Rollerball (Blu-ray) (2002)

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Released 27-Oct-2008

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Making Of
Audio Commentary-Cast
Trailer
Web Links
Music Video
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 98:07 (Case: 94)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By John McTiernan
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Chris Klein
LL Cool J
Rebecca Romijn-Stamos
Jean Reno
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Eric Serra


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The John McTiernan's 2002 Rollerball "remake" is easily one of the worst studio-produced movies of the 21st century. What initially starts out as a cheesy, formulaic sports action flick quickly collapses into an utterly illogical, convoluted mess of conspiracies that don't add up, preposterous generalisations, garish overacting and an array of the worst stunts and special effects committed to celluloid in the modern age. There is literally not a moment you can take seriously after about the first 10 or 15 minutes of the movie. Things look even more grim for the movie if you try to compare it to the original, which was little more than a decent high-concept sci-fi flick itself. Despite all its faults, Rollerball is surprisingly watchable, even entertaining a "so bad it is good" kind of way - just make sure you have at least one friend to riff it with. Where are the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 guys when you need them?

    It is 2005, the near future (compared to the film's production, at least), Jonathan Cross (Chris Klein, essentially a virtually career killing turn) is a would-be pro ice-hockey player whose temper keeps costing him a break in the minor leagues. Jonathan bumps into his old friend Marcus Ridley (LL Cool J) and is lured to head to Eastern Europe to play in a new WWE-style sports entertainment venture called Rollerball. The game itself doesn't make much sense, a bunch of ridiculously dressed people on inline skates and a couple on motorbikes make a vague effort to hit a metal circle with a metal ball, but it is violent (even the irritating commentator who explains the whole thing doesn't understand the rules of the game). Overnight Jonathan becomes the games biggest draw and best buds with the game's owner Alexis Petrovich (Jean Reno).

    Things start to fall apart after one of Jonathan's teammates is brutally injured. Jonathan's secret lover, teammate Aurora (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, as she was then known), discovers that the injury had been set up to boost ratings (in this world ratings are measured instantly on a little display next to the owner and increase exponentially the instant anything violent happens). Aurora is hunted down for what she knows, but as soon as she lets Jonathan discover the secret the goons more or less forget about her and chase Jonathan and Marcus. None of this really stops the pair from turning up for their Rollerball games, so revenge/exposure is planned to be carried out on the field.

    John McTiernan took a few risks with Rollerball and unfortunately none of them paid off in the slightest. The most notable being 10-15 minutes of the movie shot entirely on blurry, grainy night vision, for no particularly good reason (it would have made more sense if it was intended to appear the camera was a first-person view), which turns a laughable sequence of the movie into something hysterical. Various musical segments edited into the film are both pointless and downright laughable - particularly Pink lip syncing to a Rob Zombie song!

    The action throughout the film is generally either cut too quickly or shot so blandly it lacks excitement. Walls and floors can be seen wobbling in many of the stunt sequences.

    Rollerball is an odd choice for a relatively early Blu-ray release, but worth a look for fans of bad flicks.

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Transfer Quality

Video

Disclaimer: Please note that this disc has a video resolution of 1080p. It has been reviewed on a display device with a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL). More information can be found here.

    The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio in 1080p/24fps.

    The video looks far better than the film deserves. It isn't the best looking Blu-ray you will find, but it is certainly of a high standard. The one notable exception being the notorious green "night vision" portion of the movie, which looks as awful as it ever did (even in cinemas).

    The image is generally razor sharp and features an excellent level of detail. Dark scenes and shadows have a good level of depth. There is very mild film grain visible throughout.

    The colours are very bold and well defined. Skin tones are slightly pink, but generally look good.

    The opening Columbia logo features a very slight telecine wobble, but the film itself is fine. There are no signs of compression related artefacts or film artefacts in the transfer.

    English subtitles are present for the feature. Based on the portion I sampled they appear to be accurate and well timed.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    An English Dolby Digital TrueHD audio track is present for the film.

    The audio track sounds very good. It has excellent dynamic range and is well mixed, though fitting with the style of the film it is an aggrssive mix. The one exception being the dialogue mix, which is a little soft and occasionally overwhelmed by the effects and score. There are no problems with audio sync.

    The movie features an ecclectic score, by Eric Serra, that alternates erratically between a more traditional orchestral/electronic score featuring a few Eastern instruments and obnoxious rap-metal, rock and hip hop.

    The surrounds get a good workout, although lack any subtlety. The LFE channel gives the subwoofer a good workout from both the score and thumpy effects.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

        A modest selection of extras. Each is in SD except for two trailers for other films and a trailer for the Blu-ray format.

Main Menu Audio & Animation

        An opening menu is present when the disc is first inserted (unlike many Blu-rays) and a pop-up menus is available when playing back any video.

Audio Commentary - Chris Klein, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, LL Cool J (Actors)

    A patchy commentary that really doesn't add anything to the film. Lots of gaps and little interaction between commentators (one of whom was recorded seperately and spliced into the recording of the other two).

Making Of Featurette The Stunts of Rollerball

    An uninspired look at the stunts in the film. Given how they turned out, this is probably best seen as a "what not to do" guide!

Music Video: Rob Zombie - Never Gonna Stop (3:20)

    An OK tune, but an odd video. It seems Mr. Zombie really wanted to do a song for A Clockwork Orange but settled for Rollerball, as clips of the band acting out Kubrick's classic are chopped together with incoherent flashes from Rollerball in the video. Mayne the theory was bad movie + good movie evened out would add up to an ok movie/video. They were kind of right!

Trailers

        A general trailer for the Blu-ray format and trailers for Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Men in Black, presented in 1080p.

BD Live

    The only Blu-ray exclusive, save for a couple of trailers for other movies in 1080p, is access to Sony's BD Live service. Currently it contains a selection of trailers for films, but nothing specifically Rollerball related.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Rollerball is not yet available in Region A on Blu-ray.

    This edition misses out on one featurette, entitled Rollerball Yearbook, from the DVD editions, which was nothing more than a promo for the film. Our full review of the DVD edition can be found here.

Summary

    A truly woeful movie, but one that is so bad it is funny for all the wrong reasons.

    The film has been given a good transfer to Blu-ray in terms of both audio and video, but the extras package is pretty forgettable.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3, using HDMI output
Display Samsung 116cm LA46M81BD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX2016AVS. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX2016AVS
Speakers150W DTX front speakers, 100W centre and 4 surround/rear speakers, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

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