My curiosity got the best of me this evening, so I took in a showing of Atlas Shrugged. Actually, the more complete (and threatening) title is Atlas Shrugged: Part I.

For the sake of, um, brevity, I am going to write this assuming at least a passing familiarity with the essential elements of the novel. If you haven't read it, I'm not going to attempt to summarize it here. (And if you have, then you know why I won't.)

First of all, what works. The characters of Dagney and Hank are actually pretty well-cast. I don't know either of the actors, but they pulled it off. Taylor Schilling in particular looks the part (her eyes are quite reminiscent of Rand's, which is always how I and I imagine most people envisioned the character of Dagney: a young and slightly glamorous version of the author.)

The rest of the cast are pretty weak, though I think a lot of this can be chalked up to the source material: Rand's characters are either superhuman capitalist/engineers or "the looters". Director Paul Johansson--perhaps to his credit--does not water down Rand's black and white moral universe. The result is something that is true to the source material but occasionally a bit silly on screen.

Unfortunately, the most extreme example of this is the character of John Galt, who is played by Johansson himself. Though he only appears on screen in shadow in Part I, and only utters a few lines, he manages to be bad. Really, really bad. Sofia Coppola in Godfather Part III bad. Since Galt will be the main character in the (as yet hypothetical) sequel(s), this does not bode well. Someone should really convince him to step aside and recast for the greater good of the project (something I note with no small sense of irony.)

In short, the movie is a bit better than I expected, but not great. Rand fanboys will probably like it fine. Rand haters will find plenty to hate. And I think it is no more likely to make someone want to become an Objectivist than The Passion of the Christ made me want to become Catholic.


Palm boy said...

I'm still waiting for a Prodestant making of the Passion.

Gino said...

you'll wait a long time, PB.

i've no interest in seeing atlas shrugged. maybe i'm just jaded about the whole idea having heard about too much.