It is really hard not to have a soft spot for Space Jam. Only a film with live action appearing right beside Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and more could make the idea of aliens coming to earth to play a basketball game be the least looney part of the story. A sequel to this has been on the horizon for a very long time and now some 25 years later we have it, so was it worth the wait?
Live Action meeting Animation is not a new concept for anyone who is only just now joining us. Skipping over the obvious point that the new Space Jam film is a sequel meaning there is at least one other movie in a similar style there has actually been a LOT of Live Action meets Animation as early as 1900 with hand drawn animation being some of the earliest VFX put into film. From Pete’s Dragon (the 1977 one) to Who Framed Roger Rabbit to the OG Space Jam there is a rich history of live action side by side with hand drawn animation on the big screen (The Looney Tunes have even done it outside of a Basketball court with the star of the Mummy… no the other Mummy).
Ok so what do you need to know going in – the plot basically it goes like this, an international superstar basketball player is sucked in from the real world and must play a game of basketball against a bunch of cartoonish villains with the help of Bugs Bunny and co to save the day. This is obviously much different from the original film where an international superstar basketball player is sucked in from the real world and must play a game of basketball against a bunch of cartoonish villains with the help of Bugs Bunny and co to save the day. Ok, it’s the same movie but it’s not ok.
In the original film Michael Jordan is pulled into the Looney Tunes world while playing golf with Bill Murray, The Looney Tunes recruit Michael Jordan to help save their world as some cartoonish aliens called the Monstars plan to take over their world. Taking place mostly in the Looney Tunes world the cast of toons basically win the day with the help of an R Kelly song on the soundtrack (best not to focus on that). In the new update which switches LeBron James for Michael Jordan, LeBron and his son are sucked into the Warner Brothers
Oasis Serververse which holds all the WB properties.
The Serververse is ruled by Al G Rythm aka Rhodey who had planned to scan LeBron’s likeness to be able to pump out crossovers into all the major WB licenses. Instead when shunned LeBron and his son are trapped in the virtual world and a challenge of a game of basketball is the way out. So where as the original was about space aliens the new update follows a more gamer focus (which is backed up by a new Space Jam video game that was also created as a result of a promotion competition prior to the release) – so Cyberspace Jam?
What follows is is basically an all Warner Brothers flavoured Ready Player One with every major property making an appearance. There is of course majors like Harry Potter and the DC Universe (yes we completely noticed the Jimmy Olsen from The Animated Adventures appearing) but this movie really goes down the rabbit hole with Adam West’s Batman appearing next to Tim Burton’s Catwoman. While some early crossovers are easy to spot they ramp up quickly by the end with extras from the Matrix and Clockwork Orange appearing in the same scene as Hanna Barbera characters like Jabberjaw and Space Ghost as the 2D animated goes 3D for the final arc.
So should you go see it? Well this one is a little trickier to answer as while it is the Looney Tunes it is easy to say this is targeted towards a younger demographic BUT there is no way that same demographic will get the vast majority of the crossover references made in this film with a good example of Granny and Speedy referencing the Matrix that came out in cinemas 22 years ago. This puts this squarely in the enjoyable romp for anyone who loved the original Space Jam but for a younger set the vast majority (by a lot) of jokes will sail over their heads. But if you are a fan of the original Space Jam this was clearly made for you.
Space Jam: A New Legacy is officially in full release Cinemas from today across Australia