It takes a lot to get a 0% at the mass market critics’ consensus site Rotten Tomatoes. Pick an awful movie you can think of and it probably managed a 5% or maybe even a 25%. Somehow, Atlas Shrugged, Part I (yes! more to look forward to!), which opens Friday, has at this writing achieved the rare feat.
In other words, not a single critic to date, from major and minor outlet, high or lowest of low of lowbrow, likes it one bit. I like the headline over the Chicago Tribune review: “Taxing Indeed.” Still waiting for “Don’t Go (Galt) There.” Or “Born Under a Bad Ayn.”
Oddly, there’s no New York Times review today. A political statement? Or was the paper barred from the screening room?
Here’s a sampling of commentary:
Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Atlas Shrugged. I arched eyebrow, scrunched forehead, yawned.”
Roger Ebert: “The most anticlimactic non-event since Geraldo Rivera broke into Al Capone’s vault. I suspect only someone very familiar with Rand’s 1957 novel could understand the film at all, and I doubt they will be happy with it. For the rest of us, it involves a series of business meetings in luxurious retro leather-and-brass board rooms and offices, and restaurants and bedrooms that look borrowed from a hotel no doubt known as the Robber Baron Arms.”
Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: “The book was published in 1957, yet the clumsiness of this production makes it seem antediluvian.”
Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic: “It has taken decades to bring Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” to the big screen.They should have waited longer.”
Kurt Loder, the former Rolling Stone writer, for the Libertarian site Reason Online: “The new, long-awaited film version of Atlas Shrugged is a mess, full of embalmed talk, enervated performances, impoverished effects, and cinematography that would barely pass muster in a TV show. Sitting through this picture is like watching early rehearsals of a stage play that’s clearly doomed.”
Peter Dubruge, Variety: “Part one of a trilogy that may never see completion, this hasty, low-budget adaptation would have Ayn Rand spinning in her grave.”
Washington Post: “nearly as stilted, didactic and simplistic as Rand’s free-market fable.”
Loren King, Boston Globe: “Even fans of Rand’s 1957 antigovernment manifesto may balk at having to endure dialogue that would be banal on the Lifetime channel, along with wooden performances…”