The Atlas Shrugged movie has been a long-delayed dream for Ayn Rand followers. Yet studios have failed to get a movie version off the ground for decades – and not just because Atlas Shrugged represents everything that “liberal Hollywood” is against. But finally, Rand’s epic has found a home on the big screen, although only part one of the book was turned into a film so far. Producers hope that they can finance parts two and three later on – but critics aren’t advising them to do so.
The film is far from the biggest release of the weekend, since Scream 4 and Rio have much of the attention. But after waiting so long for Rand’s tale to get adapted, fans likely feel relieved that it is out in some form. However, early reviews don’t agree that the wait was worth it.
The movie only has 15 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, yet only one of them is positive. It may be a sign that the only positive review is from the conservative-friendly New York Post, as Kyle Smith says it “has a fire and fury that makes it more compelling than the average mass-produced studio film.”
Yet even that review only gives Atlas Shrugged 2 ½ stars, while everyone else rates it even lower than that. Roger Ebert warns Rand fans and libertarians “Man, are you going to get a letdown,” while Variety rules that “this hasty, low-budget adaptation” would make Rand “spin in her grave.”
There were many chances for the movie to get a bigger release, bigger stars and bigger studio backing, but all efforts ultimately collapsed over the decades. Finally, the small studio Rocky Mountain Pictures took it on, with a cast and crew of mostly unknowns. In fact, director Paul Johansson ultimately took the iconic role of John Galt himself.
Due to the financial difficulties, and the length of Rand’s epic, the crew only had enough room to film the first parts of the book. Parts two and three will be filmed later on, if there is enough interest and money. But if the reviews are an indication, filming two more sequels to this film would be a folly.
Of course, those who have long defended Atlas Shrugged will say that the movie is too conservative, or too libertarian, for liberals and critics to embrace it. Since it has finally arrived in the Tea Party era, it stands to resonate more with fed-up Republicans. Yet the negative comments seem to be biased against the movie’s quality – or lack thereof – and less against its politics.
Nevertheless, Rand worshippers can now search their nearest art house to “go Galt” for themselves starting today.
Rotten Tomatoes- “Atlas Shrugged”
New York Post- “Rand old time for Ayn adherents”
Roger Ebert- “Atlas Shrugged”
Variety- “Atlas Shrugged: Part 1”