Jul 14, 2022

Rollerball (1975)

Rollerball is a 1975 science fiction sports film directed and produced by Norman Jewison. It stars James Caan, John Houseman, Maud Adams, John Beck, Moses Gunn and Ralph Richardson. The screenplay, written by William Harrison, adapted his own short story, "Roller Ball Murder", which had first appeared in the September 1973 issue of Esquire. Although Rollerball had a largely American cast, a Canadian director, and was released by the American company United Artists, it was produced in London and Munich

In a corporate-controlled future, an ultra-violent sport known as Rollerball represents the world, and one of its powerful athletes is out to defy those who want him out of the game.
Freddy and Krasnaya Movie Review

K: The third movie of our tribute week to James Caan is Rollerball, a 1975 sports drama directed by Norman Jewison. The events of the film unfold in 2018 (we are 4 years ahead already), in an ideal, at first glance, society in which there are no more wars, hunger, violence and disease. The comfort of living here is preferable to moral principles. It is dominated by corporations that control the sport that zombifies millions. Doesn't it remind you of anything? Well, as you understand, these corporations do not need the popularity of the captain of the Houston team, Jonathan E. (James Cann) at all.

F: Howdy partner! Let me start by asking where is the 4-screen TV set you promised me for Christmas? Who the hell thought that this wall-encrusted TV set was a good idea for the future of our home entertainment and comfort?  I had high hopes for this movie and they weren't met. I don't think that Rollerball was able to pass the test of time. Nothing looks futuristic in this 1975 sports sci-fi and there isn't much going on. I was not able to get a sense of a different world, the atmosphere was not built because the direction and storytelling are rather weak.  

70's TV set GIF
I can't get past this amazing technology. 😂
K: The film is shot with high quality. I liked how much attention the director paid to the details. Rollerball itself and its rules (reminds me of gladiator fights in the era of the Roman Empire), a society of the future, constantly swallowing pills, a riot of fans. The game is shown so spectacularly that I even began to spin in my head. The special effects look a bit naive today. I wasn't very impressed with the acting. In fact, this film is a one-man theater in which secondary characters flash periodically, they are given little space and they look very bland. The main character played by James Caan (Jonathan E.) turned out to be quite real, a little sluggish and emotionless, struggling with the system.

F: I don't agree with you. I think that the director's and writer's work was shit. The pills thingy was stolen from "Brave New World". There aren't many original futuristic ideas in here except for the game of Rollerball which has 3 scenes that run for way too long with shots that are fast and confusing. You do have some cool moments in the game, but the movie needed an antagonist on the field. You needed a baddie in the Tokyo team and a baddie in the NY team to make things more exciting and... reasonable.

The acting is terrible and there was nothing special about James Caan. Everything seemed stalled. And that audience? Yikes, they looked all so bad! They didn't transmit a feeling of a different time nor of true excitement for such a bloody sport. The Tokyo fans were the worst with their victory choreography. So lame.  And I'm still having cringe flashbacks from those ridiculous zooms into the audience.

This movie won a BAFTA for best Art Direction. Lol, it must have been a bad year. The TV movie with James Caan that we previously watched, had way superior direction, aaaand acting. 

Rollerball Movie GIF
"Tokyo! Victory!" - So lame...
F: In Rollerball you will also get to see strange scenes like a party with 70's porno music going on and everyone having what seems like forehead sex, and an old guy shouting at the most advanced computer on earth for him to give him answers...

K: Rollerball should appeal to fans of sports and sharp competitions, fans of science fiction and dystopias. I myself do not belong to any of these categories, so it was boring for me to watch what was happening on the screen, since the film was also dragged out.

F: I'm a big fan of sci-fi and dystopian movies but this one didn't work for me. I don't recommend it either, because it runs for 2 hours and it can be quite boring because nothing really happens.

Guns that go Boom GIF
Another amazing piece of technology from 2018.
Freddy's Score: 39/100
Krasnaya's Score: 44/100





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