Posts Tagged ‘Robin’

Wonder Woman: The New Duds Revisited

April 1, 2011

EG: Alright, folks, it isn’t that often we revisit a topic, but that is EXACTLY what we are doing today. What earthshaking developments have taken place that drive us to do so?

Wonder Woman.

That’s right, folks. Our pleas, in part have been heard. In the most recent images released from the upcoming TV tragedy of epic proportions, Wonder Woman, the costume has been changed.

I’ll say it again, slowly: The. Costume. Has. Been. Changed.

Thanks to the very comments and concerns expressed right here on this blog, the Steve Austin Book Club has convinced the Dark Forces working on this series to (at least partially) fix the costume.

OG: Huzzah!!! Er, well, that is, Partial Huzzah!!!

EG: I’m sure that some of the other bloggers out there that made some comments had a slight impact on the decision as well, but I’m hereby claiming credit for this advancement in the voice of fandom for this blog. We, OG and EG got this done for you, our people.

You are welcome.

OG: Yes, that’s right! Big shot Hollywood muckety-muck David E. Kelly and those ninnies at NBC have buckled under the mounting pressure from our rarely updated and virtually unknown blog! OUR INFLUENCE CANNOT BE DENIED ANY LONGER!!!

EG: So, let’s take a look at the updated costume!

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EG: There she is, determinedly running! First off, let me say, I know it isn’t perfect. The top is still shiny. I still wish they’d gone with a more dull, leather-like top. But, look at the improvements – the pants are darker, and no longer made of vinyl. And the boots! We got the red boots! And not the hooker-heels that the blue boots were! That right there was such a vast improvement I can almost forgive the shortcomings.

OG: Indeed, on the whole, it is a significant improvement. The only reason I wish they had held their ground on the original costume is that we could have seen shots of her running awkwardly in vinyl pants and trying to jump up on cars in stilettos. Certainly the comedy of that would have been delightful!

EG: But, I did mention shortcomings. With the replacement of just the pants material/tone, the costume now seems a bit less cohesive. As much as I didn’t like the shiny elements of the original picture released, the costume had a flow to it. Yes, a cheap Halloween-esque plastic-y flow, but a flow nonetheless. That said, I still think this is better.

OG: ‘Tis a very good point EG. It does look very much disjointed. But, with such a short span of time between the initial release of the original costume image and these new images, I think the changes they made were the only ones they could do on the quick.

On a side-note, as much as I celebrate our victory in getting them to make changes, it is clear evidence that they don’t have a firm creative vision for this show nor the confidence to stick to their guns that such a vision would give them. And, with it being NBC, it feels like Heroes all over again – Changing and modifying their show based on the whims of fandom ultimately results in an even worse product. Does that make any sense?

EG: I get what you are saying, but I think you have to consider that this is *just* a costume modification, and not necessarily an indication of any lack of vision. Frankly, I’m more inclined to believe that they released the images just early enough so that they could make modifications based on fan reaction. If you think of that as an affirmative decision, it becomes less wishy-washy and more tactical.

And, if you are paranoid like me and follow that line of thinking to a darker conclusion, maybe those initial image drops were released *just* to get the fans to react in the way they did, that these changes were always going to come down the line, but now the studio can claim they actually listened to fans…

What? Too much?

OG: Anyway, putting that aside. What else?

EG: Nitpicking, I really do wish they’d gone with the silver on the boots instead of the gold. But, that is such a minor concern, it doesn’t even need to be mentioned. Along that same line, the stars on the pants would stand out more in silver as well.

OG: Hmm, I can see what you’re saying and certainly wouldn’t be opposed to that. But, the gold does fall in line with the iconography of the character, making a revised look to the character still fall within the bounds of what we expect from a Wonder Woman costume.

EG: But, let’s take note of the other aspect of this show we are seeing in these images – Wonder Woman is running. That implies that there is actually going to be action in the TV show! As an occasional viewer of Smallville, I’m used to a superhero show that barely has any action most of the time, and this show, we are already seeing action! I’ll admit, I feared, given David Kelly’s record of doing mostly courtroom dramas, that we’d never get around to any superheroic action scenes, so I’m suddenly filled with cautious optimism for this show.

OG: Well, we probably shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves just yet. This is the Pilot after all which is generally a more action-y affair in this type of show anyway. I don’t recall the Smallville Pilot (I believe the only episode I ever watched) but I gotta think that had some promising action in it as well. Also, running? Really? I mean, isn’t this situation tailor-made for Wonder Woman to show off her lasso skills? Ah, looks like I found another nit to pick. Please, carry on.

EG: Hey, how about a clip from the filming of the show?

OG: Let’s do it!

EG: Yowch! Busted knees are never fun!

OG: I have to say, she looks 1000 times less silly in action then I thought she would. Apparently, this ain’t just gonna be Ally McBeal with tights. That said, the shiny top does look significantly goofier in action than the pants. Despite that, it’s pretty encouraging overall.

EG: It does bolster my pie-eyed optimism. I know it isn’t much, but I did expected so little.

OG: Me too. But, I have to say, though we have no context for this clip, I do get worried in any superhero project where the hero/heroine is chasing some random thug. I like my superheroes to fight dudes that are equal to or even superior to them in ability. Of course, he mounted that last car with a lot more skill then she did (she looked pretty winded, right?), so I should probably reserve judgment there.

EG: Before we finish, let’s take a look at two more images. First, this:

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EG: Now, that’s not even right. I know that Adrianne Palicki is more attractive than this bizarre shot lets on. I’m just saying – not an attractive angle.

OG: I’m going to venture to say that Ms. Palicki has probably already lodged a complaint about this angle. Yikes.

EG: And, finally, this image:

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EG: I don’t know if this photo was darkened on purpose, or if it was just the particular lighting, but, wow, this image shows the potential for awesome this costume has. The colors in this one are dead on what they should be for the live action, the shine is more easily overlooked, and the flow of the costume is much better. If this is how the costume comes across on-screen, I’ll be thrilled!

OG: And, that’s not counting the wonders (I think this leaves me with 4 or 5 more crappy puns for the year based on the strict new crappy pun policy we put into effect recently) they can do to the color and look in post production enhancement work. So, I’m thinking this aspect of the show will be the least of our worries.

EG: I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I’m starting to actually look forward to this series. I know the potential for it stinking is huge, but, seriously, the makers listened to geekdom about the costume. They WANT this show to be successful, they WANT to please the fans. How often does that happen, people? I mean, seriously? For that reason, I’m going to watch this show. That’s right – I’m declaring right now that I’m going to watch this show, good or bad!

OG: I’m with you. But, I must reiterate my concerns about how wishy-washy they’ve proved themselves to be already. But, you are right. A certain amount of respect for the fans opinions is healthy and can lead to a better show. No doubt. I just hope that outside of the costume they have a fresh and interesting take on the world of the character and give us something worth tuning into each week. So, I’m going to go ahead and join you in some good old-fashioned “cautious optimism.”

EG: For the changes to this costume, I’m driving my rating four and a half Running Steves. If the red bodice were changed to a duller leather look, I’d make it five in a heartbeat.

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OG: I’ll bump from 3 ½ to four. They can certainly still change the top after the pilot is done and I’ll gladly revise upwards should that happen.

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EG: Alright, Mr. Kelly and NBC… you’ve got us… can you hold on to us?

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Wonder Woman: The New Duds

March 20, 2011

EG: Welcome, all, to the All-New “We’re gonna reboot this blog again” Extravaganza here at the Steve Austin Book Club. No lousy excuses here – we (OG and EG, your unreliable hosts here at the SABC) are bad people.

Not serial killer bad or kick-your-puppy bad, but easily-distracted-from-this-blog-and-not-post-anything-new-for-more-than-a-full-calendar-year bad.

Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it?

OG: I actually think our lack of posting is quite beautiful. Think about it – despite our numerous bionic upgrades, we are still deeply human. Just because our blogging abilities are cybernetically enhanced doesn’t mean that we aren’t also imbued with the inherent flaws of Original Sin. Also, we plainly suck.

EG: Anyway, what could POSSIBLY cause us to jump back into this? What event of geekdom would push us over the edge from our regular thoughts of “we really should bring the SABC back” to actually putting butts-to-chair and doing it?

This:

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EG: It’s… it’s so… shiny. Uh… yeah.

OG: When my browser first loaded the image I actually heard the squeaking of vinyl before I saw the costume.

EG: In case you didn’t know, David Kelly is making a new Wonder Woman TV show for NBC, and the info that has been leaked about the show, up to this point, has been… underwhelming.

OG: Yes, in defiance of everything that Marvel Studios is doing to create a seamless film universe populated by their great panoply of characters shown in contemporary and dynamic ways, Warner Brothers (not counting the Batman films) is doing it’s level best to meet the demands of the late 90’s with the filmed versions of the heroes of DC!

EG: Now we get this costume. Don’t get me wrong, as a red-blooded American male, there is an… appreciation for this costume, but…

OG: Yes, EG. The gal is truly fetching and she has “wonder”ful attributes that make her a real stand-out in the role! (I hate myself for typing that) And, to really make a statement of who this character is, I see that David E. Kelly made the effort to order a Wonder Woman costume from Target’s expansive collection.

EG: You know, it does look a lot like one of those “Deluxe Sexy Superhero Costumes” that come out for women to slut around in every Halloween.

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EG: The bad thing is… the one for Wonder Woman is actually less over-the-top than the new TV show costume.

OG: But, what they both have in common is their complete look of having been bought at a store. But, I’m being too negative here. I mean, I do want to say that I think there are things they’ve done right here. Kind of.

EG: I think I understand what is happening here. This entire thing is the nefarious plot of Jim Lee to get the public to accept, nay, CELEBRATE his redesign of the Wonder Woman costume.

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And, you know what, OG? It is working. I almost wish they had gone with this costume for this TV show.

OG: I agree completely. I actually liked his design of the character and feels like it is almost tailor made for live-action. And so, I do applaud the inclusion of some of the elements. From what I understand of the plot for the new series, it is going to be more of a street-level superhero story and to that end, they started in the right direction but apparently felt the need to split the difference by bringing in more of the shiny, dare I say cheesy parts of the iconography.

EG: OG, I know you don’t watch Smallville…
OG: It is one of the few things in life that give me true pride.
EG: …and, really, I only catch about two full episodes a season, but they actually put Lois Lane (Erica Durance) in a Wonder Woman-esque costume that I really liked:

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Now, I don’t mean to be snide (actually, yeah, I do), but when Smallville, the show that put Green Arrow in a hoodie –

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And Superman in black trench coat –

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Manages to come up with a better costume, you know you are in trouble.

OG: Not bad at all! I like the more leather look. Reminds me very much of what Marvel Studios is doing so amazingly right (at least from what I’ve seen) with the Captain America costume. I mean, in some ways Wonder Woman has a lot in common visually with Captain America. They have really in your face, bombastic, brightly colored, symbolically rich costumes that are hard to translate to film. Perhaps this is a good time for you to reach in to EG’s Treasure Trove of Superhero Costume Photo Reference and show us what Captain America looks like when done oh so very wrong…

EG: I only live to serve:
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EG: In an effort to be positive, though, let me say that the DESIGN of the costume is actually pretty good. I like that they went with pants… sorta… well, fully-covered legs, anyway. I like that they went with the recognizable and classic bustier. And, while I like the shade of red used in the costume, the blue could stand a little muting, perhaps some darkening… but it is hard to tell from the glare! I think, if they could have de-shine-ified them (yeah, I made that word up), I’d appreciate the entire costume a lot more. The costume really isn’t *that* horrible.

Except the boots. The blue boots do not work. Hey, OG, wanna see this costume become about 90% better?

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EG: There. How’s that?

OG: If you were to tie me up in your lasso of truth (please don’t) I would be forced to say that this is amazing! You almost completely fixed it. Mute the colors on the costume and then make it the more leather look we discussed earlier and you’ve got yourself a PERFECT Wonder Woman costume for the screen, which makes me a little hopeful. I mean, lit and photographed correctly, many of the more obnoxious aspects of the costume (brightness & shininess primarily) might be mitigated. Assuming they do that, the only other pitfall they’d need to avoid would be getting someone like the creator of Ally McBeal to run the show. Now that would be a travesty!

EG: Well, we can only hope! Actually… I have to admit, after looking at the costume for a while, and changing the boots, I could really see something like this working.   I’d really like the colors toned down to the tones in the Smallville version.  Let me take a try at that:

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I still hate the shiny, latex-look, but the whole thing is growing on me.

Or, maybe it is just the fact that I’ve been looking at the image of a beautiful woman dressed up in a shiny latex Wonder Woman costume long enough that I don’t really care anymore.

OG: Well, while my first reaction was 100% negative I have to say you’ve kind of won me over here. I’m not hating it. In fact, I’ll go ahead and give this costume 3 fully loaded Running Steve’s.

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And, just to go on the record, I’ll go ahead and give the show itself a presumptive ZERO Running Steves. Really predicting “Birds of Prey” levels of craptitude here man.

EG: I’ll second the three Running Steve’s, and I’m gonna say that people will be wishing Birds of Prey was still around to cleanse their palate from this doomed version of Wonder Woman.

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NBC, feel free to surprise us and produce an amazing show… but don’t expect us to be holding our breath.

Micro-Hero of the Week

October 12, 2009

It is almost mid-way through the month of October!  Where does the time go?!?

Here is a special heads up for you, our faithful readers:  The last two weeks of October will be special focus weeks here at The Steve Austin Book Club!  We are not gonna let the cat out of the bag as to the themes we have planned, but we think you’ll enjoy them.

One clue?  Okay.  Halloween does occur this month, doesn’t it?  Yeah, those two weeks probably have something to do with that.

And, speaking of Halloween, since these don’t fall in line with the themes for the next two weeks, but should be put up this month…

EG put a lot of work into this week’s micro-hero… or, actually, micro-heroes!

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That, dear friends, is none than your hosts, EG as Batman, and OG as Robin!  Yes, costumed for Halloween, but long has EG hassled OG to dress up for a convention, but to no avail.  And, so, EG turned to the mighty art of the micro-hero to bring his dreams to life!

(Dreams may be a bit strong…)

This is probably as close as anyone will ever get to OG wearing green panties and showing off those fine legs of his.  ‘Tis the world’s loss I say…

Preview Review – Cable #16

September 25, 2009

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That’s right kiddies! It is BACK!

Welcome to the Preview Review, wherein I find the unlettered preview pages offered online for a comic (that I really have no intention of buying), and write a review of the issue based entirely on my perceptions of what is going on.

And, what do I have in store for today? Why, nothing less than the majestic wonder that is Cable #16!

(Ooh… ahh…)

Yes, my friends, gather ’round, and let’s take a look at this masterpiece provided to us by writer Duane Swierczynski and artist Paul Gulacy. First up, the cover by Dave Wilkins!

Cable #16

Let’s see… looks like we have a little kid, most likely a girl is my guess… mostly because she seems to have that look of the “big eyed girls” that was prominent in outsider art of the 1960’s.

That’s right, scoffers! I have an art degree and I’m not afraid to use it! Sure, I could have gone for the lazy reference to anime/manga for the size of the eyes, but no! I went all historical! Ha!

Where was I? Oh, yeah, the cover. Anyway, the little girl is standing there, wearing a pair of boots that, based on the size, must come from Guy Gardner’s closet of the late 80’s/early 90’s!

Really? I’m the only one that gets the reference? Fine, here, take a look:

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See?

Anyway, the little girl appears to be standing in front of Cable, drawn from Picasso’s Blue Period.

Ka-Zow! I did it again! Another zinger courtesy of my art degree! Ha ha ha! It makes it all worth it – the years of study, the student loans I’m still paying back, the virtual uselessness of the degree in an actual workforce…

(On a blog, no one can see you cry…)

Alright, so, the kid is in front of Cable (I know its Cable, because, a.) the massive gun, b.) the large number of pouches, and c.) I lived through the 1990’s.). Cable is… I’m going to say that Cable is encased in a giant block of ice.

And, given how he’s standing, the cold front must have moved in fast. Maybe one of those “superstorms” we saw Jake Gyllenhaal running from in The Day After Tomorrow. Which means that Cable, despite being a superhero, can’t outrun Jake Gyllenhaal.

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(Wow… he’s got some crazy eyes, huh?)

I’m not sure what purpose that knowledge will ever serve, but now you know, and knowing is half the battle. GI JOE!

Given the cover, I can only assume that this comic deals with the kid trying to free Cable from the block of ice… a plot that makes me flashback to the film atrocity known as Batman and Robin, and thus makes going any farther a less than inviting thought.

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And, yet, I must! On to the first page!

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First panel! Ah… well. Hmm. It seems that the guy with the metal arm… Colossus? No, he has black hair. Oh, wait, white hair! That must be Cable! I see pouches and a gun!

Okay, so Cable is… assaulting a little person in the ruins of a building? That doesn’t seem right. What happened to the little girl from the cover?

What? No, that can’t be the little girl from the cover. That is *clearly* a woman’s head on that wee body, not a little girl. Although, she does appear to be wearing the same outfit at the girl from the cover.

So… confused… already… move… to… next… panel…

Alright, see, I told you! That is NOT a little girl. Maybe it is the little girl’s mother, and they have matching outfits. Oh, and she is ticked because Cable is getting fresh.

But, man, take a look at that head of hair on Cable. That is some nice, thick, well-maintained hair. Even in the midst of a building in ruins and fighting with a little person, Cable remembers the importance of looking good for the odd camera angle.

Next Panel!

Look! Cable and the little person are posing for a boxing match promotional poster! And starting to glow blue? Hmm…

After the poster shoot, it looks like the little person has fought off the advances of Cable with a mighty kick that looks to have crushed his sternum. And, again with the blue glow… why does that look so familiar?

Last panel of the page an — wait a second! I understand it now! I know where I’ve seen that blue glow! Quantum Leap! The little person appears to be leaping! Leaping from life to life! Striving to put right what once went wrong! And hoping each time that the next leap… will be the leap home!

Wow, I didn’t know that this was happening in Cable comics! I LOVED the tv show Quantum Leap! If I had known that it was picked up in the Cable comic, I’d have been there from the start!

Woo hoo! I’m suddenly much more interested in this comic! I wonder where the little person will leap next? Maybe into a police officer in the early 80’s, or a high school freshman of the 1970’s, or maybe a grandmother in the 1990’s…

Let’s turn the page and find out!
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Ha ha! Too bad, Cable! The little person Leaper is getting away! No more of a chance for you to try to work your charms on her!

And the next four progressive panels, we see the continued leap. Strange, I never really noticed Sam Beckett in Quantum Leap having such a look of distress on his face when leaping. Still, by that third panel, I can almost hear the Quantum Leap theme song, “Do do, doodoo, do do, doodoo…”

And the leap seems to be almost over, wonder where we will end up! Next!

Hey… wait a second. Why are we back with Cable?!? We were going to leap, following the adventures of the little person bouncing around in time! She got to leap away, and we get stuck with what? A Cable comic? C’mon… how is THAT fair?

Those last two panels on this page are fitting. Yeah, Cable, we are with you. We thought we were going to get a great Quantum Leap story, too… but now… just the sad, pathetic knowledge that the leaping little person is gone, and we are stuck here… alone… with you.

Turn the page. It has to get better, right?

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Huzzah wha-? Did I miss where the ground went out from beneath Cable? No, I didn’t. Okay, then we are climbing to… the next panel…

Ah, here we go. Cable was climbing to get to the rooftop of some building… because as a moody character, he’s required to look over the vast decay of the environment and brood? Sure, why not?

You know… that’s a lot of debris on that rooftop. Its like someone actually had to carry it up to the rooftop. I don’t know why they would do that, but that’s what it looks like. And, right there, in the center… is that a tire rim? Why in the world would someone carry a rim up there?

On to the next pan – Augh! Oh, wow… I was not expecting a close-up of Cable’s giant, sweating dinosaur head. Gee willickers, a little warning next time. Let’s just move on… that milky-white eye is creeping me out.

Now it appears as if there is a dust storm on the rooftop. And the silhouette of two large bones. Maybe there is more in the last panel…

Hmm… seems the bones weren’t bones, but hydraulics. Wait, I get it! Rims, hydraulics… this rooftop was the domain of nomadic Lowriders!

You know, coincidentally, all my friends love a lowrider.  They really, really do.

Okay, let’s turn the page.

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Alright, now, here we have Cable saluting in front of a wall of junk. He probably thinks it is fitting, since a lot of that junk looks like it could have once been some of the massive guns he carries. Ooh, and his hand is glowing! Maybe he’ll finally get to leap and find that little person!

Oh, and look! A little inset of sand castles. Lovely. Not really sure why it is there, but lovely nonetheless.

Just under that, Cable poses, showing off his gun, pouches, and firm buttocks. His hand is still starting the Quantum Leap. Must be a delayed reaction.

Sliding over to the next panel, another close-up of Cable and his milky-white eye. Sheesh, that’s creepy. But, it seems he’s finally noticed the leap is starting! Almost time to travel through time!

At the bottom of the page, we have… Cable rending his clothes? Huh? Hold on, I know what is going on. The blue glow of the leap is spreading, and Cable thinks he has to strip naked to travel in time like in those Terminator films. Someone should explain to him that Leaping doesn’t really work like that.

Alright, how about that last page? I can’t wait to see Cable assume the identity of a diner waitress at a truckstop in 1978!

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Oh, guess I was wrong. Seems that Cable leapt into a black guy in… well, it looks about the same sort of place that Cable was already in. Oh, and what irony! This guy also has a metal arm, but it is on the opposite side that Cable’s normally is.

And, a little inset of debris. Wonder why they focused on tha —

Holy smokes, Cable’s using the debris to tear into that metal arm! Cable! Stop! I know, this wasn’t the most excited leap in time, but trying to force another leap just isn’t the answer!

In the next inset panel, Cable, frustrated, seems to be ripping the metal arm off. That seems extreme.

And, finally, we are presented Cable, in profile, grimly accepting that leaping can’t be forced. There are things that have to be put right before you can leap… a lesson we all learned in the Quantum Leap episode entitled “Double Identity.”

And, if I’m lyin’, I’m dyin’.

(To the other three people on the planet that get that reference, thank you.)

Well, that was quite a little adventure. Sadly, there was NOTHING in this about Cable being encased in ice, which was disappointing. Plus, there at the end, they completely messed up the Quantum Leap stuff, because in that show, Sam only *appeared* to be the person he leapt into. He was actually still himself. So, Cable tearing into that arm with the debris? Yeah, that would have been him tearing into his actual flesh arm. And, that is kinda sick. I can only give this 218 stars out of 18,716 stars. I really think I’d have gone higher if we’d followed the leap of the little person that was escaping Cable.

That’ll do it for now. See you all at the next Preview Review.

*EG, enveloped by a blue light, leaps away!*

Rollerball (1975) vs. Rollerball (2002)

May 30, 2008

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By and large, I’m not a fan of remakes.  I know the goal is to try to capture lightning twice, to get an easy “win.”  All too often, a studio finds a perfectly good (often great) film, and proceeds to “update” it, making something that is, at best, pale imitation of the original, and, at worst, a two hour display of modern movie makers urinating on history.


Sure, there is the odd occasion when a remake is actually good, and the extremely rare case where it is as good as the original, and the almost non-existant instance in which the update is better than the original, but, by and large, remakes are bad.


I have long said, though, that if Hollywood wanted to really impress me, they shouldn’t try to remake great films, but, rather, lousy films.


That’s right – don’t give me a remake of Planet of the Apes; give me a remake of Batman and Robin, a film so bad that it made me want to gouge my own eyes out while sitting in the theater.


Anyway, time marches on, and, as is apt to happen, Hollywood is running out of “great” films to pillage, leaving lesser offerings.


Enter Rollerball.


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Rollerball was a film released in 1975 starring James Caan and John Houseman. 

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Set in the year 2018, the world is ruled by several Corporations that control everything.


Rollerball is the sport of the future, a game designed by the Executives of the Corporations, to show that the effort of the single individual is pointless.  It is played on a circular track, with ten players on each team – seven skaters and three motorcyclists. 


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As the teams move around, a steel ball about the size of a softball is shot out, roulette style, around the top of the track. 


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The teams try to take possession of the ball and deposit it into a goal.  Just that simple.


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Oh, and it is pretty much a no-holds-barred free-for-all in stopping the opposing team from scoring.


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The Executives face a problem, though.  In a sport in which no individual is supposed to rise above the others, one has – Jonathan E.


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Jonathan E., played by James Caan, is the premiere Rollerball player in the world, a ten-year veteran of the sport.

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The Executives decide that it is time for Jonathan E. to retire, and inform him.  Though resistance to the will of the Executives is unheard of, Jonathan finds that he cannot bring himself to retire.

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What follows after that is a steady stream of pressure on Jonathan to obey the will of the Executives, while Jonathan comes to a place wanting more from himself than the futuristic gladiator that he has become.


The movie culminates in a final Rollerball match in which – well, I don’t want to spoil the whole thing.  Suffice it to say, the theme of the individual achievement versus sublimation to the rulers of society comes to a head.


Sound good?  Yeah, well, don’t get too excited.


Now, don’t get me wrong – the movie isn’t horrible.  It is too long and hasn’t aged as well as some other films, but Rollerball’s biggest crime is that it is pretty much just slightly better than mediocre. 


What manages to keep this movie above that line is the acting.  James Caan is good, though he seems to be trying to out melancholy Hamlet at times, and John Houseman, as the Energy Corporation Chairman, is very good.


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(As he almost always is, even when he was on Silver Spoons.)


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The theme of the film is a bit heavy handed, but handled well enough to inspire further thought on the matter even after the film is finished.


One thing is for certain:  Despite my idea of remaking bad films, I don’t think that anyone was really crying out for an update of the film, and yet…


Enter Rollerball, 2002.


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Gone is that pesky futuristic world!  This film takes place in the here and now!  It is loud and in your face!  And it is eXtreme!  Yeah!


*sigh*


Okay, in this version, Rollerball is the big sport of the former Soviet republics.  It is essentially the same kinda sport, but now played on a figure eight track, and the point of the game is not to send a message to the people, but, rather, to get ratings. 

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And to display singer Pink on large screens around the arena.


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The star player of the sport is Jonathan Cross, played by Chris Klein. 


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In this version, there are no Executives, but the sport is run by a crooked promoter played by Jean Reno.


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Evil looking, ain’t he? Oh, yeah, and LL Cool J and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos were in the movie, too.


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So, Jonathan Cross discovers that players are being set-up to die to bring in ratings, and decides that is wrong!


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He and LL Cool J attempt to escape across a border, which is about 20 minutes of your life you’ll never get back filmed entirely in glorious, grainy night vision.


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Yeah.


Eventually Jonathan Cross is captured and forced to play.  Of course, he is now the next target to encourage increased ratings.

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At this point, a film that was barely making any sense degrades into Jonathan Cross somehow starting a social revolution.


The end.


And, what did the re-makers manage to do with this film?


They took the heavy handed, yet still thought provoking theme of the original film of the individual achievement versus sublimation to the rulers of society and replaced it with an even heavier handed theme of greedily capitalizing on society’s bloodlust, a theme that requires no thought.


They replaced good actors (James Caan, John Houseman) with actors whose abilities remind one of cardboard.  Seriously, Chris Klein couldn’t inspire me to blow my nose, let alone revolt against the powers that be.


And, speaking of, the images of Chris Klein so far have been awfully fierce looking.  I mean, come on!  The Chris Klein we have come to know is that dopey looking Keanu Reeves kid.  Remember?


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Where is that guy?  Oh, wait.  Found him!


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Yep.  That’s the dopey guy we know.


Now, back to Rollerball.


Thankfully, the 2002 version is much shorter than the original.  Unfortunately, it feels twice as long when you are watching.


So, while the original film isn’t the greatest, it is a masterpiece compared to the updated version.


On a closing note, the basis of these films was a short story called Roller Ball Murder.  Aside from the ridiculous name of the sport (yeah, “Roller Ball Murder” is the name), it is actually quite good – a first person narrative from the viewpoint of Jonathan E., very much the story of a weary, futuristic gladiator.  If you have about a half hour, you can listen to the whole thing, courtesy of radio show from the ’70’s, MindWebs, the episodes of which have been archived in MP3 form on the internet!