THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 821, May 10, 2015
What we learned so very painfully
in the 1960s mustn't be in vain.
Special to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
When I first wrote this review, it was difficult for me to contain my disappointment, so I was rather harsh in my critique of the movie. I delayed publication of this review because I thought about how J. Neil Schulman must have felt when Davi Barker unfairly trashed Alongside Night. I was afraid of becoming that ugly critic who harshly tears down the dreams of any would be movie maker. Usually I don't write reviews to trash the things that I don't like. I write reviews to help give exposure to the things that I do like. I suppose that it is the completest in me that compels me to write a review for the final installment, since I wrote reviews for the other two. I have rewritten parts of the review to make it seem less harsh, but it will still remain honest.
As a fan of the original novel, I thought the previous two installments were done quite well. Despite the first installment getting panned by critics and even a few of our fellow libertarians, I actually thought it was quite good. Then we have Part II, which had a slightly bigger budget where they were afforded a better cast and better production values. It even had better pacing than its predecessor.
As good as the first two installments were, they weren't able to generate much profit at the box office, so the makers of the trilogy had to raise money from fan donations to make Part III. They managed to raise five million for the movie's budget. Advertisement was pretty much nonexistent, unless you were a regular visitor of the official website. I didn't even know the movie was out until two months after it had already been released and taken out of theaters. It would be another two months before I was finally able to buy the Blu-Ray at a Best Buy.
After seeing the quality of the previous installments, you can imagine my disappointment when I saw the major downgrade of Part III. The cast, which played a large part in what made Part II so great, was one of those downgrades. I remember the fans called Taylor Schilling a cold fish that was devoid of passion in the role of Dagny. That was because they didn't see Laura Regan's performance. Regan didn't seem to understand the meaning of the word passion. The sad part was that she wasn't even the worst disappointment. Esai Morales, who gave us that beautifully charismatic performance as Francisco In Part II, was replaced by Joaquim de Almeida, who managed to show about as much passion as someone waiting in line at the DMV. The exceptions to my disdain for the new cast are Greg Germann as James Taggart and Kristoffer Polaha as John Galt.
The movie starts off well enough when we are introduced to John Galt in a flashback sequence, where we see him among the crowd of employees of the 20th Century Motor Company, when it is announced that all employees' pay would be based on need as opposed to merit. When the employees are told that they now belong to each other, Galt gets up and announces that he is going to "stop the motor of the world" before walking out in disgust. If there is a saving grace to the movie it is certainly Kristoffer Polaha as John Galt. Polaha is elegant, charismatic and has a nice bold voice to top it all off. He's pretty much everything I imagined Galt to be.
Then the movie picks up where its predecessor left off when Dagny crash lands her plane in Atlantis. Most of the scenes in Atlantis were done well. We are introduced to a variety of different characters who have chosen to abandon mainstream society so that they could live freely in Atlantis. We have a brilliant banker who refused to lend money to people who couldn't afford to pay it back. Then we have a top notch surgeon who left the mainstream when the government had more say in how his patients were treated then he did. The character that I found the most interesting was the lady running a food truck, who said that she chose to homeschool her kids because she refused to let her kids be part of a system that doesn't encourage them to think.
The only issue that I have with the Atlantis scenes was the lack of tension between Dagny and Galt. In the novel, Dagny actually hated Galt at first because she thought of him as a destroyer. Her hate then evolved into admiration, which later transformed into love. The problem was the extreme lack of chemistry between Regan and Polaha. The lack of chemistry would lead to one of the most awkward love scenes ever caught on film.
During Dagny's stay in Atlantis we are told by the narrator of the movie about the events that are happening in the outside world. We are told about the pirate, Ragnar Danneskjöld high jacking ships, crumbling infrastructure and government backed union thugs that decided to attack Rearden Steel. Telling us what is happening, as opposed to actually showing us, is something that will never bold well for any movie.
I was also disappointed with the absence of Hank Rearden. We are given a few references of Rearden when we are told that he hired a search party to find Dagny when she went missing. Then we get a short conversation with Dagny and Hank on the phone. I suppose the makers of the movie wanted to put the primary focus on the romance between Dagny and Galt. Still, you can't just write out a major character like Hank Rearden.
The reason why this movie comes off as such a disappointment is because I know that the makers were capable of doing so much better. The third part of this trilogy is where we see infrastructure getting ready to crumble and we have John Galt's famous speech, which inspires more people to rebel against the government. This installment should be the most epic of the entire trilogy, but instead it falls flat. I have this to say to the makers of the movie. I'm sorry guys, but this really wasn't the best that you could have given us. Even with the curve that I always give movies with limited budgets, I still think that you guys could have done much better.
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