Out in cinemas this week: Were you waiting for Part II of the anemic film version of Atlas Shrugged, complete with an entirely new, low-rent cast? That's what I thought.
Atlas Shrugged: Part II (2012)
When the underfed partial Ayn Rand adaptation Atlas Shrugged: Part I dropped into the pond last spring and sank rapidly out of sight, few bystanders expected, much less hoped, that the remaining installments of the planned trilogy would ever come out. And in a sense, they didn't: this isn't the sequel it was supposed to be. Released near the election to capitalize on its political content, Part II is from new writers, a new director (John Putch, Mojave Phone Booth, Route 30), and, thanks to a reduced budget completely pricing out the cast of the first firm, a new and cheaper coterie of actors more familiar from light comedy than earnest dissections of the human condition (Ray Wise... Robert Picardo... Diedrich Bader... Arye Gross... John Rubinstein... Michael Gross... Thomas F. Wilson... see what I mean?). The only continuity, in fact, may be the never-say-die producers, John Aglialoro and Harmon Kaslow, and a profound lack of public interest. But please book that cast for the reboot of Cannonball Run.
The story: The global economy is on the brink of collapse. Unemployment tops 24%. Gas is $42 per gallon. Railroads are the main transportation. Brilliant creators, from artists to industrialists, are mysteriously disappearing. Dagny Taggart, COO of Taggart Transcontinental, has discovered an answer to the mounting energy crisis—a prototype of a motor that draws energy from static electricity. But, until she finds its creator, it's useless. It's a race against time. And someone is watching.
Starring: Samantha Mathis, Jason Beghe, Esai Morales, Patrick Fabian, Kim Rhodes, Richard T. Jones, D.B. Sweeney, Paul McCrane.
Directed by: John Putch.
You might guess it's a bit more cerebral than your run-of-the-mill supernatural thriller if Ethan Hawke leads the cast. It's from practiced hand Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose).
The story: Found footage helps a true-crime novelist realize how and why a family was murdered in his new home, though his discoveries put his entire family in the path of a supernatural entity.
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Juliet Rylance, James Ransone, Clare Foley, Fred Dalton Thompson, James Ransone, Victoria Leigh.
Directed by: Scott Derrickson.