Customer Reviews: Atlas Shrugged II: The Strike
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on January 2, 2013
This is Part 2 of the Atlas Shrugged series; and it's a powerful continuation of Atlas Shrugged Part 1. I viewed this when it was released into theatres.

This part depicts the United States' further decline into the depths of economic despair. And it shows how increasing government oppression causes the decline to accelerate, even as more and more producers and innovators disappear from industry.

The acting is good to very good. Samantha Mathis brings a more dynamic range of acting skills to Dagny Taggert. Jason Beghe is first rate in his role as Hank Rearden, and Esai Morales is exceptional in his role as Francisco d'Anconia. In fact, I must say that these three are much better suited to their roles, especially at this point in the story. For example, Hank Readen's speech before the court was much more forceful, I think, than if it were rendered by Grant Bowler.

The camera work, computer graphics, scripting, and cinematography are all first rate.

There's nothing that comes close to this story. It is an in-your-face depiction of liberty vs. tyranny, and how an overbearing government impoverishes, and then destroys everyone. I guarantee you'll either love it or hate it, but you won't be neutral.

True to form, the critics bestowed even more hate than they did on Part 1. And yet, the audience seemed to enjoy this even more - for at the film's ending, they stood and applauded! And cheered!

This is a great film and a great story. I highly recommend it.
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on April 17, 2013
I consider myself to be an Atlas Shrugged/Ayn Rand fan, but I found myself rather disappointed with AS: Part 2. I thought Part 1 was quite promising, decent cast and presentation. Part 2, however, felt very amateurish in comparison. Oddly enough, I enjoyed the actors for Rearden and Francisco much better in Part 2, but I think they were hampered by a poorly adapted script.
The special effects were atrocious and reminded me of 10-15 year old sci-fi original pictures. So many shots could have been practical effects, stock footage, or just plain absent and would have been better than the very poor CG that they decided to go with.
Even the parts that should have had great impact, like Francisco's money speech or Rearden's defense at his trial, seemed flat and a bit forced in the film.
If you are also an Atlas Shrugged/Ayn Rand fan, I'm sure you'll want to see this movie. If you are not familiar with the book, skip the movie and go buy the book. I think you'll get a lot more out of it.
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on April 19, 2013
The chosen actors for this episode are phenomenally better than the first, which was swill.
I love Samantha Mathis in her part, but damn, who did her makeup?
Patrick Fabian is incredible as James Taggart, but I would have MUCH preferred to see him as Hank Rearden.
He is such a nice guy, it's hard to see him play such a louse.
In three movies, they couldn't even give us a hint of Cherryl's story? She was such a rich character. They got a perfect actress to play her.
I loved that she got to say her one iconic line, but it didn't make a lot of sense unless you read the book.
And absolutely no racism intended, but Eddie Willers is black? Really? Ok, I didn't picture that one. He's really good though. Another character with a rich story that we aren't allowed to see.
I want a do over.
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on February 20, 2013
Ayn Rand must be rolling over in her grave. As readers of Atlas Shrugged know, one of Ayn Rand's sacred words is "competence": she accords it the reverence that a Jesuit reserves for the word "chastity". Her villains aren't merely evil: they're morons who'd have trouble running an elevator. So it's a cruel irony that Atlas Shrugged is being so thoroughly botched.

The origins of this disaster go back some 20 years. In 1992, producer John Aglialoro paid $1 million for an 18-year option on the film rights to Atlas Shrugged. The outlook seemed promising, with big names like Charlize Theron and Anne Hathaway being considered for the lead role. But first a contract with Turner Network Television fell through; then another with Lions Gate Entertainment. Meanwhile the years were ticking by.

Suddenly, it was 2010 with rights on Atlas due to expire on June 15 of that year. Aglialoro made the fateful decision to press on. The screenplay was still being written in May; Director Stephen Polk was dropped at the start of June, with Paul Johansson picked as a replacement. Shooting of Atlas Shrugged Part I began June 13 - two days before the option was to expire - with a Director who had been on the job for two weeks. The whole project has never recovered from that initial panic-stricken rush to beat the expiry deadline.

Predictably, Atlas Shrugged Part I was a pretty shambolic effort: what else could you expect with zero time for planning or reconsideration? But most fatally, none of the actors had been contractually bound to perform in the next two installments. So when the first part bombed, all the actors took their leave. And it turned out that Atlas Shrugged II would need a new Director, as well as a new script writer.

Inevitably, the result has been two parts clumsily stitched together: having someone write or say "Who is John Galt?" every ten minutes is no assurance of dramatic continuity. Neither are announcements by newscasters in place of action by the characters. Atlas Shrugged, in spite of its great length, is a real page-turner - and millions of people have been turning those pages for 50 years. By contrast, the films consist of one vignette after another, with no sense of drama or pacing. If you think these movies have a coherent narrative, I suspect you've read the book and are unconsciously filling in a lot of blanks.

Apparently, many admirers of Ayn Rand's novel are content to see their favorite scenes on the big screen, and disregard the ineptness of these movies taken as a whole. Such viewers may be thrilled to watch Francisco d'Anconia's defense of money; and they may enjoy Henry Rearden's trial with his ringing defense of the profit motive - even if the courtroom looks bizarrely like a university lecture theatre. But stuff like that is not enough to sustain a movie.

Atlas Shrugged the novel presents Rearden as a man who is deeply in love with Dagny Taggart but morally conflicted about his adulterous relationship with her. He is both fascinated and repelled by Francisco d'Anconia - and doesn't know that d'Anconia had had a passionate affair with Dagny Taggart many years earlier. If the script writer and Director were doing their jobs, the air would be crackling with sexual tension. It isn't. The key emotional drivers of the novel go straight into the waste basket in these movies. You hear political argument without remit; but nothing helps you understand why Dagny, d'Anconia and Rearden are who they are. It is supposed to be enough to be told that they are moral giants and that they are very angry.

The totally new cast is of course the main disaster, especially since there seems to have been no attempt to find actors resembling those who were in Atlas I. Dagny is no longer the young stainless steel executrix of part I; she is now in her 40's and presents like a harried soccer mom. Dr. Robert Stadler has lost the strong foreign accent he had in the first installment; and Eddie Willers is 10 years older, more heavily built and balding. At least the part goes again to an African-American: thank heaven for that much continuity. Jason Beghe, the new Rearden, does a pretty good job - although he doesn't look much like his predecessor either. On the positive side, the new Francisco d'Anconia is clean-shaven: his scruffy predecessor in Atlas Shrugged I would have outraged Ayn Rand, who was famously prejudiced against men with facial hair.

And it isn't just the plot line that has no continuity. Incredibly, the production company didn't save the sets from the first movie. Dagny Taggart's office and apartment; the Taggart Building and concourse; Rearden's office: all of them are clearly different from those in Atlas I. I was prepared to look past the amateurish CGI that everyone has complained about. But set continuity? This is a level of incompetence reminiscent of sci-fi cheapies from the '50's. It would get you a failing grade in Cinema 1100.

To be fair, it would be difficult and perhaps impossible to do a 21st century adaptation of Atlas Shrugged. Although the novel is allegedly set in the future, the technological background is locked firmly in the mid-1940's, with steam locomotives just beginning to be phased out, steel production still key to American industry, and no sign of Chinese outsourcing. Furthermore, the social and sexual attitudes that background the action come right out of a 1940's Bette Davis flick. Finally, Ayn Rand had a tin ear. Dialogue so stilted is tolerable in a novel, especially if you like the message; if you try to use it unmodified in a film, it's simply laughable.

Given plenty of time, an enormously talented and determined script writer might have had a shot at resolving these problems - but if such a writer was out there, Aglialoro didn't find him. And time was something he'd run out of.

I'm giving this film a two-star rating. It deserves to be rated lower, but I want to put some distance between this review and the one-star efforts, some of which seem to me to be as mindless as most of the five-star ratings.

Not surprisingly, Atlas Shrugged I garnered hundreds of glowing notices on Amazon and this may very well happen to Atlas Shrugged II: when it comes to book and film reviews, campaign voting is one variety of collective action that worshippers of Ayn Rand are expert at. But the box office and DVD sales numbers tell the real story. Between $20 and $35 million was spent on the two movies; both together have so far barely managed $11.5 million in box office and DVD revenue. The blu-ray numbers aren't available, but they can't be big enough to close a deficit like this. These movies have been serious money losers. This is a fact.

Atlas Shrugged II opened at more than a thousand theatres, so admirers of Ayn Rand had plenty of chances of tell their friends about it. One reviewer at this site said that the viewers at his theatre stood up and applauded at the end: if they did, they represent a tiny minority. Most seem to have crept away in embarrassed silence: the film's second-week drop in attendance was one of the worst in the last 30 years. This is a fact.

Many, many reviewers are claiming that the failure of these two movies is due to the evil and omnipotent "liberal elite." My answer: stop kidding yourselves. Dinesh D'Souza's "2016: Obama's America" was panned by liberals too: but it's made a $40 million return on an initial investment of $2,500,000. Ayn Rand's novels still sell well in spite of decades of negative reviews.

Millions of people are enthusiastic readers of Atlas Shrugged. If Mr. Aglialoro had produced a halfway decent adaptation, right now he and his backers would be rolling in dough. Instead they are drowning in debt. That's because Atlas Shrugged I and Atlas Shrugged II are bad movies.

Atlas Shrugged II would never have seen the light of day if it weren't for investors more interested in ideology than in making money. In Atlas Shrugged we are told that man should not be "a sacrificial animal"; but when it comes to movies, it's apparently okay to be a cash cow.
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on December 28, 2013
Just terribly made - bad acting (and unappealing actors). Did not at all capture the passion or purpose of the book, which is ironic, because the director seems to have tried to incorporate a lot of direct dialogue...just not the right parts. Also, Dagny Taggart is supposed to be a stunning, unearthly beauty, and Samantha Mathis is NOT. In her prime, she was kind of cute, but never a great beauty. And she doesn't seem to have any feelings about or commitment to the iconic role she is playing. This film was a big let-down.
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on January 25, 2014
After reading the book, it is quite apparent that much is omitted, and much is casually passed over. It's unaviodable; I imagine a 1200 page book cannot by fully developed on screen in an hour or two (or six). That said, I enjoyed the movie experience.
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on January 14, 2016
What the? I have to say, the casting was better in this movie as I don't think James Taggart was supposed to be a stronger character than Hank Readon as was the case in Part 1. I mean No offense to Samantha Mathis but Taylor Schilling owned the part in the first movie. This movie was made with half the budget, a different tone and director and like Parts 1 and 3, it lost money which is not something I think Ayn Rand would have approved of. If you can get this for 6 or 7 bucks, go ahead. I wasn't that bad. I saw Part 3, and it was really needing some budget money. For die hard Ayn Rand believers, I know some of you can suspend disbelief and enjoy this, while I've seen others pan this rush job. Still, I soldiered on. For me, Ayn Rand has that appeal that alot of undiscovered artists can relate to, but economically, the vision of the future from 1957 just isn't there except for the Pre-Dystopian landscape that we see now. An ironic contradiction to this painfully modern point of view. But, I will give this chapter of the series credit as some missing ordinary craftsmen and train schedulers had their worth, and not just some banker named Midas.
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on April 28, 2015
Atlas Shrugged Part 2

We have a new director and an entirely new cast with part two of the Atlas Shrugged saga. Director John Putch has 48 mostly TV credits on his sheet. The new cast, like the old cast, are all solid pros if not famous pros. Of the three writers both Duke Sandefun and Duncan Scott are new to the series. Only Brian Patrick O'Toole had a hand in writing the first episode. That, and the inherent difficulty with the plodding pace of the original Ayn Rand novel present problems for any film makers.
But the movie as a movie isn't really the point. The object is to expose the public to the ideas of Ayn Rand. Rand thought that people should be free to live and crate without a bossy government getting its nose in a person's business. That's pretty hard to argue against as a philosophy. We understand the distinction between tyranny and freedom, we are Americans. We grew up with the idea of “Give me Liberty or Give me Death”.
In the middle part of the series, the government tightens its grip on the lives and fortunes of the people, and not to their benefit. Rand depicts the government as grasping for power for the sake of power. Frequent shots of the people at large show increasing poverty and desperation. The policies of the grasping rulers only accelerate the ills of the economy. The government believes that the fruits of one man's labor should be reaped by those who know best how to devour said fruits, the governors themselves. For Rand, this is little short of slavery and she wants no part of it. It also does not work very well in real life, as we can see from examples of other nations currently, Greece for one.
This film like its companions is best thought of as a stimulus for conversation. How much of my life’s blood is the government entitled to take from me, if any? If creative, driven, people are the spark plug of society, shouldn't we try to foster their creativity rather than stifle and thwart it?
If we look at the society we now inhabit, we can easily see the problems that Ayn Rand brought forward in her thinking. What to do?
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on January 4, 2013
I went to see Atlas Shrugged, Part 2, at one of my local theaters the day of its first showing. The film is a pretty accurate reflection of the direction our Nation is taking. Little wonder that the movie makes Hollywood critics and D.C. politicians uncomfortable. The film reveals what they really are and what they are about. The characters are believable, the acting is supurb, and the plot ties into current events very well. I'm looking forward to Part 3.
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on September 20, 2014
Major disappointment. The actress playing Dagny wasn't attractive or appealing. The guy playing Hank I suspect is alcoholic in real life, and he must be a heavy smoker with that voice of his. No chemistry between them whatsoever. The first Atlas Shrugged was so-so, but this was all downhill from there. Why didn't they keep the original actors?
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