Column by Steve Bennett
Posted by Steve Bennett on July 21, 2021 @ 10:32 am CT
I have to confess, I’ve been kind of overwhelmed by the reactions that Space Jam: A New Legacy has received. At best the reviews were mediocre, at worst the bad ones really, really hated it; calling it "An Exercise In Excess", "An Abomination", "An Apocalyptic Horror Movie", "The Ultimate Vanity Project", and (my favorite) "A Hell Known Only To The Undead". All of which seems a tad excessive for a movie that admittedly was "a 2 hour long, $150 million unabashed advertisement for Warner Bros and HBO Max’s properties. Harry Potter, DC, Mad Max, Austin Powers, Casablanca (Turner Classic Movies), Rick & Morty (Adult Swim), and Game of Thrones."
The only question then is, is it any good? The answer is: no, not particularly. It takes 40 minutes to set up LeBron James back story, something that could have easily have been done in 10. And once we’re finally allowed access to the “Serververse”, precious little is actually done with the shared universe concept other than to mix stock footage from better movies to tee up gags that don’t land. Though the scenes on Mad Max World with the Road Runner and Coyote and Lola Bunny (as well as Bugs and LeBron in Amazonian drag) on Wonder Woman’s Themyscira were admittedly a lot of fun.
The animation was good though. It’s always a legitimate pleasure, seeing all of the Looney Tunes characters looking, acting, and sounding the way they should, in large part thanks to all of the talented character designers who worked on the film. One of them was Dave Alvarez, who a couple of weeks ago (see “Confessions Of A Comic Book Guy -- In This Event...”) I called the current “King of funny animal artists” for while writing about his work on the Looney Tunes: A New Legacy graphic novel.
Alvarez has extensive credits working on Looney Tunes, from the DC Comics (including the Jonah Hex/Yosemite Sam and Harley Quinn/Gossamer crossover specials) to the current HBO Max Looney Tunes Cartoons series. But for some unknown reason, Alvarez didn’t receive a credit for Space Jam 2; if it does become known, I’ll be sure to let you know what it is.
A couple of weeks ago (see “Confessions Of A Comic Book Guy -- Battle Of The Titans”), I wrote that among the humans standing courtside watching the big game were Pete, Georgie, and Dim, Dim, the Droogs from A Clockwork Orange. Having seen them in the context of the film, I find I've the same problem that I've had with all of the unanimated spectators (which, heaven help us, includes the nuns from the movie The Devils and Baby Jane Hudson from 1962’s What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?); they look awful. The people dressed as movie characters who do Meet and Greets at the Warner theme parks look a lot better; the blonde Droog looks more like Amy Poehler than a Droog.
Confessions Of A Comic Book Guy -- Big Chungus Unleashed"), Bugs’ plus-sized persona who went from a brief appearance in the 1941 Looney Tunes short to become an Internet meme. Well, much to my surprise, he makes an equally brief appearance in Space Jam: A New Legacy; but hopefully, this will lead to seeing more of him.
That, and the fact that in spite of the bad reviews and terrible word of mouth, Space Jam: A New Legacy earned $54.6 million worldwide. You can argue all you want about the movie’s quality, but it’s hard to argue with that.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.