25 years after the first part, the science fiction adventure starts these days SPACE JAM 2 in the cinemas and instead of Michael Jordan back then, it now has the no less successful world-class basketball player LeBron James in its luggage. We’ll reveal in our review whether the fun of the first film can be reproduced.
OT: Space Jam: A New Legacy (USA 2021)
A malevolent artificial intelligence (Don Cheadle) captures world-class basketball player LeBron James (playing himself) and his young son Dom (Cedric Joe) in its world. To get back home, LeBron must form Bugs and Lola Bunny and the entire gang of notoriously undisciplined Looney Tunes into a basketball team that can take on the digital champions of artificial intelligence. On the field, the heroes face a never-before-seen and seemingly overwhelming group of professional basketball stars. The epic match “Tunes” against “Goons” begins – and with it the biggest challenge in LeBron’s life. Will he be able to redefine his relationship with his son and realize the importance of being yourself? We can already tell you: The Tunes don’t care much about conventions, but simply let their unique talents run wild in the game – and in doing so, they surprise even “King” James!
“Space Jam 2” is originally titled “Space Jam: A New Legacy”. At first glance, USAization seems like the obvious choice: in 1996 – 25 years ago now – the science fiction animated comedy “Space Jam”, which starred then Chicago Bulls member Michael Jordan, was released in cinemas The legendary athlete of the century plays a basketball match alongside the Looney Tunes in order to save them from the threat of slavery in an alien theme park with the help of a victory over the “MonStars”. “Space Jam 2” now also works on a similar principle – only of course up to date and therefore as a result of an AI attack; But the film is not a direct sequel, quite as the two behind the title suggest. Although there is a direct allusion to this when the story about an all-important basketball match alongside a human appears quite familiar to the cartoon bunny Bugs Bunny, it seems just as tongue-in-cheek as in the “21 Jump Street” films by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, in which it is played with the fact that “it all happened before”, but one would never come up with the idea of calling the two action comedies a continuation of the cult series. “A New Generation” would probably be the best title here, because “Space Jam 2” is essentially a remake of the original – for a new generation of cinema lovers. From this perspective, it is unfortunately relatively difficult to judge whether “Space Jam 2” is as exciting for today’s kids as it was for Nineties kids 25 years ago. But one thing you can do is director Malcolm D. Lee (“Night School”) certainly not reproach him for not doing everything possible to ensure that this happens.
LeBron James, his son Dom (Cedric Joe) and the megalomaniacal algorithm (Don Cheadle).
A certain paradox of content is revealed fairly early on in “Space Jam 2”: an ambitious computer algorithm that “Avengers” star Don Cheadle could hardly play more annoyed (in the best sense of the word!) rules over the Warner server universe, which controls all characters and brands and franchises of the media group combined. And he wants even more success and fame for Warner, which is why basketball star LeBron James becomes the object of desire of the megalomaniacal algorithm. When LeBron refuses to take part in the major project, he is quickly sucked into the “Warner 3000” universe – and in order to have leverage, his son Dom is also included. What follows is a brightly colored cameo show in which pretty much every well-known character from the Warner range makes at least a brief appearance. On his way to becoming a cartoon character, LeBron goes past the Harry Potter planet, the Game of Thrones universe and even a short detour into the “Mad Max: Fury Road” world later on when LeBron and his cartoon buddies go on a recruiting spree. “Matrix”, “It”, “King Kong” – even more than in Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One”, “Space Jam 2” is a self-serving series of well-known characters and thematic worlds, which, however, is nowhere near as unpleasant as the aforementioned book adaptation . Yes, all of these characters appear from time to time (a still shot that takes a closer look at the match audience will probably reveal many more cameos), but ultimately they are just that: side notes that come to mind as a pop culture connoisseur: intrusive, but without them the film would still work. And that makes “Space Jam 2” worth seeing for younger audiences who can’t make all the connections to the rest of the Warner franchises.
“What follows is a brightly colored cameo show in which pretty much every well-known character from the Warner range makes at least a brief appearance.”
The paradox of putting together the cameos (the guys from “Mad Max”, horror clown Pennywise and Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz” in one film!!) is primarily that they provide background noise for the actual stars in “Space Jam 2” – and in 2021 that will also be the Looney Tunes, which, however, raises the question of how big the influence of the cult cartoons still is on today’s youth. Not recognizing one or two cameos leaves no gap in the young audience’s knowledge. But you should have a certain affinity for the very present supporting characters – from Bugs Bunny to Daffy Duck to the Road Runner – in order to have enough fun with “Space Jam 2”. The handling of the two-dimensional cartoon characters should therefore also be viewed critically: The creatives remain unconditionally faithful to the style of the Looney Tunes cartoons of earlier decades (only in the second half do Bugs Bunny and Co. mutate into three-dimensional CGI images of themselves, although also The translation here is very successful), which means that the film certainly brings in one or two points of nostalgia. However, it is questionable to what extent the next generation of film enthusiasts can enjoy the almost old-fashioned Looney Tunes slapstick. But the film is full of them, so if you don’t have any affinity for cartoons, you’ll probably lose interest in the film soon.
LeBron James becomes a cartoon character himself.
To ensure that this doesn’t happen, the six-person team of authors fires up gags every minute – and it goes without saying that, statistically speaking, one or two of them have to fire up. “Space Jam 2” is a cinematic sugar shock packed with slapstick and gags and action – the basketball match alone, which takes up almost the entire second half of the film, is, even outside of its star-studded stands, a hodgepodge of crazy ideas about what can be done with the mixture of live action, animation and cartoons. In contrast, the storyline about LeBron and his estranged son, who would rather program computer games than play basketball, which is pushed too hard between the plot, seems far too generic to add an emotional level to the superficial fun. And speaking of fun: While Don Cheadle has this oozing out of his ears in his spiteful algorithm performance, LeBron James is sorely missing his self-deprecating streak from “Dating Queen” here. He tries too hard to find character depth in the scenes with his film family, while his reactions to the Looney Tunes (in this case as a cartoon character) drift too much towards overacting. James – certainly due to his lack of acting experience – simply doesn’t seem to know what kind of film he’s actually starring in. And that’s something that can easily be criticized for the film as a whole. In an effort to provide new, brightly colored impressions from every corner, “Space Jam 2” lacks focus and structure; You could easily see the second half of the film as a detached short film or long sketch – depending on your interpretation.
“While Don Cheadle has this oozing out of his ears in his spiteful algorithm performance, LeBron James is sorely missing his self-deprecating streak from ‘Dating Queen’ here.”
In addition to its dizzyingly high speed, this one scores particularly well with its effects. It’s not just the transformation from the 2D cartoon to the 3D computer figure of the Looney Tunes characters that has been achieved excellently. The makers also adopted their cartoon-typical movements and well-known gimmicks 1:1 from the role models. Overall, Space Jam 2 looks pretty darn good. And regardless of whether you accuse the film of being a huge Warner Brothers first-person show (which we would certainly agree with), or that this limitless selection of characters actually captures the spirit of the first film: you can’t blame the film , it would not provide entertainment for the entrance fee paid for a cinema ticket. Even if most of the time this means that you can find this film-turned-energy drink quite tiring and annoying at the same time.
Conclusion: “Space Jam 2” is both entertaining and annoying at every point in its two hours.
“Space Jam 2” can be seen in USA cinemas from July 15, 2021.