Rollerball is an interesting vision of the future which, if the NFL is an example, seems to have come to fruition. The acting from James Caan is terrific and Norman Jewison’s direction is swift and although hardly the perfect movie, it’s still well worth checking out.
Genre(s): Action, Sci-Fi, Sports
Twilight Time | R – 125 min. – $29.95 | May 13, 2014
Rollerball (1975) posits a dystopian future (the year 2018!) in which war has been replaced by the titular game, a gladiatorial spectacle of violence that helps keep the global populace entertained and anesthetized. Director Norman Jewison and writer William Harrison further give us an athletic champion, Jonathan E (JAMES CAAN), whose individual expertise defeats the worldwide corporate leadership’s design: to emphasize the futility of individual effort. Corporate bigwigs (JOHN HOUSEMAN) need Jonathan to retire, but Jonathan begins to have his own dangerous ideas.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.25/5
Audio Commentaries – There are two tracks included: 1) Director Norman Jewison and 2) Writer William Harrison. Each of these provides their own perspective of how the movie was made with the director giving a bit more detail. Neither one I would describe as scintillating and probably could’ve been spliced together…
From Rome to Rollerball: The Full Circle (7:54; SD) is an older featurette, made back in the 1970s, with an archive interview with director Norman Jewison talking about the sport of “Rollerball” and the warning the movie has and its origins back to Rome.
Return to the Arena: The Making of Rollerball (25:04; SD) – This one is a bit newer, probably included in the original Laserdisc release in the 90s, and has interviews with various crew members chatting on story and how it resonates.
Also included are some TV Spots (1:32; SD), the Original Theatrical Trailer (2:58; SD) and a 6-page booklet.
VIDEO – 4.0/5
Rollerball steamrolls onto Blu-ray presented in its original 1.85 widescreen aspect ratio and a 1080p high-definition transfer and although it’s not quite perfect, the work done still looks good. Detail levels are decent and in spite of some minor instances of dust marks and scratches, for a nearly 30 year old movie, it’s still fairly impressive; colors are bright and darker scenes don’t how any major instances of artifacting, pixilation or compression.
AUDIO – 4.0/5
The movie includes a relatively robust 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, as well as a 2.0 Mono one, showcasing some clear dialogue levels and the action scenes show some depth though most of it still seems centrally located, including the front speakers, with the rear channels being reserved for the score or off-screen elements.
OVERALL – 3.5/5
Overall, Rollerball is an interesting vision of the future which, if the NFL is an example, seems to have come to fruition. The acting from James Caan is terrific and Norman Jewison’s direction is swift and although hardly the perfect movie, it’s still well worth checking out. The Blu-ray released by Twilight Time has good video/audio transfers and the features, albeit only worth one look, are half decent.