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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL 53:30)
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
    English, French, Spanish, Dutch, Arabic, Portuguese, English - Hearing Impaired, Hindi
  Extras
  • Teaser trailer - Final Fantasy, Godzilla, 6th Day
  • Theatrical trailer - Rollerball
  • Audio commentary
  • Animated menus
  • Music video
  • Interactive film trivia

Rollerball (2001)

Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 94 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Here we see yet another big budget, huge brawling, high action, low intelligence Hollywood remake of a classic science fiction film. The 1975 original of Rollerball created quite a following with its exciting look at the future of capitalism, corruption and the influence of sports. However, any philosophical insight that the original film contained has been left behind in this 2001 release of Rollerball. Instead we see a completely new film, fuelled on blood, guts, and high octane action. The science fiction storyline has been replaced with cracked skulls and a heavy metal soundtrack - still, what else would you expect from the director that brought us Die Hard and Last Action Hero?

So what we get instead is a simplified storyline based in a time a lot closer to our own modern day, and instead of a global revolution controlled by the game we see a game controlled by wealth, gambling, and broadcast ratings. This movie is unashamedly nothing like its ancestor, sacrificing storyline and dialogue for kick arse action and corny one-liners... but does it deliver?

Iím going to cut in here and say flat out that I hate Chris Klein, his on-screen presence has that nervy, edgy and uncomfortable feel to it that makes me want to hit something. Iíd love to say here that after seeing Rollerball my mind has been forever changed and I have a new found respect for the guy. But unfortunately no such luck, his performance in this flick is up with his usual drabby efforts. Heís trying to play the clean cut American kid who not only has a dark, cranky side, but also a caring, gentle and sensitive touch. I mean the kid seriously can not make with the cranky eyes, and when he tries you are left sitting there on the verge of laughing at his dumb expression which looks more like a whimpering cocker-spaniel thatís just copped a whacking with a rolled up newspaper for leaving stains on the carpet.

My other complaint comes from the direction of this film. The storyline is shallow, there is very little going on in the background and the short 94 minutes that the film runs for is mostly filled with people racing around the track, racing around in fast cars, and racing away from the bad guys with big guns. The editing is atrocious, although it appears very deliberate, with the cutting of the action scenes done in such a choppy manner that you spend most of the final ten minutes straining your eyes trying to see what is really going on.

I know Iíve avoided sharing the storyline with you so far, but donít worry, this wonít take long. Chris Klein plays the role of Jonathon, the American boy making a fortune out of a crazy new roller sport in Russia and Asia. The money, fame and fast cars are there, but Jonathon and his mates are noticing that the game is getting just a little too nasty for their liking. But like any good B-grade movie Jonathon realises that escaping from a money hungry Russian with a French accent isnít going to be that easy. This is where the action kicks off and the game gets personal.

  Video
Contract

Weíve got ourselves another high quality release here. Presented with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and widescreen enhanced, this transfer looks great.

Columbia Tristar are making it increasingly harder for us to do our job, Iíve watched this film twice now and Iím still not picking up many faults. The colours are great which means that the Rollerball action itself looks brilliant if nothing else. The detail is high, grain is low (excluding the night vision scenes), and film artefacts are of the smallest possible degree. After several release delays this film was only put to screens earlier this year, so the overall video quality looks brand spanking new. I could ramble on more about the high quality video transfer but is that really necessary when Iím going to give it near perfect marks anyway?

  Audio
Contract

The audio is also top notch and presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The dialogue is clear and the heavy metal soundtrack pumps through with ease. The surrounds get a constant and heavy-handed work out, pumping out effect sounds and rock songs almost the entire length of the film. This means that the subwoofer is also pushed and adds some real depth to the film.

Apart from the English soundtrack there are also French and Spanish varities, all are Dolby Digital 5.1 and all are encoded at a healthy 448Kbps. There arenít many complaints about this soundtrack, audio synch is clear and the corny one-liners couldnít have sounded better (or should I say worse?), either way they come out clearly even if they are corny.

  Extras
Contract

Okay, let's start with the audio commentary. This one is borderline interesting at very best. If youíre a big fan of Chris Klein, L.L. Cool J or Rebecca Romjin-Stamos then you might get a kick out of it, otherwise sitting through the film one more time to listen to the commentary really isnít going to be worth the pain.

Next we have a few theatrical trailers for Rollerball, Final Fantasy, Godzilla, and Arnieís The 6th Day. The trailers for Rollerball and Final Fantasy are widescreen enhanced, all have Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, and all are of a very high quality.

There is also the Rollerball Yearbook, which includes sections about the teams, players, the gear, and the dome itself. Each team and player section has its own little video montage to go with the static information pages that all these little sections have. There is nothing terribly interesting here and it appears to just be fictional details about the fictional game which wasnít even designed until after the filming. On the plus side they add some depth to the storyline and background which was obviously cut for the sake of bone-crushing action. It might be worth a look if you're bored one lazy Sunday afternoon.

There is also a hidden Easter egg, a Rob Zombie film clip. Check out our Easter eggs section for further details.

  Overall  
Contract

If you ignore the strobe-light like editing, Chris Klein's performance, and the lack of storyline, then this small shell of an action film is somewhat reasonable. It is by no means great, I'm not sure if it's even good, but after the theatrical flopping it copped it is worth saying that this film isn't as bad as it could have been. If you enjoy a big dumb action-sports film set in the not too distant future then Rollerball will be right up your alley. If you're expecting anything like the far more intelligent James Caan original then you're set up for a disappointment.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=1795
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      And I quote...
    "Nowhere near as smart as the original film, but it's faster, louder and has a fantastic transfer..."
    - Nathan Clark
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-636
    • TV:
          LG 80cm
    • Speakers:
          Pioneer
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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    Mutant X 1.1
    "...there is nothing here we couldnít see during the animated 7:30am Saturday cartoons."

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    "...this collection might not be the best bang for your buck, allthough there really are plenty of bangs available for those who can stomach all the rough acting. "

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