If you aren’t already frightened for the direction in which this country is headed, then the first few minutes of “Atlas Shrugged: Part 1” will scare your pants off!  In order to Expedite the exposition process Atlas Shrugged starts out with a media montage of life in the year 2016.  America’s infrastructure is crumbling, and America’s industry is not in a position to help as massive government regulations prevent innovation.   Yes, this is the world Ayn Rand warned us about, and sixty years of legislation from Washington has come close to providing.

Being a low budget film the cast lacks star power, and brings with them mainly TV and background character film credits with them.

Our central characters are James (Matthew Marsdon) and Dagny Taggert (Taylor Schilling) who run one of the last remaining Rail Lines in the country.  Rail now being one of the only affordable means of transportation in this second-depression era America.  Ellis Wyatt (Graham Beckel) is an Oil Tycoon who has recently tapped a large reserve in Colorado that could revitalize America’s economy.   Rounding out the central characters is Henry Rearden (Grant Bowler) a steel industrialist who has new and innovative ideas.

As Taggert Intercontinental  Rail is suffering financially It’s CEO James would rather ask his political friends in Washington for more regulation that keeps out the competition rather than fix his company.  Dagney on the other hand believes exactly the opposite.  She formulates a plan using Rearden’s steel to rebuild the tracks and that would provide stable supply lines from Wyatt’s oil fields to the rest of the country.  However, She finds resistance from the government at every turn.

Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 is not a summer blockbuster movie.  It does have a fairly wide release in major cities, but not much mass marketing.  A few talk radio hosts are doing their part to promote the film, but advertising seems far and few between.   However if you are a fan of individual liberty and private sector competition, this is the film for you.

Much like the Lord of the Rings films, Tolkin’s dialogue was rarely as snappy as memorable film dialogue usually is. Much of the dialogue seems directly taken from Rand’s tome. Therefore the actors are sometimes limited by the source material.  However it was the message of Atlas Shrugged that has kept it relevant for decades more than the personal stories of the individual characters.

The movie paces itself well.  At 1 hour 42 minutes for the first third of Rand’s 800-page-book, it tells the story without the eyestrain due to the tiny type in the print version of Atlas Shrugged.

There are some technical flaws where lighting issues could have been executed better and sometimes dialogue was washed out by ambient noise.  Overall the story eventually grips the viewer, but probably only viewers who watch more Fox News than MSNBC.  Liberal-minded moviegoers would likely not understand why things are bad in a country with so much government control over everything.

Overall this movie is agenda driven.  Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 has been called a “TEA Party Movie” and there were questions as to weather political conservatives could make a movie profitable.  I saw it at a 10:00 pm showing on a Saturday night in Columbus, Ohio with maybe fifteen other people in the theatre.  Unlike Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ” which had theatres packed for weeks, Atlas Shrugged may be more of a niche production reserved for independent theatres.  However it should be required viewing for all business and poly-sci majors.

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