Sunday, April 17, 2011

Atlas Shrugged Review

On a scale of 1-10 in enjoyment, I'd give it a 7 or an 8. You all know my predispositions and can take that for what it's worth. That's better than any of the movies in recent memory (Black Swan, The King's Speech, Sucker Punch, The Town, Dawn Treader) except perhaps True Grit. It's better than most network tv movies, excepting Brave New World (with Steve Schub and Leonard Nimoy). Maybe its on the same level as Stephen King's 1990s version of The Shining. In many ways I liked it better than The Fountainhead with Patricia Neal and Gary Cooper. I think Roger Ebert is wrong - libertarians and Objectivists will generally like it. People who don't like the ideas won't like it. People who are libertarians and don't know it will want to learn more about it. It whets the appetite for rethinking selfishness.

I'm still not sure about the people in between. On the positive side, the cinematography (including Ebert's derided office scenes) and score were beautiful. I was moved by the launch of the John Galt line. Taylor Schilling was beautiful, driven, and calculating as Dagny Taggart (the way I imagined her). The Washington lobbyists are spot on - I know from having met many of them. But somehow the dialog fell flat in several places, and the movie didn't always flow well. John Galt and Hugh Akston, in particular, lacked gravitas. Like others have said, I wish they had taken some liberties and adapted more of the book's dialog for movie purposes - showing, not telling. With more time for the second installment, I hope they do so.

Philosophically, it stayed true to the novel. I wasn't sure what I thought of James Taggart's character when I read the book, and I'm still not sure. He doesn't come across as a real altruist (as he's supposed to), but he also doesn't quite pull it off as a false humanitarian, or someone who wants to help but does a bad job of it. I think the uninitiated will be as puzzled as I was.

Bottom line - if you liked the book, go see it. If you think someone would like the book, tell them to go see it.

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