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Atlas Shrugged: Part II - The Strike(2012)
With the global economy on the brink of collapse, Dagny Taggart discovers what might be the answer to a mounting energy crisis and races against the clock to prevent the motor of the World from being stopped for good.
For more about Atlas Shrugged: Part II - The Strike and the Atlas Shrugged: Part II - The Strike Blu-ray release, see Atlas Shrugged: Part II - The Strike Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on February 28, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Starring: Samantha Mathis, D.B. Sweeney, Michael Gross, Ray Wise, Jason Beghe, Esai Morales
Director: John Putch
» See full cast & crew
Atlas Shrugged: Part II - The Strike Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, February 28, 2013
In 2011, writing about Atlas Shrugged: Part I—the first in a planned trilogy based on objectivist Ayn Rand's massive 1957 novel—I expressed doubts that the second two parts would ever get made. Considering the story is about the value of free-market capitalism and well-used wealth, the first film is weirdly chintzy, a low-budget, sub-made-for-TV-quality slog with acting and a script to match the bargain- basement production values. It failed to turn a box-office profit, but producers Harmon Kaslow and John Aglialoro pressed on and somehow secured funding for the second film through a private debt sale. No longer able to afford or lock down the first movie's actors, they were forced to do a top-to-bottom recast for the sequel, which premiered on October 12th, 2012, just before the November election. This, of course, was no accident. The film's agenda—as Kaslow put it in an interview with conservative blogger Joe Miller—was to offer "an opportunity for swing voters to see what's going on back in DC and help activate them to vote President Obama out of office." That last part obviously didn't happen, and the film hasn't really succeeded by any other rubrics either.
The film's brand of agit-prop is based on the argument that some government regulation will inevitably lead to a total federal suspension of corporate rights and civil liberties. There's no in-between in this black-or-white economic fable. The story concerns tough-as-nails railroad tycoon Dagny Taggart (Samantha Mathis), who's struggling to keep her business operational despite governmental intervention and the cowardice of her brother, James (Patrick Fabian), who cows to the Washington elite. Meanwhile, Dagny is also trying to solve the mystery of the question that's on everyone's tongues, "Who is John Galt?"
A shadowy figure whose very name has become a synonym for any situation without an obvious solution, Galt has been recruiting the country's best and brightest minds—scientists and artists, engineers and entrepreneurs—to disappear from society without a trace, leaving their lives' work behind. With this strike, Galt intends to "stop the motor of the world," and prove his ideological point that the success of the nation is predicated on the unhindered freedom of its most productive citizens. The film gives primacy to the idea that businesses—and the bigwigs who run them—should be free to largely do as they please. At the center of this middle act of the trilogy is a cooperative corporate ménage à trois between Taggart Intercontinental, Rearden Metal—run by Dagny's hard-working love interest, Henry Rearden (Jason Beghe)—and Ken Danagger's coal company. Danagger (Arye Gross) provides coal to Rearden's smelting plant, Rearden's "miracle metal" is used to make Taggart's tracks, and Taggart's trains carry Danagger's coal across the country. The three companies are in a perfect symbiotic sync. Until, that is, those pesky old bureaucrats in DC enact the "Fair Share" law, which limits who Rearden and Danagger can sell to, and for how much. The State Science Institute—"a state institute without the science," as one character puts it—then tries to steal Rearden's metal under eminent domain, claiming it's for the "public good." Somewhere in here, real-life Fox News commentator Sean Hannity shows up to proclaim Rearden a hero of industry for sticking it to the now- socialist Uncle Sam.
The story's subplots are many, and uninterestingly developed. Dagny discovers an engine, possibly invented by Galt himself, with the potential to revolutionize how energy is harvested. A South American industrialist (Esai Morales) gives a borderline incomprehensible speech on the importance of capital—"When money ceases to be the tool by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of men"—and then blows up his own copper mines in an act of protest. A train collision tepidly raises the philosophical question of individual versus collective moral responsibility. As in Rand's novel, the characters are more stiff symbols than flesh-and-blood individuals—the government lackeys are named "Mr. Small" and "Mr. Mouch," a British spelling of mooch—and there's little in the film that resembles normal human interaction, partly because of the stilted acting, but mostly due to the clumsy script. Even the illicit romance between Taggart and Rearden is chastened and almost entirely subsumed by the film's overt political aims.
There's a difference between a film couched within a certain worldview and one that's simply agenda-driven, and Atlas Shrugged Part II certainly falls into the latter category, strategically misrepresenting the "other side" of what should be rational, balanced arguments about the function of government, the efficacy of a completely free market, and the nature of liberty. These are debates worth having, of course, as the concepts are fluid and always up for reinterpretation. The problem with Atlas Shrugged is that it's a dirty debater. It sets up straw men and throws out red herrings. It argues by repition. It poisons the well and appeals to fear and makes hasty generalizations. It just doesn't follow the etiquette of discourse.
Atlas Shrugged: Part II - The Strike Blu-ray, Video Quality
Like its predecessor, The Strike was shot digitally—albeit with the Arri Alexa, where the first film used the Red One camera system—and both movies have a similar made-on-the-cheap aesthetic, with flat, often overly-bright lighting, resulting in a picture that doesn't even look as good as most network TV dramas. And that's before we talk about the CGI, which looks like something out of a PS2-era video game cutscene. Once you get past the low-budget stylistic shock, however, there are no real technical complaints to raise about the film's 1080p/AVC- encoded Blu-ray presentation. The image does at least seem true to source, with no overt compression problems or meddling filtering, a la DNR and edge enhancement. Some shots seem conspicuously soft, but much of the time clarity is quite strong, with fine high definition detail easily visible in the areas where you notice it most— skin and clothing textures. Color is more than adequately dense, contrast is decent, and there are no unexplained fluctuations in hue, black levels, or skin tones. I suspect Atlas Shrugged: Part II looks as good here as it probably ever will.
Atlas Shrugged: Part II - The Strike Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The film's lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track blasts you out of the gate with the opening jet chase sequence, with the two planes roaring between channels, accompanied by a pounding orchestral score. If a little brash in the high-end, the mix is at least potent and immersive. There are a few other more action-heavy scenes throughout the film with a similar sense of punch—the smelter leak, the train crash, the reprise of the jet chase— but most of the movie is comprised of the actors reciting mouthy, exposition-laden dialogue, which is always clear, balanced at the top of the mix, and easy to understand. The track is a little less front-heavy than in the first film, and you'll often hear quiet ambience and acoustics in the rear channels, from outdoor sounds to the chatter and up-tempo jazz of a swanky bash. There are no clicks, hisses, or sudden dropouts, and the mix has a good sense of clarity throughout. The disc includes optional English SDH, Spanish, and French subtitles.
Atlas Shrugged: Part II - The Strike Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Atlas Shrugged: Part II - The Strike Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Like its predecessor, Atlas Shrugged Part II: The Strike will likely only appeal to those already convinced by its anti- regulatory, anti-government argument and willing to overlook its low-budget/creative shortcomings. Even those who agree with the film's premises and conclusions are likely to recognize that Atlas Shrugged isn't very successful as a movie—that it's poorly made, clunkily scripted, and almost robotic in its storytelling. 20th Century Fox's Blu-ray release is more than adequate, with strong audio/video quality and a few extras, but unless the first film is sitting proudly on your shelf, you'll probably want to skip this one.
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Atlas Shrugged: Part II - The Strike Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Atlas Shrugged: Part II - The Strike Blu-ray - December 20, 2012
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has officially announced and detailed its upcoming Blu-ray release of John Putch's Atlas Shrugged II: The Strike (2012), starring Samantha Mathis, Jason Beghe and Esai Morales. The release will be available for purchase on February ...
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