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Movie Review: 'Atlas Shrugged Part I' train wrecks

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“Atlas Shrugged Part I”
Directed by: Paul Johansson
Starring: Taylor Schilling, Grant Bowler, Graham Beckel
Rated: PG-13

Oh, how I loved this movie. I really loved this movie - in the same way I loved “Plan 9 From Outer Space,” “The Terror of Tiny Town” and my No. 1 favorite, John Travolta's scientology-based exercise in idiocy, “Battlefield Earth.”

Run-of-the-mill bad films are boring and uninteresting. But now and then a classically horrible film comes along that deserves notice for being so utterly ridiculous. I'm happy to say that “Atlas Shrugged Part I” is one of those films.

Just the fact they added “Part I” to the title makes it seem like a threat.

Two more installments of this tripe? We have to pass laws against this sort of thing.

I haven't read Ayn Rand's sprawling 1,200-page novel that gives this movies its name - I doubt I could even lift it - but in doing research, I got the feeling that those millions of words could be reduced to one simple statement: “Government bad. Big business good.”

Terry, my movie companion, and I are always respectfully quiet when we are watching a movie. But “Atlas Shrugged Part I” is so utterly awful that we were, at first, snickering like Beavis and Butthead, followed by “Mystery Science Theater” banter just to amuse ourselves.

It's hard to figure out where to start.

The look and acting of this “thing” is a cross between the aesthetics of a soap opera and a 1970s-era porn movie. I haven't seen any 1970s-era porn movies but have seen previews and clips from a few; so I think I get the overall aesthetics of that kind of  look and the level of acting and direction. And it is awful on every level.

But what about the plot?

I had very little idea of what the heck was going on at any given time in the movie. And even worse, I didn't care what was going on. Had I not been there to review it, I would have walked - make that run - out within the first 30 minutes.

I'll describe it as best I can, but if my description is incomprehensible, then please go see the film to witness the uphill battle faced by anyone attempting to describe this cinematic and literary piece of utter nonsense.

The story is set in 2016 and the question on everyone's mind (in the film) seems to be “Who is John Galt?” My question is, “What does that have to do with anything in this thing being passed off as a plot?”

The two principal characters who are somehow connected to John Galt (if you figure out how, please let me know) are Dagny Taggart (Taylor Schilling), a powerful railroad corporation executive and Hank Rearden (Grant Bowler), a diehard entrepreneur who has come up with a new metal that makes conventional steel obsolete.

Rearden's new metal is going to revolutionize rail travel. And Taggart, being a railroad tycoon, wants to get in on the action to stay ahead of the competition. Of course this means she will have to strike up a love affair with Rearden, who like nearly every man in “Atlas Shrugged,” has a weird, dyed and very noticeable haircut. The haircuts and the soundtrack annoyed me almost as much as the cinematography, dialogue and attempts at direction.

The evil government is trying to make an example out of the state of Colorado - where the first of the new super-trains and super-tracks are in operation - by passing a law that makes it illegal for any person to own more than one company.


Sorry, I just confused myself. That's what this movie will do to you.

In the end, there is no “end” and the credits read “End of Part I.”

Part II of this trilogy is probably already filmed, but I seriously doubt that Part III will ever get made.

Now I'll quote Ignatius Reilly from the brilliant novel “A Confederacy of Dunces.” In a movie theater he shouts, “Won't someone with an ounce of dignity find the fuse box and put an end to this abomination?” With “Atlas Shrugged Part I,” I knew exactly what he meant.

All that said, I am looking forward to buying the DVD and planning my own “Beavis and Butthead Meets Mystery Science Theater” film fest.
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