May 10, 2011
I went in with low expectations, partly because of the critics’ savaging (even though I know not to trust them, you can’t help incorporate spin if you hear it enough) but mostly because I read the book, and knew, to make a good movie out of it, you’d have to change a lot. And I feared that they wouldn’t.
That said, I was pretty nicely surprised. It’s good. Not great. But still — good. It’s actually more subtle than I was expecting; maybe too subtle in one key area (more on this later, as it truly is key). Rand’s book had the subtlety of a cast-iron lightning bolt, so any screen treatment might be expected to be much less didactic than her novel; but they seemed to have gone even further in toning down the heavy didacticism. Oh, it pops up here and there, but it’s not really objectionable.
In fact, to tell the truth, I could have endured a little more of the statement of principle stuff. Because with so much of that stripped away– why are the heroes acting as they do?
Two and a half stars good (which is my way of saying “Good enough to see, but not outstanding;” outstanding is three stars and superlative is four).
That’s not too far off the mark from my own take immediately after seeing Atlas: made-for-TV-quality production values and acting damaged a film that’s brimming with big, and timely ideas. It wasn’t as nearly as bad as I expected, but it was far from good enough to get the job done. And given that this sort of film in particular needs quality word of mouth to sustain it at the box office, and move it beyond an audience made up of libertarians and hardcore Objectivists, that B-Movie vibe couldn’t have helped. But if it’s still playing near you, see it for yourself and decide.