Instant Analysis: Atlas Shrugged II

October 14th, 2012

I thought Part II was much better than Part I (my reviews were here and here), but still left a lot to be desired.

The plot was quite slow at times, and I found myself somewhat bored (and I really like the plot!).  The special effects looked better than the last movie, but still felt cheap. The musical score was ineffective. The “love scenes” between Rearden and Dagny were way too PG-13.

A number of key roles were recast. The actors playing Dagny  and Rearden were worse, but the actor playing Francisco were much better. I thought the Lillian Rearden character was quite effective. James Taggart’s portrayal was not quite slimy enough. Wesley Mouch (rhymes with ouch, I always pronounced it as mooch) was not nearly nefarious enough. Teller (from Penn & Teller) had a random cameo. Oh, and random, but Cherryl Brooks was played by Alex Mack (Larisa Oleynick).

My theater in Houston was maybe 40% full.

Spoilers below the jump.

The movie started off with a foreshadowing of Dagny’s plane crash into Galt’s Gulch, then flashed back 9 months. Wyatt’s Oil Refinery was still on fire. The plot advances as a number of industrialists go on strike, and Dagny tries to keep the railroad going forward. Directive 10-289 is passed, and things get much worse. The film ends with a cliff-hanger–literally–as Dagny crashes into the Rocky Mountains. John Galt finally introduces himself (it is a different actor and voice from the first movie).

This installment was very much influenced by the rise of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street in the last few years. In fact, one of the protestors protesting outside of the Taggart Transcontinental Building held up a sign that said “We are the 99.8%.” I suppose in the future, 80% of the 1% is forced to join the 99%. Or something like that. Tea Party protestors held up Gadsen Flags, and a homeless man scribbled together a sign that said something to the effect of the United States was born in 1776 and died today. Also gas was $40 a gallon. People were selling gas on the black market.

It cost Dagny $850 to fill up the tank of an F-150. Some tattooed dude was guarding the gas station with a shot gun. Though one good part about insane gas prices is that no one can afford to drive. No traffic!

I really enjoyed the court scene before the Unification Board. Sitting on the bench was none other than Judge Alex Kozinski. ATL has the coverage.

Koz had no lines, but he nodded convincingly at several junctures when the members of the Board decided how to treat the recalcitrant Rearden–they construed his refusal to give a pleas as a plea of no contest, handed down a 10-year sentence plus a $50 million fine, and then immediately suspended the sentence. Only before the Unification Board can a person give a plea, and be sentenced  within a manner of moments. I suppose Directive 10-289 suspended the Constitution, or something like that. I think Koz’s nameplate said “Judge Janus” (it only flashed for a second). Of course, Janus is two-headed god from Roman mythology.

Directive 10-289 eliminated all patents and copyrights. I’m sure a number of libertarians watching that movie cheered that part.

There was at least one reference to the Constitution somewhere, though I’m drawing a blank on exactly where it came up.

In the future, people use iPads, Macbook Pros, Dell Monitors, Android tablets, and iPhones. They also drive Fords, Ferraris (Dagny), Porsches (Francisco).

I really liked the bit with Sean Hannity’s show. It was very much what I would expect if Fox news exists in Randy’s dystopian future.

I’ll see the third installment. Let’s see how they handle Galt’s character.