6 comments on “Murdering the classics: a look back (in anger) at Rollerball

  1. I’ve seen the 2002 version (I think I rented the DVD, I know I didn’t see it in the theater), the sole draw of which for me was Rebecca Romijn, whom I absolutely adored as Mystique. Everyone says Jennifer Lawrence acted circles around her in “First Class,” but I don’t know, I see Romijn’s character as an older, harder, more guarded version of Lawrence’s.

    I don’t remember her character in this movie making much of an impression on me at all, which would tend to corroborate your theory that Romijn needs the right director (or maybe also the right writers) to coach her into being awesome.

    • They are also comparing apples with oranges in terms of RomijnLawrence. Mystique is a supporting character at the best of times in X-Men and X2. A very prominent one, but aside from subtle hints like the one I have described, she is given no real exploration as a character or in terms of motivation or seasoning. In First Class, she is one of the driving forces in the plot. All this time, Professor X has lectured her about the need to fit in with the norms, whilst Magneto is telling her exactly what I would be telling her. Small wonder then that she runs off with Magneto at the end of the film.

      To be honest, I do not have a lot of memories of Romijn in Rollerball circa 2002, myself. Which basically means that she got off easy. All of her co-stars with the possible exception of Reno make such fools of themselves in Rollerball circa 2002 that one stops feeling sorry for them and starts to believe they should be carted away to a secure facility where they can only hurt themselves.

  2. Prior to the remake filming, Ain’t-It-Cool News was singing the praises of a rewrite of Larry Ferguson’s script for the remake by David Campbell Wilson, which (in their words), “was just FANTASTIC. As a ROLLERBALL fan, it both honored the game while making it more exciting. It also painted a complete universe where it made sense that a Corporate Soceity would exist…. and why the game was necessary to subdue the sheep. It reflected upon the materialistic nature of society… the limited access to information… the lack of personal identities and heroes. How one man can’t make a difference or stand for anything, and how someone like a Jonathon… a mere athlete threatened the very existence of the status quo”.

    McTiernan thew out that version, which went through several more writers, to what was filmed; and after a disasterous test screening, was held up for months, until it was recut to PG-13 rating from an R.

    Would be interesting to try to find a copy of that draft – it sounded far more interesting than what they ended up shooting.

    • Ain’t-It-Cool’s praises sound a bit odd. For one thing, they are talking about exactly what the 1975 original did. Complete universe where it made sense that corporations would own the world? Check. Game being necessary to subdue the masses? Check. I honestly do not know what they are on about. But then, AICN never struck me as being the sharpest tools in the surgical kit. For one thing, the real Rollerball‘s cleverness is expressed in the fact that it did not need to spell it all out for the audience. They just gave a few hints here and there, and the audience was able to go along with it. Not to mention how the escalating reactions to Jonathan’s refusal to walk out on his teammates make it very clear that the corporations are afraid of something, but what does not become clear until that final shot. That is probably what made the final shot of the original film so satisfying. A posit and resolution all in one, as it were. But I digress, I am basically trying to say that AICN’s praises in this context make me more frightened of that version of the script, than keen to see it.

      I also do not know what McTiernan‘s reason for throwing out that script was, but I suspect the whole treating the audience like they have never heard a story of this sort before might have something to do with it. But I am not McTiernan, so I will never be able to say for sure. What I can say for sure is that the whole several more writers thing probably lets us all in on where it went wrong. Rarely do several mediocre writers churn out better work than one good one. And the whole recutting… oy. I think Columbia knew they had a stinker on their hands and wanted to open it up to as wide an audience as they could in the hopes of recouping at least some of their money.

      I am sure that whomever has that version of the script is presently keeping it under lock and key. Probably, it is sitting in a vault in what is now Sony Pictures, marked with signage saying to never let it out into the open. 😀 After the mess of comparisons between the theatrical Alien 3 and the Gibson script…

Chuck shit at me here

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