The first Space Jam holds a special place in the hearts of those who spent their childhoods in the golden era that was the 1990s. A sequel to the basketball centered, Looney Tunes featuring adventure has been on the cards for quite some time, and now that Space Jam: A New Legacy has at last stepped onto the court, was it worth the wait? Well, in a word, probably not. Okay, two words.
We begin with Sean O'Connell of Cinemablend, who seemingly did not enjoy Space Jam: A New Legacy on any level, gifting it a rating of 1.5 out of 5 stars. The critics overall lack of enjoyment falls at the feet of the endless barrage of Warner Bros. Properties, making the movie seem like nothing more than a shameless marketing tool for the studio, as well as the lacklustre performance from LeBron James.
"LeBron James looks like he has no interest in Space Jam: A New Legacy, so why should we?"
Unfortunately the negative feedback does not stop there, with Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter sharing similar concerns. Again, the critic could not help but take issue with the way in which Warner Bros. has approached the sequel, bombarding audiences with other recognizable properties and references, which ultimately makes the movie feel like nothing more than a feature-length advert.
"To whom this is meant to appeal is anyone's guess, except presumably the studio's marketing department."
This pattern continues, as Joshua Rivera from Polygon too felt that Space Jam: A New Legacy relies far too heavily on referencing other franchises, describing the sequel as looking like "a marketing slideshow with a two-hour running time." This would not be so bad if the movie made you laugh (it is a comedy after all), but sadly the reviewer did not find this to be the case.
"Space Jam: A New Legacy is only really satisfying to people who care about marketing and company profits, people who approach it as a product that's successfully been sold."
These sentiments were echoed by Mark Cassidy of Comicbookmovie.com who said, "The shameless IP promotion might have been forgivable if it led to a few chuckles, but alas, Space Jam 2021 is a barren wasteland of comedy - a couple of smirks raised by the wacky wabbit aside."
It can't be all bad though, can it? Well, thankfully no, it isn't, with Amy Nicholson of Variety finding several positives within the supposed marketing ploy of a movie. "Did the Goon Squad just dunk on LeBron James? Who cares when our eyeballs are busy identifying a group of rowdy fans as the Droogs from "A Clockwork Orange,"" she says, even finding the sequel to be better than the original. Something which many will find tantamount to blasphemy.
"Space Jam: A New Legacy is chaotic, rainbow sprinkle-colored nonsense that, unlike the original, manages to hold together as a movie."
Of course, our very own Julian Roman also found much to enjoy with Space Jam: A New Legacy, describing the big screen return of the Looney Tunes as "just as funny and endearing with a 21st century CGI upgrade."
"LeBron James soars in a Looney Tunes adventure that will delight generations of fans."
Katie Walsh from the Tribune News Service also found a lot of fun in the long-awaited sports comedy sequel, but still felt that the unrelenting Easter eggs and call-backs to other Warner Bros. Properties became far too for the movie to bear.
"It wants to comment on the algorithms that rule our lives, but it is exactly the thing that it points to: an upcycled Frankenstein's monster of intellectual property spraying a stew of Easter eggs and Halloween costumes at the viewer, praying that something sticks."
The solid reviews do not stop there though, with Nick Harley of Den of Geek again finding more than enough to enjoy, with the movie hitting all the right notes where it counts. "It doesn't fall apart because the film has a clear message for kids, a satisfying character arc for James, and an emotional climax that is acted well enough by the four-time MVP," the review reads. "That's more than His Airness' version gave us."
Aaron Perine of Comicbook.com felt much the same saying, "Younger viewers are going to have a blast seeing some of their favorite cartoons on-screen while older members of the audience might find themselves drifting back toward their own youths, back when an airbrushed Taz shirt was the height of cool."
Despite this glimmer of positive reviews, the negative takes continue, with Forbes' Scott Mendelson once again finding the reliance on Warner Bros. back catalogue exhausting...though he did complement the animation.
"Terrific animation and a kid-friendly mentality can't overcome the shameless (and satire-free) IP exploitation at play or the film's need to relentlessly lionize its top-billed human star."
Coming some 25 years after the first Space Jam, Space Jam: A New Legacy is directed by Malcolm D. Lee and stars LeBron James as a fictionalized version of himself, along with Don Cheadle, Khris Davis, and Sonequa Martin-Green in live-action roles, while Jeff Bergman, Eric Bauza, and Zendaya headline the Looney Tunes voice cast.
When LeBron James and his young son Dom are trapped in a digital space by a rogue A.I., LeBron must get them home safe by leading Bugs, Lola Bunny and the whole gang of notoriously undisciplined Looney Tunes to victory over the A.I.'s digitized champions on the court: a powered-up roster of professional basketball stars as you've never seen them before. It's Tunes versus Goons in the highest-stakes challenge of his life, that will redefine LeBron's bond with his son and shine a light on the power of being yourself.
So, for those hoping that Space Jam: A New Legacy would live up to the beloved, nostalgia-infused well, legacy, of its predecessor, you may come away disappointed. However, while there has been a lot more negative feedback than positive, it sounds like there could still be much to enjoy in this long-awaited sequel.Space Jam: A New Legacy is scheduled to be released by Warner Bros. Pictures on July 16, 2021, both in theaters and on HBO Max for a month after its theatrical release.