Atlas Shrugged Movie Review: Early Slam by the Hollywood Reporter to keep you from wanting to see the film


As sure as the sun came up today I knew that the Hollywood establishment would seek to discourage people from wanting to see Atlas Shrugged.  As I’ve pointed out, Hollywood considers strong characters that rely on their individuality as being one-dimensional, or two-dimensional characters.  Hollywood likes flawed characters and communism, so it is without question that the Hollywood establishment is bracing themselves for a strong financial showing of Atlas Shrugged.

Do not expect good reviews of this film.  Most of the press will hate the premise that Atlas Shrugged is built upon, and those same media outlets hate the Tea Party.  So it goes without saying that on a Tuesday before the film’s opening on Friday that the Hollywood Reporter rushed a review of the film out to hopefully set the pace for the USA Today reviews and all other city newspapers all across the country. 

The best way to combat this type of undercutting from the media is to prove them wrong.  Go see the movie and support it with the purchase of a ticket. 

Now, study how the left will attempt to frame the opinions of the masses in the review from Todd McCarthy of the Hollywood Reporter.  Notice that many of the comments are similar to the way the government reports they can’t cut spending, or a school levy attempts passage.  It’s spin toward a “collective” society. 


Atlas Shrugged: Film Review

4:02 PM 4/7/2011 by Todd McCarthy


The Bottom Line

Flubbed, under-produced representation of the first third of Ayn Rand’s still controversial novel bodes ill for parts two and three.


April 15


Taylor Schilling, Grant Bowler, Matthew Marsden, Edi Gathegi, Grahame Beckel, Jsu Garcia, Jon Polito, Michael Lerner, Rebecca Wisocky, Neill Barry


Paul Johansson

The independently financed-and-distributed rendition of the book’s first third is unlikely to generate sufficient box office to inspire production of the final two installments.

“There were a few rare men of talent around her, but they were becoming rarer every year,” it is lamented about the circle surrounding Ayn Rand‘s ultra-capable heroine Dagny Taggart in Atlas Shrugged, and the complaint certainly applies in the case of this botched partial screen adaptation of the mammoth novel that has materialized 54 years after the book’s publication. Although the recent surge in annual sales of the revered and despised author’s fictional manifesto arguably testifies to its continuing relevance, the central battle between fearsomely independent corporate mavericks and hostile big government has been updated in a half-baked, unconvincing way that’s exacerbated by button-pushing TV-style direction, threadbare production values and blah performances except for that of Taylor Schilling in the central role. Set to bow in roughly 200 theaters on April 15, this independently financed-and-distributed rendition of the book’s first third is unlikely to generate sufficient box office to inspire production of the final two installments (the 1,000-plus-page novel is divided into three sections of 10 chapters apiece), although the producers could conceivably forge ahead anyway if their pockets are deep enough. A TV miniseries with a high-powered cast–several were planned at various points over the past four decades–would have been a preferable way to go with this didactic, sometimes risible but still powerful material.

Published in 1957, Rand’s summation novel continues to compel and repel; designed as a paean and exhortation to fulfillment of personal excellence and unrestrained industrial productivity, it is also seen as an abject endorsement of wanton selfishness and the right of the capable few to lord it over the parasitical many. Especially as former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan had been an ardent Randian, it’s recently become easier than ever to blame contemporary economic ills on the fallout from her unregulated philosophy, even if the fiscal blundering of many governments provides equally persuasive arguments on the other side.


These philosophical debates can and will go on forever, but screenwriters Brian Patrick O’Toole and John Aglialoro (also a producer) have themselves bungled in their attempt to remain faithful to the letter of the sacred text while moving the action to the near-future (specifically, 2016). Many scenes are devoted to dull conversations among business fatcats about the economics of railways and steel, central industries that helped drive the nation 60 years ago but seem like afterthoughts today (Amtrak, anyone?). Updating the story would provide a provocative test to any writer but could certainly be done; however, to do so without acknowledging the present-day realities of high-tech industries, outsourcing, shifting transportation modes and advanced information technology (the characters here actually read newspapers) places the action in an unrecognizable twilight zone. So does the fact that the central manufacturing triumph here is the construction of a high-speed train (managed from scratch within a few months, no less). Not only is it unremarked that Asia and Europe are decades ahead on this front, but conservatives who might be perceived as the core audience for this film are the very ones currently fighting against fast-train funding and construction in the U.S. 


For these reasons alone, a serious cultural/historical disjunction derails the enterprise from the outset. Television news clips portray a nation in recognizable disarray and decay, as well as a Middle East that has imploded, triggering unimaginable oil prices, but these seem like overwhelming issues unlikely to be turned around by the efforts of the laser-focused Dagny to take over decision-making at rail giant Taggart Transcontinental from her ineffectual brother James (Matthew Marsden).


Poised, beautifully groomed and impeccably coiffed, Dagny strides through the corridors of male hesitation, indecision and ineffectuality with a fierce confidence shaken only by the inexplicable “retirement” of certain skilled executives and the baffling question she increasingly hears at unexpected moments, “Who is John Galt?” This is a query that may or may not ever be answered onscreen, depending upon whether the next two parts are made, but suffice it to say that in Part I he is a shadowy figure resembling the Humphrey Bogart character in Woody Allen‘s “Play It Again, Sam.”


Galt is impersonated here by Paul Johansson, a young actor who stepped in to direct Atlas Shrugged when the original director left shortly before shooting began. The best that can be said for his work is that it’s perfunctory, a word that also describes all the performances except that of Schilling, a blond beauty whose open face, direct gaze and plain speaking do more than anything else to make watching the film tolerable. One has little doubt that, in a more substantial version of this story, one populated by strong actors in the other principal roles, she would have held her own and moreso, justifying the casting of a relative unknown in the most important part.


Although ostensibly set in New York City, the film features various buildings and cityscapes recognizable from Los Angeles and Chicago. 

Opens: April 15 (Strike Prods. Release)
Production: Harmon Kaslow, John Aglialoro Prods.
Cast: Taylor Schilling, Grant Bowler, Matthew Marsden, Edi Gathegi, Grahame Beckel, Jsu Garcia, Jon Polito, Michael Lerner, Rebecca Wisocky, Neill Barry
Director: Paul Johansson
Screenwriters: Brian Patrick O’Toole, John Aglialoro


Rich Hoffman!/overmanwarrior

23 thoughts on “Atlas Shrugged Movie Review: Early Slam by the Hollywood Reporter to keep you from wanting to see the film

  1. You’re right Rich; this was pretty predictable.
    If you really want to see what the left thinks of Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged, read this piece that appeared on the Huffington Post web site:

    I laughed out loud quite a few times while reading this one. If I had written Atlas Shrugged and then read this childish article criticizing my work I’d take it as a compliment.


    1. Thanks for the link. It is because of people like that which is why I created this site. It’s about time we start to combat those fools. Of course they wouldn’t like the book, because they are the looters. It must be terrible to live life and not be able to understand the concepts of that book, only to rationalize what they can’t understand with simplicity. Oh the whole book is only about a bunch of people living in the mountains…..isn’t that cute?


    1. No it won’t. Not for an independent release without the usual network support of a distributer. It will be a success by those standards by todays numbers alone. However, I will write an honest review after I see it tonight. Does the film capture the book? I’ll let you know. I’m proud of the filmmakers for the attempt at this point. Whether they hit the target remains to be seen.


  2. You who worship at the alter of “John Galt” are swimming in a sea of denial. No one can succeed solely by themselves without the assistance of others. Everybody and everything is connected. All actions have consequences on the whole. Individuals have a responsibility both to themselves as well as the society, environment, and universe as a whole to work to develop and contribute whatever skills they have to offer in order to make the world a better place. Everything is interconnected. Therefore, it is an inherently collective world we live in–by design.


    1. I can understand people who have been raised to believe those types of things. But the element of “collective” is that if each took care of themselves the collective would be stronger. This idea of interdependence is a sappy, and weak notion that is a failed social experiment. To teach people that now, after a century of “collective” thought is like trying to reteach people how to walk or speak, and many won’t see the need. It’s much easier to hold out their hands and ask for more.


      1. My best friend and I (who is going to see the movie with me right after work tonight) frequently discuss this issue. We both believe that the brains of conservatives and liberals are just wired differently. What Sunvolt wrote above is exactly the philosophy espoused by James Taggart in Atlas Shrugged. That kind of thinking is totally anathema to me.

        I’m sure everyone takes something different away from Atlas Shrugged. My take is definitely not that “no one can succeed solely by themselves without the assistance of others.”, as Sunvolt said. When the achievers moved to Galt’s Gulch and set up their own society, they were very inter-dependent. One man ran the grocery, one man mined the ore, another refined it, etc. The point was that in the “real world” the corrupt government stole the fruits of their labors to distribute it in the name of “fairness”. What the book showed was that instead of everyone being equal, a few power brokers “at the top” remained rich while the rest of the country did in fact achieve equality…by being equally miserable in poverty. When allowed to profit from their own hard work the strikers, motivated by self interest, innovated and through their inventions and contributions everyone in the “society” benefited. When taxed and regulated to death there was no incentive to produce. Why work harder when there’s no incentive to do so? Eventually the government instituted laws mandating that all businesses had to put out a certain amount of goods, and then essentially took over the railroad and steel industries. That’s the only logical outcome of the “collectivist” type of thinking. It doesn’t work so well in all the places its been tried on Earth…the USSR, Cuba, Mexico, etc.

        Top Gear once did a “review” of Russian-made cars. They were death traps made with the worst quality parts imaginable. Everyone, except the Party leaders got to drive these horrible excuses for machines that are out-classed by even American golf carts. The few at the top of the Communist Party drove imported Mercedes and BMW’s. Here in America people whom we call “poor” (even though by world standards are rich) own cars that are light-years ahead of the Soviets. That’s just one example of the standard of living we enjoy because of freedom.


      2. That’s right about the Russian cars, and people being on the left being wired differently. And that difference is perfectly portrayed in James and Dagney Taggert, they representing the two views of the world. But only one view works, obviously. So it’s not a compassion issue or even fairness. You can’t wish to change the laws of nature which those on the left stand opposed to by craving to use the human race to change the nature of the universe. That’s how out of touch those people are and why their vision fails.

        I’m going to the late show. Have some “activity” to participate relating to “tax day” first.


  3. Why do you people not recognize that in order to succeed: It takes both individual skill and drive in combination with the skill and drive of those individuals as a whole to realize long-term success. This notion is not “sappy”, it is a fact by design. If an illness or injury prevents you from being productive should we annihilate you so you do not drain the resources of everyone else? Synergy is mathematically proven to be more efficient and productive than isolated power control centers.


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