Movie Review: 'Atlas Shrugged: Who Is John Galt?'

The movie “Atlas Shrugged: Who Is John Galt?” was released to select theaters yesterday, September 12, 2014, in the United States. It recently changed from its original title “Atlas Shrugged: Part III.” The movie is based on the 1,200 page book “Atlas Shrugged” written by Ayn Rand in 1957. Though the movie had a few moments of production failure, for the budget the crew was given, the movie gets a thumbs up from me and have no qualms recommending it and hope as many Americans as possible go out to see it.

Although the last of a series, Part III stands on its own, allowing moviegoers to enjoy this movie without having to see the prior two movies or being familiar with the book it is based. This was a smart move by the producers so as not to alienate a large number of potential viewers. Another smart move was hiring Hollywood legend casting director Lisa Beach who brought in well known actors willing to work for less than their normal salary. Also, congratulations to the producers for putting Rand’s large tomb of work into two hours – that must have been challenging to say the least.

This movie is not your typical Hollywood production that cost $100 million to make. The director, James Manera, had an estimated $5 million budget to work with and did with it what he could. Unique to this movie is it was partially funded through a Kickstarter campaign which raised nearly twice as much of the original $250,000 requested. Moviegoers need to realize going in that the movie had little money to work with, so there are some sacrifices that were made during production.

So, let’s start with a few negatives and move on to the positives of the movie. As noted above, there were a few sacrifices made in lieu of budget. Near the end a main character is tortured with an electrical device which is…well…not well done. Also, almost from the very beginning the movie is very preachy to the individualism-no interference from the government mantra. It’s a mantra I happen to agree with; however, it could bother some as I felt it was overdone. That dissipates as the movie moves forward which is a positive. Another issue which may be confusing to some viewers is why Fox News commentator Sean Hannity, who played himself in Part III, was agreeing with John Galt’s speech. Hannity is so far from the freedoms offered in the speech and the entire book, I found him misplaced.

As expected, Part III picks up where Part II leaves off with Dagny Taggart (Laura Regan) in a private jet that crashed into a protected area after chasing John Galt in the air. Galt, played by Kristoffer Polaha, has been recruiting the top minds of the United States for a place known as Mulligan’s Valley (a/k/a Atlantis or Galt’s Gulch). It is a place unencumbered by government red tape allowing people to produce what they like based on their own ideas and abilities. In Part II, these ‘producers’ went on strike from an oppressive crony-based government in favor of a purely capitalistic society.

The movie does a great job showing the evils of too much government power and the negative affects it has not only on business, but on the people it claims it wishes to help. As with most government programs in real life, we find the unintended consequences of otherwise well-meaning agencies, turn into fiefdoms of power, bureaucracy and wasted taxpayer money.

In the theater where we watched the movie, it was a pleasure (and offered hope) to see so many young people out to see the first day’s showing – some wearing “Who Is John Galt?” t-shirts. The Libertarian Party of Palm Beach County had many of its members watching the movie at different times throughout Palm Beach County.

It was a pleasure to see Burning Man lover, Grover Norquist in the movie. He didn’t play a speaking role and he played the opposite of his real-life persona. Perhaps it was opposite day on the set of Part III which would answer Hannity’s appearance.

Ironically, Republican Jeff Atwater (Florida’s CFO) is hosting a screening of Part III in Boca Raton, Florida tomorrow. It is ironic because, one of his last votes in the Florida legislature, Atwater voted in favor of a heavily government subsidized railroad system, which this movie’s main theme is strongly against.

Congratulations to Harmon Kaslow and John Agialoro for sticking with the project and seeing it through to its completion. Without them, Part III would have never happened and, safe to say, without Agialoro Parts I, II or III would have never happened. The history of turning Rand’s book into a movie could be a movie itself. At times, that history involved Hollywood heavyweights Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

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