The other day I got the original Rollerball (on DVD) in the mail. After seeing the remake when it came out I was told by my father that the original was a very good movie to see, so I found it on DVDEmpire and picked up a copy of it. I wasn't thinking it was going to be all that great, just more violent because the movies of that kind from the '70s were generally violent, and hell new movies cannot be as violent as movies back then. Well, I was wrong because not only was the original Rollerball a great movie, with an actually good plot to it, it was nothing like that movie that had no right being called a remake of this classic.
First off, my original opinion of the new Rollerball movie was that even with it rambling at points with no real meaning the ending (up until the last minute or so) really made up for the extremely slow (and poorly done) build to the last match. The erruption of the crowd signified that they had enough of the tyranny they were being held under. Now if it just ended with the violent erruption of pure hatred and defiance from the people, and a little bit of revenge from Jonathan Cross (Chris Klein) it would have been a fitting end to a movie that was built up the way it was. But they had to add that last minute or so to give it a happy ending. Doing that ruined a movie that I already felt was standing on weak legs up to the ending. I didn't have high expectations for the movie, but was entertained even if the movie was one of the worst movies I'd seen this year so far.
Then I watched the original, and was completely turned off by the farce that was the remake. If nobody has seen the original, go get a copy of it on DVD or VHS and check it out, because it is a very good movie with a chillingly possible topic. It wasn't the violence that made the original better, in my opinion, it was the story of big corporations discouraging indivuduality and when one man shows it is ok to be different they have to squash that show of deffiance. Every bit of the movie had symbolism, from the fact that nobody had any mention last name except for James Caan (Jonathan E.) and the Energy Corporation Boss, to the game itself being a showing of individuality results in failure. The movie builds slowly (but properly) to an ultra-violent finish where the crowd chants for Caan's character as the movie end. You don't know what happens after the match, and that's the point, to make you think.
It is really a shame, because if they used the original script, with some actors who could've carried the script (I have nothing wrong with Klein but LL Cool J cannot act) it wouldn't have done more than simply double their money, which isn't a bad thing but could've done more considering what they went up against while they were out. I recommend anybody who saw the remake to check out the original, because you will be surprised how different the two are.
Mr. Flugelman: Do you know what "nada" means? Dusty: Isn't that a light chicken gravy? - Three Amigos (1986)
It's amazing how prophetic Rollerball turned out to be:
hyperviolent sports corporate ownership drug addiction (especially painkillers) cult of sports celebrity worship
Then I can write a washing bill in Babylonic cuneiform, And tell you every detail of Caractacus's uniform; In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral, I am the very model of a modern Major-General.
that's the way it is with nearly every modern remake of movies. The same thing happened with Planet of the Apes and Bedazzled, and is most likely going to happen with the proposed Billy Jack remake and the rumored Seven Samurai remake (despite having already been remade 2 times). Hollywood takes good, older movies, dumbs them down, adds a lot more CGI and voila.
The directors commentary has some interesting insights:
1. In order to make the games more realistic they created a rulebook for the game. So if anyone wanted to turn Rollerball into a sport they could use that as a starting point.
2. The stunt men fell in love with the game and would stay late to play real life Rollerball ‘games.’
3. Do you know how difficult it is to find 20 Asian stuntmen available at the same time?
What a fantastic film. This has always been and will always be in my all-time Top 10 list.
You're in a desert, walking along in the sand when all of a sudden you look down and see a tortoise. It's crawling towards you. You reach down and flip the tortoise over on its back. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over. But it can't. Not without your help. But you're not helping.