By Brad Reed, via AlterNet
Take Lisa Simpson and combine her with Gordon Gekko and the obnoxious child-android from “Small Wonder,” and you get the perfect Rand hero.
Indeed, the film’s major problem is that it adheres too tightly to its source material, making it impossible to create compelling characters. This is because all of Rand’s heroes and heroines are soulless greedbots whose only goals in life are to make great innovations and then profit like crazy off them. In and of itself this isn’t a bad thing since a lot of people like creating things and being rewarded for them. But in the case of Rand’s characters, their desire for money and achievement supersedes all empathy, family relationships and basic human decency. Take Lisa Simpson and combine her with Gordon Gekko and the obnoxious child-android from “Small Wonder,” and you get the perfect Rand hero.
The New Yorker:
Atlas Shrugged: Part I
by Richard Brody.
"This comically tasteless and flavorless adaptation of Ayn Rand’s bombastic magnum opus delivers her simplistic nostrums with smug self-satisfaction. The story is set in 2016 in a dystopian America beset by economic depression and a new oil crisis, which is the pretext for rendering rail travel—the core of the novel’s plot—newly central. The railway heiress Dagny Taggart (Taylor Schilling) seeks to revitalize the family’s business—and the nation’s economy—by laying rails made of an untested new alloy developed by the metallurgical baron Hank Rearden (Grant Bowler), while both titans are tied down and pecked at by parasites from the government, organized labor, the media, and even the scientific establishment. Meanwhile, a prophetic masked avenger packs many of the country’s great industrialists off to his compound in the hope of fuelling a “second Renaissance.” The preening resentment of the smart social misfit finds its fantasy fulfillment, as Rand’s flamboyant potboiler intensity (and her fascination with the authority of the great loner) gives rise to a tittering knowingness: the words “union” and “guild” are the pretexts for sneers and smears, and an unintentional howler of a business plan may give rise to a new, Tarzan-style pickup line: 'My metal, your railway.' ” Directed by Paul Johansson.
No, Seriously... Atlas Shrugged: Part One Is Hardly Worth Defending
When a film is this bad, any message becomes meaningless.
By William Bibbiani
Apr 19th, 2011
"Yesterday I published Crave Online’s review of Atlas Shrugged: Part One. I was disappointed to discover that it was a very bad movie: poorly acted, under-dramatized and often unintentionally silly. The film has its fans, and some of them have responded negatively to my review as well as the reviews of the many other critics who despised it (Atlas Shrugged currently ‘boasts’ a mere 8% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes; by way of comparison, Ishtar has a fairly celebratory 19%). Like the films of Michael Moore or Sergei Eisenstein, Atlas Shrugged has a direct social agenda, and those who subscribe to this agenda have responded favorably to the film. Unlike the films of Michael Moore or Sergei Eisenstein, Atlas Shrugged: Part One (that is to say, the movie as opposed to the book) does not boast the quality of narrative necessary to convince the uninitiated that its arguments have a modicum of significance.
In what I then considered a somewhat reasonable attempt to avoid delving into political controversy I chose to focus my review on the film’s overall cinematic ineptitude, touching upon Ayn Rand’s philosophies primarily when they contributed to the uninvolving plot or protagonists’ lack of charisma. (The Bioshock comment was, admittedly, largely snark.) Like the protagonists of the film I am unfazed by most of the criticisms lobbied in my direction, such as those indicating that the review lacks validity because I have not read the book. Any adaptation of any kind of source material needs to stand on its own merits, and Atlas Shrugged: Part One simply does not. I remained unconvinced of its arguments due to the lack of compelling storytelling or characterization in the film. One could argue, I suppose, that the movie is essentially an overlong advertisement for the Ayn Rand’s novel. If this is the case, consider my review not an assessment of an artwork’s craftsmanship and value but rather an unimpressed observation of an inept marketing campaign. I have less interest in reading Atlas Shrugged now than I ever have before, and to be perfectly honest reading the novel used to be on my ‘To Do’ list."
From Libertarian-leaning PJ Rourke:
Are there libertarian-agnostic non-Rand-fans who've liked the movie? I haven't found any yet, though Preview Week is still young. There were some notable savagings by Varietyand the Hollywood Reporter, though. Plus this newspapereditorial from the apparently existing Harrisonburg (Va.)Daily News Record, headlined "Objectively Evil: The Truth About 'Atlas Shrugged.'" Sample from that:
"A staple of modern libertarian thinking in some ways codified into the law, Objectivism is radically anti-Christian, denies the natural and moral law and assumes that man exists solely as an individual whose highest goal is satisfying his cupidity and concupiscence. It suggests that mankind is a collection of aimless atoms that bounce off of each other occasionally, but otherwise bear no selfless reciprocal duties or imperatives. Indeed, Rand thought selfishness was a virtue."
Years ago I plowed through half of "Atlas Shrugged" and stopped torturing myself. It was awful to read--turgid prose at its worst--and I imagined the movie version would be awful as well. And, according to these reviews, so it is.
Go see the new "Jane Eyre" film.