LeBron James steps into the famous shoes of Michael Jordan in “Space Jam: A New Legacy” now in theaters, and streaming for 30-days on HBO Max. I grew up as a teenager in the 90’s and I was a massive fan of Michael Jordan. So, despite the film’s lack of critical greatness, I still loved the original “Space Jam” back in ‘96. This was when Jordan was at his peak of popularity, and many would say James is at this time as well in terms of being a global icon.
Now, I wasn’t expecting this one to give me the same appeal as the first since I’m an adult. But I was hoping to step back into some of that Looney Tunes/NBA nostalgia and atmosphere. I went in with an open-mind yet sadly, the film just barely accomplished that and turned out to be a letdown.
I can forgive the lackluster performance from James. Jordan wasn’t exactly due for an Oscar for his performance either. Where this movie missed the mark for me was in the blatant shift of focus to the world of Warner Bros. and its catalogue of properties. This was something that routinely overshadowed and virtually guided the main plot. Along with the melodrama of James, his young son, and their differences. All of which seemed to take the spot-light from the actual Looney Tunes characters, and the charming world the original “Space Jam” created. I understand not wanting to simply retread all the old beats and trying to create something new.
However, this was more than simply wanting to expand on the Space Jam Universe, and instead it felt like a movie that used the theme to showcase properties most kids won’t care about, or even recognize. This movie does have flashes of charm though. There are moments where the squad is in action and these spots are when the movie is at its best.
Unfortunately, these small sequences are littered between a mess of a plot-line with animation styling that just feels cluttered visually. It has flashes of “Wreck-It Ralph” mixed with “Ready Player One” and in the end it felt like more of a Warner Bros. commercial than a “Space Jam” reboot/sequel.
Too much is shoehorned into this movie, and it results in a lengthy run-time that takes way too long to tell its simplistic story. It almost felt like there wasn’t enough confidence in the nostalgia and popularity of the classic Looney Tune characters and it results in a movie that outside of brief moments, vaguely resembles its source-material. And with so many tropes, themes, and sequences inspired from other films, this movie fails to build its own identity.
Anthony J. Digioia II - SilverScreen Analysis © All Rights Reserved