Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Atlas Sucked

Written by: Assholes
Directed by: Incompetents
Starring: A lot of embarrassed people collecting a check, and a few shitbirds who jumped on board this project because they agree with the utterly vile politics it espouses.

Most of us have unfortunately had one or another of Ayn Rand's sociopathic political wank fantasies crammed down our throats at some point in our lives. If you made it through both high school and college without being asked to write a book report to Rand's estate telling them just how awesome Rand was for a chance to win a scholarship (which you shouldn't be begging for anyway, you worthless sniveling moocher!), you're luckier than I. In our case, it was The Fountainhead we were forced to choke down like a Thai hooker gagging on Rush Limbaugh's sweaty scrotum. I even suffered the indignity of my favorite teacher telling me she was so excited for us to read the book because I reminded her of Howard Rourke! Right around the point he rapes his girlfriend and smashes one of her priceless pieces of statuary just because he feels like it, I started to wonder why she thought so little of me. At any rate, once was enough and I never read any more of Rand's poorly written idiocy, but when I heard there was a new movie based on her most prominent book coming out, and that every new bit of news suggested it was going to be a colossal train wreck, obviously I got excited. Check the header, folks. It doesn't say Cinemasochist for nothing.

For those unfamiliar with the story, I'll give you a quick rundown. Taxes on big business and the depletion of natural resources have made all methods of commercial transportation but rail too expensive to be practical any longer. Railroad magnate Dagny Taggart and steel magnate Henry Reardon team up to monopolize commercial transportation with the help of a magic engine abandoned in a factory by a mysterious figure named John Galt, who appears to be kidnapping all the great businessmen of America. Pretty soon, the evil government has taxed and nationalized the country to a standstill, and Taggart and Reardon follow the trail of breadcrumbs all the way to a Tea Party wonderland surrounded by a magic force field, where Galt and all the other CEOs can enjoy the fruits of their labor and give each other handjobs and sulk about how much it sucks to pay taxes and have to give all their hard earned money to people who actually work hard to earn their money.

If you said to yourself something to the effect of, “Wait a minute, a bunch of people living together in a moneyless barter-based economy where everyone is in some way an equally productive member of society sounds a lot more like a socialist commune than a right-wing fantasy camp”, you have a lot more common sense than Ayn Rand or anyone who has ever agreed with anything that ever drooled from her worthless fingertips. Although it's entirely possible she was the world's greatest con artist and spent every waking minute of her life laughing her ass off at all the rubes she duped while collecting the social security checks they helped pay for. That would explain why her books were so awful. You don't have to try very hard to write good fiction when your audience is comprised entirely of village idiots. They could have been written in crayon with half the letters backwards and it wouldn't have raised too many eyebrows.

Unbeknownst to many (including me), a film version of Atlas Shrugged has loomed over the movie going public like a precariously balanced mountain of dog shit, threatening to topple into our laps and ruin our dinners, since 1972. At first it was just a series of scripts that got blue balls for one reason or other, but within the last couple of decades it's been reported that over $20 million has been spent on aborted versions by various producers. So before we even get to 2010, when producers John Aglialoro and Harmon Kaslow began shooting just to be under production mere months before their film option lapsed (and to the surprise of absolutely no one the resulting product is considerably worse than Roger Corman's Fantastic Four movie made under similar circumstances), the budget of a reasonably funded independent movie had already been blown (no doubt with plenty of applications filed for local filming tax credits along the way).

After the first movie failed to make back much more than a quarter of its budget and got soundly trounced by critics and audiences alike, a private debt sale was required to raise enough money to start shooting part 2, which failed even harder than the first. Aglialoro refused to screen it for critics because he questioned their integrity. Of course it's the fault of the evil Jews who run Hollywood that no one likes your fuck-awful movies, John. Despite having a slightly larger budget than the first installment, part 2 looks even cheaper and shittier than its predecessor. Yet despite the Mighty Hand of the Free Market knocking Aglialoro and Co's dicks in the dirt twice, they refused to listen to the voice of their god, whose gospel they claim to be preaching, and went ahead on and made the third and final movie anyway. Almost half a million dollars of the $5 million budget was begged from a Kickstarter campaign, proving once again that no one who actually likes Ayn Rand has even the smallest inkling of a sense of irony or self-awareness. The movie made back less than twice what was raised from the Kickstarter campaign, this time failing to make back even one fifth of its total budget. And lo, the Free Market did speak, and yea it said unto the followers of the false prophetess, “Eat a bag of dicks.”

Upon the release of the second movie, myself, hetero life-partner Bob, and long-time reviewing compatriot Fistula sat down and watched the first two back to back. When the third one finally came out, we knew there was nothing for it than to watch all three in a row for some serious DEEP HURTING. Rounding out the cast with Rich and Jacob, we prepared ourselves to look into the mouth of hell. Or at least FOX News, which is about the same thing, really. Rich dropped the (TOTALLY LEGITIMATE) DVDs off at work Friday afternoon in case he was late to the party. Discs were labeled 1-3, with 1 having WHY scrawled across it in the handwriting of a broken man.

Knowing full well that both Tim at Checkpoint Telstar and El Santo of 1000 Misspent Hours (whenever he gets around to doing them, and I know the siren song will get to him eventually) will both do a far better job of writing proper reviews of the movies, this is going to be more of a chronicle of our pain. I had my computer on my lap through the whole ordeal typing notes. Settling in with a bottle of Schlitz (I thought it appropriate to tackle these turd burgers with a simple, blue-collar beer) and a tumbler of Woodford Reserve (I know, I know, but Rich brought the bourbon and I'm not going to say no to that), we begin our descent into badness.

Either Bob or Fistula (the verdict is still out, I'll let them rochambeau for credit) had a good zinger early on when, much like the first movie at B-Fest, everyone is talking more than paying attention and you can't hear yourself think, we were yapping over a lot of the dialog. “If you turn the subtitles on it just says, 'Get a fucking job you mooching piece of shit'.”

So, because it's the government's fault that multi-billion dollar companies destroyed the world's natural resources to the point that gasoline is forty-some dollars a gallon, trains are now the only feasible method of transportation. I wonder if Rand knows the railroad started as a huge government handout.

Blah blah boring boardroom power struggles and sibling rivalry...ah here we go! Reardon Steel's cocknozzle CEO gleefully throwing away memos from what I can only assume are steel working unions. Who needs happy, productive, well-paid and competent workers?

Pain level: 2. At this point we were paying more attention to the boxes of Wheat Thins Bob brought as a snack than we were the movie.

$20,000 a ton to re-rail an ENTIRE FUCKING RAILROAD!? Do the filmmakers have any idea how much a rail weighs? Ok, the average piece of finished railroad steel weighs 139 pounds per three foot length. For the sake of keeping this simple, since I don't have a map of Taggart Rail lines, we'll assume they're running one line from border to border of Colorado, 280 miles. This would require 492,800 pieces of 3 foot rail x 2 (it's not a monorail, remember), which gives us 985,600 pieces of rail. Multiply by your 139 pounds and you get 136,998,400, divide by 2000 pounds and we're at 684,992 tons, x $20,000 for a grand total of $1,369,984,000.00. Now, I realize Reardon's magical alloy is supposed to be lighter than steel, but they're also not laying a single straight line of the stuff. Hell, we know for a fact they had to build at least one bridge out of it too! So that already immense dollar figure is probably short by half, at least. And that's purely the cost of the rail material, not taking into account ties, spikes, frogs, switches, fuel burned by machinery, and the wages paid to those pesky mooching workers! The actual expenditure of this project could easily be ten times that figure or more. Asylum Films pictures put more thought and effort into the dimensional continuity of their monsters than the makers of Atlas Shrugged did on the economics of their fucking economics movie!

Ultra futuristic year of 2016, commercial airlines and trucking are dead. Rail is the only way to go. Funny since the people who love Ayn Rand philosophy are the ones who've been keeping us thirty years behind the rest of the world's rail technology.

So all the businessmen hate the guy who got the steel monopoly, just because they didn't invent unobtainium first? Are these supposed to be the people we're angry at, or rooting for? They're just as greedy and ruthless as Henry Reardon, they're just acting pissy because he beat them. Wait, aren't Galt and his followers just acting pissy because they don't like the way the world works? Why are these dudes any different? Oh, right, because they want the government to step in with anti-monopoly laws rather than just destroy the entire world's economy in a fit of pique.

Nationalization literally made ore disappear from Mexican mines? It's like they took every ridiculously hyperbolic thing FOX News and all the rest of the GOP pundits say about what will happen if the government is allowed to run any kind of program and took them at face value. It's amazing these people are even able to pour their own cereal in the morning.

Pain level: 3. Still trying to accept the fact that our heroine's name is Dagny Taggart.

Oh, the irony of a story about disappearance of natural resources made by drooling moron conservatives who blame it on having to pay taxes without ever examining the massive implications of what they're saying.

The CEO of a Fortune 500 company begging for work on the roadside with a sandwich board is probably my favorite hilariously earnest and utterly stupid image in a trilogy that is composed of pretty much nothing but hilariously earnest stupidity. Are you fucking kidding me? What does his resume say, “Ability to squander massive amounts of money on nothing, expert at committing tax fraud, no actual work experience”?

I'm a complicated man, and no one understands me but my money. GALT! You're daaaamn straight.

Showing huge teams of workmen doing the re-railing operation...DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND THE IMAGES YOU ARE PUTTING IN YOUR FILM!? THESE PEOPLE ARE UNION WORKERS! I suppose they see the workers as nothing but another tool for the mighty CEOs of the world, but the complete and utter lack of self-awareness is just galling. To say the movers and shakers of the world are the only ones who contribute, only to show the hard working people required to put their plans into action just seconds later...I give up.

State Science Institute? Wait a minute...S.S.I.? Is Super Robot Red Baron going to have to fight John Galt and his army of evil robots? This may turn out to be a lot more entertaining than we previously suspected.

Pain level: 5. Realizing that I'm getting all worked up over Galt being a secret identity of the devious Professor Deviler for nothing. The closest I'm going to get to a giant robot in this movie is the crappy CG animated train.

Their train goes 250 miles an hour. Faster than any train has ever gone in this country. Shame on us, really. America! Where transportation is slower and less efficient than anywhere else in the world. Go Galt!

Pay people according to their needs rather than their contributions. So...the CEO's get fucking nothing and the people who do all the actual work make seven figures a year? Ugh. Fuck Teabaggers. Please, every Fortune 500 CEO go Galt and leave the rest of us to do things properly.

They discovered Galt's perpetual motion engine just sitting on a shelf in an abandoned warehouse. It's basically a thermos with a few bits of copper wire soldered to it. I've seen more advanced-looking pieces of tech in 60's Doctor Who. And of course they instantly understand the principles of its counfoundedly complex operation. How do the heads of a rail line and a steel company have a working knowledge of theoretical particle physics?

The oil baron left his oil fields as he found them before he went Galt. Which, for those of you with enough sense to not be watching along at home means he set fire to them before he left. found it a blasted, flaming hellscape filled with toxic smoke did you, you fucking douchebazooka? I guess we shouldn't be surprised that a member of the I Got Mine So Fuck The Rest Of You party would implement a literal scorched earth policy as one final temper tantrum before stamping off to pout in his top secret tree fort.

Part 2

The Iron Alliance (or the three whiny steel barons who turned class traitor and became pro-government lobbyists) have come around, and now want to use the Galt Engine. They will use it to fuel their own mecha-robo, the Offshore Accountant.

All the characters are played by different actors. Dr. Stadler, previously an Indian, is now a bald white guy, and Laurent the Vampire has gained a foot of height and about a hundred pounds of muscle. It's OK, Guy Who Took Laurent the Vampire's part, you'll be in Godzilla in a few years so you have something awesome to put on your resume.

Government took over Wyatt Whateverthefuck's fossil fuel empire and hasn't produced single a lump of coal. Any other movie you'd think that was meant to be a dramatic exaggeration but you get the feeling these filmmakers don't have a self-aware bone in their bodies and mean it literally.

Wait a minute, Galt abducts a concert pianist? What the fuck are the millionaire CEOs going to do with a concert pianist in their Secret Treefort of Dickbaggery? Use him for target practice? How is he going to contribute anything meaningful to their communist...uh...I mean, totally right-wing Libertarian utopia?

Why the fuck would you have walls to your bedroom made of glass? That seems counterproductive. After a long night of drinking and you just want to get to bed, you're going to end up bleeding to death. I've had nights where I had trouble making it with nothing between me and the bed but air.

Do you see two assholes or a vase?
Reardon beats the law by arguing well and he can just do whatever the fuck he wants? How is he our hero? And how goddamn useless is the justice system supposed to be? ::watches five minutes of news from any given day:: Right, every bit as useless as it is in real life. The only reason this seems unrealistic is that he wasn't getting away with murdering a black guy on video in front of a hundred witnesses.

Michael Gross! Wait a minute, there are no Graboids in this boardroom! Can we shut this piece of shit off and watch Tremors instead, please?

Pain level: 4. Despite wishing I was watching an awesome monster movie instead of this garbage, I at least can take some solace in knowing not all the cool character actors showing up in these things are doing it out of some kind of ideological imperative. I know Gross is an anti-gun pacifist, so I seriously doubt his political views match up with much if any of the gobsmacking idiocy on display here.

I love how the shorter production schedule shows, even though they had more money. In the first one, we see actual railroad crews with huge machines laying ties and track and moving earth, and in the second one it's a team of four guys with tongs pulling up the condemned Reardon steel track and putting it in the back of a pickup truck.

Hearing the name of a character called Mr. Mouch pronounced for the first time. Me and Bob simultaneously: IT'S PRONOUCNED MOOCH!!! And this is how you can tell we've been friends for a looooong time.

So we're supposed to be pissed because the government is doing to the neocons what they've been doing to their workers for decades basically since Grover Norquist took over the GOP. Not so much fun when the shoe full of spiders is on the other foot, is it guys?

Pain level: 7. Four beers and two glasses of whiskey in and IT'S NOT GETTING ANY BETTER.

All the rich people die suffocating and on fire when they run a coal burning train through a mountain tunnel and it gets trapped halfway through. Jacob's response: GOOD! He's turning mean and bitter. Clearly we're rubbing off on him. Reminds me of Heartbeeps at B-Fest. YOU'ER GONNA DIE, BITCH, AND I'M GONNA WATCH!

Reardon is so torn up over the destruction and thinks if only he could have been there to help. Right. If Reardon had been able to help out he'd be out there holding the switch down with his own mighty CEO hands so the great rich people wouldn't die in the fiery crash LIKE THEY FUCKING DESERVE TO.

OK, so fossil fuels are so expensive that nothing but trains are feasible, and they're trying to rescue the trapped rich people by trains, except we saw in the last movie many massive industrial vehicles that burn enormous amounts of fossil fuels being used to re-rail the entire Taggart line with Reardon steel that AAAAARRRRRGH WHAT THE MOTHERFUCK!?

Pain level: 7. At this point I'm not sure if it's the alcohol or the movie making my vision blur.

So the government is both shadow conspiracy efficient and completely incompetent and bungling? Make up your mind!

Wait, now Taggart is hijacking a small plane? Majored in business, minored in theoretical physics, got a pilot's license in her spare time. Suuuure. in 2016 fossil fuels have made commercial air travel all but impossible, yet personal VTOL aircraft are now a thing?

Ooh, it's like the end of 2001, except I understand it completely and really don't want to. My God, it's full of shit...

Part 3: The Shittening

The ones who needed the money most were the ones who got paid the most? What the fuck!? When has this happened in the history of the world, ever? For that matter, how could this be construed in any way as a bad thing? Will this actually happen next year? I sure as shit hope so, because there are a lot of Blu-rays and records and comic books and Godzilla toys I don't have yet and I could use a new car.


I'm really disappointed Reb Brown isn't playing John Galt for some reason. I think if he shrieked his entire speech at the top of his lungs while exchanging laser fire with Jon Stewart in a high-speed floor waxer chase this would be a lot more entertaining.

Pain level. 6: The time it took to change discs and open another beer gave me a minute to rest and drop my blood pressure a couple points.

THANKS OBAMACARE. When the government started making medical decisions for me...LIKE THEY DID NEVER.

Actual dialog: “This is a diagnostic device I developed here in Atlantis. Every doctor should have one.” Subtext: “But I won't share, so fuck them.” I feel I should point out once again that this movie's protagonists are a bunch of people who create devices seemingly on a daily basis that could change every country in the world into clean, healthy, productive places to live, but they refuse to do anything for the common good because there's nothing in it for them but massive, unholy amounts of riches which they're afraid the government will take away, so everyone should just build their own damn magic engines. And yes, I understand that neurosurgeons are phenomenally intelligent and talented people—in one very specialized field. I do not buy for a second that this qualifies them to be able to build functioning tricorders out of spare junk drawer parts in their free time.

You know what it's like to build something and how little recognition you get for it? Like making enough money to live ten lifetimes comfortably? That's not enough recognition? What, you want to wake up to a fucking blowjob every day? Fuck you people.

What the hell is an actress doing in Galtland? Was she forced to appear in a bunch of Federal PSAs against her will? The more you d'oh!

Oh, because he's a Robin Hood for rich people and he's a worthless fucking cunt. That's why we're not watching a Ragnar the Pirate movie. Fuck that guy too. I shouldn't be surprised. Although I think the filmmakers aren't real clear on what Robin Hood did. Ragnar isn't taking from the poor and giving to the rich, he's sinking ships loaded with the copper desperately needed to rebuild America's infrastructure. So he didn't just go on strike and take some great invention with him, he's actively trying to make the problem worse. Shouldn't that make him a villain even in the Galt cultists' eyes? Oh, right, I'm thinking about it again. I keep forgetting that it stops working if you think about it. Good thing the audience for this are a bunch of slavering idiots.

I'm glad they're giving us introductions to who the hell these characters are for the third movie since they look nothing like the people from the first two. They should just all wear name tags.

“So, John Galt, do you do all the maintenance on your Land Rover yourself?” “Hahaha, no, when it breaks down I just buy a new one!”

People have a right to a living, which CEOs are required to give them. Well, right on the first count any way. Unless you're looking at the world through Nestle's eyes, in which case you can eat a dick. Wait, no, you're not even entitled to a dick. And you better not think you're going to get any water to boil that dick in, unless you buy it in a bottle from us with some powdered milk. Good grief, this is fucked up on so many levels.

Pain level: 8. Didn't take long for the ultrastupid to build up momentum.

Crude but lethal devices AREN'T CROWD CONTROL! That's called murdering people. S.S.I. clearly needs Red Baron. He'd Elec-Trigger these Galt cultists back to the Stone Age.

Grapefruit special just doesn't have the same ring to it as Orange Blossom Special. [editor's note: I have absolutely no idea what this is supposed to mean because I was pretty hammered when I wrote it and I didn't leave any explanation for myself, but I like it as a non sequitur, so I'm leaving it in.]

They're going to decide how to save the harvest over dinner. They being CEOs, not actual farmers. Of course those peons couldn't possibly be trusted with the survival of most of the world's economic structure like they have been basically since commodities could be traded in large quantities on more than a town-to-town basis. I will fucking kill you all.

Sacrifice Minnesota. Do you fuckers understand agriculture at all? You do realize what part of the country all your food comes from, right? Sacrifice them to what? You want to rely on local farmers in the Northeast to pick up the slack!? Now, ignoring for a moment the obvious fact that you can't just grow any old crop any old where with identical results due to things like soil composition and climate and stuff that fucking third graders understand, let's look at some statistics, shall we? Now, these numbers are based on 2004 cash receipts for wheat because that's the first chart I found and I don't want to waste my entire day off looking this stuff up, so we're a little out of date, but it's not going to change so drastically from year that the basic idea here won't hold up. I'll grant you Minnesota isn't our frontline producer when it comes to wheat—North Dakota and Kansas are the undisputed kings there—so at least the filmmakers have some sense of scale in this in that they, probably purely by accident, didn't pick one of the big ones. Still, the idea that the Northeastern farmers are going to pick up the slack is, like every single other thing about these shitburger movies, completely and utterly stupid. According to those 2004 numbers, Minnesota produced 341,037 bushels of wheat, or around 4.62% of the nation's crop for that year. Of the thirteen states in the Northeast region, only five of them produced any appreciable amounts of wheat at all, Maryland leading the pack with 27,565 bushels (.37%) and West Virginia bringing up the rear with a meager 863 bushels (.01%). All five put together only turned out 62,500 bushels. For those of you with calculators and ten seconds on your hands, that means Minnesota produces almost five and a half times more wheat than all the producing Northeastern states combined. And remember, fossil fuels are so scarce and expensive that it's all but impossible to run any large vehicles like combines, tractors, and semi trucks, which probably means most of the farming in this movie's poorly thought out world is done by hand and by horse. Also, since they're expecting the Northeastern farmers to “pick up the slack” at the last minute for this year's harvest, that means they're counting on them to be able to pull five and a half times their regular annual crop out of their asses. Good luck, guys. You're going to have a rough fall.

Pain level: 10. Showing ignorance about farmers is the absolute #1 surefire way to induce a series of painful and debilitating rage aneurysms in this guy right here.

The ignorance level is so deep as to be almost immeasurable. The sonar is still waiting for the first ping to come back.

Find me five more than mid-level executives who ever invented anything. I dare you.

Even the Galt motor isn't played by the same motor movie after movie. It keeps growing and getting glowy bits added on. This may be the only part of the movie that actually shows a budgetary improvement from movie to movie. This time it at least looks like an acceptably vague piece of sci-fi tech. Once again, I'd like to point out that this magic engine could make the world a better place for everyone almost immediately. Not only would no one ever have to die of heat stroke or freeze to death or not have clean water again, it would literally save the planet as fossil fuels would be rendered obsolete overnight. This means that giving the engine to the people of the world would, in fact, also be a self-serving act because if humanity goes extinct due to catastrophic climate change, Galt and his merry band of assholes will all die too. But that would require anyone who buys into Rand's philosophy to actually think their actions through to their final outcome rather than throwing a temper tantrum like a spoiled toddler who wants some candy RIGHT NOW. What am I saying, I'm sure they abducted the one guy at NASA who builds all the spacecraft single-handedly while all the lazy moochers watch, and he's even now constructing them a ship shaped like a giant middle finger which will blast off just as the lava and the floods and the hurricanes reach Dickweed Gulch in a great heroic action sequence. And of course it has lots and lots of portholes so they can watch the huddled masses die horribly as they fly away into space only to realize that they have nowhere else to go and have to start drawing straws to see who gets eaten first so they can conserve oxygen until their giant middle finger crashes into the sun because no one will volunteer to steer the damn thing because why should he have to steer the ship for everyone else and they should all just get their own ships instead of being a bunch of lazy moochers. The end. Please?

I will never ask another man to live his life for me, nor will I live my life for another. In other words, I will never do anything useful ever, and I destroyed my world-saving engine because the gubmint wanted it. Fuck you, Galt, you worthless cock monger.

Dagny gives orders to a bunch of grubby rail workers and she and Galt immediately go to a closet to fuck. Are we supposed to infer that they literally get off on telling poor people what to do?

You know, at the end of the day, this is something of a fantasy for us liberals too. Let all the Randoids go Galt and be assholes to each other in a magic valley somewhere. While they're all arguing over whether Sean Hannity could beat up Glenn Beck or the other way around, we could fill the valley in with concrete or fire ants or something.

We're told the Taggart bridge succumbed to regulation over footage of a bridge collapsing. Are we supposed to take that as the bridge literally fell over due to regular safety inspections?

And as our heroes fly away in a helicopter powered by puppy breath (remember, no fossil fuels except when it's convenient to the plot) and lights and power all over the country go out and millions upon millions of people die as the world is plunged irreversibly into a Mad Max-style spiral of social and structural decay, I invite you to consider that this is meant to be a happy ending.

That's it. I'm spent. Happy Tax Day, everyone.

Be sure to check out Checkpoint Telstar's reviews as part of this Atlas Sucked Tax Day Reviewathon. It was going to be a full roundtable, but everyone else had the common sense to say no. 


  1. I thanked Tim of Checkpoint Telstar for his efforts, and I want to thank you as well; between the two of you, I have all the benefits of having seen these films without all the dire consequences to physical and mental health of having seen these films. And "douchebazooka" is a fantastic bonus to the vocabulary. Magnificent work!

  2. I'm happy I could be of service. Our pain may as well serve some purpose. Glad you dug it!