Rollerball Blu-ray review

Rollerball on Blu-ray! Hurray! But it's the remake! Oh...

Once in a distant galaxy there was a movie, about a violent future sport which spun a dash of social commentary with a twist of James Caan and delivered some cinematic magic. How I wish that was that Rollerball I was reviewing here. Its seamless action and powerful underlying message is even more relevant today than it was in 1975 when it was first released.

But no, I’m reviewing the one crafted from the celluloid scabs of the ten worst action movies that you’ve ever seen, or even imagined. The one that makes no sense for almost its entire running time, with a staccato editing style so extreme you can’t actually follow what’s going on, and characters that make the claymation models of Morph seem deep and meaningful.

What really worries me about Rollerball (2002) is that it was directed by John McTierman, who made such great films as The Hunt For Red October and Die Hard. Tell us John, where did it all go wrong for you?

Actually it’s not all his fault, I’d like to also blame Chris Klein as ‘Jonathan’, who redefines the word bland. And those who added the ‘Gladiators’ promo graphics. And the person who put Jean Reno in here for good measure. But someone out there must like this movie, so now they get to have it on Blu-ray for their lack of taste. What does that add? It looks better, but the actions scenes are no less decipherable, and the sound doesn’t seem to use the range or channel capability of 5.1 to any great degree.

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For rabid fans of Rebecca Romijn-Stamos she’s in here, but this isn’t the original R rated cut, but the nudity and violence trimmed 15 rated one the studio ordered for a bigger viewing audience. On the basis that this only made $19m at the US box-office and the original made $30m some 27 years beforehand, that editing doesn’t appear to have been a worthwhile exercise.

Rebecca naked isn’t the only thing they missed off the extras here. They should have included the interview that LL Cool J did on Conan O’Brien when he admitted that the movie ‘sucked’, but he was contractually obligated to promote it. They did chuck on the forgettable Rob Zombie music video ‘Never Gonna Stop Me’, and a 20 minute documentary about stunts, neither in high def. What you also do get is a boring commentary track by Chris Klein, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos and LL Cool J, that in no way goes to explain why this movie is such a horrible mess. Keanu Reeves must have celebrated for missing the bullet on this one, as he was originally to have been Jonathan.

If you ever liked Rollerball, then forget this 108 minute advert and wait for the 1975 version to toddle along again. This Rollerball is bargain bin fodder of the highest order, irrespective of what quality it’s presented in.Movie

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1 out of 5