'Rollerball' (1975)

After an advance screening of Drew Barrymore's rollicking, entertaining, and heartfelt Whip It, which opens tomorrow, some real-life roller derby players were asked about the movie's realism. (Ellen Page plays a teenage beauty pageant contestant who gets involved in the sport.) They all chimed in: "We don't get to give anyone bloody noses!"

Yes, sports movies based loosely on real life and set in the modern era tend to take liberties with the levels of violence involved in their sport. But sci-fi movies tend to ratchet up the bloody-nosed action to incredible levels, taking murder for granted. Life is cheap in the future, I suppose. With images of Ellen Page in roller skates and a faux-Girl Scout uniform in mind, not to mention the thought of Drew Barrymore herself with a bloody nose, I set off in search of the very best future sports movies -- and discovered that relatively few of any quality have been made. Thus, consider this list a sketchy compendium of what's out there. What am I missing? What future sports are not properly represented?

1. Rollerball in Rollerball
An easy choice, featuring James Caan at the height of his hard-bitten, rueful stardom in the 1970s. Norman Jewison's film is a self-righteous sermon about the dangers of thrill seeking, and a broadside against sports and popular entertainment in general. But when you have such exciting action in a sport that combines a hopped-up version of roller derby with football, chaos, and murder, who's complaining?

categories Features, Sci-Fi