by David McElroy
I finally got around to watching the third film in the “Atlas Shrugged” trilogy. It’s awful.
I can’t think of anything good to say about this movie, just as I haven’t had anything good to say about its two predecessors. (Here are my thoughts about Part 1 and Part 2.) There’s a reason it lost lots of money and there’s a reason that reviewers trashed it. As a film, everything about it is bad.
As with the first two films, the core problem is that the producer was intent on translating Ayn Rand’s book to the screen faithfully, without having any real understanding of the differences between books and films as art. He also doesn’t seem to have any understanding of the book’s weaknesses.
The result is a film that manages to misunderstand the medium of film — by giving awkward speeches that work acceptably in print but are laughable in a film — yet retains all the dramatic weaknesses of a book in which no character ever undergoes real change. Good people are always good and heroic. Bad people are always bad and despicable. Nobody has a real character arc in which he learns and grows and changes.
Since the script essentially transfers as much of the book as possible to a screenplay — and does it in a way that violates film’s “show, don’t tell” ethos — I assume better directors weren’t willing to touch these three films. The result of the awkward production and slavish faithfulness to the book is a result that feels as though there was no director. It’s as though actors were given scripts and a cinematographer simply shot them saying their lines — with no film professional bringing cohesion to the whole.