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Atlas Shrugged: Part One [Blu-ray]
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Ayn Rand's timeless novel of rational self-interest comes to life for a new millennium.". The year is 2016, and America is on the verge of economic disaster. The greatest citizens are being targeted, and dark forces are working to bring about America’s final days. Our only hope for salvation lies with Dagny Taggart and Henry Rearden, rugged individualists whose bold ideas may have the power to spark a revolution and reclaim to the American Dream.
Road to Atlas Shrugged
I Am John Galt
"The John Galt Theme" Slideshow
Commentary with John Aglialoro, Brian Patrick O'Toole and Harmon Kaslow
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It's a bad movie. The message is hamfisted at times. The acting is very uneven, and probably suffers all the more from poor direction and editing. The dialogue is erratic... actors seem to get abruptly forceful and angry with little reason and to little effect. The editing, sets, and cinematography are unimaginative. The soundtrack is frequently a liability. If you look at a run-of-the-mill TV show like Blacklist, this film does not even approach it on any level... it would be VERY unremarkable as a made for TV movie. The attempts it makes to inspire awe and excitement or create atmosphere fall flat. I would expect that most of these are budget issues, as it takes quite an effort to make a film like this, and I have to assume that people knew what they were doing.
I have seen worse films, for sure, but never one this bad with so many good reviews. At least there was a basic story that held together. I was able to finish it, and it was mercifully short. I would never recommend this film, but I actually want to watch the next one just to see if they took it up a notch.
I watched the second only hoping that it would get better. It got worse. I couldn't bring myself to watch the third.
The original book by Ayn Rand from 1957 successfully defied movie makers until 2011 when “Atlas Shrugged Part 1” came out. Even at that the book proved to be so powerful that it took three installments to cover the entire volume. The fact that the films were made at all can be placed at the feet of John Aglialoro, a millionaire businessman. He has been trying to get the film made since 1992. Aglialoro is a persistant sort. Rand would have been proud of him.
Parts of the film reach out into Science Fiction. One of the two major characters is a steel magnate who invents a form of steel that is 'twice as strong, half the weight and half the cost' of ordinary steel. In science fiction we call such a material 'unobtainium'. There is also a new kind of motor that the steel baron and the lady rail road boss are trying to track down that somehow converts air into power very cheaply. But they don't have a grip on that technology by the end of the film.
The steel baron, Hank Rearden, and the lady rail road boss, Dagny Taggart are skillfully played by Grant Bowler and Taylor Schilling respectively. Schlling is just old enough (and a capable enough actress) that we can believe she has the juice to run a big business. She is also more than pretty enough for us to believe that the steel baron might fall for her.
The direction by Paul Johansson is competent enough. But Ross Berryman as cinematographer should have been fired after filming the first scenes. The film is so dark as to be impenetrable, particularly early on. Director let it stay that way, so maybe they had a plan, some sort of atmosphere idea perhaps, but it didn't work for me. It just looked poorly filmed from my angle.
As a movie this just isn't much entertainment. It only makes points as political fodder, and perhaps pointless fodder as the only folks who went to see it were already committed to the ideas of self reliance and antipathy to the hard, irrational and remorseless hand of government in the first place. In any case, it took in less than $5 million at the box office against a claimed $10 million budget.
I admit to not reading the original book. It must have been better crafted than the film. Among its other flaws is the jagged, halting way that the story unfolds. It lasted only one hour and 42 minutes which to me left plenty of time to fill in some of the gaps in the story line. We know that Mrs. Steel Baron is a bitch but not why. We know that Ms. Railroad had an unsuccessful love affair with the Mexican business tycoon, but not what happened between them.
But as political theater it works fine. The baddies are government officials, their toadies and bank rollers. They have no morals but enormous power to do evil. The heroes are driven individuals that want to make a place for themselves in the world and who in pursuit of that simple goal take the rest of us along for the ride.
I will think of this as part 1 of a three part film and hope that the films as films get better. For now, it is an exercise in preaching to the choir.
Two saw blades for this darkly filmed, jaggedly written attempt at political propaganda. PG-13.
For a much more successful film on Ayn Rand's work see “The Fountainhead”, a 1949 film staring Gary Cooper, Patricia Neal and Raymond Massey.
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