1998 - R - 86 Mins.
|Director: Ernest Dickerson
|Written By: Robert Hewitt Wolfe
|Starring: Dean Cain, Vanessa L. Williams, Wesley Snipes, Bill Smitrovich, Rachel Shane, Adrian Hughes, David Kaye, J. R. Bourne, Tara Frederick, Mikela J. Mikael
|Review by: James O'Ehley
It is the year 2025. The Hawaiian Liberation Army (I kid you not) is waging a terrorist campaign against mainland America to gain that island’s independence. The terrorists are in secret financially backed by a consortium of Pacific states led by Australia. Lousy sheep shagging Aussies! Always expected this sort of thing of them! (Or maybe it’s just payback for CIA interference in Australian politics in the 1970s – see The Falcon and the Snowman . . .)
Sheesh, I hadn't realized it was that small . . .
Anyhow, into this geopolitical milieu, steps athletic superstar Tre Ramzey, whose PI (no, not private investigator, but popularity index) is “ten points higher than that of the President” we are informed. Not much of a feat really when you think about it if the future’s politicians are as popular as ones of today. After all, who would you prefer: David Beckham or Tony Blair? Tiger Woods or George W. Bush?
Tre (pronounced “tray”) is played by Dean Cain, TV’s Superman in Lois & Clark trying to undo some typecasting here. The sport he plays is a new game called rollerba . . . er, sorry, futuresport (very imaginative title that) which is so fast that is difficult to follow what exactly is going on.
The game involves players on skateboards playing in an enclosed arena resembling those skateboard venues one always sees in documentaries about extreme sports having to score goals. Think Rollerball as seen in the recent remake and the 1975 original starring James Caan - except without motorcycles (which I sorta missed).
Now I can understand attention deficit syndrome more becoming the cultural norm as time goes by and we all grow dumber because of shows such as Survivor and music such as Britney Spears, but it is very difficult to imagine a game such futuresport ever becoming very popular. The game is simply too fast. There is really no need for a game being this fast if there are people willing to watch cricket matches which last several days!
Anyhow, Tre pulls a publicity stunt: why don’t the two superpowers involved, namely North America and those pesky Pacific states settle their differences with a futuresport game instead of going to war! After all, the game was invented by one Obike Fixx (Wesley Snipes, with a Jamaican patois that borders on racial stereotyping), who probably got the idea after watching Rollerball late one night on cable TV, so that rival street gangs in New Orleans could settle their differences peacefully. (Like that’s going to happen!) So why don’t global superpower nations and blocs also settle their issues like this?
What is even more ridiculous and preposterous than a full-grown man making such a suggestion in all seriousness is that both superpowers accept his proposal!
Yup, that’s right. Instead of fighting it out on the battlefield for Hawaii (prime piece of real estate what with the ocean and beaches and everything), North America and Australia are going to have a Rollerba, er sorry, futuresport match. Why haven’t anyone thought of that before? Why, we can have George W. Bush and Saddam Hussein arm wrestle over who should get Iraq and its oil. No need for invading and clashing armies. Israel and Palestine can finally sort out their problems over a friendly soccer match (loser gets kicked out!). Protestants and Catholics can decide who gets to leave or stay after a friendly Cricket game. Henry Kissinger and Ho Chi Minh mud wrestling to settle the Vietnam War (call me sick, but I would have paid to see that one!) and so forth . . .
Heck, all sports movies have a BIG game as its finale, but having superpowers settle territorial disputes as an excuse for one is definitely stretching it. Besides the BIG match, Futuresport crams in a subplot about a kidnapping and a violent gun fight right before it. Besides, why settle for only one climax when you can have two?
Tre, quite the geopolitical strategist used be an otherwise shallow, self-centered egoist (like most media celebrities I suppose) has recently had a change of mind for no apparent reason and decided on this course of action.
As you might have gathered by now, Futuresport is crap and not even very entertaining crap at that. It is just bland and easily forgettable. It steals a lot of clichés not just from Rollerball, but also from the likes of Blade Runner and countless other sci-fi movies. Futuresport was one of the most expensive made-for-television movies ever made (clocking in at $9 million) and aired in 1998. The video release has some extra topless nudity and gore that wasn’t included in the TV version.
Apparently a third of the budget went to special effects and while the effects aren’t too bad for this sort of thing, some CGI cityscapes look like something out of a low-grade computer game. Fuzzy blurs around “flying” futuresport reminds one of the badder Luke Skywalker’s hovercraft in Star Wars days. Acting is also bad and Dean Cain isn’t likeable as either the jerk superstar before and after his conversion. Can anyone also explain what the hell a star like Wesley Snipes is doing in a piece of junk like this?
Rent the original Rollerball instead.