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Monday, April 25, 2011

Atlas Shrugged Viewer Review

I finally had the chance to go see Atlas Shrugged. I picked Easter Sunday with the hopes that theaters would be less busy on a holiday and less crowded. My mistake, it wasn't, but it did give me the opportunity to listen to the audience reactions as well as my own.

Being an Atlas Shrugged fan for many years I was of two minds when attending the show. I wanted it to be good but I thought how difficult it would be to capture the essence of the characters as written so long ago, so my expectations weren't high on the movie makers ability to do so.

Before giving my opinion, let me also note I went with someone who had never read the book, or any of Ayn Rand's works.

My opinion

It greatly exceeded my expectations. The actors deserve kudos for their portrayals of the complex characters, especially since the benefit of the written word, reading their thoughts and emotions , is absent in any project which has to make the transition from words on a page to acting on a screen.

Taylor Schilling as Dagny Taggart, which I had my doubts about going in, was brilliant.

Grant Bowler as Hank Rearden was a stroke of genius.

The timing of the movie release is perfect, where the subject matter of the book itself and now the movie continually reminds us of the world around us today. Atlas Shrugged always made me wonder if Rand had some type of crystal ball since almost everything in the book can be seen as one looks around and watches the news or reads the paper.

The flow of the movie moved nicely, the show of newspaper articles, magazine headlines and news stories explaining much of what happens in response to certain scenes allows the movie to continue along without having to overindulge with explanations.

The portrayal of Washington politics and the media was spot on.

If I have one specific criticism of the movie it is a scene it lacked that I have always believed to be one of the most important aspects of the book itself.

The description of the 20th Century Motor Company meeting where the very first "person", a man of thought, walked out after being told his brain, his brilliance and his work would be compensated not by his ability but according to his neighbors needs.

That is clearly where the grain of the idea of stopping the motor of the world by draining it of their brains and abilities began, and in my opinion it should have been explored in Part One.

The person that went with me had a WTF moment, which made me laugh. The third time he heard the expression "who is John Galt" he actually asked WTF?

I couldn't blame him because the first time I read the book it was my reaction after seeing the question asked a few times.

His criticism after seeing the movie was that it was too short.

Audience reactions

A few scenes in the movie got out loud laughs and audience wide chuckles.

One was when the dinner scene with Rearden and Larkin discussing the press, when Larkin said "Well, they say you're intractable, you're ruthless; your only goal is to make money...."

Rearden replied "My only goal IS to make money."

Larkin stated "Yeah, but you shouldn't say it."

The audience members seemed to get a kick out of that.

The second was more than a chuckle, I heard outright laughter from the audience during the whole segment where Rearden was in his office speaking with some tool from the State Science Institute and Rearden asked him if he thought Rearden metal was "good", the man dodged, then Rearden asked again and the man said "Whether it’s good or not is immaterial. If it’s bad, it’s a danger to public safety. If it’s good, it’s a social danger."

The audience laughed even louder when the stooge inquired as to why Rearden was being so stubborn about selling the rights to his metal to the State Science Institute and Rearden told him "Because it's mine. Do you understand that concept? Mine."

Audience reception seemed to be good throughout the movie. The theater was not packed but the theater was pretty full, especially for an Easter Sunday afternoon at 2:30pm.

On a scale from 1-10, I would give Atlas Shrugged a solid 9.

Side note to the film maker: Please don't make us wait too long for parts two and three.