The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

'Space Jam: A New Legacy' should have stayed on the bench

The film, devoid of any character or heart, should be avoided at all costs

<p>This time, the star player sucked into the adventure is LeBron James on a mission to save his son and the whole world from the plans of a rogue AI called Al-G Rhythm, played by Don Cheadle.&nbsp;</p>

This time, the star player sucked into the adventure is LeBron James on a mission to save his son and the whole world from the plans of a rogue AI called Al-G Rhythm, played by Don Cheadle. 

On July 16, moviegoers at reopened theaters — or on HBO Max — caught the sequel to what many consider a beacon of childhood nostalgia. “Space Jam: A New Legacy” follows the original family adventure movie in which Michael Jordan teamed up with Bugs Bunny and the gang for a high stakes basketball game. This time, the star player sucked into the adventure is LeBron James, who is on a mission to save his son and the whole world from the plans of a rogue AI called Al-G Rhythm, played by Don Cheadle.

However, this new story incorporates more than just the world of Looney Tunes as almost every popular intellectual property owned by Warner Brothers makes up the virtual space James and the Tune Squad travel through. While the world of “Space Jam” has certainly expanded, it has resulted in one of the strangest and worst sequels to come out of the current reboot trend. In comparison to the original’s goofy simplicity, “A New Legacy” is a bloated advertisement for Warner Brothers properties parading as a film.

This movie fails spectacularly on so many fronts that it would be unfair not to highlight its few positives. For one, James’ performance is comically flat, but his charm carries a film primarily existing on what the audience already knows about him as a larger-than-life figure. Other than that, the inclusion of WNBA players on the Goon Squad — the enemy team created by James’ son — was refreshing, and the film was well animated despite having no compelling artistic direction. However, the few positives are overshadowed by poor filmmaking decisions. 

A point of unintentional humor may come from the antagonist being an algorithm because “A New Legacy” is painfully formulaic and lacking in any kind of creativity. Children’s movies should be simple, but the script is incredibly bare. The lines are blatant and lifeless, dooming the actors’ performances from the start. The plot follows a heartless tale about the power of family and being yourself, finding momentum only from the structure being ripped from the first “Space Jam.”

Where the first movie has a simple intro of Jordan playing outside to “I Believe I Can Fly” transitioning into the exciting theme song, “A New Legacy” stumbles with the exact same scene but longer and with blander music — although it was a good decision to not include an R. Kelly song this time around.

The first film is certainly not perfect, but the plot has understandable stakes and a more focused story. Additions in “A New Legacy” like a rap battle where Porky Pig is introduced as The Notorious P.I.G. are incredibly forced and represent how out of touch the movie is with any specific audience due to the film’s focus on advertising Warner Brothers products. 

Other than the many background cameos, Warner Brothers properties’ consistent appearances do not serve any compelling purpose for an adult to enjoy or for a kid to understand. What young child has watched “Game of Thrones,” a series referenced throughout the story? Large stretches of the plot rely on pointless references to properties owned by Warner Brothers, the company in control of HBO Max. In fact, “A New Legacy” and all the referenced properties are streamable on HBO Max. How convenient!

The pacing is horribly fast, resulting in relentless energy — one of the only ways kids might enjoy the film. No plot elements or character moments have time to rest because the film has to get to the next zany set piece or — more importantly — the next Warner Brothers intellectual property. “A New Legacy” joins a select club with films like “The Emoji Movie” and “Jack and Jill” in which the line between product placement and a story is incredibly blurred, creating a soulless marketing trick where viewers pay to see advertisements.

Watching “A New Legacy” subjects the viewer to an overstimulation beatdown that throws out hundreds of references and is still forgettable. While this film — like its predecessor — is aiming to be a family comedy, it falls incredibly short of living up to the first. It is a commercial devoid of any character or heart, and it should be avoided at all costs. 

Comments