Atlas Shrugged Part II: The Strike (2012) John Putch

Production Budget: $10 million

Gross: $3.3 million

Previously on my Atlas Shrugged Part I review:

“I hate Ayn Rand and I think Objectivism is bullshit.“

Well okay, that is more my general opinion on the philosophy behind the movie but I suppose I need to clarify that to those reading this review first.  More specifically about the movie I thought it sucked.  The movie had uninteresting robots spouting out ham fisted uninteresting dialog in an uninteresting story about trains and steel.

It failed and we moved on.  Well, not everyone apparently because Part II is now out.  I find it amusing that not even the producer believes in the Rand philosophy that he puts on such a pedestal   The free market should be making the ultimate decision on what goods it wants so you would think that with the disastrous bomb Part I was the free market chose against the Atlas Shrugged series.  Ignoring that we have Atlas Shrugged Part II which bombed as well.  The free market has told the producer John Aglialoro they don’t want any Atlas Shrugged but apparently he has responded back with essentially “Fuck you, we are making Part III!“.  I guess he’s believed the moochers have taken over but personally I would prefer he go to his own private island rather than subject us to this.

Okay, okay.  I need to be fair to this movie.  I can realize that the first movie had its own problems.  After all, the producer was up against the wall with losing the rights to Atlas and had to make a movie quickly.  A script and a director had to be rushed and the relatively small budget had to limit the kind of actors they had.  These were external problems for the first movie and I need to approach Part II with a clean slate.  True the budget is about half of what the first one was but maybe things have calmed down and they had more time to get the production they truly wanted.  They have…actors in this movie so they have that going for them.  What director did they get? John Putch?  Never heard of him.  What has he done?  American Pie Presents: The Book of Love.

We’re doomed.

Trust me, it is not very long before that statement is confirmed by the rather mind boggling decisions you see right off the bat.  In the beginning we see Dagny walking through a train station with Robert Picardo and the trains are CGI.  BAD CGI.  I am seriously not overstating it by saying my PS2 made better animated scenes.  Now I understand this movie has a small budget so it is not like I am trying to compare it to The Lord of the Rings.  My question is; why the fuck do you need to make a CGI train in the first place!?  Real trains exist! Go to any major metropolitan city and film in front of a goddamn Amtrak!

And I know you are going to say something like “Come on Moviemoses!  That’s nitpicking.“  But really this is a symptom of a larger problem which is incompetence.  Take for example another scene where we establish Dagny’s smarmy jerkface brother who has no talent but hogs all the credit.  He is a supposed multi-millionare but he goes into what appears to be a Circle K and is buying a tie for a piano concert next to the fucking Slim Jims and anti freeze.  And you are just sitting there with this WTF look on your face thinking way too hard about things you shouldn’t be in the middle of this movie.  Did they have really no more money left at that point and threw a tie rack in the middle of a QT?  Is this some future thing that wasn’t established well?  Kind of like how Taco Bell became fine dining in Demolition Man fucking Exxon’s have now become superstores where you get everything from Armani to Hostess Snoballs?  Does the director think I’m an  idiot and won’t notice they are shooting there?  If mistakes like these are coming up on minor things like location shooting, what do you think the rest of the movie will be like?

So Part II picks up where the last left off with no recap of what happened before.  I’ve seen Part I and I can barely remember anything from that.  There was something about a guy making steel and endless discussions about building a railroad.  I honestly didn’t remember if anything got settled or any major developments happened.  The movie doesn’t help that fact that I was even 30 minutes into the movie and I wasn’t entirely sure what our main plot was.  Dagny has some mysterious motor from the first movie (which I didn’t remember) which, if she figures out the secrets of what it runs on (be it cold fusion or love), will end all dependency on foreign oil.  Henry is now successful due to his new steel and the evil guv’ment is now trying to take their FAIR SHARE.  Dum dum duuuuuuuuum.  But what are we honestly working toward?  If I was bored by the first movie, what does it say when I’m 30 minutes into the second and I have no idea what the plot is?  Boy I’m asking a lot of questions in this review.

Again, I don’t really care to get into the philosophy of Objectivism as I still consider debates with  Rand followers as enjoyable as my kidney stone.  But I guess if I had to mention anything as to why I don’t buy into it is how everything is so black and white.  There is no gray area in Rand’s philosophy.  There can’t be any exceptions to the rule or qualified statements such as “The government can be a force for good, but…“ No, it is either black or white, good or evil, hero or parasite.  You need to be wary of any philosophy that is so simplistic or tries to so easily lump others in the ‘us‘ or ‘them‘ camp.  And when the majority of your movie is people getting up and giving long-winded reproaches of obvious straw men, I just don’t care.  I don’t feel like I’m learning anything so much as being brow beaten for two hours (four through both movies).  Feeling angry at those “moochers“ in the government Henry?  Feel angry that they are keeping you from making your money?  Who built the roads and rails you use to ship your steel?  Did you fund that all by yourself?  Do you pay for your own private police force to protect your stuff or your private fire department in case it catches fire? See what I mean that even the slightest bit of effort shatters this black and white universe?  I’m not someone advocating communism and in fact I’m not advocating anything really.  I’m just not buying the kindergarten philosophy you are trying to sell me.

It goes on forever too.  I mentioned before it takes 30 minutes to set things up but after that nothing changes.  Like I said, Henry Reardon is doing well and the evil government is trying to take their share of the profits.  Here is the movie.  Some government guy comes up to Henry and tells him to give the government some steel and Henry tells him to piss off cause capitalism.  Then Henry complains and someone asks “Who is John Galt?“ and someone disappears like there is some Objectivist Batman running around or something.  Another person comes to Henry asking him for steel and he tells him to piss off.  Henry complains and someone tells Atlas to shrug.  Then another person tells Henry to give the steel, then lather, then Henry has the court asking him for steel, then rinse, then more government people ask for steel, then repeat.  I had it all wrong a few paragraphs ago.  This movie isn’t slow in telling a story, it is an endless loop.  Ayn Rand is Selena Gomez, she loves this plot point like a love song, and she keeps hitting re-peatpeatpeatpeatpeat.  Oh god, this review has me quoting Selena Gomez.  This is the moment when I looked at the timer on my DVD player and realized I had a whole other hour and I felt all hope drain from me.  It is only till the hour 45 min mark that Dagny gets just as fed up with this plot as I do and leaves.  Part II ends with Dagny flying to an island and finally meeting John Galt.

There are some slightly better actors in Part II but it doesn’t make much difference.  I guessed that the actors in Part I probably wasn’t all that bad, but were hamstrung by horribly dry dialog.  It is no different here.  The actors are slightly more charismatic but they still have to sound like Vulcans as they talk about how greed is good and how fairness is illogical.  If it isn’t already clear as to who this movie appeals to you see through the cameos in the film.  Sean Hannity appears as Sean Hannity talking about the free market and we even get Teller from Penn and Teller in a brief speaking role.  If you think it would be interesting seeing Teller talk its not.  I found it incredibly sad to see an otherwise smart person with the glazed over look of a person who has drank all the Kool Aid and can’t see this poorly produced dog shit for what it is.

Part I sucked, Part II sucked, and Part III will suck.  I know Part III hasn’t been made yet and 99.9999% of the time you can’t make a judgment without seeing the product.  What can I say?  This is the .000001%.  These movies no longer have the excuse that they were rushed or whatever.  These are the movies they wanted to make and Part III will be more of the same.  I foresee another two hours of characters lecturing me about free market and moochers.  Well, probably three hours because we haven’t reached the point where Galt gives a 70 page speech.  Oh, and I’ll probably see a train too.  I know I’ll have to review it too because this movie will bomb even worse than the previous two.  This movie is horrible.  Part II has a plot that goes nowhere featuring characters I don’t care about saying horrible dialog in a world of horrible CGI and shoddy direction.    Who is John Galt?  I don’t give a fuck and I don’t see how anyone else does either.

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