Atlas Shrugged: Part One (Blu-ray)
“Who is John Galt?” This statement is at the core of the story and movie ATLAS SHRUGGED, and in the movie is a common hypothetical idiom meaning essentially – don’t ask questions that have no answer. To some that means to give up. To others it means to question the status quo. Throughout the movie our perception of the question itself changes as we start to unfold more of the puzzle. We don’t get all the answers – this is intended to be the first movie of a trilogy – but we do get a few, and they are just interesting enough to make me hopeful that the next two movies are made to finish the story.
ATLAS SHRUGGED is one of the best known books ever written. Novelist Ayn Rand created this epic in the 1940’s, which looks into the near future and questions how long we will allow our creative will to be controlled by society and government – that is the big picture question. The plot actually revolves around Taggert Transportation, a railroad company that has one of the largest government contracts in the nation and who has just suffered a terrible accident which all but destroyed their trans-continental business.
The head of Taggert Transportation is Dagny Taggert (Taylor Schilling of MERCY). Dagny shares some control with her brother James (Matthew Marsden) who appears to be the head of the Board of Directors. While Dagny wants to see the company grow and wants to improve the world, James is more interested in getting involved in politics. Their approaches are vastly different, but they both bring something to the table. Dagny forges an alliance with a metal manufacturer named Henry Rearden (played by the charismatic Grant Bowler) to try to keep their work moving forward to rebuild their railway line.
If this sounds like a rote description of the basic plot, that’s because it is. The movie doesn’t really give us a whole lot to work with. The world is ‘established’ with only the first two minutes devoted to some quick news-style exposition. It isn’t enough and it doesn’t really give us a firm foundation for the world. This near-future version of the United States just isn’t well-crafted. People ‘who get things done’ are disappearing from all over without a trace. While this is a major plot point introduced in the opening moments of the film, it doesn’t really have any relevance that we understand for a long time.
To top it off, the movie doesn’t really feel like it fits within any genre… it seems to go back and forth between a mystery, a drama, and a semi-procedural. This might actually work to the movie’s favor over three movies if they are able to finish the trilogy, but it doesn’t help part one at all. Despite some good performances and a potentially interesting plot, the first movie just doesn’t hit on any of the needed notes to pull it out of ideological theory.
Video: (1080p, 2.35:1 Widescreen) This is a good transfer and looks nice.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The sound is equally well done.
Audio Commentary with Producer John Aglialoro, Screenwriter Brian Patrick O’Toole and Producer Harmon Kaslow: This is a pretty interesting commentary about putting together a movie based on one of the best-known and most controversial books ever published. There are few slow moments (unlike the film) and it really gives some interesting technical background into the process.
Road to Atlas Shrugged (05:13) Producer John Aglialoro gives a brief history of author Ayn Rand and his involvement in trying to get the movie made since 1992 (when he originally acquired the rights).
“I am John Galt” (35:11) This is a collection of the people who responded to the call from the production company through social media. It’s incredible to see the people who decided to put in a video of themselves saying “I am John Galt.” It is clear that this story has touched people from all walks of life. The video is interspersed with a couple of quotes from Rand and features the score.
“The John Galt Theme” Slideshow (03:39) This is the theme from the score of the film played behind a slide show of production stills.