It's Super Bowl time! That's always exciting. The Broncos are playing! That's even more exciting. Unless, of course, you don't give a single fuck about football. Typically -- stereotypically, at least -- geeks aren't supposed to, just like we're not supposed to be able to get girls/guys, dress ourselves stylishly, or walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded. Of course, lots of us like football just like lots of us can do all those other things (okay, I can do the first and last, but my "cargo pants and zombie shirt" look is a million miles from stylish). Still, just as with any stereotype, there's some truth to it. Plenty of geeks will find themselves with nothing to do while sports are enjoyed by basically everyone else, but why should they have to feel left out? They should get to enjoy some sweet sports action of the geeky kind, so I've come up with this list of five of my favorite sci-fi sports movies to keep you busy up to -- and on -- game day.
Giant robots fighting to the death for the amusement of spectators never looked cheesier! This late '80s clunker is low-rent, goofy and cheap-looking, and those are its good points. Actually, its good points are the fact it was written by science fiction author Joe Haldeman (author of the classics
, not to mention some other great shit, and directed by Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator
!). Also, giant robots fight a lot, and you can never go wrong with that.Death Race 2000
A young Sylvester Stallone and an always-awesome David Carradine anchor this Roger Corman-produced classic about a cross-country race where the drivers mow down pedestrians for points. Much like the real Super Bowl, the race is used to pacify the populace while rich assholes and politicians run things for their own benefit, but this isn't a movie about social commentary and making you think. This is a movie where David Carradine runs over a lot of people in a super-cheesy-looking race car, which is a lot more entertaining than thinking. Yay sports!The Hunger Games
Kids killing kids for sport? Now, that's entertainment! At least it is in the dystopian future ofThe Hunger Games
, where food is hard to come by and life is cheap. There's also a love story, so you can get your science fiction-hating girlfriend on board (women can get their science-fiction-hating boyfriends on board with two words: Jennifer Lawrence). I know purists will complain how much it departs from the book, but it's a pretty fun movie about the darkest possible sport you can imagine, so it's got that going for it. Also, Jennifer Lawrence. I mentioned that, didn't I?The Running Man
Apart from the distinction of being the first and only on-screen pairing of Arnold Schwarzenegger and real-life game show host Richard Dawson (yeah, totally dating myself by name-dropping Dawson),The Running Man
is also a scathing sociopolitical commentary about our headlong march toward a totalitarian state ... no, wait. It's a really dumb action movie about a sport/game show where criminals dress up in ludicrous unitards and kill each other with stupid, contrived weapons. Like most Arnold movies from the '80s, it's impossible to take seriously and improbably enjoyable. Turn your brain off, relax and enjoy the one-liners and the carnage.Rollerball
First off, let's clarify that we are talking about the original 1975 film starring James Caan and not the abortion of a remake from the early '00s. This one actually has a lot of that thinking stuff about a corporate-ruled future where the elites pacify the population with a blood sport designed to show the futility of individualism. The death sport du jour is the titular rollerball, a sport that crosses roller derby with gladiatorial combat and maybe a little basketball just for fun. It's deadly, of course, but what future dystopian sport isn't? It's not like the masses are likely to be pacified by ping pong, is it? Luckily, all that thinking and philosophizing doesn't get in the way of the actual blood sport -- it actually gives it a little context that makes it much more entertaining.
Those films should fulfill any sports-related needs you have this week. Now when someone at work asks you next Monday what you thought about the game, you'll have an answer, albeit one likely to confuse the hell out of them.
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Find me on Twitter, where I tweet about geeky stuff and waste an inordinate amount of time: @casciato.