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video review out of 4 Movie Review: Rollerball

Starring: Chris Klein, L.L. Cool J
Director: John McTiernan
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 104 Minutes
Release Date: February 2002
Genres: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action, Sports

*Also starring: Jean Reno, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Andrew Bryniarski

Review by Susan Granger
½ star out of 4

When Norman Jewison's original "Rollerball," starring James Caan, was released in 1975, it combined sci-fi with social commentary, depicting a futuristic world ruled by ruthless, all-powerful corporations that had eliminated poverty, war and political unrest. The ultra-violent sport of rollerball, combining roller-derby with basketball and motorcycling, was the opiate of the masses. Directed by John McTiernan ("Die Hard"), the simplistic new version is set at an unspecified time in an undefined central Asian country like Kazakhstan. Players skate around a slope-sided, figure-eight track, trying to toss metal balls into basketball-like hoops - with a motorcyclist whizzing about. Other than that, it's incomprehensible. The game's inventor, a sinister Slavic mobster named Alexi Petrovich (Jean Reno), has attracted athletes from all over the world, like San Francisco daredevils Marcus Ridley (LL Cool J) and Jonathan Cross (Chris Klein), whose testosterone soars for teammate Aurora (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos), seen lifting weights topless. (Since it's PG-13, she's shown only from the back.) But when these dim-witted players finally realize that their bloody on-track "accidents" are, in fact, sabotage and they're mere pawns in a pending North American cable TV deal, escape is their only salvation. So much for plot. The dialogue, written by Larry Ferguson ("Maximum Risk") and John Pogue ("The Fast and the Furious"), is trivial and trite, plus the cliché characters are thinly drawn. Obviously, the producers were far more interested in the stunts, choreographed by Jamie Jones and photographed by Steve Mason. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Rollerball" veers off with a brutal 2. It's a second-rate, extreme-sports, hard-rock music video.

Copyright © 2002 Susan Granger

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