Death On The Nile (2022)

Though WB marketing executives ~hijack canvas, ANL: 10x better than OG ‘Jam by epic meta-fantasy adventure, cyberpunk streetball visual aesthetics, positive black fatherhood/sports & life’s passion themes, vilain, A+ CGI, and LeBron James. 8/10.

Plot Synopsis: NBA Superstar LeBron James and his young son, Dom, get trapped in digital space by a rogue AI. To get home safely, LeBron teams up with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and the rest of the Looney Tunes gang for a high-stakes basketball game against the AI’s digitized champions of the court — a powered-up roster called The Goon Squad.

*Possible Spoilers Ahead*

Official CLC Review

Welcome To The Jam

A ’90’s Sports Epic Live-Action/Animation Classic That ~Doesn’t Hold Up Well Past Childhood Nostalgia, But Broke New Ground: Biggest Athletes Of World Coming To Movies – 25 Years Later, Finally A Sequel

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros. Studios

25 years. That’s how long it’s been since the original Space Jam saw a mid-prime Michael Jordan in the midst of a game-changing three-peat reign of NBA dominance team-up with famous cartoon icons for the game of the century. The anniversary and childhood nostalgia of watching this beloved sports-classic with friends after-school prompted me to do a rewatch for the first time in 10+ years – and I was shocked at how mediocre it was. The film feels far too small in scale and stakes, has questionable aesthetic choices, a mixed villain team, and [despite cartoon zest/joviality and metaphorized sports-capitalism themes] is anchored by a central MJ performance that is.. just bad, somehow unable to even convincingly play himself or lift the uneven screenplay. No athlete of any sport has ever helmed such a film of major pop-culture impact/relevance since, and sports – especially basketball – fans dreamed in cold, isolated fan-art purgatory for decades awaiting a knight in shining armor to modernize, save, and build a new legacy. Make that a king. Finally, nearly a quarter of a century later, proclamation of the long-awaited sequel set the world on fire, especially in context of its patriarch-choice we long expected but never saw materialized – the best player in basketball since MJ wore his same #23: LeBron James. The motto of his foundation and several of his tattoos are promise-centric, and we’re happy to say he came through on the many he made to fans of the original. Though WB marketing executives ~hijack the canvas, SJANL is a 10x better film than the OG Jam by epic-scale fantasy meta-adventure, cyberpunk streetball visual aesthetics, phenomenal VFX world-building, polygonal texture wizardry, pure black creative energy, cartoon lore eulogization, big-ticket action, positive (& advanced for blockbusters) fatherhood/sports & life’s passion themes, full characterization-arcs, crew-metaphorized A.I. villain, and LeBron James.

A Surprising Dosage Of IQ

Themes From The Power Of Sports To Escapist Fantasy Of Video Games In Bad Life Situations To Self-Love, Life’s Passion, Stereotypes, Legacy, Fatherhood Exposition

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros. Studios

Most surprising about Space Jam: A New Legacy is a cinematic intangible it boasts and galvanizes from its opening scene unexpectedly by the conventional blockbuster models and child-focused demographics of its overt-premise: how much is going on theme-wise. The film packs weighty, IQ-ambitious themes from the beginning flashback to the childhood of an NBA Legend – putting a mere fatherless child whose single mother was too busy working multiple jobs to come to his games in the position of having to give up a normal childhood of video games & fun to realize his potential. The power of sports and escapist fantasy of video games are both themes tackled in a mere couple of minutes: how sports is an equal-opportunity playing field where work/grind can triumph over privilege & institution and reward people of any background to rise from the projects to penthouses and escape poverty-stricken bad life situations, and the exact reason we love movies, TV, and video games by their power to help us do the same metaphorically from depressive real world experiences into limitless ones of fantasy bliss. This is all handled within the context of a love-letter remix scene of the original Space Jam’s opening flashback scene of MJ being that one kid unable to even sleep by his aspirational dreams of being the best at what he does at his humble North Carolina backyard hoop. Here, it’s reframed and reimagined with far more intellectualization, depth, and behind-the-scenes gloom to flesh-out the emotion, depth, and characterization as it lays the groundwork for its man-of-the-hour.

The Man Of The Hour: LeBron James

From Fan Posters/Dreams To Deliverance: One Of The Greatest Athletes Of All-Time, The Only Possible MJ Successor, Billionaire Entrepreneur, Social Justice Activist, Media Influencer, Philanthropist, Beacon Of Purity Despite Being ‘The Chosen One’ Since 16 Y.O.

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros.

Fast-forwarding to present day, LeBron James is the NBA legend we all know him as today. From bad fan posters and dreams over the last decade of a reboot/sequel to the classic ’90’s sports epic Space Jam to deliverance, I cannot describe how much of a herculean pleasure it is to see the IP legacy continued by the only possible athlete big enough to fill the shoes [& even challenge the throne] of MJ. One of the Greatest Athletes Of All-Time and quite-arguably the Greatest Basketball Player Ever, LeBron James has changed the face and landscape of sports – as well as how the world experiences them. Over a 17-year career across three NBA franchises (Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat), Lbj is a 17x All-Star, 13x All-NBA First Team, 5x All-Defensive Team, 4x champion, 4x MVP, 4x AP Athlete Of The The Year, 3x ASG MVP, 3x Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of The Year, 2x Olympic Gold Medalist, 2x National High School Player Of The Year, 1x McDonald’s All-American, 1x Rookie of The Year, 1x Time Athlete Of The Year, and the list goes on-and-on.. a truly-unprecedented and unparalleled level of dominance few fields of any medium have ever experienced since he was the #1 pick of the 2003 NBA Draft. Near triple-double career averages of 25.0 PPG, 8 APG, and 7.9 RPG and a 6’10, 250-lbs frame have helped propel him to greatness like a fuelable freight-train, but even then, him being just as much a title-contender at 36 years-old after nearly two-decades of professional athletics as he was a rookie is downright-witchcraft sports has never seen before. LeBron has redefined the possibilities and longevity of a sports career, how the game of basketball is played by his pugnacious refusal to be boxed into one position and instead be able to play all positions 1-5 flawlessly for maximum adaptability to whatever ecosystem in as the ultimate plymouth rock of franchiseability, and even bring championships to franchises who had been in 50+ year droughts to fulfill his raison-d’être of promises like he did for Cleveland.

Full Characterization Arcs

The Screenplay Dazzles W. A Classical Movie Fundamental The OG Jam Forgot ~Entirely: Character-Development Through The Prism Of Parenthood & Expectation-Revisionism

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros.

Off-the court, though, LeBron James exercises just as much dominance and influence on the world landscape. He is one of the most famous, aspirational, successful, and powerful celebrity presences and businessmen of the history of mankind: a billionaire mogul who built an empire from brand and endorsement contracts, one of the world’s top social media influencers & social justice activists, owner of mega fútbol powerhouse Liverpool F.C., and mega-philanthropist of his own charity organization that’s helped open schools, housing complexes, gyms, and schools in underprivileged areas like his hometown of Akron, OH. The fact this was all done without even the need for suits or a college education is groundbreaking – as he breaks every mold of the fabric of American life and racial stereotypes and paves the way for athletes and black culture to transcend fields from politics to entertainment with their platform. This zenith existence of fame, money, expectations, pressure, and athletics has [impossibly] never darkened his soul either – despite being anointed ‘The Chosen One’ and ‘Next MJ’ since he was just a 16 year-old kid by the media who then put a magnifying glass on him the past 20+ years, never once getting into a scandal of drugs, alcohol, corruption, affairs, etc. (even in the omnipotence of cancel-culture in The Social Media Age) like eons of celebrities with a fraction of the wealth/fame have fallen to. A father, husband choosing his high-school sweetheart over supermodels, and beacon of hope, purity, and unbridled charisma, LeBron is – without superlative – our [& most of the world’s.. don’t let the vocal minority of haters who will likely review-bomb this film out of jealousy, racism, insecurity, political difference, or some combination convince you otherwise] favorite athlete and the definitive precedence of how to be a celebrity and use your platform for good. It was only a matter of time before he made the inevitable leap to the biggest stage of influence, fame, and money: the movies, and he’s finally here.

Pure, Epic Sci-Fi/Fantasy Meta-Adventure

The Spider-Verse x Inception x 8 1/2 x Tron x Spy Kids 3 x Wreck-It Ralph x WFRR x Jumanji x The Matrix x Ready Player One x Space Jam, A Brilliant Concept-Pitch; A WB Tour/Theme Park Of Max Pop-Culture

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros.

After the original Space Jam’s train-wreck central performance of an MJ (great as he is on the court) who couldn’t even passably portray himself and looked frequently-disinterested on-screen, I wasn’t expecting much as far as LBJ’s thespian ability on-stages instead of blacktops. I’m happy to say, though, that I was wrong; of course, he’s not going to win any Oscars, but his acting is surprisingly-adequate – in far more ambitious and demanding of a role as his character is taken on a galactic odyssey and expertly-developed across the film. The psychological and developmental trauma he experienced growing up a kid having to choose between legacy/fate/money and normal childhood fun subconsciously influences him to-date; he tragically views basketball as a serious, work-only exercise and business because that’s what it had to be for him, and he strictly enforces the same totalitarian authoritarian monarchy on his children. By no fault of his own, he’s lost his way and the fun/love of the game, expertly-analogized by the fact he takes his son’s handheld with the same contemptuous revulsion his coach did taking his Game Boy away as a kid in the opening scenes – he’s become everything he once hated. Though many of us think we’d like to have a dad like LeBron or MJ [despite the obvious inheritance implications], it’s not quite as good a prospect in the lens of familial pressure, societal expectations, and the public eye. The shy, timid youngest son, Dom, is the perfect exemplification of this – brought to life by a career-making child performance by Cedric Joe we hope skyrockets him by how well he plays this character written with a similarly-tragic childhood fate of loving video games and their design, but being the son of LeBron James expected-to-become a basketball player continuation of the family name/legacy by not only his father, but the entire world.

A Love-Letter To Cartoon History

Looney Tunes Fans Will Be On Cloud-Nine; A World Packed To The Brim With References & Background Eulogization Of Every Classic Moment/Gag 1930’s -> 2021

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros.

The film’s best theme and a massively feel-good one expertly-handled/executed in SJANL is the life’s passion one – breaking the shackles of conformity and expectations to choose your own path and pursue what makes you happy. This is Dom’s guiding character-purpose, the crux of the film’s events, and source for great development of LeBron James as he’s thrown into a universe like nothing we’ve ever seen in the movies. The Spider-Verse x Inception x 8 1/2 x Tron x Spy Kids 3 x Wreck-It Ralph x WFRR x Jumanji x The Matrix x Ready Player One x Space Jam, the film’s concept-pitch is a genius one of pure fantasy adventure: the ultimate theme park ride & a curated museum of movie history: this time through the lens and archives of Warner Bros. The worlds and characters of Harry Potter, Game Of Thrones, DC Comics, The Wizard Of Oz, IT, Looney Tunes, Star Trek, King Kong, Iron Giant, Mad Max, Austin Powers, Casablanca, Rick N’ Morty, Scooby-Doo, Gremlins, He-Man, Animaniacs, 300, The Jetsons, The Flintstones, Yogi Bear, Masters Of The Universe, Men In Black, The Matrix, Robocop, Pirates Of The Carribbean, Back To The Future, The Sound Of Music, The Mask, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, & more (those are just the ones we counted; had enough?) are laid out in a stitched multiversal meta-dreamscape where anything is possible and we can jump between and mix franchises seamlessly. This is an ecosystem of pure movie/TV nostalgic glory we’re shocked any major studio greenlit and gave keys-to-the-kingdom in one feature-film – likely only because of the starpower and name of LeBron James, and likely one we’ll never see again with all these franchises together on the big-screen at once.

A Masterpiece Visual Canvas

The Film’s Greatest Achievement: Pure Fantasy Worldbuilding W. Craftsman Detail, $300M-Like Live-Action/Animation Mixes, & Some Of Greatest Polygonal Textures Ever

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros.

We begin the adventure in Tune World – highlighting from the second Lbj is dropped in one of our favorite parts of the film: its eulogization of cartoon history, meta-comedy references, and SJANL’s greatest achievement in its visual canvas. The worldbuilding is breathtaking: a cartoon planet that establishes the wacky physics, gags, charm, and rulelessness of the age-old fantasy of being in a cartoon instantly when LeBron meets Bugs Bunny and traverses classic setups like the rock-painted tunnel and slapstick/reversal comedic techniques. Not only that, the background of every frame is packed to the brim with nostalgic paeans to the history of Looney Tunes any fan will gush and fall head-over-heels in love with. We’re walked through an elaborately-designed tribute landscape of the cartoon-franchise’s greatest moments across eras to even the 1940’s Golden Age Of Cartoons: the duck v. rabbit season woods of Rabbit Fire, barber shop of the operatic Rabbit Of Seville, evil scientist castle of Water Water Every Hare, viral meme character Big Chungus from Wabbit Twouble, planetary claim flag grounds by martians from Mad As A Mars Hare, etc. Henceforth when Bugs/LeBron steal Marvin’s 1970’s spaceship, the adventure really goes into overdrive: a clinic of meta and pure fun weaved throughout the tapestry of movie history – cleverly related/typecast to each of the Looney Tunes we pick up for our Jam 2.0 roster.

A Marketing Exec’s [& Film Junkie’s] Dream

Franchises: Harry Potter, Game Of Thrones, DC Comics, The Wizard Of Oz, IT, L. Tunes, King Kong, Mad Max, Casablanca, Rick N’ Morty, Scooby-Doo, 300, The Matrix, Pirates Of The Carribbean, Back To The Future, Etc.

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros.

We’re taken into the comic books of DC World for a classic Daffy Duck encapsulating the goofy insouciance and hijinx of Golden/Silver-Age supervillains and a Lola Bunny epitomizing the strong female lead power of a WW. Next, the postapocalyptic desert canyon race of Mad Max: Fury Road, matching the background ecosystem aesthetics of Roadrunner and Wil E. Coyote to-a-tee. Afterwards, we make a pitstop in the $1 Million headquarters of Dr. Evil with graphic matches to Elmer Fudd and Sylvester to its hairless cat. Etc. It’s a bonkers canvas of epic imagination and the punk, subversive comedy we came to love Looney Tunes over in the first place – on the biggest scale imaginable. This type of a meta-feast is exactly the reason why people claim to love films like Ready Player One and Into The Spider-Verse as we do : a blockbuster experience that wows by its eulogization and remixes of historical references in raison d’être. The feeling of love and connection with movie history is also the exact same reason theme parks like Disney World and Universal Studios get millions of visits and hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue every year. Here, we get the same transportive escapism without having to book a flight to Orlando, FL or California beyond our own living rooms and a $10-15 movie ticket/purchase that’s not only only a better deal fiscally by purchase, but one of unlimited rewatchability and 1,000x better VFX without the lines or tourists for one that blows the aforementioned out-of-the-water.

The Warner Bros. Flex

The Only Major Flaw Of ANL Is Not Even By The Film Itself: Bold, Aggressive, Coerced WB Commercialization Feeling Like It’s Always Trying To Sell Itself In Background.. At Most Controversial Time In WB’s ~100-Yr History

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros.

That brings me to the film’s greatest achievement in CLC’s vote: its visual canvas. The ocular craftsmanship on display in Space Jam: A New Legacy is positively breathtaking. From the lush tropical palm-tree fringed blue basketball court overlooking the ocean and hills of LeBron James’ L.A. Mansion to a dream world of holographic VR and Dali-esque surrealisme traversing every movie franchise imaginable recreated with surgical precision to an epic finale big-ticket event of cyberpunk aesthetics and neon-lighted, dark camera-filtered, graffiti’d underground black creative feel matching its streetball playground remix of the game, the film is a visual masterpiece of world-building wizardry. Forget the Green Screen; this is a Green PLANET in ~every frame of 2/3 of the film! That’s not even including the character-work: quite likely the best polygonal texture work we’ve ever seen. The Looney Tunes are multi-dimensionalized from 2D cartoons to real-life with animation so plush and detailed, you can see every hair of fur on Bugs Bunny’s head and desperately want to reach out to the screen and pet it. I thought Detective Pikachu’s texture work was good; the CGI-animation here Is so advanced, it makes ~any other film in the genre feel like a crude, archaic caveman-drawing by comparison as much as it makes the original Space Jam feel like a prototype car with wooden square wheels while A New Legacy Is a 2021 Ferrari Laferrari or McLaren P1 supercharged hypercar-drive. The film must’ve taken $400M+ to make on a visual live-action/animation scale – we comprehensively refuse to believe it could’ve been done in anything less [especially $150M as the reported price-tag] except by pure witchcraft or alchemical black magic.

The Acting Outside Of Its Main Cast

Two Standout Performances: Cedric Joe & Cheadle, A Surprisingly Adequate LeBron, & Major Star-Cameos Challenged By Atrocious Sidelines Acts Amongst Blockbusters’ Worst

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros.

Now, while we do praise WB for greenlighting such an insane canvas, they do over-pimp it by letting their marketing executives run wild: a commercialized flex by the studio at what might be the worst time in the company’s ~100+ year history. The brand has been hit with a barrage of recent controversy, humiliation, and allegations lately by a public [the media has been shockingly quiet about all this] refusing to accept the status-quo’s of eras-past and buy tickets/subscriptions without demanding more from their movies & TV series, as well as ethical purity. Of course, the biggest story of the past four years in the world of movies has been the release of Justice League – both the theatrical and director’s cuts. The 2017 version of Justice League Warner Bros. put out is one of the most hated, basic, chopped, unoriginal, formulaic experiences you’ll ever see in a major blockbuster: a two-hour mess of a Frankenstinian conundrum overreacting to negative reception of Zack Snyder’s DCEU movies [Batman v Superman was bad, but it was again by the fault of WB interfering and messing up editing as well as giving too much of a free reign to a traditionally-violent movie director. Man Of Steel was a masterpiece too advanced for critics and its time as many are – and has since been positively-reappraised by the public] & foolishly bringing in the charlatan director whose style is completely antithesized to ZS’ and got lucky once in 2012’s Avengers to take the reins: Joss Whedon. A trainwreck not only by critical reception [showing they hate DC no matter what and will never judge them fairly, even when they hired an MCU director and gave them exactly what they said they wanted] and the fandom prefer mature-and-darker DC aesehticizations like the Nolan films over the formulaic, goofy, childish style of the MCU, but also box-office receipts, JL made less money than D-list heroes like freaking Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, and Guardians Of The Galaxy for comprehensive failure on the most epic level possible. If that weren’t bad enough, it was also later-revealed that Joss Whedon was highly abusive to minorities in the cast on-set.

The Most Hated WB In ~100 Years

From Racism & Sex Misconduct Allegations On The Set Of Famously-Mishandled 2017 JL To Employing Admitted Domestic Abusers, A WB Needing To Re-Evaluate Mgmt & Moral-Compass; Bad Circumstance Timing Of ANL

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros.

Whedon constantly-antagonized Ray Fisher so bad that he later filed official racism abuse allegations against a Warner Bros. whom have not yet even addressed the lawsuit [yet had the time to announce Ray Fisher’s Cyborg won’t be returning for any future DCEU movies: victim-blaming at its finest]. He also threatened Gal Gadot’s career for speaking out against the stupid script changes he was putting in like reducing Wonder Woman to a boob-plant joke like Black Widow’s in Age Of Ultron and constantly forcing in weird shots sexualizing her backside. That bad PR was on top of the humiliation they received for how much better Zack Snyder’s Justice League is than their original 2017 cut in every conceivable aspect of cinema: from character development to villain to cinematography by unanimous fan and critic reviews, making WB look like they don’t even know how to make or cut a movie by how badly they went out-of-their-way to screw up a masterpiece on the biggest, most pressured failure-not-an-option project they’ve had in decades. Afterwards, they’ve continue to bastardize the DCEU by childishly refusing to greenlight the fantastic apocalyptica sequel pitch and chilffhanger ZSJL sets up: a studio pugnaciously-stubborn, rebuking admittance or growth from their mistakes out of childish pettiness. The Warner Bros. Serververse name the universe is given also sounds suspiciously like Snyderverse from the #RestoreTheSnyderverse viral hastag in what feels like a further jab to the fanbase. Oh, and for a triple-whammy: Warner Bros. just recently announced they are not going to be firing the self-admitted domestic abuser (the audio tapes are all over YouTube; you can listen to her say ‘I hit you’ to her husband Johnny Depp herself, along with Depp’s 106 pieces of documented evidence) Amber Heard from the billion-dollar-project Aquaman 2. Yet, they fired the victim she abused: Johnny Depp from all future projects like Fantastic Beasts 2 – a sadistic reversion of the #MeToo era supposed to be against abuse of any type by here actually rewarding a woman for carrying out domestic violence against a man, when the opposite would be [and has thoroughly to dozens just by accusation alone without half the evidence Depp provided] resultant in him getting exiled from Hollywood for life.

The Soundtrack

Though Production, Mixing, & Energy Are 10x+ By Modern Technology & Refreshing Black Creative Curation True To Game-Feel, Lacks Identity, Range, Lyricism Of Original

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros.

Phew, now that we’ve detailed and caught you up-to-speed on the mess of bad PR and social injustice Warner Bros. has tangled themselves in.. you can easily understand why people are going to hate this movie when it’s essentially just a long commercial for WB flexing all of their properties. They exhibit big “love me” energy/desperation to distract from all the controversy and press and change the narrative to all the good they’ve done in the past: the cinematic equivalent of CEO’s humblebragging about themselves when it’s the movie crews and directors who did the work, or a cheater coming back to tell their wronged spouse “remember what we had before”. Now, while we at CLC completely understand the extreme hatred many have towards today’s WB for this once-in-a-generation mess of a landscape [of which we’ve never seen worse studio mismanagement in our lives], this isn’t inherently a flaw of the film itself – and not fair to LeBron or the crew of thousands whom delivered magnificence, while having no part in the inner-workings at the top of the exec. food chain. Though the population of all the IP’s on screen in the background of every frame the big finale game makes it a bit ~messy to juggle all-at-once with laughabilities like violent murderers and assaulters Pennywise and The Droogs from A Clockwork Orange taking a break to cheer a basketball game from the sidelines, it’s overall handled impressively [while further highlighting how detailed and jaw-dropping the animation team’s work is] in a film like better for the comprehensivity of movie franchises we can bask in the nostalgia of in this ultimate theme park joyride through the history of the medium we love on a new state-of-the-art coaster: easily separating the film itself from studio-politics it has nothing to do with.

The Good, The Bad, & The Cancelled

A B-List Goon Squad & Both The Good (Pepe Le Pew Removal) And Bad (Lola Bunny Redesign Of Faux-Feminist Biology Victim-Blame) Aspects Of Woke/PC Cancel-Culture

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros.

Real flaws of SJANL besides the aforementioned are soundtrack individualism, sidelines-acting, Goon Squad roster-choices, and the good-and-bad of cancel-culture. The soundtrack is good in its own right: modernized 808-booms, hi-hat trills, snare progressions, and energized trumpet chord hip-hop/trap in a finely and smoothly-produced soundscape that pumps adrenaline through your veins and perfectly captures the feeling of pre-game warm-ups before a big tournament epic [as I can personally attest, having played basketball at the varsity HS and collegiate IM levels with multiple now-NBA & NFL players]. However, the soundtrack – like most of rap today as a major reason I switched my listening preferences to other genres – sounds more-or-less exactly the same and lyrically-hollow: mumble rappers yelling barely-coherent, syncopated gibberish with the depth of a toilet bowl and lyrical quality of what’s inside them over good beats that do 95% of the legwork. Don’t get me wrong; there are certainly good rappers who still promote wordplay, artistry, and the poetry the genre was named after like Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Logic, Tyler The Creator, Drake, Kanye West, & Childish Gambino. None of them can be found here, though, in a tracklist of hypebeast ~unknowns that lack the magic, individuality, artistry, and range of the original’s still-iconic one [R. Kelly’s ‘I Wish I Could Fly’ and Quad City DJ’s ‘Pump Up The Jam’: every bit as memorable today as they were in the ’90’s]. SJANL’s soundtrack is a serviceable one (don’t let the old 60 year-old white dudes who only like John Mayer and Nickelback tell you it’s terrible) but easily-forgotten and lyrically-destitute soundtrack that feels kind of like rapper-friends LeBron knows were cashing in favors-for-features.

The Goon Squad & Pawn Turned Agst. King

A Villain W Arc & Reflexive Characterization Who Doesn’t Just Gather A Set Of Monstrous Creatures 1,000x Better Than OG Monstars, But Turns LBJ’s Own Family Against Him

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros.

Next, the good-and-bad of cancel-culture. The film made headlines for its redesign of Lola Bunny and roster choice – and set off a legion of controversy and debate about it. Cancel-Culture can have positive effects like its identification later prompting the removal of Pepe Le Pew: the lascivious skunk whom was always an uncomfortable character by how strongly he went after females who wanted nothing to do with him, refusing to take no for an answer and ~stalking/forcing them out of perceived ‘comedy’ the cartoonists tried to sell us on. It’s easy to see why that character hasn’t aged well and people realized it perpetuated r*pe culture – and was a great choice to remove by how insignificant a character he was anyways [didn’t even realize he wasn’t there in the film until after I checked the Looney Tunes roster afterwards] and how bad the implications of his schtick could resonate with young audiences. Then, there’s the bad and the ugly: the redesign of Lola Bunny. Zendaya does fine with the voice-change [though she stole the role from the original actress & didn’t really need it by how big of a name she is] and I love the strong female lead capitalization by connecting her with the Amazons and Wonder Woman, but her redesign is awful. Sure, Lola may have been oversexualized in the original film, but here they removed all semblances of femininity: she doesn’t even have breasts. This is the part of PC/Woke Culture that everyone hates: reverse-feminism out of oversensitive logical-fallacy. We hate to break it to you, but all [traditionally-identifying] women have breasts – why do studios think an inescapable feature of biology somehow negates the prospectus of them being strong or non-sexualized? That would be like removing the breasts of Wonder Woman or Harley Quinn or positing they’re not as powerful because of them: pure nonsense. The writing is 1,000x more important in reducing oversexualization/gaze and evolving the character into a strong female lead, and the film does that: Lola is in the original film a damsel-in-distress trope love-interest for Bugs who does little more beyond that, but is here one of the strongest girlpower leads I can remember in recent blockbuster epics. So, why make her less of a woman by removing characteristics/features inherently ascribed to them by nature to confuse people into thinking it has to be a choice between being a strong female and having a woman’s figure – as well as alienate entire legions of fanbases beyond hentai & furry to larger contexts constantly-polling her as the sexiest cartoon-character across generations, as well as many boys’ first crush? She used to be an iconic, fun character who kicked boys’ a**** in basketball, but was still flirtatious and sexy while knowing it too – but is now just a bland, nerfed, amorphous, ‘same as the rest’ puddy-character. Audiences deserve partial blame too for ~justifying studios to make these kinds of decisions by how oversensitive they’ve become to these topics: a no-win scenario for WB that they surely deserve more blame for fumbling, but might’ve also been cancelled all the same if they kept her sexy by the pitchfork-mob’s nonsensicalities.

A Phenomenal Villain

The Horrors of AI, Privacy, & The Digital Age Given A Jazzy, Composed Personification; The Highlight Performance & A Metaphor For The Unappreciated Behind-The-Scenes Crew Of Media: Don Cheadle’s Al G. Rhythm

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros.

The sidelines-acting is also positively atrocious. Literally the opening line of the film is one the mom actress can’t even deliver: one sentence about just being on the night shift. There are scenes that are just comical how breathtakingly-bad the acting is: the first one later that very scene, where the child Lbj actor is playing the Game Boy and the coach takes it from him – only for there to be a delayed reaction of like 5 seconds before he says ‘oh… NO!’ like he’s never interacted with another human being before. The one that takes the cake though is when Al G. reveals to the crowd outside the big game that if LeBron loses, they’ll all be stuck in the serververse forever: one guy carrying a DoorDash delivery screams out ‘WHATTTT?!?!?!’ so forcibly and jarringly-intensely, it’s – without superlative – the funniest and worst sidelines acting we’ve ever seen in our cinematic lifetime. Props for that dude being SO into his one-word cameo and the situation (LMAO), but guess no one told him to act even remotely realistically or match with the tone of the film or scene. Yikes. That’s not to say it’s all bad. The main cast knocks their roles out of the park & there are tons of A-list celebrity cameos from Lil Rey to A$AP Rocky to Ronda Rousey to Serena Williams to Bill Murray to Steven Yeun to Michael B. Jordan to Marissa Tomei to Ernie Johnson (some of them in the end credits). They’re also given hilarious comedy writing – like a guy as big and tough as Lbj nerding out about being chosen Hufflepuff in Harry Potter world, Lil Rey’s signature ‘Get Out’ energy of trusting LeBron until he sees Dom fly calling him “Superman, but with a high-top fade”, meta-references to the original Space Jam like Bugs winking at us by describing how the plotlines are exactly the same and even the original Monstars being in the crowd of the game, and the Michael B. Jordan bait-and-switch that certainly faked us out and was hilarious!

Welcome To The Jam 2.0

The Game Of The Century Itself Is An Event-Feeling Epic Of Gladiatorial Sports Action In The Most Bonkers, Fun, Multiversal Way & A Hyperstylish Cyberpunk Streetball Aesthetic

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros.

Back to the positives (with one final negative): Don Cheadle’s Al G. Rhythm. The villain of Space Jam: A New Legacy is bloody fantastic. The horrors of Artificial Intelligence, Privacy, & The Digital Age given a jazzy, composed personification through Cheadle’s chillingly-cool performance, Al G. is the film’s highlight and best acting by the man who showcases just as much dark heuristic/matrix variant malice as he does heroicism from the ‘Iron Man’ films: impressive range/versatility. The character is a clever metaphor for the behind-the-scenes crew of video games, movies, and TV shows: the people who work their a**** off to write, shoot, produce, visualize, pitch, etc. every aspect of development, but can be subject to it all being cancelled and rejected at the flip of a switch by primadonnaic star-actors/resses or CEO’s who say it’s ‘stupid’ or ‘trash’ without even an explanation or careful, respectful consideration of its nuances or aspects. This gives the character empathizable depth and strong grounds for his hatred of a LeBron James whom also learns a thing or two about treating others with respect, and he carries out his villainy with style and cleverness in the most resourceful of ways. He traps them in The Serververse, manipulates Dom into thinking he’s a benevolent angel and to turn against his father for a hint of religion allegory to hit LeBron hardest in his gut by turning the pawn against its king, and gathers a set of phenomenal players for his team for the big game: The Goon Squad. We hate to admit it, but we never really liked The Monstars from the original Space Jam; besides the weird titanic and muscle-strata/vein overdone character-design, their monstrousness in conjunction with their transformation being catalyzed by stealing the talent and persona of majority-black NBA players felt almost like bestializing racist-undertones that made us uncomfortable with its connective imagery postulancies – another good correction by PC/woke-culture to remove them as villains, despite its one stupid one in the Lola Bunny redesign.

The Resurgence Of Tunes

The Pure Fun, Comedic Techniques, & Zany Surgary-Cereal Saturday Morning Cartoon Energy Of Its Eponymous Team In 3D – Each ‘Tune Getting Own Moment/Gag, Balanced

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros.

Here, the new villains are 1,000x more epic in their fantasy-hued, godlike powers/abilities and comic book supervillain CGI-design, plus get the concept of relating them to real-life basketball stars brilliantly and non-racistly by linking them to their self-chosen nicknames. Klay Thompson’s a sniper sharp-shooter who heats up from 3-point-land and rains down threes for a splash-brother name, so his wet-fire dualization of Avatar-like elemental powers is perfect. Anthony Davis’ iconic brow marketing and original team draft to the New Orleans Pelicans as well as insane 7’6″ wingspan make his aggressive midnight-blue avian hawklike archetype a great one. Damian Lillard’s love for comic book movies and fast-paced PG dribble-speed plus fundamentals are extrapolized in the Flash-meets-Iron-Man Chronos, Diana Taurasi’s sneaky sibylline handles being quite likely the best WNBA player makes her a formidable [literal] White Mamba, etc. Now, while The Goon Squad is overall a great set of villains and foes for the big game by their powered-up fantasy avatars, the roster is a bit underwhelming. They should have used the best players in the world of basketball; where are KD, Steph Curry, Kobe (R.I.P.), etc.? I have a hard time believing they would’ve passed on being immortalized in blockbuster history in a movie [and bag] this big and not had a few days of free time in the offseason to film one game. Oh, and don’t tell me they didn’t want to be in the movies either: they have been doing so for years in Kobe becoming an Oscar-winner with the beautiful love-letter charioscuric visual poem ‘Dear Basketball’ and KD doing the ghastly-awful pseudo body-swap movie 2012’s ‘Thunderstruck’ that lives in one-star ignominy precluding the possibility of us believing he said no to this 100x-better movie. Also, while I like the decision to feature some WNBA players for diversity, they succumb to the same problem above by picking – besides the well-known Taurasi – someone so ~unknown, I had to even look up her name [Nneka Ogwumike] even as a lifelong basketball fan who does know the big names in the WNBA: Sue Bird, Candace Parker, Lisa Leslie, & Maya Moore I can’t imagine would’ve all said no, especially given the general public’s (& even women’s) baseline-low interest/reception of the WNBA in comparison to the higher-talent and world-famous NBA. The Monstars and Goon Squad should be the best players the sport of basketball has to offer, and this is.. not that: an opportunity yet again uncapitalized on and disappointing by how great an experience it would’ve been to see a Slim Reaper/Durantula or Splash Bro Curry v. King James.

The Big Game

A Crowdpleaser Delivering On Mjr. Promise: A Bold, Referential, & Wildly-Creative Remix Of ‘Ball Bringing The Jam to The Streets & Pure Cartoon Fun For Kid In All Of Us W. Exposition: Every Part Of Sports Experience

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros.

Either way, the big game is about as epic a sports event as could ever be achieved in a movie – boosted by the sci-fi fantasy and mythological feel beyond the stars as well as the crowd of hundreds of thousands of people and movie icons in the background of its cyberpunk streetball visual aesthetic. The style works as much visually, culturally, and entertainment-wise [as the playground, flashy fun style many prefer when balling with friends outdoors] as it does thematically. We love how it flips its central theme of fatherhood and life’s passion in a dark ironicized way by using Domball: the video game Dom tried to develop but was prevented at E3 Game Camp, as the prism LeBron must play by and beat his son at for the fate of hundreds of thousands [though it doesn’t make sense why those other bystander fans are threatened to be stuck in the Serververse; what’d they do? Also, it negates some of Al G.’s villainy by making him ~tyrannical. What is his plan once keeping them in the Serververse: to be their king or just trap them? It’s never quite explained]. The game also follows the general plot construction of the film; the game begins with LeBron yelling at his teammates and getting crushed by trying to seriously-outcompete The Goon Squad & Dom whom know every facet and inch of the cool-remixed gameplay because he built it, but later realizes the errors of his ways and to just have fun and enjoy the game. As soon as he begins letting his Loony Tunes teammates be themselves, the refreshing irreverence and joviality actually makes them a better team that begins to catch up. Sports are thus extrapolated to the metaphoric device and teacher of life-lessons athletes love them and were raised by them on – showing all sides of the experience of sports in winning, losing, exercise, and fun for one of the most comprehensive and complete visions of it cinematically, handled in a massively-entertaining way.

The Merch & Iconic Sneakers

Part Of The OG’s Legacy For Sneakerheads Was The Now-Iconic Limited Release Merch & Black/Concord Jordan XI; LeBron, Again, Does Better W. Not One, But 3 (!) QS Releases

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros.

The crowdpleasing action scenes feel like a gladitorial spectacle that somehow manages to keep you engaged for its ludicrous 1 hour timeframe of just basketball that takes up almost half of the entire film by how much fun its cast, LeBron James, characters, and behind-the-scenes VFX/score team are having in every frame. There are fantastic meta-references to LeBron’s career and basketball history like a recreation of the iconic D-Wade alleyoop, mention of LeBron’s historic 2016 3-1 comeback win against the Golden State Warriors, Taco Tuesday, LeBron recreating his playoff troll/photobomb face, and Al G. recreating the Vince Carter 2000 Dunk Contest pose when he begins to take the game seriously at the end [clever characterization arc-crossovers having Al G. become what LeBron was at the beginning of the film & game while LeBron grows to Dom’s perspective and finally has fun with the game again]. Every Looney Tune also gets their chance to shine with their own gag – like Wil E Coyote building a roadrunner trap, Bugs freezing people in mid-air while commentating, Goons getting hit by cartoon trains out of nowhere, Tweety being the bird flying around headaches, and Porky Pig becoming The Notorious P.I.G. in a rap battle of stutter-gibberish sequence that exemplifies pure bonkers imagination and cartoon fun like few films I’ve seen recently. The mayhem is of perfect synergization with raison-d’être of Looney Tunes: authenticity to its IP that’s so childhood-reminiscent of simpler times, I don’t know how you could hate it. If you think the 20+ flavor-of-the-week MC[D’s/]U movies are fun, but this clearly younger-focused while franchise/demographic-justified one isn’t, please seek psychological help; we’re tired of the hypocrisy and blatant double-standards between franchises. Kids will LOVE this film – and even the kid in all of us will feel that difficult-to-attain childlike love again, like we’re watching Looney Tunes back in pajamas on a sugary-cereal cartoon-filled Saturday morning.

The Positive Black Representation

Might Be #2 Purest Black Representation In Blockbuster History [After Black Panther]: Music, Visual Aesthetic, Du-Rags, Stereotype Deconstruction, Fatherhood/Sports Themes

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros.

Finally, I want to just commentate on the positive black representation and one of the most important aspects from a freshness/drip perspective of the franchise’s own legacy in the sneakerhead community: merch. One of the parts we love most about Space Jam: A New Legacy is how much it celebrates black culture and creators: the biggest pop culture film of pure black energy and vibes ever after 2018’s Black Panther. The entire visual and sound aesthetics of the film are love-letters to the hip-hop 808-booming, hi-hat trill, graffiti, underground street energy of many black-created extremely-cool artforms it’s easy to see their artists were given full creative control on. The film breaks ground and stereotypes by having black characters be given scientific and technological roles beyond the typical hood-typecasting we see in pop media, and it’s unapologetically proud of its heritage and culture by details like LeBron literally wearing a du-rag [traditionally-cinematized as hood-only, lower couture] in his $50M+ Los Angeles mansion. The film also furthers this with one of the most positive representations of black fatherhood [& fatherhood in general] ever on-screen as LeBron learns how to properly express his love for his son and that bond he at-first misguides through psychological and developmental circumstances common in many child-sports fathers to overcome the preconception sons have to carry their father’s legacy by their rules instead of doing what they love and have passion for. Oh, and the blue/orange and purple/black Toon & Good Squad uniforms, as well as the costume design throughout, is extremely fresh and sure to sell millions on Nike websites. The merchandise of the hour every sneakerhead like myself waited decades for by how iconic MJ’s signature black/concord OG Space Jam Air Jordan XI’s were is phenomenal and even 10x better [while given 3+x the options]: 1) the wild two-toned Wil-E-Coyote/Road-Runner XVIII’s, 2) orange jersey-matching debut of the Lebron XIX, & 3) new cyberish black/white/orange version of what we crown the greatest sneaker ever designed: the LeBron VIII [with the South Beach ones the G.O.A.T. pair of sneakers we would singularly choose if we could only ever have one for the rest of our lives].


Welcome To The Jam 2.0

Though A Marketing Executive’s Dream By IP’s & WB Flex, ANL: 10x Better Than OG ‘Jam By Epic Scifi/Fantasy Meta-Adventure, Cyberpunk Streetball Vis. Aesthetics, Positive Black Fatherhood/Sports & Life’s Passion Themes, Great Villain, A+ CGI, LeBron James

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros.

Overall, Space Jam: A New Legacy is 10x better than the original film it makes look like a caveman drawing comparatively. The ultimate amusement park-ride & curated studio-tour, the film takes us through every corner of Warner Bros. history archives from The Matrix to DC to Game Of Thrones to Harry Potter to Casablanca to Hanna-Barbera to The Wizard Of Oz for a nostalgic cinephile’s geekout joy in a world of dreams. Sure, it does ~overstuff IP’s in a marketing executive’s fever dream that does feel like a forced commercialization of desperate ‘love me again’ energy and distraction/flexing for WB from the whirlwind of negative PR from Ray Fisher’s racism allegations in the spectacularly-failed 2017 Justice League to employing an admitted domestic abuser Amber Heard in Aquaman 2, but that’s WB’s problem – not the film’s. The canvas built by what easily must be a crew of thousands doubles as a panegyric to movies and cartoon history, brought to life by one of the most striking visual packages we’ve ever witnessed: a cyberpunk streetball visual aesthetic of street-energized underground projects energy that celebrates black creative art-styles it wears as a heart on its sleeve. This is bolstered by pure fantasy-worldbuilding of epic proportions, and CGI & polygonal texture witchcraft feeling like a $400M+ movie in how every frame populates endless background details/characters and every hair on Bugs Bunny’s head eclipses multiple dimensions. The soundtrack echoes the film’s existential celebration of black culture with modernized 808-booming, hi-hit trilling, snare-progressive hip-hop of trumpets that pumps adrenaline through your veins [although it does lack some of the magic, individuality, and range of the original’s iconic songs like R. Kelly’s ‘I Wish I Could Fly’ & Quad City DJ’s ‘Pump Up The Jam’]. Perhaps what’s most impressive about SJANL, though, is how advanced it is thematically for a crowdpleasing sports blockbuster that has no business being this IQ-heavy beneath the concrete and asphault sneaker-laces. The film celebrates the power of sports and media like video games and movies to escape bad life circumstances, both virtually and physically as its protagonist does quite literally. The perfect-choice and only possible successor to MJ is given a magnificent character-arc of remarkable depth, from being a coming-of-age kid who has to give up a normal childhood to elevate his family through basketball to a man who views the game as nothing more than the business and hard-work he was forced to see it as to survive. The screenplay sees him learn to love the game again, and evolve from his new lost status becoming everything he hated as the frigid parent-figure of his coach who pushes their kids into competitive sports instead of what they want to do, taking away the video games of his son to metaphorize what’s done to a young him in the opening scene. SJANL is a celebration of life and finding your passion, as well as parentally-supporting your children as they navigate the waters to make themselves and not you happy – and one of the most positive and stereotype-breaking representations of black fatherhood and black art/culture ever in a major blockbuster besides Black Panther. Finally, besides LeBron who isn’t going to win Oscars but does a surprisingly-fine job acting outside his field [1,000x better than MJ did in ’96, that’s for sure] and atrocious sidelines-acting, there are two standout performances: Cedric Joe’s skyrocketable introduction as the shy, timid, and investable game-programmer Dom James boxed-into-corners by his last name and color, and Don Cheadle’s incredible, surprisingly-dark, powerful villain Al G. Rhythm who personifies the scares of AI like disregard for human life and invasion of privacy, while being a symbolized version of the behind-the-scenes crews of movies and video games often going thankless and unknown to their big stars and having aciculate repartée with James as he is coded on his own arc from friend-to-enemy who turns LeBron’s own son against him: a pawn against the king. The new Goon Squad is fantastic and better on every conceivable level than The Monstars by godlike/superheroic fantasy powers and abilities, but feel like a bench-squad; where are KD, Steph Curry, Giannis, D-Wade, Kobe, etc.? Still, the movie was one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had in a blockbuster and slapped a goofy grin on my face juxtaposed with awe at its big spectacle action/sports scenes, as well as fostered ethereal positivity needed in the bleak landscape of COVID-19 in a still-intelligent way thematically. Though WB marketing executives ~hijack the canvas, SJANL is a 10x better film than the OG Jam by epic-scale fantasy meta-adventure, cyberpunk streetball visual aesthetics, phenomenal VFX world-building, polygonal texture wizardry, pure black creative energy, cartoon lore eulogization, big-ticket action, positive (& advanced for blockbusters) fatherhood/sports & life’s passion themes, full characterization-arcs, crew-metaphorized A.I. villain, and LeBron James.

Official CLC Score: 8/10