Shameless. Wooden. Uninspired. Self-indulgent.
I’m not upset at Warner Brothers for making this film. I’m upset at how Warner Brothers approached it. Because when it comes down to it, Space Jam: A New Legacy is a shameless tour-de-force of IP flaunting and product placement.
The “Old” Legacy
Let’s talk about the OG Space Jam before we dive into the new one. If we’re being completely honest with ourselves (and some won’t be thanks to nostalgia), Space Jam wasn’t a terribly great film. The acting wasn’t solid. The writing wasn’t terrific. But it did some revolutionary things. Space Jam was one of the first movies to rely heavily on green screen technology to put a live actor among animated backgrounds and characters. And though it looks dated 25 years later, at the time, it was an incredible technological feat.
That is the legacy of Space Jam. It’ll always have that notch in its belt. Even if it wasn’t a great movie on other fronts, it utilized new technology to push storytelling forward in ways that hadn’t been done before. And it’ll always be remembered fondly for that, aside from having MJ and the Looney Tunes gang.
The New Legacy
Bring some chips and potato salad, because I’m about to have a huge roast. *Ahem…*
Paramount has The Last Airbender. Now, Warner Brothers has Space Jam: A New Legacy.
It’s often said that athletes aren’t actors, but even the non-athletes delivered impressively uninspired performances–with the exception of Don Cheadle and one guest star that appeared for all of two minutes. It’s not like they were done any favors with the script, though. The writing basically boiled down to an endless slew of pop cultural references and occasionally saying things like “Bro, that’s crazy!” or “Wow, that’s [insert WB character here]!” The Looney Tunes characters were completely devoid of their iconic wit and self awareness, resorting often to cheap jokes. Basically, the script could have used two or three more drafts. What we were given felt lazy and thrown together.
The heart and soul of a story is its characters, and Warner Brothers completely forgot about this. Every character feels flat and generic. Even in the original Space Jam, Michael Jordan felt like himself, but this Space Jam reflects a LeBron James that doesn’t feel authentic at all. You really think I’m going to believe LeBron James shoves basketball down his kids throats and keeps them from being kids because they have to “put in the work” all the time? Give me a break. This led to a lot of forced emotional moments that felt so cringy, my internal organs shriveled. Big time miss.
The visual effects were eyewatering. As Space Jam pushed visual effects forward in the 1990’s, Space Jam 2 did nothing to test the boundaries of what’s possible, but sat comfortably in the CGI world and cranked the levels to eleven. There weren’t any “wow” moments, but plenty of “they should have worked on that one a little more.” Maybe they could have gone backwards and made everything practical, including people in Looney Tunes Halloween costumes instead of CGI characters? That definitely would have made this more fun to watch.
Worst of all, the shameless product placement and flaunting of Warner Brothers IP’s is a dismal display of the future of studio blockbusters. If you were to take a shot every time you saw the LeBron James logo, I’m sure it would make for a great drinking game. And I’m not joking when I say that every single Warner Brothers property has made its way into this movie somehow–Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, even the freaking IT clown. And why? How do they contribute to the story? The simple answer: they don’t. They’re distracting and meaningless.
Please do not watch this movie. Please avoid this movie because your viewership would serve as a reward to the self-indulged, self-centered tour-de-force that Warner Brothers slapped together because they thought we’d be dumb enough to eat it up. As long as we keep paying full price for major studios to shove recycled ideas into our eyes, we’ll keep getting garbage like this.
Overall Score: 3/10