BATTLEFIELD: TRAIN – AN ATLAS SHRUGGED MOVIE REVIEW

(Hi. Skip to the last paragraph if you're pressed for time.)

Most adults have had the experience of sitting through a live performance by small children wherein the low entertainment value is offset by the fact that among the performers is one's child (or grandchild, etc.) What would otherwise be excruciating is kinda cute because, well, look at little Billy! That's our boy. Now imagine that you have been dropped into a random grade school full of strangers and you must sit through the same Christmas play. None of the children are yours. It is two hours long. And it consists of children reading excerpts from "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" and instructional manuals from various home appliances. You've just watched Atlas Shrugged, and it didn't even cost you $9.

In fairness it did not cost me $9 either. For the first time in my 32 years I sneaked into a movie without paying, as it was clearly in my rational self-interest to do so. To financially reward the people who made this…thing…smacked a little too much of altruism. It turns out I paid precisely the right amount for this rush job of a film, the production quality of which falls somewhere between an infomercial and the pilot episode of an original series on the SyFy Network. This film was made in just a few months for very little money in 2010 after 40 years of "development hell" because the film rights were about to lapse; the owner wanted to get something from his investment before it was too late. Believe me (and every other reviewer), it shows. Nearly the entire film consists of two actors standing or sitting in a room talking to each other filmed in basic Shot-Reverse Shot or, even worse, a single camera at a totally flat angle. Director Paul Johansson's lack of directorial experience – which consists of a few episodes of a TV show called "One Tree Hill" – is painfully apparent and totally inexcusable.

I emphasize this because I intend to review the film, not Ms. Rand's philosophy. I'm afraid the Randroids pelting the internet with love for a film they probably haven't seen – note Rotten Tomatoes' 10% critics rating compared to an 86% "user" rating – are unable to make this not-so-fine distinction, as if admitting that the film is shit would discredit their idol (They are also attempting to claim that the film is being "suppressed", which I suppose is true in the same way that the distribution of Baby Geniuses 2 was "suppressed"). In most instances – The Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Lord of the Rings, etc. – hardcore fans of written work are brutal on film adaptations thereof, more than eager to disparage the movie and catalogue the ways in which it fell short of the original artist's vision. Not so with Atlas, apparently. If I loved a novel like Objectivists love Atlas Shrugged I would be mortified to see such a shitshow released on the big screen bearing the same name. But if I loved a novel as horrendously written as Atlas Shrugged I very well might like movies this bad. More to the point, if I adhered to a cult-like philosophical movement that simultaneously celebrates the individual and tolerates absolutely no criticism of The Way and The Great Leader, I would follow all of the other lemmings off the cliff and applaud this film too.

I must address one common yet undeserved reviewer criticism: poor acting. I contend that these actors did as well as anyone could expect given the limitations of the source material; large portions of dialogue are lifted verbatim from the novel. Rand is to realistic dialogue between compelling characters what the Battle of the Somme was to military strategy. I'd like to see an actor who can perform well while delivering lines like "I know the metal will work; I studied engineering in college." Honestly, a few of the actors – Graham Beckel (Ellis Wyatt) and Edi Gathegi (the guy who was "Big Love" on House, here playing Eddie Willers) – were quite good. Meryl Streep and Anthony Hopkins couldn't have made this work. Acting was not the problem.

The director is. It is his responsibility to overcome the limitations of the source material, and in this case the limitations are legion. He must realize that Dagny Taggart (a transparent stand-in for Rand, of course, played here by a gorgeous blonde irrespective of the fact that Rand looked like Joe Pesci) has the sex appeal of a burning orphanage. He must realize that the Taggart-Rearden "romance" is only romantic inasmuch as Rearden does not forcibly rape her or throw acid in her face upon what their lawyers deem satisfactory completion of coitus. He must realize that a story set in the future emphasizing the crucial role of trains in the economy is patently ridiculous. He must realize that endless dialogue about motors and the forging of metal and the minutiae of running a railroad are incomprehensibly boring. And the director must do something about all of these flaws – perhaps deviate from the source material enough to make the characters do and say something that an actual human might consider saying or doing. Thus at their cores the film and novel share a fundamental flaw: they are incredibly, soul-crushingly, and unprecedentedly boring. The director's solution was to spice up the endless drudgery of scenes of two characters sitting in chairs talking about steel, legislative politicking, or trains by…showing montage scenes of railroad track being laid. Seriously.

Johansson shares Rand's appreciation for subtlety as well, as if the audience would not be able to identify the Bad Guy if not accompanied by villainous music, played by a physically repulsive actor, and spouting cartoonishly evil dialogue like "A federal tax! Will be applied to Colorado! To equalize the nation's economy!" (Also, what?) The politicians/lobbyists/etc are monstrously evil caricatures of every cheap stock villain in the Hollywood thriller universe: the fat, greedy lobbyist; the vain politician; the slimy, quasi-criminal union boss; the incompetent bureaucrat. With decent writing and acting, an audience can be told that the Heroes are Good without parading them around in halos or that the Villains are Bad without making them strum their fingers together and laugh evilly in the manner of robbers in a low budget Hanna-Barbera cartoon.

Counter-intuitively, then, the problem with this adaptation is that the film is very faithful to the novel, and the novel is probably the most poorly written work ever to be considered important. Ayn Rand may be your favorite philosopher, but she is an appalling writer. Her novels call into question whether she ever met another human being let alone spoke with one. With absolutely no understanding of how narrative, plot, character development, or exposition work, Rand produces fiction that sounds like it was written in Urdu and translated into English with the least reliable free online translator available. The few pleasant libertarian-objectivist types I have known over the years have admitted in candid moments that her fiction, while containing themes and ideas they found life-changing, borders on unreadable. How could a film be better? Thousand-page collections of obtuse, solipsistic monologues do not a good movie make.

Let me describe one key scene from the film's final act wherein Rearden and Taggart are attempting to track down the inventor of a revolutionary electric motor. Johansson handles this "quest" portion of the story with a hacky montage, essentially turning the last 15 minutes into an episode of Scooby Doo. After a series of events leads them to the abandoned Twentieth Century Motor Company factory (where blueprints for the amazing engine are hidden in a secret passageway…Velma and Shaggy had to move a bookcase to find it) the two pore over the diagrams. Then, in detailed, technical dialogue right out of a User's Manual, the characters listlessly trade lines describing how the motor works. As they walk around the factory Taggart wonders aloud what could have happened to TCMC. Rearden notes that they "flattened their wage scale, paying each according to his needs and not his ability" which quite naturally, Taggart responds, led to "the managers and more skilled workers leaving." Yes, Hank agrees, "and the ones who remained behind couldn't run the place."

Remember, these two just fucked. They are supposed to have great passion for one another. And in the span of 90 seconds they have read us an engineering blueprint and part of a fundraising pamphlet from the Von Mises Institute. This scene captures everything that makes this movie an insufferable experience of unpleasant length.

Battlefield: Earth is still my favorite film in the "so unbelievably bad you have to see it to believe it" genre, and it shares many similarities with Atlas. Both are cynical efforts to extract money from the wallets of blindly devoted followers of a patently silly belief system / cult of personality. Battlefield: Earth was made with the confidence that Scientologists would pay to see it no matter how bad it was, and I am afraid that the same motives underlie the decision to rush this sloppy, amateurish version of Atlas Shrugged into theaters. It ends with the disappeared Ellis Wyatt announcing in voiceover that the has gone Galt, emphatically stating "DON'T try to find me…I am ON STRIKE!" which caused the theater to erupt in an impromptu round of applause. The small crowd of office managers and dentists and petty bureaucrats so enjoyed identifying with the great Producer for two hours before heading home and preparing for another big day of running Northeast Georgia's fourth largest supplier of plumbing fixtures or filling out forms in the Office of Administrative Technicalities at the (public) University. And the cynical bastards who made this sad excuse for a film knew that no matter how much it sucked, society's frustrated, impotent petit bourgeoisie – lawyers, secretaries, cubicle dwellers, engineers, and assorted other educated, angry white people – would gladly hand over the price of admission for that brief thrill of feeling like society would give two flying shits if any of them joined Mr. Wyatt "on strike."

Atlas Shrugged: Part I is as good as anyone could expect a film based on the fiction of Ayn Rand to be. Shit begets shit.

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85 Responses to “BATTLEFIELD: TRAIN – AN ATLAS SHRUGGED MOVIE REVIEW”

  1. g Says:

    You had me laughing throughout.

    I've always wondered about our so-called "producers," i.e, wealthy elistists. What will happen to society if Paris Hilton decamps and deprives us of her production capabilities?

    Even Bill Gates – not to disparage his achievement, but if he were to "go Galt" today, wouldn't Microsoft still manage to bumble along? (and it's not fair to use him as an example, because even tho he's a bastard, he's a philanthropist.)

  2. g Says:

    One other thing – isn't it funny they used TRAINS as the example of the industry fostered by their capitalist philosophy. TRAINS – the quintessential industry that could not survive without the support of a strong, intrusive federal government.

  3. The Man, The Myth Says:

    Not to argue with g here, but the same argument could be made for any transportation related company. Do you think Toyota, GM, or Ford would be around without the Federal Government paying for so many roads here in the US? Trains should be a choice we have in inter-state travel. Anyway, I can't imagine anyone watching two hours of that movie. It sounded to me like you had written a review of the Glen Beck "fictional" book that just happened to repeat the same themes of his silly shows.

  4. Zeb Says:

    The only bit of this shit pile I've seen is a clip on YouTube showing the "evil" union executive confronting the Heroine of the story over using untested steel to build a bridge that his constituents will have to operate trains over, and thus, potentially, risk great catastrophe.

    I just do not understand the mental illness of anyone who finds something like that objectionable. Somehow, when the poor look out for their own interests (like, you know, not dying because of untested materials) it is the height of evil, yet when the wealthy act in their interests it is the Only Just Morality.

    I suppose this is to be expected from a woman who admired a serial killer and used him as the inspiration for the hero of her first novel.

    Amazing review, Ed.

  5. John Says:

    Johansson was banking on one and exactly one thing for this movie: that the Cult of Rand would eagerly guzzle down a gallon jug of piss if they were told it was from The Goddess Herself.

    The novel, and thus the movie, is founded on the most ludicrously absurd premises that what it's trying to do — that being discuss how the will of the unwashed masses to strip the "Producers" of their money and liberty will lead to society's downfall — is simply meaningless. For example, that scene with that cartoony Colorado Tax. Even the most communistic person in America wouldn't be suggesting that everyone get paid the same, or even regardless of their output. They just point out that while a CEO may work harder than the average worker in the company (although that's debatable), they certainly don't work HUNDREDS OF TIMES harder.

    And it is a peculiar sort of irony that the vast majority of the people that really take Rand's notion of a "Producers' strike" and run with it don't actually produce anything. Middle-managers of Wal-Mart and the like.

    I suppose I wouldn't mind Rand's work — and derivatives based upon it — so much if it wasn't used almost exclusively as a very cudgel-like justification for the stifling greed and egomania of truly mediocre people. The kind of people who believe that a company full of managers would actually get anything done — that must be what they're saying, given that the workers are apparently un-important "parasites".

  6. Alex Says:

    I agree totally, Ed. Thanks for the great and funny take on the film!

    My real problem with so many libertarians is that they have no understanding of even the most basic elements of fundamental twenty-first century social theories. Systemic oppression is real and can be easily and concretely demonstrated. But libertarians insist the very idea of systemic inequality is nothing more than the impact of socialism on the educational system.

    These people refuse to see the truth. And that scares me.

  7. ladiesbane Says:

    "For the first time in my 32 years I sneaked into a movie without paying,"…I apologize if this was somehow negated in the critique that followed, but…really? Did you not castigate cheaters in the previous post and then do the same? If this was somehow meaningfully annulled in the following paragraphs, je m'excuse, but did you just not admit to stealing?

  8. Noskilz Says:

    While I have a soft spot for many films that probably can't be considered remotely good, my bad movie senses suggested this one would simply be boring. It sounds like that feeling wasn't far off.

    I'm sorry you had to sit though it: you may have dodged the price of admission, but the you'll never get that run time back. Still, there's no substitute for actually checking rather than just assuming – and we got an amusing entry out of it, so the film has that going for it.

  9. Rosalux Says:

    Great post as always, but I must quibble with you referring to Ayn Rand as a "philosopher." Ayn Rand was a philosopher in the same way that my cat is a nuclear physicist. If you ever subject yourself to reading some of Rand's non-fiction work, you'll see what I mean. Her arguments can be refuted by any freshman who took Philosophy 101. She makes references to Aristotle and Nietzsche but egregiously misreads them both, making one wonder whether she ever actually read more than selected snippets of either. Call her a charlatan, a fraud, a raging ideologue – but let's reserve the term philosopher for those who do real philosophy.

  10. Xynzee Says:

    Hopefully this wasn't one of your RoCo date movie revenges, you always choose poorly when you do.

    Maybe it was Johansson's intention to make it a crap film. Thus ensuring that it would die in ignominy.

  11. Daniel Says:

    I feel bad for the cast. Wouldn't you much rather be an extra in a good movie rather than the star of this piece of poo.

  12. Daniel Says:

    ?

  13. Warmbowski Says:

    Joe Pesci – LOL! I know I should ignore this ad hominem, but it's so fucking funny. She does look a bit like Pesci, but has a MUCH deeper voice.

    One thing struck me as I was pondering posting a link to this article on my Facebook wall. When my friends that happen to have gotten attached to this book and objectivist theories follow the link, the first thing that will smack them in the eyes will be the proletariate-ish background image. They will in no doubt, fail to see any irony (as well as any gin and tacos) and that will immediately color their comments on the link to the tune of 'Well what do you expect from a commie site like that'. Anyway, we'll see. I'll post it soon after this comment.

  14. Arslan Amirkhanov Says:

    "Rearden notes that they "flattened their wage scale, paying each according to his needs and not his ability" which quite naturally, Taggart responds, led to "the managers and more skilled workers leaving." Yes, Hank agrees, "and the ones who remained behind couldn't run the place."

    This is the most retarded thing I have ever seen. For one thing, the principle they are obviously trying to mock here is "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need", which describes Communist society, not a wage system within one company. No Communist would ever suggest such a thing(as they know a capitalist would never do it), and not owner would ever implement such a policy.

    Personally I want all those people who threaten they will "go Galt" to do it. Get the fuck out of our society. Don't use our roads, our power grids, all the things we pay for. Just get the fuck out, and go live your fantasies elsewhere. Watch how easily you are replaced, watch how easily history forgets you, if it ever noticed you to begin with, O Great Night Manager of Denny's. With your "producer" skills, there is no doubt that you will all quickly build a far greater society based on personal merit and innate superiority. And do ponder that last note seriously, O Galt-going producers, because if we see you in town again, it's shoot on sight.

  15. StephenM. Says:

    Loved it! I read ALAS SHRUGGED in HS. It was required reading for seniors and they all bitched about it. So I read it to see what they were bitching about. Well … it didn't take long to figure out that unlike GONE WITH THE WIND (also required reading) ATLAS SHRUGGED really truely did SUCK.

  16. Ben Says:

    @Arslan Amirkhanov: It gets even funnier when you consider that a scale of pay determined by individual needs is, by definition, not flattened.

  17. Arslan Amirkhanov Says:

    " It gets even funnier when you consider that a scale of pay determined by individual needs is, by definition, not flattened."

    Do not question the ironclad reason of libertarians/objectivists!!

  18. jeneria Says:

    I actually like Anthem and The Fountainhead. Atlas Shrugged never really appealed to me. But I've never found romance to be apart of a Rand novel. Sex, yes. But love and/or romance? No. Sex is just another business deal.

  19. jeneria Says:

    Passion is also not in Rand's range of emotions. At least not passion for a person. For an idea or money or for one's own goals, yes.

  20. David Says:

    Great review and having seen the movie too I must agree with all of the points you've made save one: "He must realize that a story set in the future emphasizing the crucial role of trains in the economy is patently ridiculous." If we are to have an industrial economy trains must play a crucial and increasing role in transportation. It's clear that with dwindling oil supplies and increased world demand the days of happy motoring and cheap airline tickets are numbered. Democrats want to build high-speed rail in the US as Japan, China and Europe have already done. Clearly they see a "crucial role of trains in the economy" of our present and future.

    On a side note one thing I found interested about the movie was the lack of actual workers in Reardon's foundry. His whole company seems to consist only of himself and his secretary. His office has a huge window overlooking the foundry and everything appears to be automated. To Rand the workers who actually create the wealth are invisible leaving only the guy sitting in a plush office at the top the sole producer and hence deserving of everything he can get.

  21. Tim H. Says:

    Thanks for watching FME, so we won't have to.

  22. Kulkuri Says:

    Ed, this reminds me of the website that says, "We watch Fox so you don't have to".

  23. Tosh Says:

    @Ed: dont hold back next time. I think you missed your calling as a cinematic reviewer. To paraphrase Abby Hoffman "Steal This Movie"

    Aside: Is the Office of Administrative Technicalities next to the Office of Administrative Technical Difficulties, or as one may expect, is it across campus or perhaps, a satellite location?

  24. Tosh Says:

    (No intentional disservice to Abbie)

  25. Charlie Says:

    Maybe it's a good sign that the movie is completely bombing. No matter how devoted, Rand's following is so small that they can't even fill up 300 theaters for an entire weekend.

  26. ladiesbane Says:

    Sorry for my owlish, up-too-late post. Now that I've been up for a couple of hours, everything makes sense. Except for the movie, which is still baffling. Rand may have despised Soviet Communism, but she writes like a Party ideologue at the fiction factory.

  27. Arslan Amirkhanov Says:

    I too have one bone to pick with this review, namely, it can't be as good as Battlefield:Earth. At least Battlefield Earth has some of the most hilarious overacting you will ever see. Particularly this gem: "Before you could even SPELL your name, I was being trained…to conquer GALAXIES!!!"

  28. Da Moose Says:

    If it aint white, it aint right…I always say.

  29. Elder Futhark Says:

    I skipped to the last paragraph as I have no time. There is no coincidence that you should compare Shrugged to Battlefield. Both movies based upon second or third rate authors who managed to figure out the cult heuristic. Objectivism/Libertarianism is a religious movement as much as Scientology is. We might as well add Jane Roberts and her silly New Age fucking awful works channelling Seth the fifth dimensional imp to the mix. I suppose, if her movement had legs, there would have been a movie that shit too. I call it "When Bad Science Fiction Authors Go Bad". I think we can add Rand to that category, even though her shit wasn't strictly scifi.

    But Objectivism/Libertarianism is a faith-based collection of crap as much as Scientology is. I don't think I really need to list all the reason why, but I do predict that there will be a church around that crap someday.

    (So, now I also predict a musical: Shrugged!).

  30. bob_is_boring Says:

    "Ayn Rand may be your favorite philosopher"

    Yes…in roughly the same way that Alvin the Chipmunk is my favorite Beatle.

  31. Matt Says:

    The real question is, how much of that $1.6 million turnout was Rep. Ryan forcing all his staffers to go over and over? ;)

  32. xynzee Says:

    Done some reading and from what I can ascertain Rand is modern equivalent of de Sade minus any of the redeeming points and in need of a very strong (read let Paul Ryan demonstrate his intention of how he's going to address the budget) editing.
    Some of what I've read is that she even utilises his (though I wouldn't say he was original in this) "Stop the presses! I'm going off on a rant to make perfectly clear what this whole piece of crap is about!" tangent as he did in "Sex in the Bedroom". If this is what is in store, I think I'll just not bother.

    Though de Sade had a reason for being so crap ie spending a fair whack of his life imprisoned and having bugger all else to do. He at least was willing to be locked up for his libertine ideals. What did Rand do for her beliefs? I guess that's the difference between a libertarian and a libertine. A libertarian expects others to suffer for their beliefs while a libertine accepts that suffering could come with following their beliefs.

  33. JohnR Says:

    Despite the fact that my "hard-science" prejudices require me to view philosophers as little more than wine-guzzling layabouts, I completely agree with rosalux, and on behalf of philosophers everywhere demand and require that henceforth any mention of "philosopher" and "Ayn Rand" in the same breath be prima facie evidence that the utterer (the party of the third part) be labeled a "complete doofus" and pelted with bits of even moldier blue cheese (I coulda been a lawyer instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it).
    Ah, my 7th grade English teacher is no doubt weeping in heaven, looking at that last, but I found it strangely satisfying. Much like the review itself.
    But please – how, in good conscience, could you compare Battlefield:Earth and Scientology with this thing and "libertarian/objectivism" (whatever that may be)? Scientology is a simple, straightforward scam promulgated by a second-rate SF writer to win a drunken bet. B:E is probably the best motion picture that could have been made from one of the ludicrous pieces of hackery that made up most of his later works, but(!) it features John Travolta in one of his most memorable roles. The incoherent spewings of Ayn Rand are what you'd get if Verruca Salt grew up indulging in Ozzie-level pharmaceutical abuse. This home video based on them sounds like it manages to make her middle-school "I'm so special" book (in the sense that it is a collection of printed pages trapped between two covers) look like it was written by somebody fully as talented as L Ron Hubbard. Personally, I wouldn't have thought it possible.
    On behalf of L Ron, Tom (I was in Fallout 2!) Cruise, and soft-headed Scientologist suckers everywhere, I take offense at your odious comparison, and ask that you formally retract it. They may all be a con man's dream, but they aren't necessarily blind stupid enough to believe that "objectivist" piffle. Actually, not really. "Never apologize, except to your wife" is my motto, and I don't think it's fair to ask more from such an entertaining writer.
    Keep up the good work!

  34. Warmbowski Says:

    I pondered this for a while, and if there is a part 2, I would assume it to really turn all 'Battlefield: Earth/Deep Space 9 in the Rockies'. Part 2 would ostensibly be a sci-fi movie when we move to Galt's cloaked mountain hideaway to get a good look at all the things powered by his engine that runs on the infinite supply of static electricity sucked from the atmosphere. That might also be when the conservatives that love the movie will need to corroborate this alternative energy story line with their ideals. It might make their heads explode.

    The 180 minute part 3 will be reserved for Galt's radio address in it's entirety. So we can all skip that, just like we quickly leafed through that section of the book to find the diatribes end.

  35. Rick Massimo Says:

    I would be a little more forgiving of the director. Take the Randian venom that's being unleashed against unnamed, imaginary Hollywood forces for "suppressing" this film. Now multiply it by about 2,000 and that's what the director would have had to deal with if he'd changed one word of Rand's "genius."

  36. Shane Says:

    "(So, now I also predict a musical: Shrugged!)."

    If only they can Matt Stone and Trey Parker to direct it.

  37. J. Dryden Says:

    @ xynzee: Also, Sade would have laughingly, contemptuously rejected the mere idea of having disciples attending on his every word. He was a monster who knew he was a monster, rather than deluding himself into believing himself to be a great man. Also, his writing is insufferable because he *meant* it to be so–Sade was, literally, a sadistic author. "Come on–I *dare* you to finish reading this!" Rand on the other hand is agony to read because, well, she can't help it.

    I, too, cannot understand why true believers–the Objectivists–would not be appalled at a *bad* version of a beloved text. Perhaps no other version is possible, as Ed suggests. But consider the Christians who turn out in droves for genuinely dreadful movies–anything with Kirk Cameron in it, say–just because they agree with The Message. Personally, I would respond with anger to something that portrayed my beliefs with the artistic nuance of a post-stroke chimpanzee. I would approve of the message, of course, but infuriated by a delivery system that cheapened that message by incompetence. And surely *that* is why Objectivists *ought* to hate the movie–it's Bad Work, justified by Good Intentions, which is what Rand rails against ad infinitum/nauseam/absurdum. If you like the movie because it's Objectivist, you're not an Objectivist. And since there's no other reason to like the movie…

  38. j Says:

    Greatest movie review ever composed by humans.

    Bravo!

  39. mothra Says:

    Isn't it possible that the applause at the end of the film was not for Wyatt going Galt, but because the movie had, at last, ended?

  40. geneg Says:

    @Arslan Amirkhanov

    Actually, the concept of from each according to his abilities is much, much older than Marx or Engels or Communism. It is one of the tenants by which the early, first generation Christian community lived. This is from the end of the second chapter of The Acts of the Apostles: " All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one's need."

    So Rand would have doubly hated the idea. I wonder why so many of her followers seem to believe she was the reincarnation of Jesus.

  41. Bokata Says:

    FWIW: The person who inspired the Galt character or Nathan Branden, Rand's erstwhile muse and boy toy, has gone mystical. That is to say he's become a protege of the Zen crowd at the Integral Institute. He's also got an audio online called 'Atlas Evolved,' and you can download and call it your very own for fifty dollars, although this is not something I would recommend. Just Google the title. Some things are too good to keep hidden from view.

    As to the movie, reading the review posted above is no doubt far more entertaining than anything Hollywood could attempt in adapting Rand's fiction to film. Then again, in a few years perhaps it will be on Mystery Science 3000 if the show ever comes back. In that case, I will be sure not to miss.

    Cheers

  42. acer Says:

    If there's any plus side to libertarians, it's that they tend to badly embarass themselves as soon as they let their hair down in public, outside their little Star Trek conventions at LewRockwell and Reason. Methinks Rand's resurgance in popularity post-2008 may yet prove a net negative for the GOP, when delittante teabaggers and squeamish Christians realize what a bunch of shrill, narcissistic cunts their party has hitched its wagon to. Were I of the faith, I might think of Atlas Shrugged's big-screen flop and Paul Ryan's simultaneous adolescent meltdown on the House floor as God readjusting His balls.

  43. Major Kong Says:

    There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged.

    One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world.

    The other, of course, involves orcs.

    - Source unknown.

  44. Bhodhi Says:

    Thank you for taking an Ayn Rand movie for me.

  45. ed Says:

    "Battlefield: Train" is a most excellent title for this post. It would have made a nice two word review as well. Also, too: "Shit sandwich."

  46. Ike Says:

    Thankfully I don't encounter Libertarians or Randians so often anymore. The people at my workplace don't read books of any kind, and at University I'm taking 400 level Anthropology and History courses. In my experience folks who love Atlas et al. tend to major in engineering or business.

  47. Hank Says:

    For my sins I was rewarded with a father who is a Randroid (and one who currently draws two government pensions (military and Social Security) as well as a union pension (Ha!)). When I was in high school he told me I should read some Ayn Rand. I read The Fountainhead. Even as a callow 15 year old, it struck me that everyone in the book was a completely selfish asshole. I resisted all urgings from the paternal unit to read more of Rand's works. And, Ike, I did manage to major in Engineering without being tempted over to the Rand side (rancid?), so I've got that going for me.

  48. Douche Baggins Says:

    @Major Kong: Source known! John Rogers, aka Kung Fu Monkey.

    In addition to this gem, Rogers is also responsible for The Crazification Factor — that in any election, about the same proportion of people (27%) will vote for the most batshit crazy candidate, facts be damned.

  49. Erin Says:

    A commenter on the AV Club's review of this film recounted a story of working in a bookstore and was asked the pronunciation of Ayn's name; Ann or Ayyyyyn. He responded with Fucktard.

    This review makes me want to watch Battlefield: Earth again.

    Usenet! I miss you:

    There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

    –John Rogers, on the blog Kung Fu Monkey, as quoted on rec.arts.sf.written by James Nicoll

  50. Mungen_Cakes Says:

    Battlefield: Worth

  51. c u n d gulag Says:

    Yeah, I guess Atlas wasn't the only one who shrugged. I guess reviewers and audiences did too.

    God bless anyone Liberal who pays to see this thing. And good for you that you went Galt instead of paying. Or even watches it for free.

    Me?
    I wouldn’t watch it unless I were renditioned down to Gitmo and told I had to start talking or else I had a choice of either watching ‘Atlas Shrugged or getting water-boarded.
    And even then, I’m not so sure.
    I read her mind-rottingly boring, nihilist screeds 30 years ago in a misplaced youthful attempt one summer to see if Nietzsche’s adage ‘that whatever doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger,’ was true.
    In retrospect, sticking by male private parts in a blender, and turning it to frappe, would have been less painful, and caused less long term emotional damage.
    And any sex scenes I might ever have been involved in after that, would be more realistic and emotionally satisfying than any ‘love’ scene in her insipid ode’s to utter, endless, unmitigated greed.
    Rand set out to turn Marx’s principle of “To each according to his contribution,”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_each_according_to_his_contribution
    onto it’s head – to take it away from rewarding labor, and assign it instead to the capitalists, since she felt that they were the only ones who contributed anything anyway.
    I’m surprised she didn’t volunteer to be Henry Ford’s ‘Suck & Fuck Bitch” in his doddering senility.
    It’s only after reading Rand that you realize her horrendous writing style makes anything by Karl Marx seem like a John LeCarre thriller. And if you’ve ever read Marx, you know what I’m talking about.
    She is the worst “major” writer in the history of the English language – with barely two-dimensional characters, jejune dialogue, the rare combination of childish, boring, and violent sex scenes, and endless monologues that make the reader who’s a believer in God say to Him/Her/It, ‘Look, if you’re going to take me anytime soon, please do it now, for fuck’s sake!!!’
    And yet one is driven to finish her books, both to prove ones own tolerance for endless masochism bordering just short of suicide (you almost need a ‘safe’ word for yourself), and to see how her books end – as train wrecks, which is at least appropriate. But who knew any writer could be so bad as to make an absolute train wreck of an ending boring?

    I’m against banning books and writers, but if there was one writer who I’d ban to stop the spread of ‘stupid’ in society, and in order to keep the human genome on a path towards positive Darwinian evolution, it would be Ayn fucking Rand.

  52. Goodcarver Says:

    Thank you very much-in 1966 I was a student at a nameless engineering University in Indiana, and my contemporaries were all reading and expounding at length about a popular author named Ayn Rand. I thought I really should read some of her as well, so I tried very, very hard to read Atlas Shrugged. After choking down at least one chapter (maybe less) I threw the book down in absolute disgust. It was SOOO boring and SOOO badly written!!! Absolutely intolerable! My contemporaries never heard from me how much I despised that crapola, as everyone was exulting about how GREAT it was. I'm pleased to read, almost half a century later, that I wasn't wrong about the lack of talent of A R,and for that, I again thank you very much!

  53. bb in GA Says:

    @geneg

    While Jesus pointedly stated that His followers should pay their taxes (render to Caesar), He coupled it with a call to give to God those things that belong to Him.

    Because, He didn't have much to say about governments or economic systems, we should be careful about making Him into either a Jeremiah Wright or a Donald Trump.

    The Christian communism you cite was a totally non-governmental voluntary free act (as free as non-citizens of the Roman Empire could be) – not a tax collected at the edge of the sword. This free choice aspect was highlighted in the sad story of Annanias and Saphirra.

    //bb

  54. Jado Says:

    As an engineer, it always surprises me to hear that engineers are known to be Randians. We get our noses ground into our mistakes every day – to think that any of us could consider ourselves "Producers" is ludicrous.

    Engineers know that wrenches and shovels fix what's wrong with pencil and paper. And we're the ones with the pencils.

  55. acer Says:

    @Jado:
    Programmers, as well, tend to be disproportionately libertarian. I think it comes from the notion that life is a machine that only does what you tell it to and can be mastered with the right codes and equations. A lot of people unthinkingly view the world through the prism of their occupations – when you hear the phrase "common sense," always ask what the speaker does for a living – and it bites, hard, for everybody.

  56. Batocchio Says:

    Entertaining, Ed. Thanks.

  57. Nineteen Kilo Says:

    While I relish both this review and the general flameout of the Glibertarian cult Bible, I am disappointed that no one who had read the book and posted here has made the following observation:

    In the right hands, Atlas Shrugged could be an eloquent damnation of Bush, et-al. All of the characters translate just fine from one side of Rand's intended "aisle" to the other. To wit:

    Crumbling Infrastructure
    Incompetent Cronyism
    The few competent people who haven't been offshored or downsized struggling to keep things held together with spit and baling wire
    Spoiled rich kids whining that their lives are too hard
    Secret deals in private clubs to enrich the already wealthy
    Hatred of science and competence
    Conspiracy to destroy alternative energy

    The Taggart Tunnel disaster is a prefect metaphor for the handling of Katrina and Rita.

    And another thing… Wyatt does a Saddam Hussein in Colorado and sets fire to an oilfield. He is never called to account for the environmental destruction: BP?

    And another thing… Everybody smokes and nobody gets cancer. Good thing they have health insurance, I guess.

    So much opportunity lost.

  58. Jazzidiot Says:

    You are brilliant, sir. I will henceforth think of Joe Pesci, and a burning orphanage whenever I encounter the name Ayn (how does one pronounce that, anyway?) Rand.

  59. Arslan Amirkhanov Says:

    I guess the name Atlas Shrugged is pretty apt. For example, you have a table with an uneven leg. Put Atlas under there and voila, it holds up the table.

  60. Patti Says:

    I found your Christmas Present:
    http://www.libertybracelet.com

    From the site: "The Liberty Bracelet was inspired by an innovative creation in Ayn Rand

  61. Nicholas Robinson Says:

    I don't know you, but I love you. This was the most hilarious review of a movie I've ever read, bar none. God, I wish you could come along with me on every movie I've ever watched and ever will watch.

    And I LOVE the Orwellian typeface and the handsome strutting taco-eating-gin-drinking Stalinist youth.

    Bravo!

  62. Luis Bunuel Says:

    Came for the rape. Left disappointed.

  63. Arslan Amirkhanov Says:

    Please tell me just how the hell Atlas Shrugged could live up to this:

  64. kdez Says:

    "Ayn" rhymes with "swine." You're welcome.

  65. mr trail safety Says:

    Maybe the sequel will tear the lid off the 78rpm music industry!

  66. meromaine Says:

    I love you.

  67. Robert Says:

    Rand isn't a best selling author her foundation buys over 400,000 of her books every year to donate to schools and libraries "to keep her memory alive" her institute has been around since 19865 they have bought millions of her "bestsellers" not the public at large. Ayn Rand is a best selling VANITY press author. The movie is a flop because her following is artificially inflated with a lot people that don't exist.

    According to the Ayn Rand Institute:

    "The Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) was founded in 1985 to promote the ideas of
    philosopher-novelist Ayn Rand (1905

  68. Robert Says:

    –1982). Miss Rand, best known for her
    novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, was a tireless advocate of
    reason, individual liberties, and the free enterprise system.
    In recent years, we have been pleased to see something of an “Ayn Rand
    Renaissance”—as evidenced in part by the following:

    * Sales of Ayn Rand’s books rose to more than 400,000 copies
    annually—twenty years after her death."

    But back in reality according to the New York Times it turns out she's just a vanity author with an institute that buys her books into the millions so it can propagate the "bestseller" propaganda.

    "Every year, 400,000 copies of Rand’s novels are offered free to Advanced Placement high school programs. They are paid for by the Ayn Rand Institute, whose director, Yaron Brook, said the mission was “to keep Rand alive.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/15/business/15atlas.html?_r=4&oref=slogin&pagewanted=print

  69. kathequa Says:

    "Counter-intuitively, then, the problem with this adaptation is that the film is very faithful to the novel, and the novel is probably the most poorly written work ever to be considered important. Ayn Rand may be your favorite philosopher, but she is an appalling writer."

    Thank you for that!

  70. Rook Says:

    I figured it might provide a parable of Ayn Rand

  71. Rook Says:

    I figured it might provide a parable of Ayn Rand’s philosophy that I could discuss. For me, that philosophy reduces itself to: "I’m on board; pull up the lifeline."

    Ebert is a genius.

  72. Anonymous Prime Says:

    re: jokes or questions regarding the pronunciation of Ms. Rand's first name:

    The joke I heard was that it rhymed with "MINE MINE MINE!"

  73. Wit Memo Says:

    It's cocaine writing, the way she grabs hold of a turn of phrase and beats you over the head with it for paragraphs and pages

  74. Wit Memo Says:

    …mystics of muscle, mystics of the spirit, looters, “the zero.” It’s like getting Cornered at a Party by a drunk who’s just done a few lines and can’t get enough of his own brilliant ideas. And it really was cocaine writing: she needed speed to finish the darn thing, good ol' fashion 1950s speed

  75. jim Says:

    Review WIN!

    Loveliest irony of all: her abysmal writing only retains any popularity by virtue of saying exactly what naive &/or greedy people want to hear, & she has nothing original of merit to contribute when she says it – thus by her own system's dogma, Rand is a non-productive parasite.

    Coked-up, chain-smoking & brown-nosing crony capitalists is no way to go through life, girl.

  76. robert Says:

    a very excellently written review and wildly entertaining as well.

  77. pidru Says:

    Is there really any wonder why the bible and Atlas Shrugged are the two best selling books in America?

    Joe Pesci!!! ROTFL

  78. sarah Says:

    this review made me laugh so hard i cried. thanks!

  79. Usenet Says:

    I agree with some points that are made in this article. But the movie in AN ATLAS SHRUGGED was really good I thought.

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    thanks

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