Space Jam: A New Legacy

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Warner;
Comedy;
Box Office $70.51 million;
$34.98 DVD, $39.98 Blu-ray, $49.98 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG’ for some cartoon violence and some language.
Stars LeBron James, Don Cheadle, Cedric Joe, Khris Davis, Sonequa Martin-Green, Ceyair J Wright, Harper Leigh Alexander, Sue Bird, Anthony Davis, Draymond Green, Damian Lillard, Klay Thompson, Nneka Ogwumike, Diana Taurasi.

Borrowing the same basic concept of its 1996 predecessor, Space Jam: A New Legacy dives into the realm of video games to bring the Looney Tunes back to the basketball court.

As with the original, the story involves an NBA player teaming up with Bugs Bunny and the gang in a high-stakes basketball game with dire consequences if they lose. The 1996 version starred Michael Jordan, who was recruited to help save the Tunes from being imprisoned by the owner of a cartoon amusement park planet.

The 21st century version of the premise involves LeBron James, the current era’s equivalent of a player with Jordan’s superstar stature. However, fans of the original film looking for another fun romp that doesn’t take itself too seriously will likely find themselves disappointed early in the proceedings, as A New Legacy quickly devolves into what is essentially a promotional reel for Warner Bros. IP.

Follow us on Instagram!

Space Jam: A New Legacy plays like a collaboration between the marketing departments of the NBA and WarnerMedia, resulting in a script that seems like it was developed by a PR committee that just finished a marathon of the original Space Jam, Ready Player One, Tron and the “Wreck-It Ralph” movies.

The story involves LeBron being recruited by Warner Bros., for a partnership involving a new slate of films in which he would be scanned into a computer and inserted into several movies created by a algorithm named Al G. Rhythm (given humanoid form by Don Cheadle) that controls the supercomputer where all Warner’s characters are stored.

LeBron’s reaction to this little piece of meta-commentary on Hollywood’s creative bankruptcy is to declare that the idea of athletes acting in movies is a bad idea, and thus Al’s proposal is stupid. The movie then proceeds to do exactly what it thinks it’s cleverly making fun of.

After Al takes offense to LeBron’s rejection, he somehow traps LeBron and his movie son, Dom (Cedric Joe), in the computer to get revenge.

Conveniently for the plot, 12-year-old Dom is some sort of genius video game designer, so Al steals his basketball video game as the arena for the contest that will allow LeBron to win his son back and earn their freedom.

For their team, the Goon Squad, Al and Dom create super-powered avatars based on some of the top NBA and WNBA players. All LeBron has to do is recruit a team of Warner Bros. characters to compete with them. His first instincts are to team up with the likes of Superman and King Kong, but then LeBron meets Bugs Bunny and his plans are derailed.

It seems Bugs is the only character left in the Looney Tunes section of the Warner Bros. Serververse (where each franchise has its own “world” that looks like a cartoon planet) because Al convinced the other Tunes their talents would be better served elsewhere. Daffy Duck, for example, hangs out in the DC Comics-based world posing as superman, complete with the John Williams theme.

Bugs uses LeBron’s predicament as an excuse to round up his friends on the pretense that they’re the ones being recruited to play. And thus, LeBron ends up teaming up with the Tune Squad for the big game, just like Mike 25 years earlier.

LeBron’s version, though, is more of a reboot or a remake than a sequel. It’s a completely standalone adventure that makes just a few passing references to the original while mostly ignoring its established worldbuilding. The original featured the Tunes as real-world characters living in their own realm beneath the surface of Earth (not unlike Toontown from Who Framed Roger Rabbit), while the bad guys were cartoon aliens from another planet, hence the “space” in Space Jam. The new iteration is more like “Cyberspace Jam” given how it pretty much all takes place in virtual reality.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The creators of A New Legacy also appear to have misunderstood what made the story of the original work beyond the basic premise. The original film was as much the story of Jordan rediscovering his love of basketball as it was about the Looney Tunes playing alongside him. The movie famously chronicles Jordan’s real-life foray into an attempt to play professional baseball after he abruptly retired from the NBA following three championships. The film ties into this by having the evil aliens steal the talent from top NBA stars; as Jordan was away from basketball, his talent was left intact, leaving him for the Looney Tunes to recruit.

A New Legacy, on the other hand, has such a cut-and-paste story that they could have plugged nearly any marketable NBA player into it without it being fundamentally different, since the player’s family at the center of the story is entirely fictional. And then they chose LeBron James, one of the most unlikable players in the NBA, who in some metrics is considered the league’s most-hated player.

For the big game, the movie’s creators are essentially just playing a game of “spot the famous Warner Bros. character” in the audience, as the court is surrounded by extras dressed in recognizable costumes but who bear little resemblance to the original actors who played them (the guy dressed as Robin from the 1960s “Batman” show is especially distracting as he dances around every time he’s on camera).

As much as it all is an excuse for glitzy graphics and flashy colors, it should at the very least keep small children entertained.

The 4K disc doesn’t contain any extras. All of the extras are included on the regular Blu-ray Disc of the film.

The bonus materials primarily consist of about 28-minutes of behind-the-scenes featurettes split into four parts, like the quarters of a basketball game. They run seven to eight minutes each, focusing on LeBron’s involvement, the rest of the cast, the visual effects, re-creating classic Warner characters as background characters, and animating the Looney Tunes with CGI.

There are also five deleted scenes that run just under eight minutes and expand on some of the ideas in the film, including a jab at Cleveland.

Originally published as a streaming review July 18, 2021.

New ‘Space Jam,’ ‘Escape Room’ Installments Lead Oct. 5 New Releases on Disc

Warner Bros.’ Space Jam: A New Legacy and Sony Pictures’ Escape Room: Tournament of Champions make their way to Blu-ray and DVD Oct. 5, while Universal Pictures’ Old becomes available for digital purchase.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment releases Space Jam: A New Legacy Oct. 5 on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. The film is a remake of 1996’s Space Jam, which combined live-action and animation to team basketball legend Michael Jordan with Bugs Bunny and the Looney Tunes against a team of monsters from outer space. The new version stars LeBron James, who must recruit the Looney Tunes to play a basketball video game against a team created by the artificial intelligence program (Don Cheadle) that controls the Warner Bros. mainframe and has captured LeBron’s son as revenge for LeBron rejecting his pitch to star on a series of movies for the studio. To save his son and escape the computer, LeBron, Bugs and the rest of the Tunes must defeat a team of computer enhanced NBA and WNBA stars. The film earned $70.5 million during a domestic box office run in which it was simultaneously available on HBO Max for a month.

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions arrives on Blu-ray and DVD Oct. 5 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.In the sequel to the 2019 psychological thriller Escape Room, six people unwittingly find themselves locked in another series of escape rooms, slowly uncovering what they have in common to survive and discovering they’ve all played the game before. The never-before-seen extended cut, available on Blu-ray and digital, reveals the masterminds behind Minos and features more deadly escape rooms with more than 25 minutes of new footage.

Filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan’s Old will be available to own on digital Oct. 5 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. The thriller follows a family on a tropical holiday who discover that the secluded beach where they are relaxing for a few hours is somehow causing them to age rapidly reducing their entire lives into a single day. Directed and produced by Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Signs, Split), the film stars an international cast including Golden Globe winner Gael García Bernal (Mozart in the Jungle), Vicky Krieps (Phantom Thread), Rufus Sewell (The Illusionist, A Knight’s Tale), Alex Wolff (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), Thomasin McKenzie (JoJo Rabbit), Abbey Lee (Mad Max: Fury Road), Nikki Amuka-Bird (Jupiter Ascending), Ken Leung (“The Sopranos,” “Lost”), Eliza Scanlen (Little Women), Aaron Pierre (“Britannia”), Embeth Davidtz (Schindler’s List, Matilda) and Emun Elliott (Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens). It arrives on and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD Oct. 19.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment releases The Nevers: Season 1 Part 1 on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Oct. 5. The two-disc sets include the first six episodes of the HBO sci-fi drama created by Joss Whedon about a gang of women in Victorian England who suddenly manifest unusual supernatural powers and find themselves on a mission that could change the world. In 1896, London is rocked to its foundations by a supernatural event that gives certain people — mostly women — abnormal abilities, from the wondrous to the disturbing. All who belong to this new underclass are in great danger, so it falls to mysterious, quick-fisted widow Amalia True (Laura Donnelly) and brilliant young inventor Penance Adair (Ann Skelly) to protect and shelter them against the brutal forces determined to annihilate their kind. The second half of the first season is slated to air on HBO in 2022.

CBS and Paramount Home Entertainment release the latest adaptation of author Stephen King’s best-selling 1978 novel The Stand on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Oct. 5. The Stand depicts an apocalyptic vision of a world decimated by plague and embroiled in an elemental struggle between good and evil. The fate of mankind rests on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abagail (Whoopi Goldberg) and a handful of survivors navigating the post-pandemic world. Their worst nightmares are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg (Alexander Skarsgård), the Dark Man, who tries to construct a new civilization based on destruction, power and torture. The cast also includes James Marsden and Odessa Young. The Stand was originally released in nine parts on the CBS All Access (now Paramount+) streaming service in late 2020 and early 2021.

The 2020 version is also included in a two-pack paired with the four-part, six-hour 1994 miniseries adaptation, as a four-disc Blu-ray or five-disc DVD set.

CBS and Paramount Home Entertainment Oct. 5 release Clarice: Season One on DVD. A sequel to author Thomas Harris’ The Silence of the Lambs and its 1991 film adaptation, “Clarice” stars Rebecca Breeds as FBI Special Agent Clarice Starling as she returns to the field in 1993, one year after her encounter with notorious serial killer Buffalo Bill. Brilliant and vulnerable, Clarice’s bravery gives her an inner light that draws monsters and madmen to her. However, her complex psychological makeup that comes from a challenging childhood empowers her to begin to find her voice while working in a man’s world, as well as escape the family secrets that have haunted her throughout her life. The first season consists of 13 episodes. Due to complicated rights issues, the show was not allowed to make reference to the Hannibal Lecter character who was central to several of Harris’ books, including Silence of the Lambs.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment releases Night of the Animated Dead on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Oct. 5. An animated reimagining of George A. Romero’s 1968 horror classic Night of the Living Dead, Animated Dead includes exclusive scenes not included in the original film. The voice cast includes Josh Duhamel, Dulé Hill, Katharine Isabelle, James Roday Rodriguez, Katee Sackhoff, Will Sasso, Jimmi Simpson and Nancy Travis. The story involves a group of strangers in Pennsylvania taking refuge in an abandoned farmhouse during a zombie attack. Together, the group must fight to stay alive against the oncoming horde of zombies while also confronting their own fears and prejudices.

Lionsgate releases the horror film The Amityville Moon via digital purchase, VOD and on DVD Oct. 5. The movie tells the story of a house of holiness that turns out to be a haven of evil. As former inmates Alyssa (Alex Rinehart) and Karla (Kelsey Zukowski) try to escape from the church halfway house, Karla is slaughtered by a vicious, semi-human creature. After Detective Kimball (Trey McCurley) tracks down Alyssa at a rowdy biker bar, she tells Kimball that women inmates disappear every full moon. Now the two must return to the halfway house to confront the priest and nuns — and the snarling, savage evil — that dwell within. The cast also includes Cody Renee Cameron and Tuesday Knight.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Shout! Factory releases the animated adventure film Little Vampire on Blu-ray Disc and DVD on Oct 5. Directed by popular French cartoonist and filmmaker Joann Sfar (“Little Vampire” TV series, The Rabbi’s Cat), Little Vampire is the movie adaptation of Sfar’s popular series of graphic novels, “Petit Vampire.” A fantastical adventure story that celebrates the importance of friendship and family, the film was nominated for a César Award for Best Animated Feature and a Cristal Award at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival. Little Vampire will screen at this year’s Fantasia International Film Festival in August ahead of its home entertainment release. The physical media release will be available in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, as well as a standalone DVD from Shout! Kids in collaboration with Studio Canal.

The faith-based drama Heaven will be released on DVD and digitally Oct. 5 from Virgil Films. Based on the book Heaven: The Adventure Begins by author Alan Duprey and adapted to screenplay by screenwriter Angus Benfield,  the film tells the story of Jonathan Stone, a middle-aged paramedic who struggles to find meaning in the midst of his everyday life, until he wakes up one day in Heaven and discovers that his life had more meaning than he could ever have imagined. Set between Heaven and Earth, Heaven follows the life and afterlife of Jonathan and the lives of those around him from his past, present and future.

Scream Factory, the horror imprint of indie distributor Shout! Factory, releases the first five “Halloween” movies on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc. The films will be available individually in a limited-edition rigid slipcase and will include a regular Blu-ray Disc of each film as well as previously released bonus materials. The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray of 1978’s original Halloween features a return to the original camera negative for the first time. This also marks the North American 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray debut for 1981’s Halloween II, 1982’s Halloween III: Season of the Witch, 1988’s Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and 1989’s Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers.

Scream Factory is also releasing a 20th anniversary collector’s edition of the 2001 camp classic Elvira’s Haunted Hills on Blu-ray Disc Oct. 5. The tale begins in 1851, when Elvira and her maid Zou Zou are en route to perform in the Parisian Revue “Yes I Can Can,” but inadvertently end up at the sinister Lord Vladimere Hellsubus’ medieval castle. Bearing an uncanny resemblance to Vladimere’s long-dead wife, Elvira learns of the Hellsubus curse and finds her life in danger. The film takes its inspiration from the classic Vincent Price/Edgar Allan Poe/Roger Corman films of the early 1960s.

The Audrey Hepburn 7-Movie Collection arrives on Blu-ray Disc Oct. 5 from Paramount Home Entertainment. Timed to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which was originally released on Oct. 5, 1961, this collection includes Hepburn in My Fair Lady, Funny Face, Sabrina, Roman Holiday, Paris When It Sizzles, War and Peace and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The collection also includes access to digital copies of each film and legacy bonus content.

Kino Lorber Oct. 5 releases Blu-rays of Songs My Brother Taught Me and, from the Cohen Media Group, The Awakening.

Songs My Brother Taught Me is the 2015 debut feature from Chloé Zhao, the Academy Award-winning director of Nomadland (2020). A portrait of modern day life on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, the film explores the bond between a brother (John Reddy) and his younger sister (Jashaun St. John), who find themselves on separate paths to rediscovering the meaning of home.

The Awakening is a British horror film centered on the death of a child at a boarding school. When the death is blamed on a ghost, hoax exposer Florence Cathcart is certain that science and reason can explain it. But the truth she discovers is more terrifying than she could ever imagine, and soon the ghost hunter becomes the hunted. The Awakening stars Rebecca Hall (The Town), Dominic West (“The Wire”) and Imelda Staunton (“Harry Potter” films).

DVD releases that become available Oct. 5 include Playing Frisbee in North Korea and Greenwich Entertainment’s Not Going Quietly.

Playing Frisbee in North Korea is the first documentary produced and directed by an African-American female filmmaker from inside North Korea. The idea began at a conference on Korean re-unification organized by General Colin L. Powell and the Colin Powell Center, where director Savanna Washington was a graduate Fellow. Through verité footage from inside North Korea, interviews with North Korean refugees, long-time aid workers, scholars, and experts on the topic, this documentary provides an authentic, on the ground perspective of the lives, struggles, and humanity of the people of North Korea.

Not Going Quietly is a documentary about a rising star in progressive politics and a new father, 32-year-old Ady Barkan, whose life is upended when he is diagnosed with ALS. But after a confrontation with powerful Sen. Jeff Flake on an airplane goes viral, catapulting him to national fame, Barkan and a motley crew of activists ignite a political movement called “Be a Hero.” Together, they barnstorm across the country and empower people to confront their elected officials with emotional, personal stories to demand healthcare justice.

Searchlight Pictures’ psychological thriller The Night House becomes available for digital purchase Oct. 5 from Disney’s Searchlight Pictures. In the film, reeling from the unexpected death of her husband, Beth (Rebecca Hall) is left alone in the lakeside home he built for her. Before long, disturbing visions of a presence in the house begin to beckon her with a ghostly allure. Yearning for answers, she begins digging into her husband’s belongings, only to discover strange and disturbing secrets. The film also stars Sarah Goldberg, Vondie Curtis Hall, Evan Jonigkeit and Stacy Martin. It will be released on Blu-ray and DVD Oct. 19.

The 2000 dark comedy American Psycho arrives Oct. 5 in a 4K Ultra HD Steelbook from Lionsgate, exclusively at Best Buy.

A complete list of new disc and digital releases, compiled each week by the Media Play News market research team, can be found here.

‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’ Available via Premium Digital Sept. 3, on Disc Oct. 5

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Sept. 3 will release Space Jam: A New Legacy for premium digital ownership at $29.99, and 48-hour PVOD rental at $24.99. It arrives on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Oct. 5.

The film is a remake of 1996’s Space Jam, which combined live-action and animation to team basketball legend Michael Jordan with Bugs Bunny and the Looney Tunes against a team of monsters from outer space.

The new version stars LeBron James, who must recruit the Looney Tunes to play a basketball video game against a team created by the artificial intelligence program (Don Cheadle) that controls the Warner Bros. mainframe and has captured LeBron’s son as revenge for LeBron rejecting his pitch to star on a series of movies for the studio. To save his son and escape the computer, LeBron, Bugs and the rest of the Tunes must defeat a team of computer enhanced NBA and WNBA stars.

Follow us on Instagram

The film earned $68 million during a domestic box office run in which it was simultaneously available on HBO Max for a month.

The DVD and Blu-ray editions of the film will include deleted scenes. The 4K combo pack and Blu-ray editions will also contain the featurettes “First Quarter: Game On,” “Second Quarter: Teamwork,” “Third Quarter: Out of This World” and “Fourth Quarter: The Looniest.”

Additionally, Warner Bros. will continue its partnership with Nifty’s, a social NFT platform, to introduce a second collection of limited-edition NFTs inspired by the film.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Merchandising: New Best Buy Steelbooks Include ‘Space Jam’

Without much to rely on in terms of new releases this week, Best Buy trotted out a wave of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbooks for catalog titles.

Chief among them is Warner’s Space Jam at $31.99. The studio released the 4K version of the 1996 film in anticipation of the July 16 release of the sequel, Space Jam: A New Legacy.

Other 4K Steelbooks available at Best Buy starting this week include three Universal Pictures’ titles for $24.99 each: Howard the Duck, Mortal Engines and Scott Pilgrim vs the World.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Best Buy also touted a promotion selling 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs of Marvel Studios movies at $17.99 each, in anticipation of the July 9 release of Black Widow.

Digital retailers such as Vudu have been selling the Marvel movies in UHD for $7.99 each.