Space Jam: A New Legacy (PG) - 116 minutes
The Looney Tunes and Michael Jordan featured in the original live action animation blend Space Jam back in 1996.
Now MJ has been replaced by another NBA superstar in LeBron James in the sequel – Space Jam: A New Legacy – a quarter of century in the waiting.
James learnt the hard way that only total commitment will bring rewards and he feels his youngest son, Dom (Cedric Joe), isn’t giving all he’s got to the basketball career that his dad sees awaiting him.
The 12-year-old is much more heavily invested in created a souped-up basketball-based video game, which has him excited.
James’ wife, Shanice (Xosha Roquemore), implores him to get on the same page as Dom and to have more empathy.
But Dom maintains his dad doesn’t let him be himself.
The man who is about to give Dom that chance is an algorithm (an artificial intelligence) that services the digital world in which all games are played.
He – Al G. Rhythm (Dom Cheadle) – is after recognition.
When a promotional pitch to King James goes pear-shaped, Al G. Rhythm hatches a plan to manipulate Dom into getting back at his dad.
Both Dom and LeBron are sucked into the IT universe and become cartoon figures.
Al G. Rhythm’s idea is a winner takes all basketball showdown pitting son against father and that is exactly what transpires, with the odds very much stacked in the son’s favour.
Problem is if Dom’s team – The Goons – triumphs against James’ Tunes, all playing and watching will be stuck in the digital universe forever.
Apart from massively overdoing Warner Bros’ name references (surely, it didn’t need to be that blatant), the blending of live action with animation is a treat.
The characters read like a who’s who of what a remarkable studio it is and the figures associated with it.
Some of it is very cleverly done. It is colourful and moves at pace.
My personal highlight came relatively late in the piece when a blast from the past is referenced and expectant eyes (both the characters and the audience) turn to the doorway on screen.
What follows solicits plenty of laughs.
At just a few minutes shy of two hours, A New Legacy is far too long (the first one didn’t even reach an hour and a half and that was a smart move) and the storyline is thin, to say the least.
Further, I didn’t buy the obvious, syrupy family ideal that was being espoused, but felt put on. Sorry to say, what was on screen in that regard simply didn’t have a ring of truth about it.
For me, it is really about the CGI and how far that has come in the 25 years since we witnessed the first instalment.
The team involved in that has done a great job.
Beyond that, the film knows its target audience and I dare say kids that love hoops will lap it up more readily than I did.
Directed by Malcolm D. Lee (Night School) and rated PG, Space Jam: A New Legacy scores a 5 out of 10.