Space Jam: A New Legacy – Review

Cert – U, Run-time – 1 hour 55 minutes, Director – Malcolm D Lee

LeBron James must team up with the Looney Tunes to take on a group of superpowered basketball players in order to free himself and his son (Cedric Joe) from the Warner Brothers server.

Since its release in 1996, Space Jam has become something of a cult classic. Like its website the film has become a portal-like staple of the 90’s. now, 25 years on a quasi-sequel to the sporting hit finally hits screens, with LeBron James taking the place of Michael Jordan. After a failed meeting with Warner Brothers, James finds him and his son, Dom (Cedric Joe), transported into the studio’s server – led by Al G. Rhythm (Don Cheadle). Quickly he finds himself with little time to prepare a team for a basketball game that will determine not just his fate, but his son and thousands of spectators.

As if superpowered opponents aren’t enough to deal with, the NBA player, after much nudging, winking and proclaiming of ‘hey, we own this!’ from Warner Bros., discovers that his teammates are none other than the Looney Tunes. Despite his specifically laid out tactics, Bugs Bunny (Jeff Bergman) and co. insist on wreaking havoc. Undeniably the best moments of the film lie within these characters simply being let loose and being allowed to get up to their usual antics, in fine largely 2D animation. Whether interacting with Warner Bros. IP in their own on-brand style, or something as traditional as Wile E. Coyote trying to blow-up Road Runner, there’s plenty of – during one particular montage laugh out loud – humour to be found over the almost two hour course of the film.

After 20 minutes of, what feels like, unknowing cliché, we finally get to the meet the Tunes. The entertainment value of the piece instantly gets a much needed jumpstart as the studio catalogue is finally put aside. References to Harry Potter and Game Of Thrones are slightly less frequent and just there for the sake of showing the titles under the WB banner. There may still be a handful of unsuccessful meme call backs, but gradually the film approaches its key basketball event.

The lines followed are similar to those of the original film. It gives an air that this is more of a remake than a proper sequel. Giving the feeling that this is perhaps a take on Space Jam for a new generation. Like the original is a product of its own time, Space Jam: A New Legacy, with its video game notes and style, could; in years to come, act as something very much of the moment when revisited by this new generation in years to come. The plot may not be the most subtle, but that’s not exactly what this film is likely to be turned to for. Like the original work this is a slice of entertainment, and it succeeds in being that in all its, often brightly coloured, silliness.

The Looney Tunes taking on aliens at basketball with the help of a professional NBA player is absurd in itself, exactly as something with these characters should be. There are plenty of moments where this sort-of-sequel is just as absurd; and that’s all thanks to the array of iconic animated characters who have, once again, been unleashed onto the screen. Helped by an understanding of what makes them such enjoyable company.

Yes, you may want to see some more training and less build-up when at the actual game. But, once the heavily-CG sporting action starts there’s a real buzz of entertainment surging through the piece. Forget the overdone extras dressed like knock-off Halloween costumes of Warner Bros’ backlog (at least the Animaniacs get a brief appearance!). There’s plenty to enjoy within the silliness of every explosion, clang, stutter, backfired plan, rabbit season – duck season debate, and “What’s up, Doc?” that this new legacy has to offer.

Once the flashiness of the shouting Warner Bros. catalogue has passed, Space Jam: A New Legacy’s strengths lie in the humour of the Looney Tunes’ antics. Forming a genuinely entertaining part-sequel, part-remake for a new generation.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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