I watched Atlas Shrugged Part I with the econ club tonight. If you don't read the book before watching the movie, there are tons of characters heaped on you in this first installment of the trilogy. It's tough to draw the connections between everyone without a background of how the story will unfold. The movie times the presentation of information to the audience differently than the text.
It's true that there are some bad sets and terrible CGI, but I feel like this first movie was just a setup for an awesome Part II. I hope they can trim the speech in Part III or else it's doomed to be boring. Overall, the actors did a good job of portraying the characters. I was an especially big fan of Taylor Schilling who plays Dagny Taggart. She showed the confidence and determination that I imagined while reading the book.
Watching the movie now makes this book feels particularly prescient. At one point, I seriously thought I heard Obama's voice from one of the government types who was basically talking about spreading the wealth around. Spreading the wealth is a nice concept until one stops to consider where that wealth comes from before it is spread or who is in charge of the spreading or what sorts of incentives that creates for everyone. In response to these incentives, Ellis Wyatt sets his own very valuable oil field on fire. This is where Part I of the movie ends. It is not unreasonable to think that non-fictional characters faced with the same incentives could do the same thing.
I am glad that I got to watch this movie with the right audience. I don't think it would have been as good on my own or without a discussion afterward.