APRIL MOVIE THON 2: Rollerball (2002)

April 29: Drop A Bomb — Please share your favorite critical and financial flop with us!

I’m usually nice about movies, even when they fail on every level, but why the fuck does this movie exist and who is it for?

I should just stop this article after that sentence.

Somehow, John McTiernan is the same person who made Die Hard and Predator. How did we get here?

Like the 1975 movie, it’s based on William Harrison’s short story “Roller Ball Murder,” but unlike that movie, it’s set in the present, avoids a lot of the political issues of the world and oh yeah — when the James Caan-starring original movie was made, people knew and understood a different roller derby, placing it into the same strange world as pro wrestling and not how we see it today, which is a female-centric sport that has no predetermined elements.

Jonathan Cross (Chris Klein, maybe a step down from Caan, end of tweet) and Marcus Ridley (LL Cool J) are the only good players on Kazakhstan’s Zhambel Horsemen. Sure, everyone gets destroyed but them, but team owner Alexi Petrovich (Jean Reno; if I wrote he deserves better, I would have to say it for everyone in this movie, so just add “he or she deserves better” every time you read most of the names in this) keeps them supplied with money, booze, cars and women like their teammate Aurora (Rebecca Romijn in a black wig; you’d be amazed with black bangs can do to a heart rate). The secret is that Alexi and his henchman Sanjay (Naveen Andrews) have been making the game more dangerous to make it more popular.

You know who knows about worked or semi-worked sports churning up and spitting out bodies? Former ECW mastermind Paul Herman and MMA fighter Oleg Taktarov who show up in this. So does Shane McMahon, which meant this show was promoted all over WWE TV.

How did we get here? The first draft of the script was considered by many to be superior to the original film, yet McTiernan didn’t like it because it focused too much on social commentary. He wanted action and action he created, even if initial test screeners showed the movie to be confusing and even restrained when it should be going for it with a hard R if there was no story.

Thirty minutes were cut out of the first cut, the entire ending was re-shot and changed, massive reshoots and re-edits happened and some of the cuts were made because MGM said the movie was “too Asian,” which for many reasons — mostly all the movie in the Chinese movie market — would never happen today. Oh yeah — the score by Brian Transeau was “too Arabic” and was replaced with a new score by Éric Serra. And then an entire sequence looked too dark, so they reshot it, then made it look like it was all green night vision and you still couldn’t see it.

It made $25.9 million on a budget of $70 million but hey — Slipknot is in it!

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