ROLLERBALL (2001) test print Review
There are some days where my life seems absolutely unlikely. So unlikely that when I live that day in question, I have to pinch myself to realize that it is true.
Monday, June 4th, 2001, I received a phone call that was just plain… weird and cool in all the ways that the idea of AICN has ever been cool.
The phone call was an invitation from John McTiernan to fly to a "major metropolitan area" to see his latest film ROLLERBALL.
The flight was to leave Austin at close to 2am and I could bring two people. I chose Father Geek and Quint. We waited in hushed silence at the airfield beginning at 1am. A smaller private airfield… Empty, silent… like a movie set. I drug out the laptop and had my dvd for PREDATOR playing for all to see. My god… I’m getting ready to meet John McTiernan. McTiernan is one of my all time favorite action adventure movie directors. His PREDATOR, HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER and DIE HARD are absolute perfect films. No flaws in my book. Prototypes that others try to emulate and fail in the attempt. McTiernan had been stumbling a bit recently as a filmmaker, but THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR was a joy… a damn fine film. Not as original or as perfect as the other 3 I mentioned here… But definitely a film that began to erase the horror of what happened to him on 13th WARRIOR when Crichton replaced him and began reshooting large hunks of the film. But McTiernan has turned into a ‘hit-and-miss’ director, where he was once supreme.
I was giddy and nervous all at once to be meeting McTiernan because… I’ve been pissing all over ROLLERBALL for about a year now… Ever since they moved away from an earlier draft of the screenplay to the one they shot… The differences between the two were gigantic. ROLLERBALL had been a pick of mine to be among the worst films of SUMMER 2001… but I was hoping I was wrong. Hoping only because I love the way McTiernan shoots his action in a film… Every single film of his has completely perfect action geography. You always know where everything plays out.
The plane lands and on the field I meet John… McT as he likes to be called. The plane is being refueled in the background, the full moon hangs in the partly cloudy sky above… and we small talk about the Austin area, how I got my start… basic get to know the other person conversations.
Then I ask, "So where are we going?" He begins laughing, "Oh you already know." Honestly, I had no clue where we would be flying to. "New York," he says. OH YES! My New York Kitten will be pleased as punch, I haven’t had a chance to be with her since Akira… She’s been traveling all over the world as have I and our schedules and lives are such that it was looking like we wouldn’t see each other till late July… BUT YIPPEE! I get to see her NOW! I was tempted to call her instantly, but no… I’d wait till I was in New York.
The plane finally fueled up, McT climbs in first, followed by Quint and Father Geek… Then me. And then the editor and McT’s assistant. I couldn’t believe that this was how I would be seeing ROLLERBALL. I began to feel better about the film, if McT was going to go out of his way to show me the film early, I was hoping that perhaps I was wrong about the film and that there was quite a bit more to the movie than I was expecting.
The next 4 hours were a non-stop conversation… basically 1 on 1 with John McTiernan… Not talking about his films, not asking about PREDATOR or DIE HARD or Sean Connery… No, we were talking cinema. Truffaut’s DAY FOR NIGHT… Tom Stoppard… The glory of storytelling by Kubrick and Hitchcock. This was the dream of the conversation you would wish to have with a major filmmaker… Exchanging ideas and thoughts about each others favorite films. Eventually ROLLERBALL and why the hell I was on the plane came up.
AICN had seen reviews of the roughcut of ROLLERBALL already. Positive reviews. Reviews that I was a doubting Thomas on. McT felt that if I were going to be pissing on the film, he’d rather I came in the front door than the back… that I see it and judge it rather than an anonymous type. There were no rules for me seeing the film, no limits…
I genuinely loved talking with McTiernan about film, loved listening to him beam about what he was trying to do with ROLLERBALL. John is an infectious personality… extremely nice and charming. Once again, the dream of what you as a fan of his films would hope that he’d be. The conversation and time together was as wonderful as the times I’ve had the opportunity to hang out with Guillermo Del Toro and Robert Rodriguez and Peter Jackson… Just non-stop lover for film. I was ready to love his ROLLERBALL.
Which is what makes it all the harder to pan his ROLLERBALL in this workprint form.
The screening was in Long Island. Heavily attended by MGM brass. I will most definitely see this film again, only to see if McTiernan can make this mess work somehow.
Now this isn’t a total bomb… more than I thought there would be given the script. So, I’m going to divide this up into what works and what doesn’t.
First, the good:
This film is an unapologetic hard R. This movie hurts more than the original ROLLERBALL… the viciousness of the action was an actual assault on the senses. That steel ball knocking blood and teeth out of faces… Full on nudity throughout, yes including Rebecca Romijn-Stamos. This isn’t a pansy film, this is mean and cruel and hard.
Jean Reno’s Number 2 man… I don’t know his name, but he was the best performance in the entire film. He plays a bit of a sleazy quiet guy that makes things happen. That pulls the strings for Jean Reno. He and Reno play good cop, bad cop to get their way, and this man is a charmer. He looked like he was from India, but I will learn the identify of this chap. He’s someone to keep on the radar (once we discover who he is).
The Concept for the film. The concept of what McTiernan was attempting was a valid and even good angle to approach ROLLERBALL from. Dad had a great comment about how he felt this film plays with the original. This film is in the same universe as the second film, but instead of taking place 150 years from now… it is NOW. This is the birth of the sport, not the death of it. This film takes place upon the Asian continent. Russia, India, Mongolia… those areas. The idea is that in the post-Communist Russia, there is a shady mafia-style gambling-financed investor group that has become empowered and controls the sweat-shop style mining, the working class factories… At the same time, they create a game that will be so addictive and allegedly ripe for gambling because it’s an ‘honest’ game. The film focuses on the first star of the sport… a fresh faced American with a killer smile and innate skating talent perfect for the sport. This isn’t the character played by James Caan… Chris Klein is playing Jonathan Cross… Not Jonathan E. Different companies do not own different teams… this is all held by the Jean Reno character. And Reno is using Klein’s wholesome tough showcase ability to grow the popularity of the sport, which is based completely on ratings. Instant Nielsons… and if it begins to dip, or not rise high enough… time to pull strings and engineer accidents… blood for the home audience. Instant gore replays…
Now for the bad…
While I like the basic concept above, no ideas are ever fully developed. It was like the script was an early rough sketch of ideas just thrown together for a nonsensical film. There are no great characters, only one really interesting character and many tediously annoying characters.
1. Nobody wants to play ROLLERBALL, there is no love for the game by the athletes. They’re all in it for the money and plan to leave the sport as soon as they can.
2. There is no teamwork. Nobody on the team really cares for one another, nobody works together and nobody is really interested in winning the game. After the opening ‘luging’ sequence, LL COOL J tries to recruit Klein to join Rollerball by saying something along the lines of, "It’ll be just like old times, I’ll block and you’ll score!" Well, cool… You would now expect to see that happen… right? I’m still waiting.
3. Chris Klein’s character is a complete loser. He quits on everything. Beginning with the opening (cool in concept, but why’s it in this movie) luge sequence through city streets… He never gets to the bridge. He decides not to try for the NHL and instead of facing the cops, he decides to flee the country. Then he’s a big star in Rollerball, but we never really see why… His team is on the road to win the championship, but all he wants to do is quit. He’s constantly running away from his problems, and only faces them when absolutely forced to…. And even then, he doesn’t go all the way.
4. The game of ROLLERBALL has been transformed from an amazingly visceral speed driven, strategy filled and violent spectacle… into a ludicrous nonsense of going through some sort of AMERICAN GLADIATOR style obstacle course… "through the rabbit hole, over the ramp and while in mid-air you have to score." As a result, there is no defense… no real rhythm to the game. No rules. No sense of what’s going on in the game. There is not one time in the movie where we really have an idea of what the score is… We know Chris Klein’s team won, but by how much? I don’t know. Were they ever behind? I don’t know. Who died? Who cares? We didn’t care about them anyway.
5. A game for boys and girls. Looking at the players in ROLLERBALL v2, the women are more mature than the men, the men are all smooth skinned boys. There’s none of that hockey/football missing toothed, aged look here.
6. The various costumes come straight out of some sort of WWF or WCW game, but in a team sport… it looks ludicrous. All the masks would limit line of sight for the players and make it extremely easy to defeat. The only characters in the game whom’s faces we see during the game tend to be Chris Klein and LL Cool J… everyone else is wearing extravagant helmets and pink tutus and dresses and knights in armor and a jester’s outfit. WHAT THE HELL DOES THIS DO? Well for one it dehumanizes the game. You never see fear on their faces, you can’t see a character trying to figure out what is going on. When they die… you don’t see that on their faces… you see a costumed clown that was never a human being in your eyes.
7. The Rollerball action is terrible. You never get a sense of speed or direction. There is never any clear geography to the positioning of the teams or how to defend. The way to score is incredibly ludicrous, it’s like trying hit the side of a barn with tomato from 10 feet, impossible to miss. There’s this ludicrous "for the folks at home" cg toon like display about how you play the game, which is intercut with the action… but it doesn’t help at all. There are no long shots, we never track with a character or a series of characters. We get flashes of people flying up in the air throwing the silver ball to each other… BUT we never get a sense of how much that ball weighs.
8. Apparently there is no scoreboard. No officials. But there is a rock n roll band behind Plexiglas that a player can que to play their very own action theme live. Oh, there are 20,000 shots of screaming fans. There’s about 10 minutes on screen of machines counting money from the gambling… we’re told this is the new Las Vegas, but we never see the desperation of the losers… the dreams being crushed. We have minutes at a time of watching the announcer do goofy things in his booth, like drink alcohol, smoke pot, overact… Whereas in the first film, you’d hear the announcer, never see him, and stay focused on the game. In this film, it was like McTiernan went out of his way to stay as unfocused on the game as possible. Hey, I know… Let’s spend lots of time in the tv control room, the owner’s box, talking with investors, fans drinking beer, lots of money counting, an obnoxious announcer scratching himself… Oh… oh yeah, I guess we’ll through in a few moments of ultraviolence, and ummm… yeah, that’s a wrap. Dear god this blew.
9. The best action scenes are the opening luging, which has nothing really to do with the film. A car chase tag team thing with Chris Klein and LL Cool J to a tit bar, once again that really doesn’t have to do with anything. Then a 10 minute escape executive management motorcycle chase through a desert all done in that green nightvision look. These 3 action scenes are edited to thrill… Each shot leading to the next. COMPLETELY NOT LIKE THE ROLLERBALL SEQUENCES. But I don’t want to see car chases, motorcycle chases and luging in a ROLLERBALL movie. I want to see ROLLERBALL.
10. Remember in THE LAST ACTION HERO, how Arnie had to defeat the same guy he defeated at the beginning of the movie at the end of the movie… And we’re supposed to be all riddled with suspense about an opponent that we’ve already seen the hero defeat? Well that’s here again.
11. One of the single worst moments of ill-conceived action geography I’ve ever seen on film. Character A is laying on his belly on a road. Character B is leaping over a draw bridge at the end of the road. The draw bridge is at a radically high angle. Character B makes it to the otherside to be shot from a character about a mile away, who we see getting everything ready for about a minute before. So we know it is going to happen. As soon as Character B falls over on the otherside of the drawbridge, mere feet before reaching the ‘border’, character A screams in anguish. Ahem… From character A’s point of view, there is no possible way he could have seen what happened because the bridge was fully raised at this point. He could not have heard the gunshot (FROM A MILE AWAY), so… IT COMPLETELY DOESN’T WORK.
12. This film also has the worst love scene since SLIVER. Not romantic, no intimacy, no care or love… Starts with a nude back of the girl curling a barbell at the gym and ends with a weird on-screen video display of blood being knocked out of a simpleton Rollerball player’s mouth. Oh… and seemingly each time in the film we see this, the amount and color of the blood changes.
Now you should realize… this was an early test screening, but this film has about 2 months before release. To make it good, they need only flesh out the characters, make them likable, coherently re-edit every single Rollerball sequence, redesign the course so you could follow what was going on. Create sports tension by having the game actually mean something to the players. Make the players mean something to the players. Show the players as something more than guys and girls concerned with something more than money and getting laid. And even by doing all of that, you’re only going to marginally help the film, because ultimately the basic story is about a boy that wants to quit.
What is particularly horrifying to me about the film is that in talking with McTiernan before seeing the film, he was talking about the rhythm of how you construct a scene in a film by way of editing. He brought up Truffaut, Hitchcock, Kubrick amongst others.
While thinking about that, I revisited in my mind the action choreography of both PREDATOR and DIE HARD. At all times the construction of where things lay in those films are abundantly clear. Like in DIE HARD how McClane has to go from A to B… but bad guys X and Y are placed to shoot him as he makes the run. X and Y know that he’s barefoot, and make the journey harder by shooting the glass. Thereby intensifying the scenario. In PREDATOR… Arnie’s trap for the Predator is laid out to perfection. We know how he has to do things. And as we see it play out we believe it because each shot leads us logically to the next. Here… we cut around like a maniac… but even with the fast paced editing, there is never a sense of journey for the characters. What are they doing? Where are they going? How hard is it to do that? And lastly, What did they just do?
The film is literally one of the worst conceived series of nonsensical action I’ve ever seen. It was enjoyable while sitting there, but in a minor sort of way. Only because the violence is extreme… the nudity is diverting… But this reduces it to just pure exploitation. However, if this stuff was cut… Well the film would be a completely worthless piece of cinema. As it is, the film is mediocre with very very few bright spots.
There is not a single moment in the entire film that begins to compare to the original ROLLERBALL. The action is amateurish by comparison… the dramatics and character work are childishly ill-conceived… and the more and more you think about the film, the more miserable it becomes.
I like John McTiernan. I had a great time in New York. Had an absolutely great time with my lovely New York Kitten in that wonderful bathroom at that wonderful hotel. But the one reason I went… the reason to be there was this new ROLLERBALL, which for a while I kidded myself into thinking was better than I expected (and I was expecting a terrible film), but the more I began to recall the film… the worse and worse and worse it became.
This film is a complete embarrassment. Personally, if I were MGM, I’d digitally remaster and rerelease the original. It would gross more than this crap easily. Everyone I met associated with the project was incredibly cool, and I wish this movie was what action fans have grown to expect from McTiernan, but that just isn't here and that's the honest and unmerciful truth of the matter. Oh well, I'll look forward to the next McTiernan film, he never makes two bombs in a row... not yet anyway.
P.S. To Derek Smalls below: I sat in the theater watching the NRG crew pass out the forms that people filled out, watched the 3 guys in front of us mark the film as DEFINITELY RECOMMEND, and got up. At the instant the film was over, I thought, "Well, that wasn't as bad as I thought." I kinda dug the exploitation level violence and nudity for pure base levels. I walk out of the screen, really not wanting to talk to anyone. When I'm not pleased with a movie as someone's guest, I generally don't feel like railing them in front of their producers, executives and the whole world. I also like to be able to have time to reflect upon my feelings regarding a movie. McTiernan came over, did the sort of, "Well" look, and I commented that I liked how the film was an unapologetic hard R, that not enough films have the balls for that these days. I also commented on how the casting of Chris Klein made a completely different hero than James Caan, because looking at Chris, I thought he was going to get his ass kicked throughout the film. I said how I wished the whole film had been older... going with folks like Russell Crowe or Chow Yun Fat... Someone like that. Then this NRG person pulled him away to head in to conduct the focus group after the film. At this point, I started talking about the arrangements to return to Austin. I was then asked what 4 things I would do to make the film better, I said... Cut the non-relevant action scenes. Re-edit all the ROLLERBALL sequences so that it could be perceived as to what was actually going on... inserts of scores, cut out the constant money counting and ludicrous amounts of crowd shots, and then a fan of the site came up and said, "Harry please tell me you're going to crucify that piece of shit!" I looked at him and smiled. But the film didn't completely begin to fall apart till I started talking about the film on the ride back to the hotel, where all the action scenes began to fall apart logically. Where I began taking apart why I didn't care when characters died, triumphed or did anything. The biggest problem with a test screening, is your true feelings about a film are actually hours after you saw it. When you begin reflecting and revisiting various moments in your mind. This film dies in that place.
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June 7, 2001, 2:39 a.m. CST
What the fuck? I was under the impression that if you flew Harry somewhere to see your movie he automatically liked it. Dear God.. the Kitten thing scares me. I get mental images of steel reinforced beds and slapping sounds. *shudder* -fRy
June 7, 2001, 2:43 a.m. CST
I figured this movie was going to suck. (I love the original but ofcourse the parts I like aren't in the ring) I was hoping that maybe there was a good, maybe in just average movie hiding under the previews but it wasn't to be. Oh well. Thanks for the honest report Harry.
June 7, 2001, 2:54 a.m. CST
by DONALD TWAIN
Harry, I wish that I couldn't have guessed exectly what you were about to say but unfortunately I could. When will they learn to respect the classics..? Anyway, I liked the fact that you were still able to give a balanced review of what is undoubtedly a steaming pile of shite.....
June 7, 2001, 2:56 a.m. CST
by Clockwork Taxi
I don't get the part of the review, when Harry said he did that thing, to that poor kitty. That's not nice.
June 7, 2001, 2:57 a.m. CST
by DONALD TWAIN
I have to agree with fry - the thought of Harry crushing his NY Kitten sends chills through me as well!!
June 7, 2001, 3:02 a.m. CST
June 7, 2001, 3:05 a.m. CST
by weird v2.0
Did you tell this stuff to McT after the screening? Hope you did. Before the review I wasn't seeing this one, but after it I'm going to avoid it even on DVD! Looks like McTiernan has the same desease Ridley Scott's: buck$.
June 7, 2001, 3:22 a.m. CST
My eight bucks are snug in my wallet on this one, but that was from the get go. I hope this flcik tanks in the toliet so that the jerk who greenlit this project gets fired and has to work as a fry cook in a Hardee's or Roy Rogers for the rest of his life.
June 7, 2001, 3:29 a.m. CST
did 'Mct' (competing with 'McG' perhaps ?!!!) agree to direct this project. He proved he could direct action, and with Thomas Crown Affair showed that that good character work could gel with the action. Why oh why didn't he do something original ?!! Surely he is in a position that he doesn't have to sell out ? Oh Well, there's still the Die Hard Triple Pack special edition DVD to look forward to. McT, no more movies until you've done a special edition DVD for Predator, preferably with you, Arnie, and the governor of Minessota commentating. Oh and one for October as well. By the way, hows Ventura doing? His memoirs were suprisingly interesting.
June 7, 2001, 3:38 a.m. CST
by Mad Dog
Predator is definately in the running for my Top 10 films of all time and it's the best thing Schwarzenegger has done (Wish they would release a special edition dvd of this, If Mr McTiernen is reading this maybe you could consider a commentary track along with the Austrian Oak?/Shaun Black) Anyway, I was beginning to think that this film wasn't going to make much of a splash although I think it may find a younger audience who will not compare it with the original. It's a shame and I like McTiernen's previous work even parts of 13th Warrior were fun,(liked the transition form Norse to English language) although it didn't live up to the wonderful concept. I hope this film can be re-edited as when I think of Rollerball I think that the game itself is the focus, and for this film to draw attention away from the intracacies and speed of the game seems like it will hinder the appeal. Oh hell, who am I to comment I'm just some schmuck bored at work. Adios Suckers!
June 7, 2001, 3:50 a.m. CST
I especially liked the way that LL Cool J kept banging on in the interviews about this version 'blowing the original out of the water'. Ever since they I heard that Chris 'Moron' Klein was in this I knew it was going to be a major crock of shit. The guy can't act to save his life.
June 7, 2001, 3:51 a.m. CST
Why not spice up the poor staging and editing of the action scenes with gratuitous 6 frame shots of the naked breasts?
June 7, 2001, 3:56 a.m. CST
Why does Harry keep calling poor films mediocre? Mediocre means "not good, not bad" or "middle". I wouldn't exactly call "a complete embarrassment" or "one of the worst conceived series of nonsensical action I
June 7, 2001, 4:13 a.m. CST
by Lance Rock
June 7, 2001, 4:19 a.m. CST
by Smilin'Jack Ruby
But strangely, I want to see the movie more now than I did before. No, I can't explain that at all.
June 7, 2001, 4:20 a.m. CST
...and it didn't seem even remotely good, the action was very badly filmed and confusing. I'm glad Harry confirmed my suspicions. I'll waste my cash on something else now, thank you.
June 7, 2001, 4:22 a.m. CST
by Marty McSuperfly
And by the way, can anyone tell me what Shane Black is up to right now? And while I'm in this questioning mode, who remembers the top Rollerball rip-off computer games Speedball 1 and 2?
June 7, 2001, 4:27 a.m. CST
by Mrs. Fuller
What the fuck has that got to do with anything? That made me want to puke. Is bestiality legal in New York? And in the bathroom. What was Harry doing, a shitty on the kitty? Whatever, the casting of Klein killed this movie before a single frame was shot.
June 7, 2001, 4:28 a.m. CST
by SEATTLE SLEWW
Good Guts, Harry. It's difficult to walk the fine line between awestruck fanboy and respected journalist. Does this mean that McT. will no longer invite you along for screenings? I suppose that is the price you pay for your integrity. Best regards to you and your kitten.
June 7, 2001, 4:30 a.m. CST
Smilin'Jack Ruby, its the MST3K effect. You have to see how bad a movie really is. I plan to see it as well (on video) for the same reason. Still, I doubt anything will ever beat my copy of the Star Wars Christmas special for mind numbing badness...
June 7, 2001, 5:01 a.m. CST
by Drive! Kowalski
Put John McT to work on something good. Reunite him with the Oak, for T3, tell him to get back to the style he's good at, instead of re-inventing something which was fine the way it is. Ask him what he'd think if someone wanted to re-make DIE HARD...
June 7, 2001, 5:04 a.m. CST
by A Yank in London
I know why they do re-makes of successful movies: $$$$$..., but I've always thought they should re-make movies with a good concept that just didn't quite come off. Then expectations wouldn't be so high (or in many cases so low) and the result would often be a better film than the original, which virtually never happens with re-makes of really good movies. Oh, well. The script, directions, and cast of the "real" ROLLERBALL was always going to make it absolutely impossible to better or even come close to - the cameo by the irreplaceable Ralph Richardson in itself makes the movie worth watching. So it's hardly surprising that the story and characters have been changed out of all recognition from the original. Do they think the name alone will draw in the summer crowds? Astonishing. Harry: Thanks for confirming the seemingly inevitable, even if it made you uncomfortable under the circumstances to do so. Punches pulled: zero!
June 7, 2001, 5:06 a.m. CST
by MC Lovecraft
Harry, I just wanted to tell you that I have new found respect for you. The fact that you could be so brutally honest about a film after McT flew you out and put you up in order to see it, means you've got some ten pound testicles of integrity. Good for you!!!
June 7, 2001, 5:25 a.m. CST
WHo cares if the movie wreaks...Slipknots in it for like a minute, thats reason enough to see it. New album, August 7th..not even Hell is prepared.
June 7, 2001, 5:49 a.m. CST
by Ed Asners Groin
Great review El Geeko. I hope you savoured that plane ride, cuz that's the last ride in the official MGM cropduster for a while. I don't get it though Harry, you pay to see films and love them; but you get flown by an action movie superstar to view his latest opus and thank him with a Knowles Golden Shower? Play the game man. Soon AICN will be selling ad space to online cheese shops and Amateur Juggs Inc. Oh yeah, I think this whole sex with cats in a NYC public washroom thing has got the whole fanboy community (aroused and) concerned. Quick question, did you cover the kitten in question with special sauce and sesame seed buns to get into the mood?
June 7, 2001, 6 a.m. CST
I just have to say that I love Harry's review...How everything is explained and why I should or should not see a film. I usually go see a film anyway to make my own ideas about it but, the more and more I do it, the more I realized that I almost always think the same thing than him about a movie! Continue your good work Harry, I'll continue to read you everyday!!
June 7, 2001, 6:36 a.m. CST
Harry, you would 'be' so much 'better' if your 'reviews' were all like this. no cheesey gushing and extra and useless prose. You started off with a little story and then got into details, but without an absurd amount of exclamation points and high school doggerel. That is what film fans and critics (for film lovers and not tabloid journals) write and want. A good piece.____________________________________________ One important comment though. In point 8, you say that you don't want to see the announcers, owners, etc. But earlier in point 8 you say that you want to see the broken dreams of the gamblers - the behind the scenes. See, it is kinda lie Any given sunday vs. monday night football (sorry, i couldn't think of a movie [last boy scout is still a really really good movie that everyone seems to ignore]). Either the finished product, or behind the scenes. __________________________So if it is legitimate to want to see the broken gamblers in a movie 'about' rollerball, it is more than legitimate to see the working of financial business of the league (which I assume is McT's goal - PS Bigups to the man, he is no doubt reading these reviews! Big fan of yours, but if it is true, can we frame the writer?) Hopefully, constructive critiscm such as yours and extra filmed footage(?) will help shape the movie into something better. Still, I'm only half an hour away, any other screenings?
June 7, 2001, 6:50 a.m. CST
Hot damn! I'm seein' this one even if it DOES suck!
June 7, 2001, 6:56 a.m. CST
June 7, 2001, 7 a.m. CST
...so hot they named lettuce after her.
June 7, 2001, 7:05 a.m. CST
Just because you picked this movie to pan because you liked the original script and you wish it had been more like the original. What the fuck??? The original was A COMPLETE AND TOTAL BORE!!!
June 7, 2001, 7:05 a.m. CST
by Brooklyn Bred
I guess he had no choice after praising that God awful Mummy Returns flick. Still, I'll probably buy it from my same street connection I plan on buying Swordfish from for the same reason. To see Rebbeca and Halle's tits.
June 7, 2001, 7:12 a.m. CST
I also figured he'd soften at the opportunity to meet a director, see a free movie, etc. Clearly not the case here. Though I suppose Blair Witch 2 is a Soderbergh film compared to this dreck. P.S: Just saw the original for the first time. It rocked! Check it out if you haven't already.
June 7, 2001, 7:25 a.m. CST
by Miss Aura
Well at least all us in the Uk, dont have to wait to see it in the cinema. By the sound of this, it will be straight to video here. Good on you Harry, for not kissing his arse for taking you to see this. Rollerball is the weakest link......GOODBYE!
June 7, 2001, 7:36 a.m. CST
Well....I still wanna see it!! Even if I just laugh!!
June 7, 2001, 7:44 a.m. CST
The minute Enterstainment Weekly writes that you're out is the moment movie directors will stop flying you places. Hope you're saving your money.
June 7, 2001, 7:55 a.m. CST
by Mel Garga
He should stick to playing the half-wit like his character in Election. I also heard he was going to be in Mel Gibson's Vietnam flick. Gee, 'cause all the grunts looked like Backstreet Boys. How realistic! Maybe they'll give him some CG facial hair. And why does LL Fool J-lo keep getting cast in movies?
June 7, 2001, 8:28 a.m. CST
by Johnny Demonic
go rent Blood of Heroes instead.
June 7, 2001, 8:30 a.m. CST
It is hard to believe that the same man who made DIE HARD or PREDATOR also made what Harry described in his scathing critique. Who is to blame?............. Personally, I think stupid movies reflect a stupid society. American culture's IQ is dropping steadily, and it shows. The TV shows and movies are just getting dumber and shallower with each year. Old ideas are recycled because creativity is dying, and every remake has less and less to say................. I have this recurring nightmare... the remake of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY -- as directed by McG. The apes will of course be completely CG, the alien intelligence teaches them to fight not with bones but by using kung-fu (in slow-mo, with plenty of bullet-time effects)................ Freddie Prinze Jr. stars as Dave Bowman. The vacuum of space is filled with loud sound effects. Every cut is accompanied by a "WHOOOSHH" sound and a flash, so the audience will understand that something "significant" is happening. The Monolith is removed from the plot because it's not "CG" enough -- and is replaced by a cuuuute CG alien with eyes the size of footballs. At the end of the film it turns to the audience and says: "We must love one another!"... and then it starts to SING over the end credits... and it's the voice of Britney Spears! No Strauss music; the soundtrack sounds like ARMAGEDDON/THE ROCK/any generic Bruckheimer production.................... And the worst part of my nightmare, that really causes me to wake up screaming: the young American audiences love the film, because they have never seen the original. Next: a remake of Lawrence of Arabia, as made by... no, I can't go on. It's too depressing.
June 7, 2001, 8:33 a.m. CST
by David Manning
THE BEST REMAKE OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM IS HERE! L.L. COOL J WILL KNOCK YOU OUT IN THIS THRILLER! IT'S "DIE HARD" MEETS "ROLLERBALL (1975)"! IF YOU THOUGHT CHRIS KLEIN COULD PLAY LACROSSE IN "AMERICAN PIE", YOU WILL BE AMAZED BY HIS ROLLERBALL PLAYING SKILLS IN "ROLLERBALL"! IT'S SUMMER MOVIE ACTION WITH BALLS!
June 7, 2001, 8:44 a.m. CST
Seriously, though, nice job Harry.
June 7, 2001, 9:07 a.m. CST
Didja hear? Harry ain't a sellout. In fact, he's got the rights to the bestest comic Marvel ever made next to SuperPro... TEAM AMERICA! Check out the latest info about Harry's TEAM AMERICA Press Release at: http://www.4colorreview.com/
June 7, 2001, 9:11 a.m. CST
I'm not an anti-Harry guy, but I have been critical of him on this issue of being flown to extravagant screenings and then writing about it. In fact, I'm betting the MGM guys are scratching their collective heads right now, thinking, "wait a minute, wasn't he supposed to gush about us if we flew him someplace nice?" Yes, I give credit to Harry for having the guts to trash a movie even after a free trip to New York, but that doesn't change my opinion that accepting freebees like that makes it incapable for me to believe his opinion is unbiased. This review was by no means a softball, but for all I know, Harry intensified the harshness of the review as a response to people like myself who take him to task. So now, not only do I have to question if his positive reviews aren't a little over-positive, but if his negative reviews are over-negative. Do you see my problem? I don't know Harry, and I don't know his character, but I do know that someone who wants to be known as an unbiased critical writer CANNOT accept gifts from those he's writing critically about. Perhaps Harry doesn't particularly feel the need to make me believe he's unbiased. That's fine - he's never represented himself as such. But don't expect this one review to make me change my mind, Red. The internet is to our age what the printing press was to the previous one. The rules that respected journalists follow didn't evolve overnight - it took years of yellow journalism and outright corruption before the public started to figure out that without a reputation for integrity - opinions weren't worth the paper they were printed on. Eventually, I hope the internet will be held up to the same standard. Right now, though, it's not, and Harry is not doing much to make me believe he wants to change my opinion. Frankly, he probably doesn't care what I think of him or his level of bias - he's obviously having a blast. My opinion remains intact, though, his reviews - ALL of them - are tainted as long as he continues to accept gifts.
June 7, 2001, 9:14 a.m. CST
Why do we all feel the need to bash Harry all of the time? Who cares if he is fat? Who cares if he has a bit more of an inside track on what is going on in the industry than we do? He keeps this site going and gives us fanboys something to read everyday. Let him sell out once in awhile if a director flies him to another continent. We would all do the same thing in his place. This review here proves that its possible to enjoy the fruits of your labour and still keep some shred of integrity.
June 7, 2001, 9:39 a.m. CST
by Fatal Discharge
Either that or the cat likes using the backdoor flap. It seems very childish though (and revolting) to mention your sexual conquests in the middle of a movie review...like a teenager boasting to his friends that he got laid. As for Rollerball, I vaguely remember liking the original film when I saw two decades ago but when I tried seeing it last year I gave up after 30 minutes. It HAS NOT aged very well. Oh, and the beginning of Predator was awful and I nearly walked out of the theatre when I first saw it. Arnold and his commandos have to kill EVERY SINGLE terrorist in the camp (except the girl) for some unknown reason including those that are hiding in fear. It morally sickened me just like the Rambo and Chuck Norris flicks of the time. By the way, those that are clapping for Harry's pan of a movie he was invited to see <GASP>, well of course he had to do it because he's been under so much pressure to prove he's not just a studio-bought shill (including Bill Maher's infamous accusations on Oscar night just a couple of months ago). But the problem with having the personal invitation backstory and the slap-in-the-face review in the same place is that it comes off as being mean. That's why other reviewers don't combine the two...you can't win either way if you give a positive or negative review.
June 7, 2001, 9:41 a.m. CST
Kick ass review as allways. This is the reason the reason I come to this sight, Harry flys out of a private Austin strip to New York, by the director of a major studio summer release, and then dogs the movie BIG TIME AND THEN GETS LAID!!! To be honest, I hate the idea of remakes. If the orginal was great, remaster it and let it live again. Let a whole new generation see the film who might not realise that films where made before Star Wars. And another thing, selling out is seeing a crap film and after being flown across the states, gushing glory over the mound off poo that it is. Harry, great site, great review, we salute you!
June 7, 2001, 9:54 a.m. CST
You stuck to your guns on this one, right in the face of Hollywood $$. Even if you never get another paid flight from McT and co., I bet you'll be newly respected (through gritted teeth, natch) by the industry if you continue this trend (coughcoughBlairWitch2cough) .. besides, this 'sellout' image must be getting real tired by now eh? Pan away, whenever and wherever it's deserved.
June 7, 2001, 9:57 a.m. CST
Dude give me a break, they have a few decent songs, but take away the 'scary' masks and SlipKnot is just another medicore rap-metal band. The friggin` masks are more interesting than their music. And BTW, you guys should be ashamed for STILL bashing Harry for his "Book Of Shadows" review - even after this. "Book Of Shadows" was a *GOOD* movie. Deal with it.
June 7, 2001, 10:02 a.m. CST
and I've come to a conclusion. When has there been a GOOD remake? As in better than the original? Now I'm not talking about sequels mind you, I'm talking remakes...I can't think of one! That's the problem with Hollywood! They can't be original! And when they try they still screw it up(with a very few exceptions)! And as for EW, yeah it does suck. It's just a magazine full of articles written by people who are "hip" and "with it". I especially loathe the "Jessica Shaw Report". If anyone actually takes her "Whats In, Out" column seriously...then that's extremely pathetic. Why don't you decide for yourself what's hip and with it. As for Harry's Kitty...let the guy be happy for once! Shit, all I see is a bunch of raggin on Harry anymore in the talkbacks! Harry's reviews might be way off sometimes, but at least he gets pretty fucking spectacular scoops! Be grateful you ungrateful fucks!
June 7, 2001, 10:25 a.m. CST
Really too bad about ROLLERBALL because "McT" did an excellent job with THOMAS CROWN, another film that apart from the great actors and a few nice scenes, has not aged well. ROLLERBALL's original message, that the companies wanted no stars - just faceless punching bags, is flawed at the core. People want a Michael Jordan, even in a bloodthirsty, amoral contest such as Rollerball. Corporations have figured out how to commodify people's need for individuality so that it is no threat to their bottom line ("be like Mike!"). But the game idea remains compelling and society is always ripe for a "blood and circuses" critique - it's too bad this new film seems to be something the original aimed to satirize.
June 7, 2001, 10:51 a.m. CST
The original was hardly a classic, this looks like the Mighty Ducks on Steroids.
June 7, 2001, 10:53 a.m. CST
Well do you?
June 7, 2001, 10:54 a.m. CST
I don't intend to see this movie, I never intended to see this movie, but thank you Harry for the elevated, mixed tone of your comments. So much of the Talk Backs boil down to "This is the best film ever made"/"This is the worst piece of crap ever foisted on the public." Even though this film probably would never have been my cup of tea, it sounds like this is yet another case of good-intentioned talent not pulling it off--which is probably about 20 or 30 % of big-budget filmmaking. Thank you for being nuanced.
June 7, 2001, 11:01 a.m. CST
... Paul Verhoeven should have directed (and written) this one. Remember the sports at the beggining of Starship Troopers? That's Rollerball 2. Sorry for MacTiernan, he's a good director, anyway.
June 7, 2001, 11:16 a.m. CST
Has Ebert ever talked about getting laid in a review? Um, I think not. Why are these so-called "reviews" always about your bodily functions, Harry? And why are they so long and awkwardly worded? I can't remember the last time I got past like the second paragraph.
June 7, 2001, 11:27 a.m. CST
I simply have to drop you a line and say 'thank you' for not selling out and presenting us with a studio controlled piece of reporting. I've been reading your stuff for a couple of months and I'm hooked on your no-nonsense approach to reporting the facts as they stand, that is, no bullshit! You've passed my own benchmark in not being sucked in to the dross that's dressed up and packaged as Adult Entertainment. I can now look forward to you giving it to me straight. Cos a man who likes all the same movies that I like is not gonna give me 'the high hat'. Cheers mate.
June 7, 2001, 11:29 a.m. CST
seriously. 2 months until release? And it sounds like there's more problems then just simply editing scenes out...Like getting a new leading man. I mean, Chris Klein? It sounds like they should have gotten Josh Hartnett out of that bs called Pearl Harbor and had him for this movie instead. Just a thought. Chris Klein? I'm STILL trying to figure this one out...
June 7, 2001, 11:29 a.m. CST
I'll make this short. If they wanted to do a Rollerball movie, instead of it being a remake why not make it a sequel. You know....kind of like what they did with the Psycho movies in the 80's. Let's totally forget the modern updating with Anne Heche and Julianne Moore that was a literal translation of the orinal with a few new ideas. I mean it should have been a continuation of the original Rollerball movie rather than a half baked reworking of the old script. I already have a few ideas in my head right now for a true sequel with James Caan in it.
June 7, 2001, 12:09 p.m. CST
Um, basic grammar please?! Jesus... And I agree... who the hell cares about the "New York Kitten"? Does Harry have to let us know his bloated ass is still capable of bump & grind? Ew.
June 7, 2001, 12:15 p.m. CST
by Mel Garga
That would have worked nice for either a remake OR a sequel. (For those who don't know, Scott Caan was in Varsity Blues, Enemy of the State, Gone on 60 Seconds, etc.) Maybe he is in it but I'm too lazy to open another browser and go to IMDB. This would be a great chance to give him a lead role. BTW has anyone seen that shitty ripoff of Rollerball on TNN? Cough, Cough, not that I watch TNN or anything cough, cough..Again I have to emphasize my incredible dislike for this de-Kline jagoff. His sensitive guy routine gets old mighty fast. Gibson really needs to exercise his clout and blacklist this kid from any action movie, especially that upcoming Vietnam story. I think it's called They were Soldiers Once and Young (?)
June 7, 2001, 12:15 p.m. CST
...That Harry liked in the flick is named Naveen Andrews. I looked him up at imdb. He's been in a bunch of movies looks like.
June 7, 2001, 12:36 p.m. CST
Remaking Rollerball is only a good idea to Hollywood producers afraid to invest in new material. Its not like poeple have been sitting around for 20+ yrs wishing Rollerball would be remade, and its not like the Rollerball concept can really be improved upon very much, seeing as how the film was ahead of its time anyway. Harry pretty much confirmed that this film is banking on the idiot group of young twenty years olds and older teens who are so ADD ridden that some quickly edited violence and tits will appeal to them enough that they shell out their hard earned money.
June 7, 2001, 12:40 p.m. CST
by Wee Willie
That there so called 'rip off' of Rollerball on TNN is Rollerderby, which has bin around since the 50's. i knows it's true 'cause that's around the same time I learned how tew pick a banjah. BTW, the first Rollerball is a borin', stew-pid, dated piece of carp. er, crap. normin jewersun's wurst mewvie.
June 7, 2001, 12:41 p.m. CST
Harry, It almost seems like you went out of your way to over-excruciate this film just to prove you aren't a studio whore. And why the unnecessary and visually disturbing references about your kitty and the bathroom? Stick to the script, boy.
June 7, 2001, 1:03 p.m. CST
I can think of a few remakes that were better than the original. The second version of "Showboat" with Howard Keel was much better than the 1st black and white film version. (Also, just for the record, remakes are not a recent phenomenon.) Although it is surely blasphemy to utter, Kenneth Branagh's "Henry V" is much better than Olivier's. "Titanic" is better than "A Night To Remember". Jeremy Brett's Sherlock Holmes makes Basil Rathbone's look like a lame ass pretender. "Heaven Can Wait" is better than "Here Comes Mr. Jordan".
June 7, 2001, 1:23 p.m. CST
by Mel Garga
I pretty much agree with you regarding the first Rollerball. Thanks for the edumacation on Rollerderby. I flip through TNN quickly unless I see Crockett and Tubbs in their teal sportcoats busting drug traffikers OR Bo and Luke hopping out of the General Lee (baddest car ever). Who will help me destroy Chris de-Kline?
June 7, 2001, 1:59 p.m. CST
Does anybody here know where I can find out more about what happened to this movie? With its extended production delays and numerous abortions and years of upheavals and firings and rehirings and replacements, I've always wanted to know how the movie got shaped into its final form... for instance, which scenes did Crichton shoot? Movies with this sort of mess going on fascinate me in a Superman Donner-Vs.-Lester way.
June 7, 2001, 2:17 p.m. CST
by ryan mecum
harry, this took guts, we thank you. ryan
June 7, 2001, 2:30 p.m. CST
You know, I've posted here maybe twice in four years. But there are two points I want to share with Mr. Knowles re: Rollerball and his review. <br> First, Harry doesn't mention the essential thematic failing of the Rollerball re-make. The original Rollerball was not about the game called Rollerball: it was about the kind of society that had a need for a game like Rollerball. Less Rollerderby, more Brave New World. And it sounds like the new Rollerball is ignoring that -- and, by setting it in distant lands, allowing MGM to play the "look at this horrible exciting violence to see how horrible exciting violence is." card. <br> Second, Harry, you have the enthusiasm and knowledge of a master. It's obvious you know film, and obvious you love it. But reading your reviews is painful. And I write for a living, which is why the dichotomy between the force of your enthusiasm and insight of your perceptions is blighted so terribly by the flaws of your writing style. I don't want to be a mean mammy-jammy, and I give you all due respect, but simply try two things: 1) Set a word limit for yourself -- 500, maybe 1,000 words. And keep it. You may find yourself unable to fit in your musings about the airport or your friends. This is a good thing. 2) In an age of auto-spell check and correct, failing to spell stuff properly isn't just poor style; it sugests you don't care about your work, which is obviously not the case. <br> All love and respect Harry -- I know you have a thousand detractors, and I don't want to be one of them; I want to watch you prove them wrong by writing with your brain and heart. <br> Okay, I'll shut up for the next four years. This is Zach Garber, New York Subway Police, signing off.
June 7, 2001, 3:11 p.m. CST
I knew this sucker was going to blow goats when I was flipping past MTV and saw that they had the latest Road Rules jerkoffs in a Rollerball-themed challenge. You know they are desperate for some free asskissing airtime when they let those whiny bastards on the set, and I think that one of the dorks actually got cast as one of the faceless skate goons in the film. What, they couldn't even get stuntmen to do the film wearing masks so no-one would no they were associated with this crab-ridden lump o' crotch putty? That's a good sign, you bet. I won't even waste my HD space with the pirated VCD on this dog, not even for the Rebecca Romijn nekkidness. Yikes. -reemul
June 7, 2001, 3:13 p.m. CST
June 7, 2001, 3:38 p.m. CST
June 7, 2001, 3:42 p.m. CST
wondering. how. in 2001. anyone. could/would/should. think that. a film. called, "Rollerball." about fancy Rollerblading. could/would/should. be remotely... good. what. the. fuck.
June 7, 2001, 3:46 p.m. CST
McTiernan is a pure genius. I wouldn`t trust Harry on this one since a person who liked such a ludicrous piece of dilettanitisme as TRAFFIC has no right to comment on such a genius like McT. My dream is to communicate with McT and if I went there to NY I`d really tell him the full truth. McT is a strong personality and he would probably eat Harry for dinner. On the other hand everyone who has any clue on movies would wet his pants in front of McT so hey maybe we`d all console him after a bad preview. Anyway I believe in McT. He really is the last of the independents... McTiernan`s touch in the action department is masterful. His ability to create physical tension is unmatched. Camerawork may be chaotic in some moments but it may as well be his intention. Remember the razzle-dazzle in DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE? As for the game. Maybe he wanted to show us the mindless and depersonalized reality of that bloodsport. Kitsch design and irrelevant results are the topic in modern sports. Look at the goddamn NBA. We know who will win without watching the game. The only thing that we get to see about the sport are highlight reels. This is what we get in McT`s ROLLERBALL... As Harry describes it. As for motivation of players. we`ll their only motive is to earn money and get laid. Nobody goes to Russia to butcher people in the court unless he is looking to cash in or fled the law. What the hell do you expect? Guys who spill guts and do it in Olympic manner? Let`s wait for the movie and see this for ourselves. I am not dissing Harry. He may be right. But McT deserves our faith people. God bless him!!!!!!!!!!
June 7, 2001, 4:49 p.m. CST
Harry, Harry, Harry, you know, not that i didn't enjoy this terrific review, but please, do you know what you just did? well, now I have this mental picture, a picture of two huge masses colliding with each other, sweat everywhere, and this sound, Harry, the sound of fat moaning piercing my head. Was it good?
June 7, 2001, 5:20 p.m. CST
I'll bet anything that this 'Kitten' is a prostitute. And Harry...please learn how to write a review. Or even hold a coherant thought.
June 7, 2001, 7:04 p.m. CST
Hey Harry, if kitten is not on theeroticreview.com and is just a celebrity bottom feeder and you don't have to pay her then good on ya dude! Give Harry a break fellas, fat guys need lovin' too!! Anyhoo, when I read that monosyllabic Chris Klein- love child of Keanu Reeves and that REAL WORLD/MTV Grind Fucker- and LL Cool Smooth or whatever fuck his RAP ASS is called I knew a goddamn disaster was in the making. Norman Jewison and Jimmy Caan must have shit in their pants. Another example of Studio suits taking the classic premise of a corporate dominated future where the only outlet is an ultra violent sport into a flashy nonsensical piece of shit aimed at the mallrat mouthbreathing crowd who love pussyass extreme sports! Harry's idea of an older, beaten-up actor like Crowe or Chow Yun-Fat would've been sweet. If the studios had to have a young Dawson Creek Fucker, why not bring back James Caan as a Coach or trainer. After reading the review, I agree that no amount of re-editing is gonna save it.
June 7, 2001, 7:21 p.m. CST
Oh God, why did they have to muck up a great cult classic? They could at least stuck to the original themes but nooooooo, it appears we get American Gladiators meets Romper Room meets Gen-X slackers. If the original movie is out on DVD, get it. Skip the remake.
June 7, 2001, 8:02 p.m. CST
that Harry's Kitten is something he made up and threw out here just to enjoy watching us Talkbackers jump on it like a tank of piranhas rushing towards their daily ration of raw meat?
June 7, 2001, 11:28 p.m. CST
by heywood jablomie
Poor McTiernan. Attacked by a giant Bruce Vilanch clone in an orange Hawaiian shirt. I once stepped into a toilet Harry Knowles had just shat into, and I got one word for ya: ****SHREK!!!!!!!!!!*******
June 7, 2001, 11:40 p.m. CST
she's the *best* woman boxer in the world and formally the *best* woman kickboxer. I give the casting people and producers two big thumbs up for getting a totally bad-ass woman in this flick. She kicks ass! When I heard she was in this flick, I thought "hey, maybe this would be worth 8 bucks?" Uh, but you know, I apologize Lucia, you are my idol, but I may wait until I can rent it........ And I think they should have gotten some craggy lookin' dudes for this movie. You know, put scars on their faces if you needed to. Make them look haggard from the milleage in this sport. And again, why-oh-why did they choose Chris Klein? If they REALLY wanted to hit a nerve, they should maybe have chosen a haggard WOMAN for the lead. Would have been perfect! Women are still considered to be (even now, in the 21st Century), the nurturers. Imaging the impact of women who absolutely do not embody that ideal ANYMORE. For one thing - I certainly would not be a good mother. For god's sake, I speak the truth about myself. I've been a tomboy ALL my life - the last thing on my mind right now is being a mother. Thank god for birth control.....And I'm sure I'm not the only woman who thinks this!!
June 7, 2001, 11:46 p.m. CST
disney sucks... dreamworks is better... http://www.geocities.com/deaconfrost99
June 8, 2001, 12:38 a.m. CST
Wow, Harry is twice the man I am. Literally and figuratively. I would have been bought off with just the plane ride. Ok maybe not. Thanks for keeping it real Harry.
June 8, 2001, 3:17 a.m. CST
by Darth Pixel
This is the same dude who gave us Die Hard! Has he lost his damn marbles? McT needs to get his act together, quit trying to compete with the horrible shit-makers like Michael Bay and start making some BadAss MotherFucker Action Films... just like he used to. Kudos to Harry for keeping his journalistic integrity. Kudos.
June 8, 2001, 3:30 a.m. CST
by Boss Hog
Cynical as I have to be, it is a day of glory, wine and orgies for all! Harry Balls for all! Trashing a major motion picture by one of the premier directors in the film industry... long overdue.
June 8, 2001, 4:55 a.m. CST
Yea verily, I point unto Chris Klein with the finger of my right hand and say "Truly he hath no talent"... Oh, did you hear Joel Schumacher has cast Klein in his remake of "Touch of Evil" with Ginger Spice in the Janet Leigh role...
June 8, 2001, 5:39 a.m. CST
Okay, granted, Chris Klein is an emotionless mannequin, but he cannot carry the blame for the impending disaster that is Rollerball. Blame has to lie with whichever no-brain MGM exec greenlit the damn thing in the first place, and whoever compunded the error by agreeing to shoot a screenplay that removed everything that made the original so different, turning it into the kind of moronic actioner that it is okay to cast Chris Klein in. Norman Jewison's Rollerball was a film with an overt political message, a warning about the nature and trends of globalism and corporatism and ambitions beyond merely showing as much blood and tits as possible, a fact reflected in the character of Jonathan E. E was a character of complexity and intensity, with a cynical streak of anti-authoritarianism and self-loathing, all wonderfully played by James Caan, an intense and intelligent actor. This character appears to be gone in the remake, with even the name changed. So, if you reduce the main character to basically a pretty face around which to insert the all-important blood and tits then it becomes acceptable to cast an amiable clothes-horse like Klein. Klein is no James Caan, nor is he ever likely to be, but in the Rollerball that McTiernan has made this does not matter. Remember, he was inoffensive enough in American Pie, a determindedly light film without the weight of one of the very few intelligent Hollywood action films ever produced hanging around his neck. This film should never have been made. I love action films as much as anyone and share Harry's appreciation of McTiernan in general and the Hunt For Red October specifically (although not his policy of personal life in reviews-unnecessary Harry, give the films the room you made this site to give them). However, this film should never have been made, and the monumentally bad decision to do so does not rest with Klein, who in all likelihood overlooked the obvious script deficiencies for the above reasons: the connection with the original probably led him to believe he was being offered something with more intelligence and scope for actual acting than American Pie and Say It Isn't So. The fact that he was wrong is the root of why we are all bracing ourselves for the now-inevitable disappointment, and why Rollerball should be added to the ever-increasing file marked 'Should Have Been Left Alone.'
June 8, 2001, 5:41 a.m. CST
I know it's hard not to confuse me with the "Harry's a bloated sellout" crowd. I am NOT one of the "sell out" groupies. I like AICN - and I admire Harry's passion and raw knowledge of film. As for my "ethical tirade" being "asinine," - grow up. What does it matter to you if I criticize Harry a little? I think Harry can handle it, frankly. And if Harry really is going to bring AICN to national television, he's best be prepared for much worse than what I've given. If these ethical questions hurt your brain, may I suggest http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/teletubbies/. It's all smiles and happy thoughts over there.
June 8, 2001, 6:53 a.m. CST
Harry, I always thought you were a BS'er because you gave movies much better reviews than they deserved to get the perks you get, I have to give you props for this review. I hope you realize that you must be honest in your reviews. You may lose perks, but if people can't trust you they won't visit your website. For some reason I still want to see this movie even though it sounds like a mess.
June 8, 2001, 7:11 a.m. CST
I guess I'll just stay and home and watch Death Race 2000 again: the greates B-movie ever. Sigh.
June 8, 2001, 7:46 a.m. CST
a) the studio honchos are business people. They dont watch (good) movies--certainly not anything made prior to star wars, and they probably have only read stuff by Michael Crichton. b) The directors are the equivalent of circus ringleaders--so its rare if they have an inspiring thought. If they are under 60 they probably grew up watching movies and reading comics. c)the writers are young--grew up with comics and movies--and probably havent read much classical lit to know how to tell a good story. d) the studios use preview audiences to decide what needs to be fixed. That isnt art--its product development. At least old time B-movies with small budgets had to be creative in order to get their films out there... throwing 100 million dollars at a projects may get you nice effects or big starts--but that's about it.
June 8, 2001, 8:09 a.m. CST
Completely off-topic - some Harry animations are downright disturbing, but this 'Twitching in the Rain' one actually made me laugh. Either it's genuinely funny or I've been spending TOO MUCH TIME at this site and have become too desensitized to tell the difference between funny and twisted - if that's the case then it ain't a good sign. Again, congrats on the Rollerball review Harry, keep on keepin' on.
June 8, 2001, 8:31 a.m. CST
There's a little something called "too much information" and boy has it been breached this time. Uh, next time I wanna read about someone's sexual exploits, esp. with a cat, I'll go check out Nerve.com or something. Stick with the review, not the after hours activities.
June 8, 2001, 8:46 a.m. CST
Dammit ! I'm a big fan of John McT films. And based on Harry's review I probably wouldn't have bothered to see the movie, but... with Mrs. Romijn-Stamos(DAMN JOHN STAMOS!!!) in the movie... and naked... well... that just makes me want to go see the movie. Despite the fact that it will be bad. That is all Ronin Kengo
June 8, 2001, 9:08 a.m. CST
Harry, the "kitten" brand masturbation mitt is available everywhere. You don't have to travel to NY to use it.
June 8, 2001, 9:30 a.m. CST
My hats off to you, big man. This review really shuts up the haters who say you bend over for anyone who buys you lunch. I, for one, am apalled by the fact the the Corporation was conveniently removed from this remake. The strong thematic message of the original is what allowed a movie so violent for its time to have an impact. I am very disappointed.
June 8, 2001, 10:50 a.m. CST
The boy Harry going all out to prove that he's not a sexually frustrated social retard who'll say nice things about any movie if he's given enough nice freebies. Strangely I'm reminded of the episode of "The Critic" where a disturbed female projectionist sleeps with Jay Sherman Professional film critics manage to avoid telling their readers about their sex lives. Does Rex Reed follow up reviews with minor asides about how much action lil' Rex has been seeing? Does Alexander Walker wax lyrical about the joy within his trousers in between giving us the low down on new releases?
June 8, 2001, 11:25 a.m. CST
Wouldn't everyone think that it would be pointless to remake Die Hard, especially McTiernan? I know a director needs to take what he's offered but he needs to stop making remakes.
June 8, 2001, 12:56 p.m. CST
June 8, 2001, 2:27 p.m. CST
I don't think I was being rude when I posted my Talkback. I just think a sequel would have been a much better idea than an actual remake. Actually I think this movie is more like a prequel. Ouch! My head is starting to hurt now! Is this a Remake or a Prequel?
June 8, 2001, 2:38 p.m. CST
Although he deserves it for making this piece of shit and then expecting you to eat the peanuts. And as for your kitten, don't let all the negative comments on talk back get you down. There's no reason a guy like yourself couldn't legitimately have a sex-kitten to play with, and enjoy a bit of blue banter afterwards with the lads on talkback! Your sense of humour, personality, character and succes in your chosen profession obviously makes up for you unathletic appearance, and you've found a kitten who appreciates this. More power to the both of you!
June 8, 2001, 4:34 p.m. CST
Any kind of published sympathy for PEARL HARBOR is a disgrace for this site. This is why I think you shouldn`t trust Harry`s view on ROLLERBALL...
June 8, 2001, 6:56 p.m. CST
by George McFly
I'm tired of hearing you whiny fucks accuse Harry of selling out. I'm tired of hearing you make fun about his weight, which has nothing to do with anything. Harry, this is one of your better reviews, and I hope McT and everyone at MGM reads this and takes it to heart. God, you people get paid scads of money to produce this shit. And that's just what it ends up like--shit. If I produced the same quality of work in my job that you people often produce and throw up on the screen, my ass would be out on the street and in the free cheese line faster than you can say BATMAN & ROBIN. Take Harry's words to heart and at least try to fix it. At least make it salvageable enough that I won't feel like I cheated myself out of a couple hours when I watch this premiere on HBO some Saturday night down the line...McFly<--
June 8, 2001, 7:41 p.m. CST
Oh, there it is! Oh, no, wait...
June 8, 2001, 10:37 p.m. CST
by Red Army Chimp
Man, I can smell the fucking estrogen. Talkbackers are like women - wandering off on some stupid fucking tangent. Like someone said, why the hell is Harry's weight such an issue? If it is, we should talk about the bad acne covering 90% of the pubescent kids with talkback names referencing the "69-style" sexual position. Sometimes the talkback posts rival or even surpass the article they're posted after. You know, everybody thinks they're the fucking authority on film, so their posts tend to touch on the most profound issue - even regarding a piece of shit summer FLICK - to raise attention to themselves. Which leads me to my next point: Harry has seen a great deal more films than that 90% demographic I had mentioned, or even most gen-x'er's. He's the authority on film because he has fucking credibility. (please note: even though Harry foolishly praised Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon as being being superior to anything Hollywood's produced in the last 20 years, he still knows his shit.) Sure, we're all entitled to our opinion, but nowadays, thanks to industry rags like EW, we're prone to either hating or loving a film. Harry's not telling you to think his way, but his sentiments weigh a bit more than someone who thinks the Matrix is the best fucking movie ever made. Anyhow, thanks to one of the fanboys, I now know Jesus' middle name; and, contrary to popular belief, it doesn't start with H, but F, instead.
June 9, 2001, 9:08 a.m. CST
...to Harry for an R-rated, pull-no-punches review. I'm disappointed that the new Rollerball sounds like such a turd. I love the original - well, the scenes in the original where they play rollerball. Although, remember when Jonathon's mate has been smacked in the head by a Tokyo player and he's in the hospital in a persistent vegetative state - and Jonathon sneakes in and turns off the life-support, because that's what they'd agreed in a pact to cover this situation? And then you know Jonathon is not going to be in a good mood for the next game! He's gonna be looking to vent his frustrations by pounding someone into a bloody, twitching pulp. Sounds like the remake doesnt come close to anything as powerful. It's a shame that the action scenes are apparently so shite, because even if the rest of the film was crap, if the actual rollerball sequences rocked, and there was some gratuitous sex and nudity (which there is, apparently), well that's about all you can hope for in a film called "Rollerball". I too was disturbed by the "kitten" reference. But it would have been worse if it had been a "puppy".
June 9, 2001, 1:01 p.m. CST
Rent the original....ever heard of a good Jimi Hendrix remake?
June 9, 2001, 2:12 p.m. CST
by David Manning CT
For my full review go to www.ridgefieldpress.com! "Chris Klein is this summer's breakout heartthrob...Russell Crowe, eat your heart out!" "Mrs. Romijn-Stamos steams up the screen in this summer's hottest ride!" "LL Cool J proves In Too Deep was no fluke...he's this summer's Oscar shoo-in!"
June 9, 2001, 3:43 p.m. CST
by Siskels Ghost
Actually, there has been one great Hendrix remake. Voodoo Chile, by Stevie Ray. It's frightening. I wonder if Harry's little chubby chaser is jealous that he was sucking Mctiernan's hog on the plane. I don't know why I continue to read his "this was the best of movies, this was the worst of movies" reviews. I guess I just like to read between the lines at how self loathing Harry really is.
June 9, 2001, 5:45 p.m. CST
by Lt. Torello
Otherwise, thanks for an honest review in the face of a major studio/big director PR full-press. I accused you of swallowing studio cum with your inexplicable kudos for "Blow," but you've earned my respect with your slam on this pointless remake. Stax reviewed the script a year ago and it sounded like shit from the word go. Too bad, though, as I like most of McT's other work. "Die Hard with a Vengeance" gets better and better, although the ending still sucks. Anyway, I hope he's cool enough to realize you were just doing your job. Now where's that low-tech John McLain-in-the-Peruvian jungle we heard he was gonna do? That would be a glorious cross of his two finest works, "Predator" and "Die Hard."
June 10, 2001, 3:13 a.m. CST
Actually, Lt. Torello, in the way Harry used it, the term "geography" was correct, even if it isn't often used. What Harry meant was the feeling you get in most McTiernan films about the setting... instead of just disjointed action sequences, you get this bizarre, but wonderful feeling about EXACTLY how the terrain is laid out and how the characters entering an area can use it in an action sequence. The Die Hard example is really the best... the viewer, through some miraculous trick of editing in that movie, really gets a clear idea of how the building is laid out. You understand when you watch that movie exactly where McClain has to go, what he has to do, and what the bad guys MIGHT do next to stop them, if you're a viewer with intelligence and good foresight. "Choreography" pertains to what the characters DO in an action sequence, while "geography", at least in a movie, is the feeling you get for the layout and potential of the setting the characters are in. And finally, to Harry... you slammed a really nice, generous, and generally cool person's hard hours of work for the sake of journalistic integrity and not deceiving or bull shitting your visitors. God damn, that is cool. As evil as I might make it sound... I really respect what you did with this review. Also, the final break down of your polite optimism into "Dear god this blew." was absolutely hilarious.
June 10, 2001, 3 p.m. CST
June 10, 2001, 4:35 p.m. CST
I LOVE it! Harry scores with some girl/hooker in a bathroom in NYC and all the little Talback Fanboy Hatas piss themselves with jealousy! Suck it up, dorks. ****Fearless NAMBLA KIller****
June 10, 2001, 9:34 p.m. CST
by Axwell Tiberius
Ok, this response is so far down the list that no one will see it, but i dont care. I just saw the original Rollerball. It was a steaming pile of shit! I can't even properly express how bad this was. I know it's supposed to have some sort of cult following, but I find that hard to be believe. I don't know what I find harder to believe: that someone would make this crap ball / that someone would like this crap ball / or that someone would say "Hey! Let's remake this crap ball!" The new movie will inevitably suck ass as most Chris Klein movies do or LL Cool J movies do, but I doubt it will be worse than the first. Watching this flick after watching The Replacements.... I think I'm gonna smash my vcr into my face until i pass out and die. Have a nice day >:(
June 10, 2001, 10:45 p.m. CST
Yeah, I know of a good Hendrix remake: All Along the Watchtower. And Hendrix is the one who remade it. It's not because the Bob Dylan original was bad, it's because Jimmy saw something in the song that Dylan didn't. After hearing the Hendrix version, Bob started playing it JIMMY's way. So, in some cases, a remake can be "better" than an original. And that's the way it should be with movies. If a screenwriter or producer or director sees something in a concept that hasn't been fully or (in their opinion) properly explored and presented then, yes, it's ripe for revisitation. That still doesn't explain Rollerball, though...
June 12, 2001, 7:59 a.m. CST
Come on people! Not one damm person is going to manipulate my mind in making a decision for me on how the movie is. Harry I think your review was long, boring, and disgusting especially how u have the BALLS to attempt to destroy a movie after, McT flew you in. I dont know who had time to sit on there ass and read this because i thought it was pointless.. Look evereyone said "Traffic" was an awesome movie and I thought it was worth the timr nor the day to see it... IT Fukin Sucked! Your opinion to me, Means nothing!!! I judge my opinions on what I see, So all you people if u had sense, u would do the same. All we want to see is blood, fighting,and sex in movies. ITS REALITY! Not these damm love stories we see like in Pearl Harbor, it aint real... War, figthing, sex, drugs, blood, deaths is what makes a movie, not "oh sweety, i love you...". I think that LL looks hot and is a great actor esp from the previews i saw. And what if Chris Klein is a Moron, what thats gonna make you not want to see a movie-no one says anything about Freddy Prince and his gay movies. Well, not because i dislike the way an actor acts or is perceived by others, is gonna change my mind on going to see the movie.. Peace
June 12, 2001, 9:35 p.m. CST
Harry, I can't you thought "Predator" and "Die Hard" were perfect films. Compared to what? This stuff was just 80's mall movie trash. As usual, you throw around words like "perfect, brilliant, great," and so on way too much. The way you keep talking, Sony's going to recruit to be their new quasi-critic pitchman. As for "Rollerball," the tralier I saw running in the theaters here in Tokyo gives one the sense that "Rollerball" is about the connections between sports and nationalism, not at all, apparently, what it actually is about (what Hollywood lie to us in a trailer? Why, surely this never happens). What everyone here seems to forget is, that long before the film was a twenty page short story called "Rollerball" and the hype surrounding the film, when it was released, was due to a feature on the supposed ultraviolence of sports in the future on ABC's Wide World of Sports. The film, when it came out, was critically panned and largely seen as incidental, and with good reason. The tie in was in part with the popularity of Norwegian Ice Bike Racing, combined with roller derby, and the up and coming violence of professional football. From what I read of your review, which though rambling, was pointed in its criticism, Mc Tiernan, rather than critiquing sports culture, should have gone after what it takes to make such ultraviolence appeal one, to spectators, and two, to players. From there, he should have juxtapposed it with with the various cliches of sports culture, and turn them on their ear. This would have made a great film. It would have been interesting to see what David Fincher could have done with this material, or if purely from an eye candy action standpoint, a John Woo (who unlike Teirnan, knows how to film high speed action). Alas, we will never know, for instead we are condemned to a piece that may be even lesser than the original film.
June 19, 2001, 10:04 a.m. CST
Why so much Harry bashing? The beauty of this site is that it's not traditional. I don't come hear to read some kiss-ass humorless entertainment rag with week old news and psuedo insights into the film industry. Why do you want to change Harry into some slick Hollywood player? Hell, I even like the part about the NY Kitty...
June 19, 2001, 1:32 p.m. CST
James Caan rules!!!! Well he does except for that shite thing with Hugh Grant in it. "Tony Two-Toes" or something...
June 22, 2001, 12:17 p.m. CST
Besides Harry's fat-bastard review, I have my own spin on Mickey T's movie. I was paid 2 grand a week as a Special Skills Extra. I was a thug. In the credits I was billed as THUG # 8. I was paid to look mean. I was paid to look nasty. I never got a chance to see the film in its entirety, so I have no real views. I do know that I ROCK in this film. I will see it just to see my ugly mug on the big screen. And when you see that Russian Princess on the screen, the one who gets into that limo, knoow this. She's presently my love slave. Gotta love them movies. McT. Thanks for donating that lovely piece of 18 year old poonannie pie.
June 29, 2001, 2:51 p.m. CST
by Dead Last
July 3, 2001, 2:53 p.m. CST
by Harry's Kitten
My dearest Harry, I simply loved having you and your little wiener-dog over for a quickie, even if it did suck (the movie, not you--you never suck, sigh). Oh sweetie, I wish we could "meet" in hotel bathrooms more often, but you have your busy life as a fanboy and I as a kitten. I do have one teeny-tiny comment on your article though, lover. Why so mum on your bowel movements? An entire article without any candidly oblique references to the contents of your colon and the elimination thereof seriously undermines your credibility as a journalist. As always my dearest Harry, I shall keep the seat up until you return to me. Your purrr-fect pussy, New York Kitten
July 5, 2001, 4:32 p.m. CST
by Peter H
Of course this film won't be set in America as the original was. Americans don't condone violence - only other nations. I'm fucking sick & tired of American propaganda dressed up as entertainment. Your country is fucked & the more you lot try to convinve each other otherwise the worse you all look. the fact that no-one else seems to notice this sort of shit worries me.... I'm from Australia by the way....
July 11, 2001, 3 p.m. CST
Id hardly say Die Hard and Predator were Mall Trash. Movies today like Fast and the Furious and Godzilla dn Armageddon are Mall Trash personified. D.H and Predator were great action flicks. As for Rollerball, I dont understand why they had to make this movie anyway. Was to appeal to the young teens and White trash dudes who drive those Huge-ass trucks and have those Big speakers blasting their music. I am glad that it was postponed until next year. Haa Haaa for Hollywood that churns out this violent crap, just for the sake of making it. I am tired of movies like this being made, with no plot, horrible scripts just to become a summer blockbuster. Dont get me wrong, I love movies with special effects and good action but what happend to movies where you can combine both??Cameron is good at making stuff like that. This Summer has been another retread of all the past summers, mindless crap that sucks. The only thing that has been good, not to mention different, people dont go see, like A.I. or Moulin Rouge. Instead we get stuff like Fast and the Furious reaching 100 mill. That says a lot about our society and maybe thats what the original was trying to spoof.
March 14, 2008, 10:43 a.m. CST
Aug. 2, 2012, 5:43 a.m. CST
ALL BECAUSE OF THIS HORRIBLE REVIEW FROM A GEEK WHO CAN'T TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A WORKPRINT AND A FINISHED FILM.
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