Movie remakes are a win/lose proposition. On one hand, you're starting with a movie audiences have already grown to love. On the other, if you fuck it up, it becomes a horrible embarrassment for everyone involved.
But nothing is worse than when the remake is made by someone who apparently had no clue what the original was even about. That's how you get misguided--and even downright insulting--remakes like...
What the Original Was About:
The 1975 film takes place during 2018, in a dystopian future where a handful of corporate states form a world government. The most popular form of entertainment is the titular sport, which boils down to a violent spin-off of roller derbies, with the addition of motorcycles. In this future, rollerball serves as a substitute for all other sports as well as warfare and, in the words of the film's antagonist, serves to "show the futility of individual effort." In our words, it demonstrates "how fucking awesome sports are if you add motorcycles to the mix."
The story revolves around Jonathan E., a star player who becomes a little too famous and powerful for the corporation's tastes. After attempts to convince Jonathan to retire fail, the owners begin changing the rules of rollerball in an effort to get Jonathan killed. As a result, the sport quickly degenerates into senseless and brutal violence. Brutal motorcycle violence.
Death sports aside, the original Rollerball focused more on social commentary. Jonathan has to fight to maintain his identity and his free will, and he also strove to understand the relationship between corporations and modern society. The finale of the film shows how rollerball fans have been stunned by the brutality of the violence, but they cheer on Jonathan's achievements as an individual.
What the Remake Did Instead:
The 2002 remake decided to ditch all that boring social/political stuff and replaced the message of "brutal violence is bad" with "brutal violence kicks ass!" Changing the setting from dystopian future to present day, rollerball is just another sport, one that's mostly popular in the former Soviet Union. Jonathan is less interested in maintaining his free will than he is in driving fast cars and trying to bang Rebecca Romijn.
The new version focuses pretty much exclusively on the sport itself, with the story revolving around Jonathan's promoter trying to make the game more violent in order to boost ratings. That's essentially what the movie does as well, with the film being marketed as an action movie and the attraction largely being the increasingly violent matches. You know, the ones that the original designed to make us feel uncomfortable and barbaric.
How Did They Do?
The original wasn't a classic, but it received generally good reviews and has established a cult following. The remake was universally panned and made only $26 million dollars from a budget of $70 million. Damn, how could they go wrong with a cast that included Pink and LL Cool J?