I was fortunate to be invited to a pre-screening of Atlas Shrugged: Part II on October 6th. This event was sponsored by the Atlas Society and was attended by liberty-loving folks from all over the DC area. Quick note: The second movie continued right off where Part I ended. Some have suggested you can watch Part II without seeing Part I but I disagree on this small aspect (yeah, yeah I know Part I was a disappointment to most).
Part II was a tremendous improvement over Part I in virtually every detail. It had more action, less cheesiness, and made good integration of current events and potential future trends. The cast was completely revamped and in particular, Jason Beghe shone in his role as Hank Rearden. I got chills during Rearden’s courtroom speech and I almost stood up and applauded.
I've long felt the novel Atlas Shrugged and other deeply philosophical works such as Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy should be off-limits for the big screen. It is almost impossible to remain true to essential themes (usually they’re politically incorrect) without diluting the message while at the same time still appeal to the general public. Indeed, I personally feel a TV mini-series would be much more appropriate for these works.
That being said, the film crew has done a fabulous job in adapting Ayn Rand's magnum opus considering the fact they operated with a limited budget. For this, they should be commended. For me, the greatest measure of success is if the film provides intellectual stimulation (which I felt it did) and will convince audience members to check out Rand’s written works. After the movie was over, a representative of the Atlas Society mentioned that many members of the cast read the actual novel over the course of the filming and began to slowly embrace her ideas. Hopefully, this positive trend carries over to general audiences who haven’t read the novel when the film officially released on October 12th.