Thursday, October 20, 2011

Chris Paine's back with REVENGE OF THE ELECTRIC CAR: It's time for some justice!

Except for the subject matter -- that titular car -- you could hardly imagine two more different movies than Chris Paine's original and heavy-duty-anger-producing Who Killed the Electric Car? and his new one, the aptly-titled, let's-skip-and-dance-our-troubles-away REVENGE OF THE ELECTRIC CAR. The first one left you seething; this one leaves you on Cloud Nine. Sort of. I really don't want to do spoilers, but there's hardly any way around the fact that, if you follow the automobile industry at all, you'll know the outcome here. Nearly everyone involved seemed destined for happy times. And, yes, Virginia: "Revenge" is sweet.

Working against adversity -- and winning -- is one thing. But losing, as happened with the first film, and so unjustly, is another. This gave Who Killled...? its particular kick. That kick is decidedly missing from the sequel, but environmentalists, progressives (and all the rest of us who fit under the Communist Menace umbrella) probably won't mind because the news is so damn good. So good, perhaps, that Mr. Paine, pictured at left, seems a little sloppier here, letting us learn that any car can be converted from gas to electric -- but then not following up on this to much extent, other than letting us in on the troubles that plague the fellow (Greg "Gadget" Abbott, below) and his gal pal who are doing these conversions.

Who Killed...? gave us General Motors in all its juggernaut stupidity; GM is back again, this time in the person of executive honcho Bob Lutz, below, left), and the company -- or at least Lutz -- seems to be on (or closer to) the right track. My, such a change!

We also meet Carlos Ghosn, the head of Japan's Nissan firm, who, like Lutz, was a former EV (electric vehicle?) skeptic now converted to the cause of the plug-in car. When Ghosn announces Nissan's plan to produce a new EV callled the "Leaf," the auto world is of course astounded. (That's Ghosn in the car, below.)

And then there's the young dot-com billionaire Elon Musk, below, center, who plans to beat Detroit at its own game by producing the electric Tesla. Entitlement hangs over all these men, but it seems especially stenchy around Mr. Musk, so don't be surprised if you find yourself rooting for his failure, no matter how much you love the electric car.

How all this plays out -- with lots of ups and downs -- is covered handily in the course of this 90-minute movie, and even if you know the outcome, you may find yourself surprised at some of the events along the way -- like the unexpected meeting of Lutz and Musk during the auto show.

Revenge of the Electric Car, distributed by WestMidWest Productions and Area23A, opens theatrically tomorrow, Friday, October 21, in Los Angeles at Landmark's NuArt, in New York City at Landmark's Sunshine, and on Long Island at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington.  You can see all currently scheduled playdates across the country by clicking here.

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