1. It may or may not be better than part 2. It’s definitely better than part 1. Libertarians are basically panning it everywhere, not for its (in)fidelity to Rand’s book, but for the talents of the directors and producers.
2. The production values are somewhere around the level of an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation or a B grade made for TV movie. (Maybe that’s why so many trek actors, like Armin Shimmerman, have been sprinkled throughout this trilogy — they know how to act beside nothing but papier mache and glitter.)
3. Rob Morrow (as Hank Reardon) and a number of well known TV character actors have bit parts or mid-level parts for which they are either bad casting or oddly brief cameos.
And who knew Hank Rearden was a hot Jewish boy?
(Morrow – I’d eat him with some horseradish!)
4. Actor Kristoffer Polaha does a very respectable job as John Galt, as well as being both a moderately delicious hunk (though truth be told, aside from some pretty mountains, there isn’t a lot else for the gaze to settle on). As long time Objectivisty libertarian Republican activist Ann Stone just emailed me “I was not crazy about this one at all…seemed stilted…the only positive was the hunk playing John Galt.” So far all the gals and gay guys I have spoken to agree.
5. The torture scene, where the worst of the fascist kakistocracy strip and electrocute Galt to try to force him to become the nation’s economic czar, features only a shirtless, not nude, Galt, unlike the book. The special effects are also not good even for an old episode of TNG in this scene. And though Polaha, married and the father of three, is 6’3″ and in better shape than me or most of the people reading this, by Hollywood standards he needs to lift some weights to have shirtless scene quality pecs. Rearden is also not there to help rescue Galt, as he is in the novel.
6. Funnily, Polaha does actually resemble a number of good looking libertarian boys, our better looking nerds, although he’s taller. I think he and Gary Johnson’s son could be cousins.
7. Amazingly a number of people attending the group event screening I attended in Arlington, Virginia were libertarians who have never read Atlas Shrugged. More amazingly they claimed to understand this movie without having read the book or in some cases having seen the first two installments. I don’t think it is well written enough to stand alone, but if these other viewers can be trusted, I am wrong.
8. Ron Paul, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Grover Norquist, among others, all appear, in some cases playing themselves and in some cases as extras. It’s cute, but when someone does a real version of this someday, starring Anne Hathaway and Joe Mangeniello they should take these “product” placement gimmicks out. (How come they didn’t get Kennedy to play Cheryl Taggart? I bet she would have been good at it for real.)
9. It’s actually very touching and almost misty eyed making, mainly the scenes where Dagny and Galt navigate the fact that they want to be together but are on different sides of a war.
10. The one thing the writers and directors did do well is condense The Speech and figure out how to film it. Among all the overly long and loving panoramas of redwoods and mountains and the cheesy sets, this they did surprisingly well.