There’s no denying that Ayn Rand and her Objectivist philosophy of “rational self-interest” have gone a long way toward shaping our culture and politics, for better or for worse. But as we learned with Atlas Shrugged Part I, even fame and influence have their limits. The movie landed on the market with a dull thud, leaving Part II in jeopardy.

Producers Harmon Kaslow and John Aglialoro soldiered on, however, compiling a new cast and hiring a new director for the second part of his adaptation. The Duncan Scott-directed Part II stars Samantha Mathis (taking over for Taylor Schilling) as railroad exec Dagny Taggart, Jason Beghe (replacing Grant Bowler) as steel owner Henry Rearden, Esai Morales (stepping up for Jsu Garcia) as mining heir Francisco d’Anconia, and D.B. Sweeney (subbing in for Paul Johanssen) as the mysterious John Galt. Richard T. Jones, Patrick Fabian, Kim Rhodes, and Ray Wise also star. Watch the new trailer after the jump.

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Remember when producer John Aglialoro had only four weeks to put a film based on Ayn Rand‘s novel Atlas Shrugged into production? He had owned the option for years, and if he didn’t get a film moving by summer 2010 he was going to lose it. Aglialoro had one director hired, Stephen Polk, and a script he co-wrote with Brian Patrick O’Toole. But Polk was fired at the last minute, and Paul Johansson (One Tree Hill), who was also hired to play John Galt, ended up directing.

The film… didn’t do well. Actually, it did OK at first when targeted at a very specific audience, based only on that audience’s interest in seeing Rand’s novel hit the screen. But even people predisposed to love Atlas Shrugged saw the film as a rushed, inferior product. Given the themes of Rand’s over-arching philosophy, we call that “irony.”

But, as promised last July by producer Harmon Kaslow, Atlas Shrugged: Part 2 went before cameras anyway, with a new cast and new director. Duncan Scott directs, and now Samantha Mathis takes over for Taylor Schilling as Dagny Taggart; Jason Beghe plays Henry Rearden; and D.B. Sweeney replaces Johansson as John Galt.

A teaser trailer for the film is now available, and you can watch the latest episode of this years-in-the-making multi-film trainwreck below. But the teaser doesn’t show much of the new cast, and proves that this installment will be aimed squarely at the Fox News / tea party audience that Aglialoro courted the first time out. Read More »

DVD Review: Caprica

Caprica

If Battlestar Galactica asked the question “How would humanity survive a holocaust led by our most advanced technology?”, Caprica asks “At what point does our need for progress supplant our humanity?” Even though it’s set a mere 58 years before the events of the Galactica series, Caprica has a startlingly different tone. It makes sense, I suppose, since there are no Cylons hunting humans down to extinction (yet). Instead, Caprica gives us a look at a society on the brink of civilization-changing technological discoveries—with all of the hubris that follows unchecked progress.

For those confused by the release of Caprica, the DVD and digital download being released today is actually an uncut version of the 90-minute pilot. The series proper won’t start airing until early 2010, at which point we’ll also see a more tame version of the pilot aired as well. I’m not sure about the logic in waiting so long to premiere the series—Sci-Fi is aching for new content and BSG is the closest thing they’ve had to a hit in some time. It would make more sense to try and get this on the air by Fall 2009. Then again, this is the same network that spread the release of the fourth Galactica across 2008 and 2009 for no good reason. Read More »

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