I feel the need to point out that, even though I personally thought ATLAS SHRUGGED was a terrible, terrible book--I think I’ve read it twice in the past twenty years, the second time partially because I thought to myself “It can’t POSSIBLY be as dreadful as I remember it being” (turns out I was wrong)--you could still make an okay or even a fairly decent movie out of it. I was going to point out superhero movies as an illustration of this, but I have to admit I consider BOTH superhero books and movies pretty stupid, too. I suppose I can argue the opposite--that really, really GOOD books have been made into terrible movies, therefore it is not outside the realm of possibility that a bad book can be made into a good movie--but none are coming to mind right this second. I want to say THE FOUNTAINHEAD wasn’t all that bad, but while it was certainly better than this latest debacle I do recall laughing a good deal through it. I will bring up an example if I think of one. So in the middle of this if I suddenly blurt out a random movie title, that’s why.
So while I have my issues with the source material--and it’s not so much the Objectivist philosophy as it is that ATLAS SHRUGGED is a TERRIBLY-written book; I mean, really purply-terrible, a creaky rotted-wood structure on which Rand has hung THOUSANDS of pounds of shrill political hectoring--I am trying to treat the whole Atlas Shrugged oeuvre as movies in and unto themselves, regardless of whether or not I agree with whatever philosophy is being espoused. I forget which Hollywood mogul it was--I want to say Samuel Goldwyn of MGM fame, but it may have been Louis Mayer--but during the Golden Age of Hollywood one of them rather famously said about movies with a statement to make: “If you want to send a message, use Western Union.” Of course it is possible to make a GREAT movie with a definite political or social statement, but the majority of time, like the majority of movies--it’s Not That Great. The movie suffers from excessive preachiness, and even the best of intentions winds up looking like the last season of M*A*S*H, where everyone just gets so full of themselves and their righteous cause that you kinda just wanted them to quietly go away.
Can you make a good movie from terribleness? While I don’t think it was derived from a book, I would argue that Fritz Lang’s “M” is a good movie, and Peter Lorre’s performance therein is just AWESOME, but my admiration for it, hopefully, doesn’t suggest I really admire child molesters. Quite the opposite; I can’t hear anyone whistling PEER GYNT without feeling creepy. Whereas Ayn Rand, for a while in her young adulthood if you follow her journals (I have not, but Google is your friend), became enamored for a while of a William Hickman, who became famous in the late 1920s for doing a variety of terrible things. I’m sure Rand did not admire his child molesting, per se, nor his chopping children up into little bits, but she apparently admired the guy’s, uh, singularity of purpose while condemning society’s tendency to, uh, squash his burgeoning creativity. Which is just giving a BIG CHOCOLATE CAKE to her detractors; her admiration for Hickman’s refusal to submit to society’s demands has long been interpreted as “Ayn Rand likes child molesters” in a way that makes me a tad nervous to publicly admit I liked the movie “M”. Suffice to say we come from two different philosophies; I spent most of my young life catching frogs and drawing pictures of horsies in my school notebooks, whereas I envision Ayn Rand spending her adolescence desperately wishing someone would *finally* profile Nietzsche in TIGER BEAT.
(There. I just gave Rand fans the opportunity to point out “TIGER BEAT WASN’T AROUND BACK THEN, YOU MORON, SO ALL YOUR ARGUMENTS ARE INVALID!” Feel free to replace “moron” with something more colorful and creative. And no, I’ve never read TIGER BEAT, so perhaps they DID profile Nietzsche in their premiere issue for all I know. Perhaps he has dreamy eyes, and dimples to DIE for. I am not a Nietzschian scholar, so I know not of such things. This being the internet, others will take their precious time to enlighten me, I am sure.)
Atlas Shrugged Part 2:
(PART 1 is HERE, in case this is not enough for you.)
:30--Once again we are reminded that people are still using trains in the future. They cite rising energy prices as how railroads reemerge as “the only affordable means of transportation”. Good way to gloss over how much things have changed since Rand wrote the book. Now, if only we can get mobs of people to protest architecture.... Oh, sorry, wrong book. Gary Cooper. Patricia Neal. WAY better movie than ATLAS I, if you ask me. But I digress.
:55--Okay, so this is one way I am TOTALLY ANNOYING when watching a movie. Unless someone is very, VERY, VERY FAMOUS, I am pretty much face blind. Take today’s pop stars--I can’t tell one blonde bimbo from another. This is not to imply I find Taylor Schilling to be a bimbo, especially given her newfound success with ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, although I will say in Season 3 she and Alex have GOT to be the most annoying people in jail and I have pretty much resorted to groaning in disappointment whenever the two of them are on screen together. But I love Uzo Aduba. There. I said it.
Anyway, when I first saw the trailer to Part 2 I very distinctly remember thinking, Whoa, Taylor, too much partying, girlfriend! Because Dagny all of a sudden looked like what we horsie people call “rode hard and put up wet”. Turns out that’s because they did not rehire the same actors from Part 1 to play the folks in Part 2. No, despite the glamour of the profession, as I said in the first of this series the majority of actors are cogs in a very large machine. They do as they’re told, and they’re grateful to have a paycheck for a while. While good acting is an important part of the success of a film, there’s a number of variables that affect the outcome, and the actors have very little say in things outside their performance (and even inside, if they are forced to do something they think is wrong for the part). And yet, when a film proves to be the suckiest suck that ever sucked, who gets the first blame? The loathesomely terrible source material? Anemic scriptwriting? Lack of a proper budget? The inability to fully grasp the subject matter, even though the tyranny of Ayn’s Darwinian marketplace very clearly promotes quality craftsmanship, while mediocrity is thrown back into the dregs--a simple fact made ABUNDANTLY CLEAR by the lack of success with the FIRST movie? HELL NAW IT’S THOSE ACTORS! GET RID OF THEM! I NEVER WANT TO SEE THEM AGAIN! Either that, or “They cost too much. Let’s get new people in to work for scale.”
Anyway, this is a NEW Dagny, which I can only recognize due to the crap-ugly yet Meaningful Metal Bracelet given in the first movie. SLY MOVE, Mister Director! Things are looking up!
Oh, and apparently Dagny can fly jet planes. I’m not sure how, since she is a railroad executive. Maybe they will allude to her Time In The Air Force, which I don’t recall in the book, but we have to explain things SOMEHOW. And while I admit I have read the book TWICE in my life--once because people said I HAD to, and once about ten years later because I thought to myself “It’s so popular it couldn’t POSSIBLY be as terrible as I remember it”--I don’t recall offhand how they explain away Dagny’s ability to fly jet airplanes.
1:20--Okay, one plane sounds like a jet; the other sounds vaguely like a prop engine. I don’t know all that much about planes, but the closeups of models on sticks tilting back and forth both look like jet engines. At least they bothered to make the two different planes SOUND different. Again, things are looking up.
1:30--Both planes are doing some cat-and-mouse dodging over snowy mountains in an attempt to raise the excitement level to eleven. It looks like Dagny is chasing the first one. Is this Part 3, and I somehow skipped over Part2? IIRC, Part 1 ends with the burning of the oil fields, and this is looking very Gulchy in a Galtian sort of way.
2:05--Okay, I was just about to pause the movie to inform you all that I had already grown totally bored with the way-exciting chase sequence, when the first plane DISAPPEARS. And then all the alarms in her plane start going off. It looks like Dagny has mere seconds to live before colliding with the rocky cliffs, so what are her last words?
“Who is John Galt?”
...Which, in retrospect, is probably more enigmatic and noble sounding than MY last words would be at this moment, which I’m guessing would be more along the lines of “AAAAAUUUUGH!!! MOMMMY!” right before I became a dark stain in the snow. But, ya know, that’s just me. Again, perhaps this is why I do not run a giant national concern.
2:25: just in case you were not sick of it being repeated in the first movie, it’s two and a half minutes in and they’ve just repeated “WIJG?” twice. Yep, that poor horsie is in for a LOT of flogging over the next two hours. Buckle up, kids, we’re in for a paddlin’.
2:28--Okay, it *IS* Part 2. Perhaps this is one of those start-at-the-end dealies. Which is okay if it’s done well enough. We’ll see.
2:36--Ah, yes. “9 Months Earlier”. Can I call it, or what? Score one for Mojo!
Dark tunnel. People on a golf cart. A man and a woman. For all I know they’re Dagny and Hank. Or just extras the camera is lingering on as it moves to where the important people are acting.
3:21--Okay, the guy is just a flunky exposition font, reminding us of the miracle engine and how it will solve all the world’s problems in a year. He calls the woman “Miss Taggart”, so yes, that’s Dagny. I should have guessed because she was DRIVING the futuristic golf cart while he was reading about the miracle engine from a futuristic manilla folder. So Dagny is reintroduced to us as a new actor takes over.
3:50--Okay, they have all this way cool futuristic security doors and passkeys and machinery popping out of tables on hydraulics, but NOBODY can spring for an extra light bulb or two in this underground lair? Especially since I’m guessing this is where they are doing all their Sciencing with the new engine? If *I* were trying to Science, I would rather do so in a well-lit room--all white tiles and stainless steel, like an operating room--just as I would prefer to build my mansion a bit more than a hundred feet from a WORKING OIL FIELD. But maybe that’s just me and my poverty way of thinking. Perhaps people in the Future do all their Sciencing in dingy basements lit with single, bare lightbulbs. At least they’re not all dressed in rags, like in the MATRIX.
4:00 Luckily Mister Flunky has a flashlight, given the dreadful lighting conditions. C’mon, Mister Lighting Director! Dagny’s a MILLIONAIRE! She can SPRING FOR LIGHTBULBS.
4:51--Ah, he’s a flunky for the State Science Institute. He might have been the character from Part 1, but I don’t recall. Despite my claim at the beginning of the first part I have not had the stomach to BINGE watch ATLAS SHRUGGED; it’s been a few MONTHS since I watched and commented on the first part. As much as I claim to lay about the house eating ice cream, it’s been proving rather difficult to carve six hours out of my life I will never get back. More attractive things keep intruding. Like colonoscopies. Or engaging trolls on the internet.
5:15--Anyway, I think he is a Science Weasel from the first film, because now he’s all toadying up to her and saying he was wrong and she was right and please oh please don’t be mad at me for keeps. She’s having none of the toadying, so far; she just wants to find out who built the Miracle Engine. But the Flunky Weasel is too incompetent to even do THAT, so once they part company he’s on his princess phone gabbing all about the engine to other people, much like a teenaged girl from a 50s sitcom. If there were a bed he’d be lying on his stomach and flipping through the latest issue of TIGER BEAT while idly kicking his feet in the air. “So, yeah, did Derek tell you I saw THE most AMAZING engine EVAARR? It was SO COOL.” (Mojo mentions TIGER BEAT yet again. I am learning the fine art of SUBTLETY from watching these movies.)
7:00--Protest Montage, a la Occupy Wall Street, AKA Dirty Commie Hippie Moochers sitting around demanding a piece of the pie. GET A JOB YOU PATHETIC BUMS. There, that took care of ‘em. Dagny walks past them with her usual fearlessness. Because she’s DAGNY, dammit!
7:30--Dang! Eddie’s grown about two feet in height and ten or twenty years in age! REALLY, guys? You couldn’t keep the poor actor who played Eddie in the FIRST film? You really think the ACTORS were the problem, here? Ay, carumba. We’re in for a long slog. (Dagny seems to really enjoy big, heavy, ugly jewelry, by the way. Just an aside.)
8:00--Okay, local TV news anchors are about a dime a dozen and not paid incredibly well but still do an okay job reading the news prompter and giggling about the viral video du jour. So here’s a tip, Hollywood, and particularly for BAD, WANNABE Hollywood: JUST HIRE A REAL NEWS ANCHOR. An actor being paid scale to sit behind a desk PRETENDING to be a news anchor REALLY doesn’t cut it. THERE’s ACTUALLY MORE TO THE JOB THAN JUST WEARING A SUIT. (Also, if you have to make fake newspaper headlines, can you at least make the headlines FIT THE SPACE? Headline are actually WRITTEN to FILL THE SPACE they are given in the paper. White space in a newspaper=INCOMPETENCE. Of course, newspapers are all dying, now, so all the things Mojo went to college for are now obsolete, but if there’s ever a HISTORICAL MOVIE that requires the actor looking at a newspaper headline, do us purists a favor and write the headline to FILL THE SPACE. I know, I know, it requires MATH, but only addition, for heaven’s sake.)
8:00--Okay, the news was just to introduce more background and Wesley Mouch (who I always want to call “Mooch”). Dagny despairs at the state of the world; Eddie proves his competence by praising her. They then do more expository catching-the-audience-up-to-the-plot by rehashing the events in Part 1 as they drive. (At least this time they are in a limo--the last movie all these super-rich people were WALKING and taking the SUBWAY everywhere.) And they even sprang for a chauffeur! Now THAT’s fancy! High school PROM fancy!
9:00--Eddie says “Who is John Galt?” the way you or I would say “To hell with it; let’s grab a burger.” It has become embued with SO MANY MEANINGS. I think that’s number 3, by the way? Let’s say three. I like to keep track. It keeps my interest going in the film. Dagny, on the other hand, dislikes it.
9:30--I know, this whole movie is one big political statement and all, but when Wyatt sets fire to his oil fields and says “I’m leaving it as I found it” my brain goes “What? Did he FIND it on FIRE?” And then I distract myself with ice cream. Because, really, life is too short to figure stupid stuff out, but ice cream is always good.
10:00--Thoughtful Montage of Driving in Car leads to Taggart Headquarters, wherein a crane shot reveals that everyone in the building must walk precisely through the dead center of the logo shield in the marble floor of the foyer. I’m not kidding: rent it, watch, and be amazed!
10:40--Oh, I get it now. They skimped on the actors so they can have more computer screens up with neato-zeato 3-D charts and schematics so it looks like people are actually DOING something. Though I must say, this set is looking suspiciously like one of those everyone-is-equal-let’s-put-a-ping-pong-table-in-the-corner sort of commie socialist businesses instead of the mahogany desks and cigar-chomping wood paneling of Part 1. Maybe this is just the break room.
10:50--A flunky named Mitchum just asked “Who is John Galt?” in the frustrated manner of someone who has just crashed their computer. That makes four. Dagny rips his head off, showing me that We Are More Alike Than I Can Ever Fully Appreciate.
11:15--More explaining. Good business people inexplicably disappear, the Evil Government takes over their businesses, and incompetence ensues. Dagny’s plumb SICK of it, I tells ya. SICK OF IT. She kills a line because “This railroad doesn’t function as a charity.” Selfish narcissists everywhere (except in movie theaters, where apparently they stayed away in DROVES) whisper “YES!” She’s so Brave and Tough and Competent. My heart’s aflutter.
12:30--A despairing Dagny winds up in her office--which, again, is a totally different decor from the first film, all light and airy and moderny.
13:00 Cut to a yelling talking heads news show. This is why I don’t watch such shows, aside from the dreadful dead horse-flogging exposition going on. I like how the blonde lady in the middle just nods and smiles the whole time. They don’t even give her a SINGLE LINE.
13:20--Reardon Steel, so lots of exciting shots of molten metal being poured and sparks flying everywhere. I don’t recognize the new Hank Reardon, but he should cut down on the cigarettes. At least, like Dagny, he’s super-competent. Speaking of which, she calls, and they talk about how terrible it is to be the only competent people on the planet.
15:30--A clueless government weasel makes the mistake of showing up in Reardon’s office, demanding he fill an order for metal for the government. Reardon runs rings around him and escorts him out of the office. Government weasel is confused, since he doesn’t understand HONESTY and INTEGRITY and all that cool stuff.
17:40--Back at Taggart, Dagny is going somewhere again. (She spends a lot of time going places, often by storming off in a huff.) Her useless brother James is re-introduced as a general detriment to the business. In Part 1 her brother, of course, was King of the Weasels, so I have hopes he will be even more weasely in this one.
18:30--ONCE MORE MY PRAYERS HAVE BEEN ANSWERED! James Taggart, King Weasel Extraordinaire, instructs his chauffeur to spread dollar bills among the hoi polloi that crowd his limo. DOLLAR BILLS. Not hundreds, or even tens. Class with a capital “K”, this guy!
19:00--James goes into what is apparently a Kmart to buy a tie, where he is fawned over by an exposition-spouting groupie. Now, I am not in retail, but it has been my limited experience that even cheap stores like “MicroBUY” try to put ties in with other clothing and clothing accessories, and not, say, between a magazine rack and a shelf of plastic chairs. But maybe they do things differently in the Future. The groupie mentions the question “WIJG?” (five) and Taggart is immediately smitten by her cute, wholesome, idealistic charm.
20:10--Taggart takes her to a piano concert, but at least has the courtesy to allow her to change out of her “nerd patrol” work uniform and into a nice little black dress. At least in this one the piano player actually looks like he’s playing the piano. So of course he is disappeared, because Utopian Gulch Society will need their piano players as well as their bankers.. All the thrilled people clapping for an encore are TERRIBLY DISAPPOINTED when he does not oblige. Instead there is a card left on the piano on which someone has scrawled “WIJG?” (six). Oooh. A mystery.
21;48--Dagny is storming somewhere out of Taggart. She is stopped by poor Teller, of Penn & Teller fame, who is a security guard suggesting she take the side door to avoid protesters. I love P&T as much as anybody, and I know they tend toward Randian libertarianism which is certainly their right. My slight disappointment stems not from their (or, at least, Teller’s) implicit endorsement of Ayn Rand, but merely of his participation in what, judging from the first film, was CLEARLY going to be an OBVIOUS SUCKFEST OF MASSIVE, MARKET-DESTROYING PROPORTIONS. But his one line of concern and his puppy-dog sadness as the camera tracked around him as he watched Dagny take her life into her very hands at the mercy of Dirty Commie Hippies was very well done. Thus far he is the biggest name in the movie, and he actually does his brief job admirably well. So I’m guessing we’ll never see him again, since such competence will have him snapped up and transported to the Gulch in a twinkling, leaving the incompetents behind to actually make the movie.
22:05--Dagny meeting with Reardon. They are shocked that, after treating the Government Weasel Guy like DIRT, he wasn’t much help to them when it came to the engine.
23:18--Back in the concrete bunker with the poor lighting, Sciencing on the Miracle Engine. Some guy who looks suspiciously like Jarod the Subway Guy (I wrote this BEFORE all the kiddie porn stuff, and I must say I am officially THROUGH with all the dreadful child molesty stuff) is inspecting the see-through acrylic casing with a handheld magnifying glass, so you KNOW he’s SERIOUSLY Sciencing and not just a tourist. Plus, in the subtle manner that has become the proud hallmark of these movies, you quickly learn that he is COMPETENT and full of INTEGRITY.
25:07--Ya know, this is the SECOND time in TWO movies they have referenced my birthday. (For the record, I accept gifts all month.) Someone who mines wants Reardon metal so he can “shore up my mines and stop the cave-ins”. Now, these movies really push the whole idea that creative, competent people run good businesses. And, again, like the retail store earlier, or the railway business or the metal-making business, I am NOT A MINER, nor do I know much about the mining industry except that it is dangerous and dirty work digging holes in the ground and moving large carloads of rock to the surface. I’m thinking, though, in my artless Mojo fashion, that yeah, a competent miner just MIGHT want to look into this whole radical notion of shoring up one’s mines to stop the cave-ins. Not PREVENT cave-ins in the FIRST PLACE, mind you--which I am guessing is one of those pesky things Evil Government Regulation attempts with its oppressive STANDARDS and WORKER SAFETY baloney--but STOP them. Maybe this is why I am not a successful, competent miner among my many other faults. I admittedly don’t know the first thing about mining law, but it seems to me that making mines that DON’T COLLAPSE IN THE FIRST PLACE might be a standard even the most incompetent, regulation-thwarting miners might aspire toward. But clearly I am speaking from Actual Mining Ignorance, outside of watching grizzled prospectors dancing with their burros in old movies, so I will shut up.
Anyway, both pledge their intentions to go to jail before they cooperate with the Evil Government.
27:05--Hank’s way-unpleasant loser wife Lilian shows up at his hotel room, notes the dinner for two left on the table (it was Hank’s government-hating miner boyfriend, not that it matters, because he actually *IS* guilty of screwing around with Dagny) and forces him to attend James Taggart’s wedding. It is, predictably, a dull montage affair, with the only amusement being that Taggart is marrying the groupie from Necktie Radio Shack. Who started off so sweet, ya know, but now she’s having a total BITCH FIGHT with Dagny, who was only wishing her the BEST and got her HEAD BITTEN OFF by the bride’s misguided zeal for her King Weasel Husband. Oooh, but she gets her digs in! When Groupie Bride says, “I am a woman in this family now!” Dagny retorts with “That’s okay. I’m the man!” and walks off. BURN! Not so sure how, as a feminist, I am supposed to take that, but it was really SO amusingly cheap all it needed was a trailer park and some gunfire to really set the scene. But eh, there’s nothing like a bride trying to pick a fight with a guest at her own wedding to really class up the joint. Plus Groupie Bride’s slowly dawning “Hey” face as Dagny walks away and she realizes she’s been INTELLECTUALLY BESTED despite her Necktie Radio Shack training is worth the price of admission alone.
30:00 Playboy Francisco shows up to taunt Dagny, probably because she’s totally dateless at her own brother’s wedding. Her response is “WIJG?” (seven) despite her history of utterly DESPISING that phrase. But it turns out she is asking a serious question, for she repeats it (eight) and implies that Francisco knows the answer. He leaves her hanging.
30:55--Oh, hey. There’s a lady playing the stand-up bass in the dance band. Playing with a strapless dress. That takes courage, and/or duct tape.
31:15--Reardon’s wife tracks down Dagny and immediately launches Bitchfest 2, the Bitchening. Dagny leaves her, as well. Man, this is SOME wedding! And they’re not even into the heavy drinking, yet!
31:45--HA HA HA HA HA! Okay, King Weasel James Taggart totally exceeds all expectations with his wedding toast to his Necktie Radio Shack bride. “Love does indeed conquer all--even social and economic barriers!” HA HA HA HA HA! And they say you can’t force subtle political statements into works of art like films, or wedding toasts! Oh, dear lord, he’s going on a rant about money. As a toast to his wife on their wedding day. Oh, someone stop him before I hurt myself laughing! HA HA HA HA HA IT’S SO ROMANTIC I CAN’T BREATHE!!!1!
32:05--Ahh, Playboy Francisco to the rescue! SUCH a gentleman! Even though I’m pretty sure HE’s just going to spout MORE tiresome drivel, at least it’s a change. Funny, where I’ve stopped the movie Francisco is completely surrounded by the wimmens, but they all look ANGRY at him for interrupting the oh-so-romantic toast to the bride about money. The scriptwriters bring up the old straw man about money being the root of all evil (technically it’s the LOVE of money, not money itself) so Francisco can go on a rant defending it. Because that is what rich people do in movies: they talk about money, even in the middle of a wedding toast. You and I are saying things like “Ummm, baloney rolls held together with frilly toothpicks, how fancy!” but rich people talk about money and social and economic barriers and how great it is to be rich--provided, of course, that you are rich in the sense of how the rich are portrayed in a Shirley Temple movie.
33:25--It takes a whole eternal MINUTE AND A HALF before folks finally get sick of Francisco’s drunken rambling about looters and moochers and creators and takers before they decide to hustle him out of the wedding party. But before he leaves he tells Reardon of his Wyattesque plans to destroy all his stuff and send the stock portfolios of everyone at the wedding reeling.
34:52--Who is that asleep? Is that Dagny? Reardon just came in. Ugh, do we have to watch them have awkward sex again? Once in the last movie was enough.
36:20--Thank heavens THAT’s over. Hank goes back to his hotel room with a spring in his step to meet his wife. As Homer Simpson once said, “AWWW, WHY MUST MY ACTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES?” But she’s such a terrible person the adultery is totally okay. (And I have to say, Hank Reardon has the WHITEST T-SHIRT I HAVE EVER SEEN on. It’s like it JUST CAME OUT OF THE PACKAGE five minutes before the scene was shot.) Darling Bitch Wife will not give Hank a divorce, because she does not want to give up the money and social standing he gives her. She’s all hinty-blackmaily as she storms out of the room, leaving Hank and his dazzling white t-shirt to ponder what she will do next.
38:42--We are treated to a montage of the mines in Chile being destroyed, just as Francisco threatened at the wedding. I kind of like how they just have regular stock footage of a mine, with big trucks rolling by, and then the explosions and gaping, smoking holes are CGI’d over it. This means when the explosions happen the trucks just keep on rolling, “tra-la-la, got to drive this truck over here even though the wall just exploded above me.” I think the fake actor-news anchor is wearing the same suit he was wearing in the first scene he was in. I also like how the b-roll still of Francisco they got--which I am guessing is his official CEO portrait, like most companies have for their executives--has him all smirky and tieless and his shirt unbuttoned, like it’s just the actor’s headshot and he’s trying to show he can be ALL THAT before donning Nerd Glasses to Look Smart in the next shot. Really embrace that playboy vibe, Francisco!
39:25--Reardon Steel is visited yet again by government weasels, who try to blackmail Reardon into giving his Miracle Metal to the evil government instead of his cronies. Reardon tells him to pound sand. The evil government weasel tells Reardon he can find his own way out, which is only natural since the scene opened with he and his flunky finding their own way IN, traipsing gaily and unsupervised through a sparks-a-flyin’ hydraulic-machinery-movin’ metal foundry. It’s okay, though--they had plastic hard hats on. Umm, again: I sorta think regulations have a hand in STOPPING that sort of thing from happening, because you and I or Random Joe skipping gaily through a working metal foundry would be INHERENTLY DANGEROUS. I’m also guessing, from talking to people in various mechanical industries, that there is usually SOME WAY of getting to the offices WITHOUT having to dodge POURING MOLTEN METAL, WHIPPING HYDRAULIC ARMS and other visually interesting things. Because regulations or no, most companies really DON’T WANT RANDOM PEOPLE WANDERING THE SHOP FLOOR.
41:36--the boring news story of the indictments against Reardon and his cronies, in case you had slipped out for popcorn and missed the last scene.
42:00--Once again, instead of actually running her company, Dagny is waiting to meet with Danniger, the crony in question. To tell him “He’s not alone.” Turns out he’s NOT alone after all, but making Dagny wait because he’s seeing someone else. Dagny bursts into his office and the guy’s alone. (TAKE THE HINT, Dagny!) When Dagny tells him he could go to prison (in case viewers missed the last two scenes, maybe because, I don’t know, they’re having trouble in the bathroom or something), the reply is “WIJG?” (Eight) Dagny the sleuth (complete with ugly giant metal necklace; yes, we can admire these subtle hints) notices there are TWO CIGARETTES in the ashtray and starts questioning Danniger. We are treated to an explanation of trade in society when evil government is not around to poison the balance with little nitpicky things like mines that don’t collapse and people traipsing across a working foundry unsupervised. Danniger announces that, as much as he LOVES mining--I think that’s the first time I have heard ANYONE ever express a love for coal mining--he’s done fighting the evil government and wants to protect the one last thing he cares about... and points to his head. Evidently one must be super-smart and über-creative to love and/or understand coal mining, which is probably why the joy of digging crap out of the ground escapes me, aside from the profit margin.
45:10--Danniger makes a dramatic exit out a side door, which, compared to the wood-paneled luxury of his office, seems to lead to a super-untidy metal-shelved book warehouse. No, really! Check it out! It’s like he’s walking onto a completely different set!
45:30--Francisco visits Hank at the foundry--just in his office, not loose on the foundry floor, though when he looks out the window he can see the supervisory government weasel in a suit meandering around vats of molten steel taking notes on a clipboard as he walks. It’s like OSHA doesn’t even EXIST in the future, so what are the Randians COMPLAINING about?
Anyway, Francisco asks Reardon why he stays in business. Duh, to make money. Francisco tries the tack of pointing out that the Miracle Metal is in danger of being used by moochers and losers who fail to treat Reardon with the respect expected of a Mafia don. Francisco suggests Hank succumb to peer pressure and blow up his mills, like all the cool kids are doing.
47:50--Francisco very kindly reminds us who Atlas is, for the idiots who never heard of Edith Hamilton. Followed by the SIGNIFICANCE OF THE TITLE OMG THAT’S WHERE THE TITLE COMES FROM I GET IT NOW!
48:00--Sirens go off--maybe because Government Weasel got too close to the vats of boiling metal and his suit caught fire? Close. It’s the INFERIOR ORE the government weasels are supplying! For some reason the steel mill is not designed for variations in ore--which strikes me as kinda a given, seeing how ore is dug out of the ground and there might be variations from batch to batch--and one of the giant containers of molten metal springs a leak and we are treated to a small sampling of what might happen if unsupervised idiots are allowed to wander aimlessly around the foundry with nothing on but a suit and a hardhat. Luckily for us the emergency crew is there to scream explanations of what they are doing while they are doing it--“HURRY! WE HAVE TO CONTAIN THIS GROWING PUDDLE OF MOLTEN METAL BY SHOVELING SAND AROUND IT!”--and luckily for THEM the suits come down to lend a hand shoveling, because Reardon and Francisco are so competent they can handle a shovel and a wheelbarrow of sand while the Government Weasel stands there sobbing like a deer in the headlights. Oh, and Reardon saves Francisco’s life, because of course a huge i-beam comes crashing down from the ceiling for no apparent reason. I’m not particularly litigious, but I gotta say a business dropping i-beams randomly around the shop floor would have me on the phone with OSHA myself right about now.
49:39--The crisis is over. Francisco is all like, “Thanks for saving my life. See ya.”
50:26--Utah. Despite the Mormons running around--who I always thought was an industrious people, despite the many internet scams and boiler-room calling centers that besmudge their reputation--apparently Utah in the future is a total dump with trash in the streets. Once again, instead of running her railroad, Dagny is there at the Utah Institute of Technology, which apparently uses old newspapers to line their windows to keep out the riffraff and/or the technology thieves. Oh, okay, here is where Science Guy With the Magnifying Glass has taken the Miracle Engine. He’s hard at work Sciencing, which means typing on a computer and twirling a screwdriver. Dagny just kinda strolls in unannounced--having somehow defeated the clever ruse of lining the windows with newspaper--and is told “don’t freak out and don’t touch anything”. He turns the Miracle Machine on, and everything metal is drawn to it--well, everything except the pounds of metal jewelry Dagny habitually wears, or the guy’s eyeglasses, or the computer, or the lamp... You get the picture. The guy uses the phrase “at the QUANTUM level” to sound extra-Sciency. (Apparently the futurists involved in making this movie haven’t noticed that the word “quantum” has already been diluted by various New Age money-grubbing boiler-room life-coaching scams, thus making anyone outside the realm of particle physics who uses it sound like an idiot.)
Quentin (that’s Mister Science’s name, it turns out) suggests Dagny “find the mind that created this thing.” Okay, there are times I feel sorry for Dagny, surrounded by idiots, and this is one of those moments. I’m waiting for her to scream “OH, HEY, GREAT IDEA, EINSTEIN--WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK I’VE BEEN DOING ALL THIS TIME INSTEAD OF RUNNING MY RAILROAD?” at him, but instead she just looks vaguely.... uh, determined? Despairing? I dunno. She doesn’t answer.
52:38--Oooh, looks like we’re going to be treated to a STAR WARS I: LET’s WATCH THE LEGISLATURE ON C-SPAN scene, now. Hank’s on TRIAL FOR HIS LIFE in front of an audience of people wearing t-shirts and chinos. It looks like a modernish college lecture hall, the sort where some alumni gave them a buttload of money back in the 60s without caring one iota what happens to it and the architect in charge said, “You know what’ll look real good, here? Massive amounts of POURED CONCRETE. Trust me on this.”
Hank responds to the charges by saying he doesn’t recognize the authority of the court, the law, the government, or anything else. All the t-shirty extras--really, this is supposed to be a super-serious COURT, couldn’t the casting call ask people to dress up a hair? They all look like tourists who spent the night in a hostel--do the whole murmur-until-the-judge-gavels-at-us thing, whereupon the judge explains to Reardon, using tiny words, that not recognizing the law is not a defense. Reardon responds with more movie-style nobility, saying the sort of thing people like to IMAGINE they’d say if they felt they were in the right, and calling their bluff. The judges try to defend what was from the getgo a ludicrous straw man of a law, allowing Hank to go on a rant about the government trying to STEAL OUR LIBERTY and REGULATE US IN OUR HOMES and all that stuff. This elicits clapping and cheers from the riffraff audience, thereby requiring more gaveling.
55:00--One of the judges asks a question, all bewildered, thereby allowing Hank to go into his long and involved Greed Is Good speech. Standing ovation from the riffraff; more gaveling. Instead of going away in private to consider the case the judges merely put a hand over their mikes and mutter to one another about what they should do, while we are treated to a second shot of Hank’s Bitch Wife sitting uncomfortably among the riffraff, glaring at Dagny.
56:20--The muttering, conspiratorial judges make a decision: ten years in the pokey, suspended so the evil government can save face. Bitch wife leaves in disgust so Hank and Dagny can graciously acknowledge the extras before leaving.
57:28--A romantic walk among the trash bags, as the rich are wont to do. I’m sorry, but if I were richer than God and not particularly inclined to help my neighbors, I think I’d hotfoot it out of any area with a garbage strike and spend my time in a more Francisco-ian fashion, playboying my way on yachts and private beaches with my shirt suggestively unbuttoned. There would still be posh weddings to get kicked out of and tiresome Randian speeches to shriek as I’m muscled out of establishments, but I’ve actually walked the streets of NYC during a garbage strike and I can only guess the movie’s limited budget is why the garbage strike is depicted by one or two errant Hefty bags full of crumpled newspaper and not by HUGE MOUNTAINS OF RAT-RIDDEN NAMELESS FILTH.
Anyway, this walk reiterates what we have been told from the beginning: that Dagny and Hank are so much better than us, and they will MAKE IT WORK, even though all those moochers and losers are riddled with jealousy and will stop at nothing to stop them. If they have sex after this scene I am SO gonna barf.
56:55--Oh, hey, right, Dagny has a railroad to run. What’s goin’ on, railroad business? Uh-oh. Slowmo of suits walking and swinging briefcases. THIS CAN’T BE GOOD. It’s the Taggart board holding an Emergency Meeting. They look grim. The board meeting probably mentions Wesley Mouch’s name at least ten times in the first two minutes. I probably should have been paying closer attention; I think he’s the Big Time Government Weasel To End All Government Weasels? James (who is cluelessly running the board meeting like a super-nervous seventh-grader) jumped into bed with him right off the bat, and now it’s looking like maybe he is regretting his decision? Mouch, Mouch, Mouch. Someone asks Dagny’s opinion on things, and she smugly storms out in a huff. Probably (once again) to go do something else that has nothing to do with running a railroad.
101:55--Dagny looks sadly at Dad’s or Granddad’s portrait as she leaves the office. Gee, Relative Who Did All The Work, I’m sorry to report, after months of me neglecting it, my idiot brother has driven it into a ditch behind my back. I haz a sad.
102:29--Montage of them dismantling the John Galt line that allows them to reuse the matte painting from the first movie. Or is it? I thought the arches were more Gateway Arch-shaped, not these kinda ugly squat arches. Anyway, if you were watching you could see these two guys picking up a six-foot concrete railroad tie and carry it over to the forklift. I guess the laws of physics are slightly different in the future, since I’m guessing a concrete railroad tie would weigh SEVERAL HUNDRED POUNDS. The workers are smiling, though, and acting like it’s made of of styrofoam, so it’s all good. Dagny watches the dismantling with a low-cut t-shirt and her favorite pushup bra. Maybe that’s why the guys were smiling and performing SUPERHUMAN FEATS OF STRENGTH. Anyway, grieving about things you love going kaput is for sissies. She’s got more important things to do.
103:45--I forgot that Bitch Wife Reardon’s name is Lilian, until one of her smug-until-you-just-want-to-punch-her useless friends reminds me. Forget my earlier theory about Shirley Temple movies; everything the scriptwriter knows about rich people evidently comes from watching Gilligan’s Island reruns.
Anyway, Lilian is meeting with James, who threatens her social standing and wealth unless she can keep Hank more in line. I didn’t know the two even KNEW each other, but there ya go. Lilian is calm, cool, sophisticated and unperturbed, but James is FREAKING OUT. It’s now HIS RESPONSIBILITY to get Hank to cooperate. Lilian cruelly and chucklingly suggests she knows his one big weakness....Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha!
105:20--Now all of a sudden the Occupy protesters are holding signs saying “REARDON WAS RIGHT”. I guess his stirring speech at his trial somehow turned them? Anyway, the nefarious Mouch Patrol is meeting in secret, with poor James Taggart being all “I’m with Wesley! He’s my best friend!” while the other bidness leaders at least PRETEND they still have some dignity. Capitalism is dead, Mouch announces. Your businesses are all failing, so the Evil Government has to TAKE CONTROL. James is looking progressively sick, but vows Reardon will be no problem.
106:50--SUDDENLY a tv screen pops up and some guy in a suit--is he supposed to be the President, or something?--announces it is now a NATIONAL EMERGENCY and Directive Blah-blah-blah must be put into place IMMEDIATELY. First order of the directive: No employee can switch jobs or be discharged for any reason (WHOOHOO! TIME TO START GOLDBRICKING!). No owner can sell. All copyrights and patents are now owned by the Feds. No new devices can be created or manufactured. Blah blah blah. It seems to be essentially a forced maintenance of the status quo, which is patently ludicrous, but I guess in proud strawman tradition necessary to have a story.
109:05--James gets the news while sitting in a meeting with Dagny and Competent Eddie. Apparently when you have meetings at Taggart, you are watching television at the same time, kinda like in a bar. JUST HOW ARE THEY RUNNING THIS RAILROAD, ANYWAY? Dagny storms out of the meeting, like that’s going to matter given how the company is pretty much run without her presence anyway. My theory is Competent Eddie is doing all the work. Anyway, the American Dream is officially in a shambles, as the editorializing newscaster so clearly states for those not paying attention. At least the continuity person behind the camera had him change his suit.
109:30--POLICE STATE MONTAGE. Which, really, dude, what else could it be with all these silly strawman laws now on the books? Homeless man who looks vaguely like a starving Kris Kristofferson (well, THAT reference just dated me) is carving a placard that has RIP on the bottom. “Here lies my” ... something. I’m sure when it is revealed it will be gut-wrenchingly sad. It certainly HAS to be better than the sign “Will comply with directive blah blah blah for food”, which made me laugh out loud. THAT’S NOT COMPLYING, DUMBASS.
1:10:15--WIJG appears as graffiti on a bench. (Nine.)
1:10:41. Placard finally revealed. “Here Lies My Country--Born 1776 Died Yesterday R.I.P” Ooh. Makes you THINK.
1:10:53--Meanwhile at Reardon Steel, government weasels continue to annoy Hank, trying to get him to sign over his patent. HA HA HA they are changing the name from Reardon Steel to Miracle Metal, just like I’ve been calling it. HA HA HA. Maybe I remember that tiny little factoid from reading the book mumble mumble years ago, but I don’t remember remembering it. Anyway, I’m all like, YAY! Reardon’s not going to sign away his patents, so the G-weasel produces pictures of him and Dagny chumming it up. Once again: OH NOES, WHY MUST MY ACTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES?
1:13:18--*SOB!* HE SIGNS TO PROTECT DAGNY OMG THIS IS SO ROMANTIC! Way to LIVE THOSE PRINCIPLES, Hank!
1:13:35--Dagny is reading a really big, badly typeset book and looking all flustered. It’s like she already KNOWS Hank dropped the cause like a hot potato once a wee bit of sex got involved. OH, it’s Directive Blah Blah Blah! Competent Eddie comes in with more bad news--Hank’s Big Cave. Dagny storms out of HER OWN OFFICE. Apparently storming out has become HER THING, but I gotta say, storming out without at least three or four witnesses really doesn’t have the same effect, dear. But storm away--heaven knows Taggart has apparently been running JUST FINE without you, with all your traveling and storming out time.
1:14:25--At least this time she stays in the building. She storms into James’ office to give him What For. James is all neener-neener until she QUITS. There. Ya see, Hank? That’s what PRINCIPLES are. I might not agree with her, but by gum at least she practices what she preaches. James is shocked; no doubt he is wondering who the HELL is going to run the company in absentia now that Dagny is in absentia for REALS. (I nominate Competent Eddie, whom I suspect has been running the railroad all the livelong day in lieu of the Taggarts, but will he get any recognition? Will he be disappeared by Galt? GOOD LUCK, EDDIE!) Dagny storms off and announces to Competent Eddie she is going to her family’s cabin.
1:15:32--For the I See What You Did There department: A neon furniture sign that reads “STANHOPE FOR LESS” is partially burned out and flickering, so it just reads HOPE LESS. Granted, the SIMPSONS did this many times starting many years ago (a la the SLEEP-EAZY MOTEL becoming the SL EAZY MOTEL), but so far in this movie this is passing for Subtle Wit, and I commend them for the attempt.
1:15:47--Dagny’s been storming out for at least half a day now, so it finally dawns on her to call Hank and ask whassup. Dagny informs him that she’s now on a break. Let’s hope it works out better than the “we were on a break” thing from FRIENDS.
1:16:30--Hank finally sets the wheels in motion to get a divorce from Bitch Lillian. Which maybe he should have done MONTHS ago, I’m thinking, but hey--I’m not a super-rich steel magnate, what do I know?
1:16;45--Protesters. James has to ACTIVELY RUN AWAY FROM THEM to get into his building, which is an added fun weaselly character trait. Inside, Doogie Howser tells him the trains ain’t running. Apparently even though Dagny never seemed to actually DO anything, once her name came off the roster all the trains have come to a screeching halt. No sign of Competent Eddie. Maybe he was disappeared, after all. James impetuously makes Doogie COO of Taggart.
1:18:10--Meanwhile, at idyllic Parents’ Cabin Lake, Dagny is cleaning house of all the Adirondack furniture. Ahhh.
1:18:49--Brief shot of Science Guy still sciencing the Miracle Engine... I think.
1:18:56--Uh-oh. If this doesn’t scream MASSIVE RAILROAD ACCIDENT I don’t know what does.
1:20:00--Massive Railroad Accident. Luckily the only passengers we have seen thus far are weaselly politicians, so no great loss. Feel bad for the crew, though.
1:20:16--Awww. It’s NOT an accident. They just had to stop because of all the fire and sparks coming from the wheels. I feel ripped off. Doogie is trying to cope. Politician calls James to scream at him; James screams at Doogie.
1:22:50--They get an old coal-burning engine to tow the shiny new train. The politician smirks at his pull in getting things done. Doogie warned us that you can’t put a coal-burner through an eight-mile tunnel--uh, smoke, dude--but oh well. NOW TWO TRAINS ARE ON A COLLISION COURSE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE TUNNEL!!!!11!!
1;24:00--Passengers are dying from asphyxiation from the smoke coming into the train. Lady panics and hits the STOP button. Army train is GOING TO HIT THEM!!! DOOGIE NEARLY FAINTS!!!
1:26:30--YES!!! TRAIN EXPLOSION IN THE TUNNEL!!! MASSIVE FIREBALL!! Clearly half the production budget spent on this ONE EXCITING SEQUENCE! ROCK SLIDE BURIES THE TUNNEL! SOMEONE CALL TIMMY AND LASSIE!
1:26:55--Meanwhile, back at Parents’ Cabin Lake...Dagny shows us she knows how to use a power drill. (She took a class at Home Depot, back before The Economic Troubles started. It was a simpler time.)
(By the way, fellas: when a lady goes away to a far-off cabin to be by herself and is not expecting visitors and she just wants to RELAX, chances are she will NOT use the occasion to wear her favorite pushup bra. I’m sure there are exceptions to every rule including this one, but I’m sure if I poll all of my female friends (okay, not too many of them are super-rich railroad magnates) not ONE of them will ever think of saying something along the lines of “Ahh, time to relax--where’s my pushup bra?”)
Francisco shows up and swaggers toward her. Oh, goody, another ten-minute speech about moochers and losers. I can’t wait. Apparently they were childhood friends.
1:28:30--They’re having wine on the front porch. The phone inside the cabin rings. SO MUCH FOR GETTING AWAY FROM IT, DAGNY. Francisco tells her to ignore it. She eventually does get it, though--and she’s told about the hundreds of casualties, and how nobody’s doing anything about it. DON’T THEY KNOW THERE WAS A POLITICIAN ON BOARD? Dagny storms out of the cabin to go back. Francisco tries to stop her. He strikes out.
1:30:00--The nation’s worst ever rail disaster! Doogie Howser, in tears, surveys the carnage under his watch and whispers “WIJG?” (TEN!) Wow, you can use that phrase EVERYWHERE! Someone--perhaps it is Competent Eddie--pats his shoulder consolingly. Hey, man, these things happen. Bummer of a first day, dude.
1:30:30--Dagny storms in and takes charge. But all of her best people have taken a powder--perhaps taking her lead--so all she has is Competent Eddie and the young people clustered helplessly around their newfangled computers. Dagny is not coordinating a rescue/recovery, however--she is trying to figure out how to get her trains around the blocked tunnel. YES! TAGGERT TRAINS WILL CONTINUE TO RUN DESPITE THE HUNDREDS OF DEAD BODIES INCONVENIENTLY STREWN ALONG THE TRACKS!
1:31:35--Dagny announces she is going to Colorado herself to open that tunnel with a soup spoon if necessary! Again, not to save people or retrieve the dead for their grieving families, but to GET HER TRAINS RUNNING. CAN WE LOVE THIS WOMAN ANY MORE? As she prepares to storm out of the office to storm off to Colorado, Mouch shows up on the screen a la Big Brother and they engage in some serious responsibility-hockey.
1:32:55--Despite her need to get there ASAP, as “the face of Taggart Transcontinental” Dagny decides to TAKE THE TRAIN to the disaster site. (You may recall she did a similar thing when hearing about a terrible train accident in the FIRST installment--instead of ordering a car and rushing to the office she WALKED TO THE SUBWAY and TOOK THE TRAIN INTO WORK.) Okay, I officially LOVE HER MORE, now. How long, in this futuristic world, will a train ride from NYC to Colorado take? LONG ENOUGH FOR A GREAT PUBLIC RELATIONS STATEMENT, THAT’s how long!
1:33:00--Dagny spends her whole train ride clutching her imaginary pearls (not even ugly metal jewelry! She’s slipping!) and thinking Sad Thoughts.
1:33:15--Meanwhile in Utah, Science Guy still Sciencing the Miracle Engine--which now looks like a shiny shop-vac--apparently fries all the electronics and power grid in town. Oops. As he pulls the alligator-clip leads with his bare hands--I gotta say the Miracle Engine’s insides, if you smear some lipstick on that pig, kinda look like the spinny Face-Top thing in TRON--which I always thought looks a bit like the cover of THE GREAT GATSBY--where was I? Oh, yeah, the Mysterious John Galt Voice asks him if he’s ready to leave. (Okay, again--I may not know ALL THAT MUCH about electricity and the electrical grid, but my understanding is, it would take a connection somewhat more robust than an ALLIGATOR CLIP to fry the entire town’s system. But again, that is merely my unqualified speculation.)
Oh, and here’s some shots of the Great Gatsby cover and the TRON face-top. I vaguely recall seeing TRON in the theaters when it first came out, but don’t ask me what it was about. I think the face-top was the main part of the computer, like a vaguely female HAL, that had to be destroyed before the movie could end.
1:34:20--Dagny wakes up in her luxuriously-appointed stateroom on the train. Geez, I’d take the train, too, with a ride like that! The train is stopped--broke down, I guess--and met by some guy in a pickup who is there to diagnose the problem. Yeah, great idea taking the train, Dagny! The guy seems to be rather a slacker, but he’s WEARING A HAT with the logo of the company that produced the MIRACLE ENGINE!!!!! There are not enough exclamation points for this plot point!!!!!!!1!!!
1:35:45--Dagny asks what happened to the company and the guy responds with a dismissive “WIJG?” (Eleventy.) It turns out the Miracle Engine Company died when the owner died and the heirs decided to run it like a BUNCH OF DIRTY COMMIE HIPPIES. John Galt stood up at that moment and QUIT!!! Old guy reminisces about how Galt promised to “stop the motor of the world”. Oooh. At least this speech effectively stopped the motor of excitement the movie was starting to generate.
1:37:35--Dagny borrows the guy’s truck and storms off. I have a hankering to reread Marguerite Henry’s book “STORMY: MISTY’S FOAL” after watching this movie.
1:37:50--Dagny stops in Leadville, Colorado--“Home of the Forty-Two-Dollar-A-Gallon Gasoline”--and parks the truck about as far away from the pump as she can while still filling it. The tension mounts. She smiles at the shotgun-totin’ scowling owner and calls Science Guy in Utah. Because gotta get the trains running, hundreds dead, blah blah blah. It’s good to know that Dagny is so good at multitasking she can scrape some time out of the many crises she is dealing with to check up on her hobbies. Science Guy tells her he is quitting. Dagny is understandably upset--she practically screams into her phone “NO! NOT MY HOBBIES, TOO!!!”--but he hangs up on her, anyway.
1:39:18--Dagny attempts to rent an airplane, but when the owner laughs at her she buys it. Oh, yeah, and she pulls a Tom Jones in MARS ATTACKS--“Can anyone fly a plane?” “Sure! Do you have one?” Dagny flies off and radios Competent Eddie with some last minute commands.
1:40:05--Wow. Thus far they’re doing a pretty bad job CGI-ing Dagny’s plane into the scenes that require a plane. It’s almost as bad as a 1970s green screen. We’re talking 1970s DOCTOR WHO bad.
1:40:23--Dagny’s landing in Utah. BY GUM SHE’S AT LEAST GONNA SAVE HER HOBBY EVEN IF HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE ARE ALREADY DEAD.
1:40:35--For some reason Science Guy is RUNNING for his plane. it’s like he KNOWS Dagny is going to bust his balls if he can’t get away from her. Dagny is landing and sees him running for his plane and does a really dangerous move that should get her pilot’s license revoked.
And now we’re in the plane chase that began this hot mess. Only instead of crashing her plane into a mountainside she goes through some sort of wormhole/alternate dimension. Alarms are going off in her plane. Her last words, again, are “WIJG?” (TWELVE!!!) She’s GONNA CRASH!! THIS IS SO EXCITING!!!
1:42:50--I realize many Ayn Rand fans are the sort who are TOTALLY OPPOSED to ANY form of government regulation, but I maintain if Dagny does not lose her pilot’s license after this flight then you might as well not issue pilot’s licenses and just let people take to the air all willy-nilly. It’s stuff like this that’s why I am officially OPPOSED TO FLYING CARS. People are bad enough drivers--do you REALLY want to give them a THIRD dimension to crash in?
1:43:10--She FINALLY crashes it. Man, they must have spent their entire special effects budget on the train tunnel explosion, because just about EVERYTHING with her plane has been just DREADFUL. Mary and Bert and the children marching up the smoke steps in MARY POPPINS is done WAY better than this plane crash. Plus Mary Poppins had the most AWESOME SOUNDTRACK. The Sherman Brothers outdid themselves. Mary Poppins: Good story, good writing, good effects for the time period, practically perfect in every way. Dagny plane crash: it looks like a student’s final project in ANIMATION 101.
1:43:26--Black. Did she survive? Really, folks, there’s a part three. It’s not like GAME OF THRONES where the main people die horrible deaths when you least expect it. Oops. Spoiler alert, GoT fans: people die. Sorry.
1:43:29--Despite the plane hitting the ground and breaking apart at a hundred miles an hour, the pieces all manage to lay about twenty feet from each other. There’s a fireball in the distance. I can see John Galt now: Oh, hey, THANKS Dagny for setting my Gulch on fire. We, like, SO appreciate it.
1:43:40--SPOILER ALERT. Dagny’s alive! I think from now on they should have EVERY actor for their audition to whatever part or production will have to do the crawling out of an airplane after a crash scene. It would add an extra dimension, even to things like PIPPIN or THE SOUND OF MUSIC. But I digress. Dagny is crawling out of the smoking rubble. If John Galt’s hand appears in the frame to help her to her feet I’m going to demand a writing credit.
1:44:00--People show up to see WTF happened to their beautiful GULCH. One shadowy figure approaches the plane and the clearly discombobulated, head-injured Dagny. And YES, it’s John Galt, although only shown in silhouette. And YES, despite telling her not to move because she’s clearly injured....
1:44:59--YES!!! MOJO EARNS HER WRITING CREDIT! So instead of waiting for a stretcher and medical personnel, they do things a little different in Galt’s Gulch. They grab the wounded by the nearest arm and drag them from the wreckage. Again, I can’t help but think a tiny bit of regulation regarding how people should treat CRASH VICTIMS might be a GOOD thing, since evidently Galt does not know, as MOST people do, that you don’t move a crash victim; you make them comfortable and wait for the EMTs who know what the hell they’re doing.
And as the music soars, we fade to black and await... PART THREE. After SIX MINUTES of credits, that is. And that’s WITHOUT my new writing credit....
So final thoughts: a tad more exciting and better-done than the first one, but the bar was set so low there was really no way to go but up. And when the most famous person in the production is Penn & Teller’s Teller, who is on screen for maybe ten seconds, then you really need to make up for the lack of star power with brilliant writing and acting, or at least (like, say, in the JURASSIC PARK franchise) decent special effects and ROARING DINOSAURS to hide the atrociousness of everything else. JURASSIC ATLAS--in 3D!!!
Oh, hey, added bonus: “This motion picture was produced with the permission but not participation of the Estate of Ayn Rand”. Objectivist-speak for “I wash my hands of this if it sucks”. START A-WASHING, AYN! WASH LIKE LADY MACBETH!!!
Had enough? NO?? Then I DARE you to continue on to PART THREE!