Atlas Shrugged Part 1 of 3? review: Trains, boardrooms, and slightly stilted dialogue

by wfgodbold

By now you’re sure to know that Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged has been adapted for the silver screen. As I understand it, they’re only going to be able to make the movies that continue the story (hey, it’s a big book) if they make enough money off the first one. It’s holding steady at 5% fresh, so I don’t know how likely that is. I was quite amused at seeing Reason Magazine and the Cato Institute in the credits.

With that out of the way, on to the review!

I thought it was a pretty good adaptation (though it has been a while since I read the book); the focus on trains is a bit ridiculous (the book was published more than 50 years ago, so trains weren’t as much of a joke), though some hand-waving about the price of gas explains that away ($37+/gal!).

As bad as the dialog sometimes gets, though (and I can think of 2 or 3 scenes where it just doesn’t sound natural at all), the movie captures the spirit of the book very well (and the parallels you can draw between Dagny Taggart’s America and ours are chilling, to be frank).

As an indictment of crony capitalism, welfare, big government, media complicity, and central planning, though, the movie succeeds quite well. The actors persevere in spite of their occasional bad lines, and you’ll see some familiar faces; I expected a bunch of nobodies on account of working on an Ayn Rand adaptation wouldn’t be conducive to further employment in Hollywood, but I suppose if anyone deserves to be in a paean to free-market capitalism and libertarian thought, it’s Quark.

It’s not a movie I’d watch over and over, but I wouldn’t be averse to seeing it again. Maybe just before Part 2 hits theaters…

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2 Comments to “Atlas Shrugged Part 1 of 3? review: Trains, boardrooms, and slightly stilted dialogue”

  1. Yeah, I could not help a somewhat hysterical giggle at the push-button magic dictating that trains were suddenly the awesomest thing ever… especially when coupled with how not-comprehensive the rail coverage on the Taggart Transcontinental map was.

    That said, I was rather wierded out by the focuses they chose to make (pointless minute-long scenes of American countryside, the relative waste of time at the anniversary party, and the sex scene (which was basically pointless in the book too, and could just as easily have been replaced with “and they went and had sex”)), while simultaneously leaving so much to the assumption that the viewers have already read the book. I mean, they mentioned the looters’ bills, and briefly touched on what it meant, but apart from Rearden signing over all his subsidiaries, they never really drove home the depth of those looters’ depravity.

    *shrug* Everyone would have done it differently, and, in truth, this was a hell of a lot better than it could have been.

    • That was a pretty sparse rail network, wasn’t it? I think I had more impressive rail lines in Railroad Tycoon.

      Yeah, I didn’t get the sweeping panorama shots, either.

      They were really hamstrung by the source material, I think. It’s been a long time since I read the book, but I seem to remember it being a lot of description of the looter’s bills and a lot of talking heads. That wouldn’t translate to film very well.

      Given the reviews, I was expecting it to be a waste of money; I guess a lot of reviewers were harsher than they’d have been otherwise, given the subject matter. Hating libertarianism is as much a shibboleth as high speed rail, and I guess the former trumps the latter.

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