Sunday, April 24, 2011

atlas-shrugged-movie-poster_e.jpgStarring: Taylor Shilling, Grant Bowler, Matthew Marsden, Graham Beckel, Edi GathegiJsu Garcia and Michael Lerner
Directed by: Paul Johansson
Rating: PG-13
**** (out of 5 stars)

Atlas Shrugged- The Movie Part 1 opened, appropriately enough, on April 15th. Based on the 1957 book by Ayn Rand this movie has been greatly anticipated by conservatives since its production was first announced.

I say appropriately enough because April 15th (Federal Income Tax Day) is the day that the productive members of American society provide the funds for progressives and those that believe in “Social Justice” to redistribute.

The underlying themes of Atlas Shrugged are the dangers of an overreaching government, the loss of respect for those that produce and what happens when individual achievement is demonized in favor of equal outcomes.

Having not read the book, I had no preconceived notions of what to expect when I saw this movie. I was pleased to find well-developed characters and stellar performances all around.

The central characters: are Dagny Taggart- played brilliantly by Taylor Schilling, Henry Rearden- played by Grant Bowler, James Taggart- played by Matthew Marsden and Ellis Wyatt- played by Graham Beckel (the older, smarter brother of Bob Beckel).

Dagny Taggart and her brother James are the owners of Taggart Transcontinental, the largest remaining railroad company in America. Dagny is hardworking and interested only in running the company to make it successful. James is more interested in using his contacts in Washington, DC and the reputation of the company their father left them to slide by.

Henry Rearden owns and operates Rearden Metal, which is unveiling a new and untested metal, which holds the promise of revolutionizing the steel industry. He and Dagny cut a deal to rebuild the century old Taggart rail line in Colorado to create a reliable transportation corridor for Ellis Wyatt’s oil company.
Behind the scenes there are sinister, progressive forces moving to destroy the innovation and entrepreneurial efforts of these three characters for their own ideological reasons.

All the while, the best and brightest employees of the biggest and most innovative companies are vanishing. The only clue to their disappearances is one question: “Who is John Galt?” By the end of the first third of Ayn Rand’s tale you will know the answer to that classic question.
That is the question.

You will recognize themes in this 54-year old story that are pertinent to the issues we face today:
• Unions complaining that large companies need to provide jobs for workers, even as they create a climate where those same large companies cannot provide those jobs.
• Government regulations designed to prevent entrepreneurs from profiting from their labors.
• The idea that equal outcomes are more important than compensation for doing the best work or producing the best product.

I found the performance of Graham Beckel especially satisfying. The smarter, conservative brother of Fox Newscontributor Bob Beckel, provides a very enthusiastic performance as oil titan Ellis Wyatt. Wyatt is exploiting vast untapped reserves of oil and natural gas in Colorado, the only state in the union that is still productive in Atlas’ fictional (but eerily realistic) 2016.

For viewers that enjoy looking for cameos, keep an eye out for Andrew Breitbart (of Big GovernmentBig Hollywood fame).

Overall this movie is well worth the price of admission and I would suggest that conservatives try to bring their liberal friends and family along. Don’t tell them it’s a political story. You can tell them honestly that it is a great drama, with an excellent plot that includes mystery and romance as well.
Atlas may have shrugged, but at the end of the 102 minutes, you will applaud.

Note: The producers have said that they will only make Parts 2 and 3 if Part 1 draws enough people to the theatres. So get out to the movies and see ‘Atlas Shrugged- Part 1’ and if you enjoy it as much as I did… See it 2 or 3 more times!