I might have said this in my review of Space Jam, but I’m too lazy to look it up. But I’ll say that Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all-time. Some might argue. They’d be wrong. But back in 1996, Jordan was it. He and the Chicago Bulls had pulled off three consecutive wins at The Finals. Jordan then semi-retired to focus on his baseball career and then realized that he’s a basketball player. He came back and the Bulls pulled off another threepeat upon his return. And in between he made the aforementioned Space Jam. That was a quarter of a century ago. A new generation might not know who or how good Jordan was an in many ways LeBron James is his replacement. He’s not as good, but good nonetheless. So what better way to pay homage to the man and his movie than by, you guessed it, remaking it. This time around we’ve got “King” James in the titular role with effectively the exact same plot. Oh and the CGI is much better. But is the movie?
LeBron James (who plays himself) is pushing his two sons to become basketball players. The younger one, Dom (Cedric Joe) longs to be a designer of video games. This doesn’t sit too well with James, though his wife, Kamiyah (Sonequa Martin-Green) wants Dom to do what he wants and be happy. LeBron invites Dom to a meeting with some executives at Warner Bros – they want to pitch him some ideas. However, a malicious computer algorithm named Al G Rhythm (Don Cheadle) get his feelings hurt when LeBron rejects his ideas. Al kidnaps Dom and is sucked into the digital realm (if you’ve seen Tron, you’ll get it). LeBron enters the realm as well and the only way to get his son back is to beat Al at a virtual basketball game. As we might have guessed, he’ll have Bugs, Daffy and the gang as the rest of his team.
I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not big on re-inventing the wheel. If something works the first time, odds are that it’ll work again. Hell, I even cut a few parts out of my original review of Space Jam and used them here. How’s that for candor? So the thing is this: this is, for all intents and purposes, the exact same movie that’s been around since 1996. Yes, it’s got a new cast and even Lola Bunny has been made less slutty (I mean look at the first one, she totally was)! Michael Jordan has been replaced by LeBron James and the cast of Looney Tunes look more realistic than ever. That’s not necessarily a good thing. Will the kids like it? Probably. Will you have to watch it with them about 50 times? Probably. Is it better than the first one? No. I think we all know how this one will work out.
Video: How’s it look?
If you can get past the film’s contrived plot, I will say that Space Jam: A New Legacy looks fantastically splendid on 4K. Colors pop, black levels are solid and everything associated with the phrase “amazing” resonates in full effect here. Obviously the highlight of the film is the vast array of various Warner characters that show up throughout and the main characters have been given a new 3-D effect to them. Don’t know what I mean? Watch a recent episode of The Simpson’s and then watch one from the first few seasons. You’re welcome. The animated characters now have more depth and dimension (physically, not the characters themselves) which really sparkle in this format. The 1.85:1 4K HEVC image fills the majority of the screen, so let it be said that LeBron or any of his Looney Tunes players will have a spot on your HDTV. In a word – it’s perfect.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The movie is all about sound. From the opening credits to the closing, the Dolby Atmos mix certainly does its job. The dialogue is very clean and sounds very natural. The ending basketball game sounds particularly engaging, bringing the LFE into the mix. Surrounds are prevalent throughout the entire movie, and the movie’s soundtrack takes full advantage of the wide range of speakers. I could go on, but honestly there’s no need. Suffice it to say that you’ll know what you’re getting with this one – it’s a slam dunk.
Supplements: What are the extras?
First Quarter: Game On – The introduction to the movie features, you guessed it, LeBron James as he describes his passion for the project, how he loved the original and it gave him inspiration and so forth.
Second Quarter: Teamwork – This one focuses on the vast array of characters from the Warner catalog. Jim Carrey from The Mask? Yep. Pennywise from It? Check. And so forth. We get a look at what it took to literally bring hundreds of characters into the movie.
Third Quarter: Out of this World – We get a look at the cutting edge special effects, many that were invented for this movie. As much as I didn’t like the film, I have to say that on a technical level – this one does excel.
Fourth Quarter: The Looniest – Back in 1996 R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” might have been a hit, but I’m sure that Warner wanted to distance themselves from the performer these days. At any rate, this one takes a look at the soundtrack for the film and some of the new inspiration drawn therein.
Deleted Scenes – Five total. None of them really added anything to the movie.
Are You With Us?
No More Secrets
The Bottom Line
The question is often asked “do we need this?” And that resonates here. Many might argue that the first Space Jam was fine and we didn’t need another one. Then again we don’t need a lot of television and movie remakes, reboots, sequels and so forth. In many ways it parallels Michael Jordan and LeBron James. Jordan was just better all around. As was his movie. Yes, this one introduces Space Jam to a new generation, and that’s fine – but if you’ve got to pick one go with the original.