Star Rating:

Space Jam: A New Legacy

Director: Malcolm D. Lee

Actors: LeBron James, Zendaya, Jim Cummings

Release Date: Friday 16th July 2021

Genre(s): Adventure, Animation, Comedy

Running time: 115 minutes

Basketball superstar LeBron James and his son Dom (Cedric James) are zapped into the Warner Bros. Server-verse by a sentient AI called Al-G Rhythm (Don Cheadle) after he refuses to allow his image to be used in movies and TV shows. In order to win his son back from Al-G Rhythm, LeBron must recruit the help of Looney Tunes characters Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Peppy Pig, and Lola Bunny (Zendaya) and challenge him in a basketball match...

There's an extended sequence in 'Space Jam: A New Legacy' where, surrounded by studio executives from the very studio releasing this movie, LeBron James declares the idea he's been presented with - splicing him into new movies and copying his personality into a server - as one of the dumbest ideas he's ever heard of. That LeBron James rattles this scene off with absolutely no conviction whatsoever, and nobody even bats an eyelid at the irony of it, is telling. Irony died long ago, but 'Space Jam: A New Legacy' is dancing on its corpse.

It's a movie about how studios have run out of ideas, and are utilising an algorithm to come up with fresh ones instead. 'Space Jam: A New Legacy' has a total of six credited writers, with a story by credit split with four writers. Yet, in spreading out the task of writing this across so many people, what you're left with is a mish-mash of ideas fumbled together, rolled up, and most likely served to a steering committee for a studio who then flash-tested it to ensure it's a four-quadrant movie, before analysing it for opportunities to vertically integrate other offerings from Warner Bros. like HBO Max or its intellectual properties like 'The Matrix', 'Mad Max: Fury Road', or, uh, 'Casablanca'. Every studio executive who saw this movie probably loved it. It hits all their buttons. It's got a star with a huge social media presence. It's got an existing fanbase from the original. It has IP drop-ins from the aforementioned movies. It's two hours long, the perfect time for cinemas to block-book screens, and it's arriving at a time when audiences will eat up new content because it's been away from screens so long.

We're coming up on about 380 words of this review, and so far, there hasn't been dissection of the movie. Why? Because, when you come down to it, it's not a movie. It's a marketing reel. It's an adverting sizzle for Warner Bros., their IPs, their movie franchises, and for LeBron James as a brand. That the main antagonist of this movie is an inhuman machine played by Don Cheadle, Golden Globe winner and Academy Award nominee for Best Actor, tells you what you need to know about it. The voice actor for Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Peppy Pig, and so forth are doing what they're supposed to be, but none of it lands. Lola Bunny, meanwhile, is voiced by Zendaya because she's a big name right now and why not cast her in this? It's another brand with a major social media presence tied to LeBron James. The metrics for this is off the charts, people!

There's a good chance that young children, those who completely unaware of the original, might glean something from this that elder millienials can't. If that's the case, then good for them and long may they enjoy it. About 75% of the IP references and jokes will soar over their heads, and for everyone else, it's just a kaleidoscope of barely-recognisable characters clogging up the screen in wide shots. You'll see The Mask (not played by Jim Carrey) standing next to '60s Batman (not played by Adam West, obviously), with the Hercu-loids (good on you if you remember them) hovering in the background somewhere.

At no point, however, will you see a reason to watch this movie.