Rollerball (1975)


Genre: Sci-Fi

Cast: James Caan, Maud Adams, John Beck

Synopsis: In the near future, society has become a global corporate state and people find amusement in watching a sadistic roller-derby-murder-fest with motorbikes. Rollerball follows one athlete’s struggles to defy the corporate big-wig dope pushers who want him out of the game.

I can’t really say that I’m into sports movies…except for Space Jam which is the best sports movie ever made and if anyone tells you any different then they’re a rotten ho-bag liar. However, this week I thought I would try something different so I decided to put on something that would get my testosterone flowing and make me want to snap towels at my roommates. Clearly I picked the wrong movie because I was surprised to find that Rollerball was actually an intelligent little dystopian sci-fi B-movie. Don’t get me wrong, it has a modicum of sporting activity but I was shocked to see that it didn’t take front and center. The majority of the movie is actually about one athlete’s struggles to come to terms with his impending retirement in a society that is controlled by evil moustache-twirling, baby seal-bashing Republican corporations.

Perhaps the thing that shocked me the most though is the fact this this film had a poignancy to it which seems startlingly relevant to life today. I think a lot of the western world is worried about the role of huge corporations in our society and it was strangely comforting to know that it’s not a concern that’s particularly new. Elysium probably repackages a lot of the themes in Rollerball so I’m interested to see how the two will compare. Having said that, The Hunger Games also deals with a lot of the same themes that feature in Rollerball. I guess ‘occupy wall street’ and ‘99% vs. 1%’ movies are the flavor of the month so Rollerball should really be the considered the daddy of them all….and the Rollerball remake is the deformed idiot brother that should be locked in the basement. It’s a shame that when Rollerball is now mentioned, people tend to think of the 2002 remake starring Chris Klein, LL Cool J, and Rebecca Romijn. I watched the trailer for the remake after watching the original and it almost made me weep as much as the action scenes in Torque.

For the sporting side of things, the game of Rollerball is kind of cray. It is basically a bunch of tough guys on roller-skates being chased by other guys on motorbikes. I couldn’t really tell you what the rules of the game are because I couldn’t keep up. Watching sports when high is kind of difficult. All I know is that it’s like Whip It but with murder and that was fine with me. I wonder if any crazy sports will be invented soon. I don’t mean extreme ironing (which is a thing supposedly) but something like a blood sport which is cleverly disguised in some way. I’m not sure what the sport would be but I think it should involve a deadly animal of some sort. How far are we from having a sport in which people run away from starving bears or knife fight with a chimpanzee? Maybe in a few years when the world’s gone to shit I’ll propose this to some investors and make a mint.


  • A surprisingly savvy story and message. James Caan was also very convincing in this role.
  • Trololol! Republican bitches blowing up the environment!
  • There’s a Detroit joke thrown in for good measure. Seriously though, what happened to that city is awful.
  • Quite a moving ending.


  • The ending was let down by a crappy freeze-frame. High-res much?
  • I guess it’s a little too obvious with its anti-corporation message.


Rollerball is quite an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours. Although it’s nowhere near as brilliant as Blade Runner, the film still manages to both excite and provoke thought which are the hallmarks of a good sci-fi. I’d actually quite like to see this remade into a gritty TV series. That way, the character development that featured in the original could be further developed and eclipse all the skull-fuckery that happened with the 2002 remake. Are there any takers?




Filed under Good, Sci-Fi

7 responses to “Rollerball (1975)

  1. davecrewe

    Man, I have never had much interest in this film (mostly because of soured opinions from the ’02 remake) but now my interest is well-and-truly piqued! ’70s sci-fi with a politically relevant message and a side-dish of James Caan? Sold!

  2. Great review. I’ve had this recorded for AGES and keep almost watching it. I really should – Dystopian shit is so my type of thing!

  3. I saw this on a Saturday afternoon when first released. Great movie, well ahead of the times.

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