Atlas Shrugged stirs buzz over philosopher Ayn Rand

Atlas Shrugged stirs buzz over philosopher Ayn Rand

Online interest is spiking for the founder of the influential Objectivist movement.

Few authors have as many fans (and detractors) as the late Ayn Rand. The author of “The Fountainhead,” “Anthem,” and “Atlas Shrugged” was also the founder of a philosophical movement known as Objectivism.

Some argue the philosophy is simply an excuse to be selfish, but defenders of Rand say that’s what leads to the greatest productivity. Rand’s landmark novel, “Atlas Shrugged” focuses on that belief and it is still among the best-selling and most influential books in history. Many, including Rand Paul, call it an inspiration. The tea party politico from Kentucky recently brought up the writer in Congress. Now the controversial novel is coming to the big screen — at least, part of it is.

Small in budget, but large in scope, “Atlas Shrugged Part I” doesn’t boast an A-list cast. Its “stars” include Taylor Schilling (NBC’s “Mercy”), Paul Johansson (“One Tree Hill” and “Beverly Hills 90210”), and Grant Bowler (“True Blood”). But what the cast lacks in star power, the movie more than makes up for in Web searches. Over the past week, online interest in the film has surged over 300%. Related lookups on “atlas shrugged part 1 trailer” and “atlas shrugged reviews” also soared.

Now, about those reviews. So far they aren’t too good. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gives the movie one star out of four, writing, “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.” Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gives the flick zero stars, and says the film “sits there flapping on screen like a bludgeoned seal.” Kyle Smith of the New York Post is a bit more kind, saying the film “contains a fire and a fury that makes it more compelling than the average mass-produced studio item.”

For those unfamiliar with the story, “Atlas Shrugged” is set in future America where great minds are punished and industry is over-taxed. A railroad magnate named Dagny Taggart fights against government and “groupthink” to save her business. Intrigue, romance, and the merits of the individual all play big parts.

Some might say it’s the movie President Obama doesn’t want you to see. Others, namely critics who have already seen it, just say it’s a movie you’re better off skipping.

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