Space Jam: A New Legacy

Space Jam: A New Legacy ½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

When I interned at Buzzfeed, we all had to sign a contract that essentially gave them access to our likeness in perpetuity. Years after I had left, the company would use my image in reaction GIFs or edit footage of mine for new content. I was annoyed because the company hadn’t promoted me but still could just use me for whatever purposes it wanted. (To be fair, they weren’t doing it a ton. None of my personal videos at BF were a success. They all bombed super hard).

But there’s something about a corporation just taking people’s likeness that always rubbed me the wrong way. And Space Jam 2 is the beginning of corporation’s doing it this way. I mean, there are other examples—the FF franchise and Star Wars have used the likeness of the dead to fill in plot gaps. There’s a controversy right now over the Roadrunner doc and the origins of some of its voiceover, but Space Jam feels more egregious to me. It feels sinister.

Inside the movie, a Don Cheadle algorithm (Named Al G Rhythm) pitches Lebron James the idea of digitally scanning him and inserting him in a slew of WB properties. In the world of the movie, Lebron James (in the worst acted scene of the movie) flat out calls this a bad idea. But what feels like such a slap in the face is that that’s exactly what the movie is. There’s an entire montage of a digital LeBron and an animated Bugs Bunny cameoing in all these WB properties. And it’s almost just as long as the basketball game. It’s a pretty big chunk of the movie. 

Look, this movie was always going to be a giant commercial. Every other line refers to Lebron’s royalty. At one point, a security guard lists Lebron’s accolades. The GOAT lands and created a crater in the shape of the Nike logo. As mentioned earlier, WB shows off many of its franchises. This was to be expected. The previous Space Jam is a part of Jordan’s return to his first love. This second one’s intention is written into its title: “a new legacy”. I’m okay with a summer blockbuster being a giant ad.

No, what disturbs me is the lack of respect for others. When I watched Granny Smith replace Neo in that Matrix scene, I couldn’t help but wonder if the actors/stuntmen in those scenes were paid again. My mind drifted to if the writers of the bastardized scenes were even informed of what was going to happen to their work. Did George Miller get a chance to block WB from turning his own summer blockbuster (which was a masterpiece) into a terrible Roadrunner/Wiley Coyote bit?

It’s not just franchise pieces that WB turns into a “crowd” for this lackluster movie—its everything. From Clockwork to King Kong! LeBron’s entire journey in the movie is learning to stop micromanaging his son and allowing him to pick his own journey. Be in charge of his own destiny. (I’m giving this movie a lot of credit. That was really wedged in like the last 25 minutes of the movie). Perhaps the people at WarnerMedia could learn a thing or two.

The movie tries to poke fun of how ridiculous it would be to just whisk all your characters from franchise to franchise via ill-conceived mashups. But I’m not convinced that WarnerMedia does think it’s ridiculous. And it certainly wasn’t evidenced by the lack of respect they had towards their library in order to overstuff this thin, waste of almost 2 hours.

I think this film is dangerous because I think it’s only the beginning.

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