Rollerball (2002)

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Released 11-Sep-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer-City
Audio Commentary-Actors
Notes-Rollerball Yearbook
Featurette-Highlight Reels (4 + 7)
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Final Fantasy; Godzilla; The 6th Day
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 94:10
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (52:33) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By John McTiernan
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Chris Klein
LL Cool J
Rebecca Romijn-Stamos
Jean Reno
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music Eric Serra


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Spanish
Dutch
Arabic
Hindi
Portuguese
English for the Hearing Impaired
French Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes, including cigars.
Annoying Product Placement Yes, but it's part of the story.
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Sometimes, as a DVD reviewer, you get the opportunity to check out a movie that has had uniformly bad reactions all the way from its original theatrical release right through to its DVD release. When a movie like Rollerball (2002) comes along, and is such a huge critical and commercial failure, there is always a curiosity to find out why. In the case of Rollerball specifically, it is difficult to work out exactly why it failed. Certainly it is not the best action movie ever released, but it is by no means the worst, or put another way, this film simply is not that bad.

    The story is about ice-hockey wannabe Jonathan Cross (Chris Klein) who travels to Europe to join his high-school friend Marcus Ridley (LL Cool J) in the leagues of the world's newest, and most physical, game - Rollerball. Jonathan is the big star - he gets the big money and all the television coverage - and the game is extremely popular. Things start to come apart, however, when the ratings soar following a number of on-court mishaps. Will the officials do something before it gets out of hand and a player is killed? Not if the ratings get in the way.

    The story is certainly nothing spectacular, however it does enough and actually succeeds at getting its point across (total commercialisation is bad okay). The performances are relatively run of the mill, although it is somewhat of a sad situation for LL Cool J as he is an extremely charismatic actor who seems determined to kill his acting career before it starts. Given his resume includes Renny Harlin's flop Deep Blue Sea and now this, he is certainly not the marker of a successful movie. Chris Klein is not as likeable as he should be, and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos is particularly bad (although she is more there for the nude scenes).

    The biggest problem for Rollerball is that they had no rules for their game before they started shooting (they were made up in post production based on what they had shot), and it really shows, as the games - games that should have been thrilling action set pieces - are a confused mess of quick cuts and flashes of action that make no coherent sense. All-in-all it really looks more like a skating rink on a Saturday afternoon than a vicious game. This is really where the heart of Rollerball's failure lies - it is not bad enough, and not cheesy enough to appeal to those who like their action obviously fake and over-the-top (the "so bad it's good" crowd), but it is not good enough to make it as a normal action movie. It has successfully found the middle ground - and that is precisely where no-one is.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer presented for Rollerball is, for the most part, exceptional. I say for the most part, as the ill-advised use of night-vision cameras generates the only sub-par sequences in what is otherwise a fantastic transfer.

    Presented at the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, this transfer is 16x9 enhanced.

    Sharpness is generally very good. The image is not as sharp as is possible, but the slight softness is not enough to get worried about, and aids in keeping aliasing to a minimum. There is only a small amount of grain over the opening shot of the movie between 1:22 and 1:56. Shadow detail is excellent, with the deep blacks never hiding any action. The exception to all this is the night vision work between 56:22 and 63:28, which is very high in grain, is extremely soft, and has very poor shadow detail. Obviously it was used to try and bring something new to the film, but all it ends up doing is creating an entire sequence that seems more like a trippy dream/flashback sequence from a drug film than current events in an action thriller.

    Colours (obviously excluding the green-scale night-vision sequence) are very good. The bright uniforms of the Rollerball teams clash very nicely with the more stark colours of the world which they inhabit, and help to enhance the feeling of separation for the players.

    There were no compression artefacts present in this transfer (although it is often hard to tell if the night vision sequences contain pixelization or simply severe grain). There is only a single instance of aliasing, at 40:00, and even that is minor. There are a very few, very small, film artefacts present in the transfer, however none are large enough to cause distraction.

    There are both English and English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles present on this disc, and from a sampling of both, the English for the Hearing Impaired seem to be considerably better. The English subtitles skip many words, and quite seriously impact the flow of the dialogue, but the English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles are considerably more accurate.

    This is an RSDL formatted disc with the layer change taking place at 52:33 during Chapter 17. While it takes place on a scene change, it comes right after a line of dialogue and is still quite obvious.

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

Audio

    This is a very good quality audio transfer, and while at times it can be too "flashy" for its own good, for the most part it performs its job admirably.

    There are four audio tracks present on this disc, being the original English dialogue, and dubs in French and Spanish all in Dolby Digital 5.1 (at 448 Kbps), and an English audio commentary track in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround (at 192 Kbps).

    Dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times, although this is largely guaranteed by the vast amount of dialogue looping used on this movie. Fortunately this does not cause any audio sync issues at all.

    The music consists of contemporary pieces and score music. The score is provided by Eric Serra and is good enough that it generally goes unnoticed (although it certainly will not have anyone running out to buy the soundtrack), while the contemporary pieces attempt (and generally fail quite badly) to add "attitude" to the movie.

    Surround presence is very good, with extensive use of both ambient and directional surround effects, as well as carrying the music. This is a very pleasing effort indeed.

    The subwoofer use is also very good, giving an impressive rumble to the engines, and generally creating a backbone to the action-style soundtrack.

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

Extras

    The extras seem to be quite suited to the movie - rather mediocre, but enough to not be a total waste.

Menu

    The menu is 16x9 enhanced, very impressively animated, themed around the movie, and features a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio accompaniment.

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

    This is certainly not the best audio commentary track ever recorded, however it is still interesting enough to listen to. Chris Klein and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos have been recorded together, while LL Cool J was recorded separately and has been spliced into the other track. There are a number of large gaps, but most are appropriate as the actors come back in to comment about what has just occurred. The biggest downside to this track is LL Cool J, especially early on, as it seems he came to record the commentary after having one too many coffees. He is extremely excitable, and delivers many comments along the lines of "Whoa! This is intense!"

Rollerball Yearbook

    This section is divided into four sub-sections - Teams, Players, Game Gear, and Rollerdome. The Teams section is further divided into a section for each of the four teams featured in the movie, and contains a short profile of the team along with a "highlights" reel. Each reel is presented at 2.35:1, is not 16x9 enhanced, and features Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio. The Players section is also divided into two sections - the first is Heavy Hitters that contains profiles for the three major characters in the movie, plus two of the Horde players. As with the team profiles, each player profile includes a "Highlights" reel that is presented at 2.35:1, is not 16x9 enhanced, and features Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio. The second subsection of Players is Petrovich's Players that includes still photographs of the other players on the Horsemen and the Horde. The remaining two sections - Game Gear and Rollerdome simply examine the equipment used in a Rollerball game and the Rollerball court respectively. Overall, this extra would have been quite interesting if the players and the game had actually been important to the story. As they are just a setting for what is essentially a socio-political commentary, these screens are actually closer to the exploitation that the film is trying to denounce than actually being of any use or interest.

Theatrical Trailer (1:38)

    Presented at 2.35:1 and featuring Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (it is nice to see more common use of 5.1 audio on trailers), this trailer is of an extremely high quality.

Additional Trailers

    There are also trailers for:

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

    Accessible by going down from the Theatrical Trailers selection of the base special features menu, this video is presented at 2.35:1, is not 16x9 enhanced, and features Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     While I have not viewed the R1 release of this movie, it supposedly contains extra scenes that include the addition of further violence, and more nudity. Certainly the running time of the R1 at 100:27 is over two minutes longer than our version after taking the 4% PAL speedup into account. Based on this information, I would have to give this easily to R1 (although by all accounts, the additional scenes do not help the movie in any way).

Summary

    Rollerball is a movie with good intentions that went slightly wrong at some point. While it is not the complete stinker that many seem to think, it is by no means a brilliant example of action film making.

    The video, excluding the night vision sequences, is excellent.

    The audio quality is also excellent, providing a very good aural experience.

    The extras are a little disappointing, although they are not missed particularly much on this disc.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Nick Jardine (My bio, it's short - read it anyway)
Monday, August 26, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using Component output
DisplayLoewe Xelos 5381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS787, THX Select
SpeakersAll matching Vifa Drivers: centre 2x6.5" + 1" tweeter (d'appolito); fronts and rears 6.5" + 1" tweeter; centre rear 5" + 1" tweeter; sub 10" (150WRMS)

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Comments (Add)
R1 vs. R4 - Anonymous
my comments - DarkEye (This bio says: Death to DNR!)
No matter how bad a film is there always ONE idiot who defends it - Jesus Christ
RE: Re: no matter how bad a film is there is always ONE IDIOT who defends it - Jesus Christ