In related news, I finally saw the Atlas Shrugged movie twice (once in San Diego during the APA, and once here in Auburn where it surprisingly showed up after all). I disliked it less on the second viewing than on the first, but it still left me mostly cold.
Admittedly any film of Atlas was going to have a hard time satisfying me; after all, Atlas was the book that introduced me to philosophy in general and to Aristoteleanism and libertarianism in particular, so its a pretty important book in my life.
All the same, Lord of the Rings, Dune, and Chronicles of Narnia were pretty important books in my life too, but despite various gripes I enjoyed the film versions of those a lot more than I enjoyed Atlas. (Re LOTR and Dune Im referring to the Peter Jackson and John Harrison versions respectively; I didnt much enjoy the Ralph Bakshi and David Lynch versions.)
I could give a long list of particular things that bugged me about the Atlas movie, but in a way that would be beside the point. After all, I could probably produce an equally long list of things that bugged me about Jacksons LOTR, but those complaints dont add up to anything like the same sense of overall dissatisfaction. And after all, the Atlas film was relatively faithful to the plot, and the casting was mostly sensible.
The difference is that, despite my many many gripes about Jacksons LOTR, I nevertheless felt transported into Tolkiens universe. And in watching Atlas I never felt transported into Rands universe. Im not talking about the decision to set the story in the present day, in a real-world timeline; given the budgetary limitations, the alternative, though preferable, wasnt feasible. But a skillful director and screenwriter could have captured Rands stylised universe despite that constraint. Essentially, what I was worried about here turned out to be exactly right.
The irony is that Rand, presumably in part because of her Hollywood training, wrote very cinematically. It takes a real effort to de-cinematise her scenes; but Johansson, OToole, and Aglialoro have unfortunately pulled it off.