The initial reviews for LeBron James’ Space Jam reboot are now in – but they are not the slam dunk he and Warner Bros would have been hoping for.
‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’, which debuts in theaters and on HBO Max on Friday, has been slammed by critics as an ‘abomination’ and an ‘apocalyptic horror’.
Early reviews have also criticized the film studio for ‘vomiting up all their intellectual property’ by injecting almost every other Warner Bros character into the movie as well as the Looney Tune figures from the original.
Essentially, the film – directed by Malcolm D. Lee – centers on NBA legend LeBron James and his efforts to form a basketball team with several animated Looney Tunes characters to save his son, played by Cedric Joe, from a malevolent computer algorithm.
The villain in this film is the algorithm called Al G. Rhythm, who is played by Don Cheadle.
LeBron James’ ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’, which debuts in theaters and on HBO Max Friday, has been slammed by critics as an ‘abomination’ and an ‘apocalyptic horror’
Vox’s Alissa Wilkinson described the film as an ‘apocalyptic horror’
The film, which had a reported budget of about $150 million and serves as a sequel to the original 1996 movie starring Michael Jordan, also features a series of other characters including King Kong, Willy Wonka, Austin Powers, and the Mask.
The Hollywood Reporter’s Frank Scheck said the introduction of so many characters was only meant to appeal to Warner Bros’ marketing department.
‘It all feels like Warner Bros. ingested an emetic and vomited up all their intellectual property,’ he wrote in his review.
‘Arriving a belated 25 years after the original, which was no great shakes to begin with, Space Jam: A New Legacy doesn’t live up to its grandiose, overly optimistic title.’
THR’s review also took aim at LeBron, saying: ‘Another problem is that James lacks the charismatic appeal of Jordan, who, although no actor, anchored the previous film with his sheer likability.’
LeBron actually addresses his lack of acting in the film while he is in a meeting with studio executives. It is also the scene where his son gets kidnapped by Al G. Rhythm.
‘I’m a ballplayer. And athletes acting – it never goes well,’ LeBron says.
The New York Post ‘s Johnny Oleksinski called the film an ‘abomination’ and said it was up there ‘in the pantheon of misguided sequels and reboots’
The New York Post’s Johnny Oleksinski said: ‘That’s especially true of cardboard James.’
Oleksinski called the film an ‘abomination’ and said it was up there ‘in the pantheon of misguided sequels and reboots’.
‘The original 1996 ‘Space Jam’ wasn’t top-drawer either, but it made a buck at the box office. So, money-grubbing Warner Bros took 25 years to crank out a follow-up that’s far, far worse. And they know it,’ he wrote, adding it was ‘nothing more than forgettable nostalgia bait’.
The Daily Beast’s Kevin Fallon said the sequel ruined his childhood memories of the first film.
‘After 25 years of looking forward to the Space Jam sequel, we instead got ugly effects, crass corporate synergy, and two hours of LeBron James learning what an algorithm is,’ he wrote.
‘I pride myself on grading these kinds of things on a curve. It’s a big-swing blockbuster. It’s meant to appeal to kids. The corporate opportunism is going to be glaring. But you can still do that with a sense of fun and style. Even just recently, Cruella did just that.
‘I was shocked by how cynical the whole thing was. The animation and the effects were confusingly ugly.
‘The whole thing, and I can’t believe my career has come to the point where I am about to type these words, misses everything that was magical about the spirit of Space Jam.’
The Daily Beast ‘s Kevin Fallon said the sequel ruined his childhood memories of the first film
Vulture’s Bilge Ebiri said: ‘It fills a two-hour hole in the schedule, which will keep parents happy, and it brandishes the brand, which will keep shareholders happy.
‘Whether it could have also been a good movie might not have crossed anyone’s mind.’
Vox’s Alissa Wilkinson described the film as an ‘apocalyptic horror’, while NPR’s Aisha Harris called the film ‘the ultimate vanity project’.
And Entertainment Weekly’s Mary Sollosi said: ‘Here’s the thing about basketball: It is extremely watchable. Here’s the thing about Space Jam: A New Legacy: It’s not.’
The Chicago Sun-Times review, written by Richard Roeper, said the film couldn’t be unseen.
‘I’ve never seen anything like it,’ Roeper said. ‘I also hope to never see anything like it again, and I wish I could unsee what I have seen.
‘LeBron says it’s an awful idea, one of the worst ideas he’s ever heard, and he rejects the pitch — and then the movie pursues the exact same path after acknowledging it’s a terrible concept.
‘With the exception of a few clever one-liners and visual gags, it’s more exhausting than amusing.’
The reboot currently holds a 37 percent ‘Rotten’ score on Rotten Tomatoes.