January 25, 2012

A Review of Atlas Shrugged

Let me first start out by saying I really hate this movie; it did everything wrong in the worst possible way.  But rather than nitpick about every little mistake in the plot or the acting, I decided to write a full review of the movie so that I can give it what ever little credit it deserves.  And I will be basing my review on the movie, not the book, because what ever is in the movie is the only thing that matters.

Fuck this book is all I'm saying.

So where did Atlas Shrugged go so horribly wrong?  Was it the fact that the book was awful?  Was it that they tried to turn a book into a movie?  Was it the acting? Was it the plot?  What the hell made this movie so bad?

Maybe we should start with...

1.  Who is the protagonist?

Anyone who has watched the movie will say that Dagny Taggart is the main character. But let me ask you this: did you feel even remotely connected to this character? She was cold, flat, and uneventful.  Even when she attempts to be passionate, she is so monotone in her voice that any attachment the audience could have made with her is lost.  Which brings me to the main point: was she really the protagonist?

What about this guy?

Henry Rearden, or "boring" for short.
The problem is, the movie doesn't focus much on this character.  And while he is thousands of times more likable as a character than Dagny Who-Gives-A-Shit, he has no character arc.  His character doesn't change and so the audience has to settle for two bland, boring business executives as protagonists.

The movie should have focused on the owner of the world's largest copper mining empire and quasi-Playboy Francisco d'Anconia. Instead of boring the audience with business talk and static characters, the audience could have witnessed the rise and fall of Francisco as his copper empire booms and busts.  Not only would his character be exciting, but it would also lead to character development - something this movie is lacking.

But no, we are stuck with Dagny and Henry for a two hour long snoresville of static characters discussing business.  Speaking of business...

2.  No one gives two shits about trains.

Trains used to be the cool technological wonders of society - back in the 1800's.  More recently the bullet train was popular - back in the 1960's.  Who nowadays likes trains?  Old people who look back on the past with nostalgia-filtered lenses and children.  And I don't think this movie is for children.

The whole movie is about trains and train accessories.  The whole plot accumulates towards a bullet train ride that also symbolizes some sort of love affair occurring between Henry and Dagny.  This movie is so boring that the most exciting shots involve trains not crashing.  You know, when Ayn Rand wrote the novel, trains had already lost their novelty in the U.S. and other countries in Europe and Asia were creating the bullet train.  Maybe Ayn Rand was trying to direct her novel to a more aged audience at the time.  But to adapt the novel to a movie without changing the subject from trains to something else completely ruins any sort of connection that 90% of the audience could have had with the movie.

This novel should have been adapted to a movie with the trains changed to something else.  Literally anything would have been better than trains.  Watching truckers speed on highways to ship goods cross-country would have been millions of times more exciting than watching a train - something like Ice Road Truckers.

The plot should have been updated to deal with the paradigms present in technology today.  It should have been about the collapse of Internet company giants like Google and Wikipedia.  Suddenly the audience can relate.  They are all thinking to themselves "Oh shit, what would I do without Google or Wikipedia?" The economic depression could have still been an economic depression, but instead of oil being the cause, it would have been caused by more than 4 million people loosing their jobs due to a new Dot Com Bust.  And then the film could have dealt with the same stupid ideologies that Ayn Rand discussed in the novel.  People could have blamed the bust on the paradigm of open source and community effort, showing that individualism was better than altruism (I'm not saying it is, I'm just saying it was what Ayn Rand was arguing).

3.  This should have been one movie.

After spending two hours watching two business people talk about trains and steel and some fucker named "Jon Gault" (or how ever you spell his stupid worthless name), the audience receives no closure.  

I just sat through two hours of nothing to receive absolutely no closure.  The whole movie was a build up to nothing.  Dagny screams at the end of the movie as an oil field burns. One of her best business partners pretty much gives her the finger by completely fucking her over after they had all been happy and celebrating just minutes before.

I seriously do not understand this guy's motivation.  In a few scenes before Dagny, Henry, and this guy (let's call him Fucktard) are celebrating the train ride and Fucktard states that he has found a huge untapped oil deposit and natural gas deposit.  And then a few scenes later he burns that shit to the ground because of what?  A new government regulation?  Because of Jon Gault?  I DON'T UNDERSTAND.

If anything, this whole scene could be shown as a counter-example for Ayn Rand's whole stupid philosophy.  An individual just fucked over every one for his own individual self-centered individualism.  Fuck this Fucktard guy.  And fuck his whole individualistic attitude.

The audience doesn't understand Fucktard's motivations.  Nor do they get to know who Jon Gault is.  Nor does any of the plot make any sense.  At all.

And because this movie was such a flop, the audience will probably never see Part 2.

Hey, fuckers.  If you are making a movie that will probably flop (hint, any movie about trains + business people talking for 2 hours is a flop), make it onto one movie.  Don't try to stretch that shit out for two movies.

Honestly, 30 minutes of this movie could be easily cut out: just get rid of all the walking and train clips.  There is just so much travelling in this movie that it makes the whole premise that oil supply is low impossible to believe.  There are so many train clips that you could make a kids show about trains from this movie and it would be three episodes long.  

First, a movie should have a plot.  The plot should have an exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and conclusion.  This movie had some sort of exposition, two rising actions, what could barely be called two climaxes and then credits.  The structure of the movie is inherently wrong, leaving the audience to wonder if that was really the end of the movie.  Out of the billions of characters that this movie throws at you, none of them change.  They are the same character at the end of the movie as the beginning of the movie.

This story was not long enough for 2 hours. Atlas Shrugged Part 1 could have been fit into 15 minutes.  The audience doesn't need an hour of introduction to understand what a depression is.  Nor does the audience need to see every single little conversation these characters have.  Get that plot shit rolling.

This is how the movie should have gone:
  • Huge line for a homeless shelter.
  • Jon Gault approaches some famous intellectual (Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, SOME ONE)
  • Dagny has a discussion with Henry that they need that fucking steel NOW.
  • The tracks get laid.
  • Train ride symbolizing sexual tension.
  • Dagny gets laid.
  • Sneaky government regulation.
  • Henry breaks up his company on public television.
  • Businessman fucks over Dagny.

That would take no more than 15 minutes AS AN INTRODUCTION.  No one cares how laws get passed or how they are formed.  No one cares about the government issues concerning steel.  No one fucking cares about Mexico nationalizing and taking a copper mine over.  Take the filler out and leave the content.

I don't know how much more I can take but...

4.  Don't be scared of sex.

There's a sex scene in this movie if you look close enough.  It's hard to spot since it's less than a minute long and the guy keeps all his clothes on.  Also it's shot from the neck up.  And Dagny is the lady getting plowed so there is absolutely no emotion in the scene.

I'm not really sure why this scene is there since Dagny appeared to be an asexual business lady for the entire movie. Maybe it's to show that she has some sort of emotion.  I don't know.  But if you are going to do a sex scene, do it right.

The whole movie has a bit of sexual tension between Henry and Dagny.  It's covered by bad acting and horrible dialogue, so it's a bit hard to pick up on, but the tension is there.  After an hour and a half of sexual tension and train symbolism, I expect a pretty passionate sex scene.  But no, Dagny is as stiff as a board and Henry appears to be scared to have her skin touch his.  Maybe the actor that played Henry was self-conscious about his chest or something.

Out of all the ways this movie could have redeemed itself, the sex scene would have been by far the easiest choice.  Just have the two fuck like rabbits.  Dagny should have revealed that she was an emotional bomb waiting to burst, just waiting for the right intellectual man to come along and discover it.  Henry should have shown his true passion for Dagny and why he was always doing her favors.  But no and no again.  The scene comes across as dull and boring, showing that even sex is yet another thing that this movie can turn into snoresville.

And finally...

5.  Too many characters, not enough development.

I don't think I can go on reviewing this movie. It's just so damn boring.  The audience feels detached the whole time as if they are watching the videos of some guy who thought video taping his every movement would be worthy of a movie.  And in order to make his life more interesting he introduces every single person he knows.

There are so many expendable characters in this movie, I'm surprised more people didn't die.  It would have been insanely easy to make a car crash take out half the cast without the audience even caring.  New characters are thrown around like little pieces of candy to distract you from the fact that no one in the cast knows how to act.

Once again, I feel that it is necessary to point out that none of the characters develop at all.  Without character development, what's the point?  Why should I care about Dagny or Henry when they don't change?  I know they are going to end up the same in the end.  And if they end up the same, what was the point of having them go through all these hurdles?  Was there even a point?

All these questions and more are left unanswered since nothing comes full circle.  Dagny's brother only appears in the first half of the movie, although he appeared to be the main character for a while.  Dagny herself doesn't really progress towards anything - she simply stays as the asexual business lady we knew in the beginning, leaving me to wonder whether she has learned anything from this experience.  I know I sure didn't.

Henry appears to be just a tool for Dagny to get things done.  He make promises and delivers just like a Pizza Hut.  He's a convenient Dues Ex Machina that fulfills every need Dagny needs. And while he does have his own set of problems, we as an audience don't see any resolution.

So we have the asexual and the Pizza Hut fighting against what?  The Depression?  The Government? The System?  The asexual's brother?  Jon Gault?  Who the fuck is the enemy here?  For that matter, why do I care?

There's no protagonist, so why does there even need to be an enemy?  Why does there even need to a story?  Just say "Fuck it" and turn Ayn Rand into some sort of action figure if you're desperate to make money.

You know what? I'm done.  Fuck this movie.


Anonymous said...

You really hate this movie... don't you.

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