Action / Sci-Fi / Sport


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James Caan as Jonathan E.
Maud Adams as Ella
Sarah Douglas as Party Guest
Pamela Hensley as Mackie
720p 1080p
869.35 MB
23.976 fps
2hr 5 min
P/S 0 / 3
1.84 GB
23.976 fps
2hr 5 min
P/S 1 / 18

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by ([email protected]) 10 / 10

Action-packed and insightful.

Why some people have called this film shallow, I will never understand, considering it focuses on character more than most all sci-fi films, especially those action ones made today. Not surprisingly, the recent remake dwelt more on action than character, and perhaps it's significant that director Norman Jewison normally avoids making science-fiction films.

Also, I personally don't interpret ROLLERBALL as an anti-sport drama. It doesn't attack sports per se as much as violence. In his audio commentary to the DVD, Jewison, like many Canadians, admits he's a hockey fan, and once, while witnessing a game get bloodily out of hand, he was inspired to adapt Harrison's marvelous short story.

All in all, I think of the movie as a plea for all of us to find our own basic humanity (and those who say the film lacks humanity really baffle me). In our present competitive world, where the U.S. speed limit is 65 MPH but everyone drives 75 or faster, this motion picture reminds us to control the anarchistic, power-driven beast within.

To offer one example, in its final scene, Jonathan E is about to murder the last opposing team player...but relents. If the film were truly anti-sport,then I think Jonathan would drop the ball and leave; he would mock the game as Mandy Patinkin's character does hockey at the end of SLAPSHOT. Instead, Jonathan E still plays it: he baskets the ball to earn his point because, though he may have touched his humanity, he still retains the drive to win and the thrill of the game. Unlike other--often more sentimental and simple-minded--anti-sports dramas, ROLLERBALL represents the positive aspects of sports (such as ethical aspiration, etc.), while at the same time its negative aspects (such as triumphalist violence, etc.). Afterwards, as the crowd roars, the film might have concluded with a standard, comforting triumph-of-the-human-spirit message, but instead it freezes on a deliberately distorted shot of Jonathan with Bach's portentious music indicating what awaits. Yes, he may be a winner today, but in this world, where the corporation is everything and the individual nothing, his future is dim indeed.

A shallow film? Nonsense! I think this movie taps into ones humanity more than most of the sentimental tripe hyped as significant drama these days.

Reviewed by Dan1863Sickles 8 / 10

An Action Classic With Brains!

I first saw this movie on HBO at the age of 14 and I sensed immediately that it was a classic, a combination of action, sports, sex, and social commentary. All the years of viewing other films have only made me more and more appreciative of this movie's many strengths.

On one level, I believe this is the best sports movie ever made. It is miles ahead of more "realistic" films like NORTH DALLAS FORTY or SEMI TOUGH or even critical favorites like COBB and EIGHT MEN OUT. The very fact that Rollerball is a make believe sport adds believability to the action sequences. Watch a baseball film and you can see at a glance that Robert Redford or Kevin Costner are not real athletes. But since rollerball has never been played, James Caan as Jonathan E really looks like the best in the game. There are no "clichés" like home runs or long passes to spoil the danger and excitement -- every crash and goal is new, never having been seen before. And there are no clichés about the fans, the athletes, or "win one for the Gipper" or gamblers or shady ladies trying to make Our Hero throw the game. From the beginning we sense the stakes are higher -- Jonathan E will either conform or die.

That brings up the fact that ROLLERBALL also shares a central theme with a lot of other powerful movies, like FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, COOL HAND Luke, and even A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS. What happens when a uniquely gifted individual refuses to participate in a corrupt system? This movie is so powerful as a drama you hardly notice the sci fi trappings. The rugged action scenes are so real you hardly notice that rollerball is a make believe game.

James Caan as Jonathan E turns in a sensitive, nuanced performance, deliberately underplaying the tough guy side as much as possible. Michael Beck as Moonpie is the foolishly overconfident one, playing Frank Sinatra's Maggio to Caan's Robert E. Lee Pruitt. But unlike the hard luck privates in this man's army, these rollerball stars get to have glamor, luxury, and unlimited sex between vicious games of rollerball. The movie captures so much sensuality and glamor that you can see why men risk death game after game to be known as "great rollerballers who bash in faces." This movie is spectacular -- an action classic with brains!

Reviewed by Nico Wabe ([email protected]) 8 / 10

Underrated 70's film

This is a film that demands repeat viewing. When I was a kid, my brothers and I used to just fast-forward all the slow, `talkie' scenes to get to the action. We couldn't understand why the whole film wasn't just composed of game sequences (a criticism also leveled by at least one reviewer on this site).

Now, having just watched the movie twice in a night, the second time with the director's commentary, I have finally got to grips with the scenes between the action, and discovered that I like it more than ever. The view of the future is not highly original; tipping its hat to the stratified societies foreseen by Orwell and Huxley, amongst others; but nevertheless the portrayal is engaging. Jewison astutely realised that only by filling in the image of the future society, the characters, and the political background against which the tournament unfolds, would the game be seen as truly REAL for the characters. In the meanwhile, he also has the chance to build suspense, upping the stakes for both the heroic gladiator/combateur Jonathon, and his would-be puppet master Bartholemew. In this way, when we come to watch the actual contests, our enthusiasm is whetted, and by making the rules progressively more dangerous with each passing game, the stakes grow ever higher.

The central themes of the movie are (i) loss-of-soul/nihilism/sensual-vs-spiritual-happiness, and (ii) individuality vs state control. Perhaps the best scenes elucidating these themes are the famous `tree killing' scene, and the conversation between Jonathon and Ella in the forest. The use of imagery and metaphor is widespread; I will mention only the terrific concept of the roulette wheel as game arena, with the players INSIDE, instead of outside; and the Circus Maximus parallel. You may draw many interesting conclusions from this about the director's and writer's intent.

My final word is: watch it once, soak up the action, and be bored by the rest. Then view it again, feel yourself in Jonathon's dilemma, experience his wrenching disappointment with the people in his life who betray him, and try to tear yourself away if you can as he is pushed inexorably to his fate in the arena of ROLLERBALL.

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