After a critical & commercial drubbing on ATLAS SHRUGGED Part I/’11 (but with too much fanatical commitment to pull the plug), wholesale changes in cast & crew were only to be expected for Part II. (After viewing this, expect another round of wholesale changes for Part III.) Ayn Rand’s magnum opus on trains, planes & individual exceptionalism never did have the narrative pull of THE FOUNTAINHEAD, filmed in ‘49 with an all-star cast dodging the howlers in her own stilted dialogue. But surely there should be more to this follow-up than temper tantrums from rich kids who take the ball home so that no one else can play. The film does raise the production bar from the amateurish first outing, reaching the level of an ‘80s cable pic, and with the cast to prove it. But if you’ve ever thought ‘Who Is John Galt?’ an awkward catchphrase, nothing in here will change your mind. (Even worse is the potted mythological explanation of the title. If only they’d given that moment to Teller [the silent half of magicians Penn & Teller] making his talkie debut in a bit part. Or maybe he was there to assist in the mysterious disappearances that pass for plot in the mid-section of he trilogy.)
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: The economics of this sequel is even more puzzling than Ms Rand’s continuing appeal. Presumably, the folks behind these films think her cult will lend a long shelf life to the titles. But the hard numbers are pretty tough to get past. Part I barely grossed the film’s small cost (about 4.5 mill), which makes for a real loss somewhere between 5 & 10 mill. The sequel cost double to make (about 10) and grossed 22% less, a painfully slim 3.5 mill. But don’t worry. All three parts are being made under separate production entities which can individually ‘disappear,’ kind of like the geniuses John Galt tucks away, avoiding any unpleasant out-standing bills. Is bankruptcy included in the tenets Selfishism?