ATLAS SHRUGGED: PART I
MOVIE: ** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
While I hold my own personal political beliefs, I rarely talk about them publicly. This is mainly because I feel people read my work not for a political opinion, but rather for an expert take on films and television. However, sometimes a movie comes along that necessitates dipping my toe into politics because it is a politically charged film.
“Atlas Shrugged: Part I” is the first stab at bringing Ayn Rand’s magnum opus to life on the silver screen. it’s been through a torturous path, as the behind-the-scenes information on this Blu-ray will tell you. And while it looks good on such a small budget, it’s a bit of a failure.
Sure, the Tea Party movement is going to adore this film because it is an adaptation of the work of Rand, one of their heroes. I cannot say if it is a good adaptation or not because I’ve never read Rand’s novel, but I can’t imagine that it would have sold as many copies as it has if it were at the level of quality of this film.
“Atlas Shrugged: Part I” tells a story of corporate heads in an alternate future who have pinned the world’s transportation hopes on trains and railways. With oil prices skyrocketing and government control threatening to cripple the country’s businesses, Dagny Taggart (Taylor Schilling) tries to build a new railroad segment with a miracle metal. Unfortunately, captains of industry start disappearing when they meet the mysterious John Galt, and she’s left to fight her way out of a quagmire of government interference and media speculation.
I cannot deny the passion behind the making of “Atlas Shrugged: Part I,” and that might actually be part of its problem. In many ways, this film reminds me of the faith-based films that try to break through to the mainstream. Think of it as “The Omega Code” for corporations. There might be a good story in there if it weren’t trying too hard to make a political point.
The acting isn’t terrible, but the script definitely is. Featuring multiple conversations over desks, board room tables and in high-priced restaurants, “Atlas Shrugged: Part I” plods along with lots of words that amount to very little. The dialogue comes to a woeful head with preaching about wage payment, the needs of workers and how a greedy work force can destroy an otherwise prosperous company.
“Atlas Shrugged: Part I” tries to drive home economic principles and how there needs to be corporate freedom in trying times, but that message is lost when everyone in your story is filthy rich. I can see why the Tea Party likes this film.
I might still pick up Rand’s book and read it to see what this is all about, but the film didn’t win a new fan in me. And considering it’s just a fraction of the story that suffered at the box office, I’m not sure the rest of the book will end up on screen anytime soon.
The Blu-ray has some nice features, including a commentary by the filmmakers and a behind-the-scenes video “Road to Atlas Shrugged.” There’s also a montage featuring the “John Galt Theme.” But these features are torn down by the narcissistic and self-important feature “I Am John Galt,” which consists of 35 minutes of dozens of people saying, “I am John Galt,” into the camera.