So you know how I said I wanted to see the new Atlas Shrugged movie? Well, the boy and I were having sort of a bum day, so I offered up a movie to salvage the evening. Since the only other decent-looking movie out is Water for Elephants — and I want to read the book first — we bought tickets for Atlas Shrugged and prepared for some good old fashioned objectivism.
Lucky for us, we weren’t in the theater with the Small Government Alliance (yikes, can’t imagine that crowd). The theater was pretty crowded, though with an older set. I was really excited to see the movie, if only because I like watching movies based on books I’ve gotten really into; and when a book is 1,110 pages, there’s really no other option but to get into it. However, when the lights went up I couldn’t stop myself from laughing. Here’s why:
- Really bad CGI. Seriously, was this made in 2011 or 2000?
- The actor playing James Taggart was way too young and amateurish. I’m sure they were going for that spoiled child effect, but James Taggart is a self-loathing bastard who is both deluded by what he’s saying and tortured by the thought of responsibilities. This guy…not so much.
- While the actor who played Hank Rearden was attractive, he was way too young to be Hank. Plus, he needed to be rougher around the edges.
- Too much skipping around. I know the book is a gazillion pages long, but the movie hurtles from one main plot point to the next with little to no explanation of how it got there. Joel asked at one point: “Wait, so the country is socialist by 2016?” I told him if you read the 50+ pages of explanation behind all the big, policy decisions they’re making, it makes sense. If you’ve never read the book, everything seems rather ridiculous.
- And finally, let’s just re-name Eddie Willers “PLOT DEVICE.” I swear, every time he came around, he was filling Dagny in one everything “else” going on, at the same time acting as a narrative device for the audience who has no clue what’s going on. It was a surprise to see him as a black man (I don’t think Ayn Rand had any diversity in mind when she wrote Atlas Shrugged) but the poor guy has absolutely no sense of his own character. Eddie Willers is supposed to be a highly sympathetic, and strong, figure. He stands up for what he believes in, is loyal to the bitter end and even has feelings for Dagny. This guy…not so much.
So that’s about it. Things made sense if you’ve read the book, so I felt bad for those who haven’t. But as someone who has struggled through Rand’s tome, I couldn’t stop myself from laughing. Whether it was the bad acting, the random plot jumps or the terrible CGI, it was almost too easy to mock. Oh well. I’m glad I saw it. I tried telling Joel on the way home that it’s the thoughts behind the movie that counts, and Atlas Shrugged introduces some very interesting ideas. Too bad no one is going to understand them after seeing that.