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Atlas Shrugged: Part I

2011-04-16 20:58:36.399161+00 by ebradway 4 comments

Took the bus out to Bellevue last night to meet up with some friends to see Atlas Shrugged: Part I. To spare you the details, the movie was precisely what you'd expect from an independently film based on a book with a large, passionate following that features deliberately shallow characters. Oh yeah, there were CG trains.

Details: The film is the first of three parts. So it ends right as things really start getting interesting. I won't say where because that would be a spoiler and really is unnecessary (other than Dagny and Hank do get together).

The casting was exceptionally good. Taylor Schilling as Dagny Taggert, Grant Bowler as Henry Rearden and Graham Beckel as Wyatt Ellis, did a really good job of keeping the movie from being a total cornfest. I think if the screenplay writers had allowed themselves a little more creative freedom, the leading characters could have carried across Ayn Rand's message with a little more depth. Some characters were introduced but are obviously going to be expanded on more in parts two and three. Francisco D'Anconia (Jsu Garcia) and John Galt are both obviously important but not given enough lines to really understand what their role is. If you aren't familiar with Rand's characterization (more Plato than Tolstoy), you'd probably walk out of the movie either completely lost or demanding your money back.

I mean it has better character development than a porn flick, but it's definitely on that end of the spectrum. But like a porn flick, you aren't watching the movie to see if the characters develop. You're just watching the intercourse of two (or more) opposing positions (top/bottom, independence/collectivism, etc.). The obvious roles of the independent-thinking industrialist heroes surrounded by all kinds of collectivist villians... The only non-obvious character is D'Anconia, a fact that you aren't allowed to forget.

The CG was fun - especially since it involved overlaying trains on top of sweeping vistas of Colorado. One of my friends had just moved to the Pacific Northwest from her childhood home of Colorado. She knew exactly where every scene was shot. I knew several, but she had probably walked or rode a horse across every rail line in the movie. We had fun noticing that every scene was fall (you can tell because the aspen have turned) but was shot long enough ago to not feature the widespread browns and reds as the Western Pine Beetle savages most of the trees in Colorado.

The one big disappointment was that the trains never blow up. Isn't that a requirement for CG in movies? They do make up for it in the final scene. But I won't say any more. If you like Ayn Rand, catch it in the theater so we'll get to see parts two and three. If you're not a much of a fan or never have been a fan, wait for the DVD. In fact, wait for all three parts to hit DVD and watch them together.

[ related topics: Objectivism Books Erotic Movies Writing Trains Philosophy Government ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2011-04-17 09:57:59.202358+00 by: brennen

I had really sincere plans for tomorrow to get high as a damned kite and got watch it.

Then I watched a couple of clips on YouTube, and I think what I immediately discovered is that in the act of reading the novel I have already suffered more than enough.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-04-17 19:35:26.632418+00 by: meuon [edit history]

Some movies should be seen in altered states... The recent TRON movie would be good for it. We recently enjoyed watching "Sanctum" with the local grotto, in 3d.. with a couple of "water bottles" full of liquor being passed around. The movie was decent, but the mood altering friends and alcohol made it better. I'll wait for the whole Rand trio to hit Netflix.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-04-18 14:17:33.003255+00 by: ebradway

I approached this movie the same way I did the 2005 Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. That is, they are both movies based on books that, at one time in my life, I had a great affinity towards. But I'm no longer that person. It was fun seeing how the material was translated onto the big screen.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-04-25 18:09:05.500883+00 by: ebradway

While Ebert didn't compare Atlas Shrugged to Porn, he wasn't as gentle as I was either.