Saturday, April 16, 2011

Movie Review: Atlas Shrugged

By Joseph Kellard

The Atlas Shrugged movie is a shell of the novel.

The scripted dialogue was too off-base to allow me to excuse it as the best we can expect, given the state of our corrupt (moving-making) culture. It should have and could have been better, especially since this was as an independent film. Moreover, there was virtually no explicitly stated philosophy, except for a passing comment here or there (I think Dagny uttered the words: “stupid altruists,” which sums up perfectly my two points here).

And except for an opening montage about the terrible state of the nation/world, the movie throughout failed miserably to project that a national collapse is looming.

Of all the miscast characters, Francisco was the worst — my sister summed it up best when she commented that he looked like a Mexican drug dealer (think Al Pacino as Scarface — not the character you want his appearance to project). The acting was too often flat; the actors failed to capture the spirit of their characters. But given their script, you can half excuse them. The actor who played Rearden was probably the best. He did a good but not a great job.

Yes, the movie had some good moments, such as when Rearden is offered to sell his innovative metal to the government and he rejects the bribe, insisting, when asked why not, “Because it’s mine," and when earlier he shows no care about the "public perception" of him and admits that his only goal is "to make money." All good. But those moments seemed too few and far between, including the love scene between Rearden and Dagny, which came and went in a flash. (I hated that he prefaced their sex with: “I want to kiss you.” I can’t believe that line, in that moment, is in the novel.) Also, the visuals were sometimes spectacular, especially the trains riding through the Colorado landscape. But that’s the most excited I can get about this movie. 

It was a not terrible, and I would recommend that you see it if you are a fan of the book. And to those who have not yet read it, I think it will give you just enough to pique your curiosity to finally pick it up to find out what it's really all about. The shell of a great novel is there, and that’s a much better shell than most novels can provide. But I’ll chalk this one up as another example of a movie that falls far short of living up to the novel, and just hope that the filmmakers do a much better work with parts 2 and 3. In the meantime, go read the novel!

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