8% of the critics liked the movie and that one reviewer, Jack Hunter, contributing editor to The American Conservative, opined "If you ask the average film critic about the new movie adaptation of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” they will tell you it is a horrible movie. If you ask the average conservative or libertarian they will tell you it is a great movie. Objectively, it is a mediocre movie at best. Subjectively, it is one of the best mediocre movies you’ll ever see."

This movie was sort of like waiting to see a group like Chicago live in concert. You love their music and you have been waiting for a long time to go see them. Finally the day arrives and you make your way to the venue. There are 12 other people there with you. The band comes out and plays a bunch of stuff that you kinda know, a few new things and then a hit or two. They sound good, but they didn't move you.

When the show is over, you still like the group, you would probably go see them again, but you aren't going to grab a megaphone to let others know about it.

If I had not read the book (actually, I listened to all 50+ hours of the Audible version on my iPod) it would have been an incoherent mess. As it was, I knew most of what was going on. It reminded me of speed dating. Things went by so fast that I hardly noticed what had happened. Ayn Rand's book is so deep and the story so big, that to expect a faithful rendition of it in 97 minutes is a tall, tall order.

Some of the characters in the story that had a major part in the structure of the book were relegated to nothing more than walk-on status in the screenplay. The intricately woven relationships between the 'moochers' was left untold. The overt sexuality between Dagny and Francisco or Hank (or anyone that happened to get near her) was also left untold. In fact, the steamy bedroom scene between Dagny and Hank at Ellis Wyatt's Colorado home was reduced to three gauzy vignettes.

On the plus side, Taylor Schilling as Dagny Taggart was perfection in casting. Her understated beauty sizzles beneath the surface of her take-no-BS attitude. Grant Bowler as Hank Rearden was quite acceptable. I must say that Jsu Garcia as Francisco D'Anconia just didn't do it for me. (Check out the complete cast at IMDb.)

The high speed train and the tracks made of Rearden Metal on the John Galt Line, along with the beautifully filmed Colorado landscape were better developed than were 90% of the characters.

To be fair, I don't know if I could have done much better with the movie, myself. It would actually be better produced as a 30 episode miniseries on HBO than a full length feature film. Having said that, I will probably see the Part II and Part III sequels (scheduled to be released on April 15, 2012 and 2013 respectively) just because I like the story.

My recommendation: go see the movie if you liked the book. Skip it if you didn't.


Anonymous said…
YES!! agreed - as a person who has read the book a number of times and who has seen the movie 3 times. At first I was more disappointed with the movie, but I am almost always unhappy w/ the movie made from a book I liked - here the bar was impossibly high. A multi-part mini series would allow for more character development and further explanation of the background, as in the history b/t Slug and Frisco....

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