There’s a certain likeability factor for this colourful NBA-crossed-with-Looney Tunes animated franchise – mainly built on the ‘good will’ of the 1996 Michael Jordan-starring original.
This time LA Lakers – and former Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers – NBA superstar, and arguably the best player of this generation, LeBron James, does his best to emulate Jordan’s performance a quarter of a century later – and just about does enough.
That’s despite the big takeaway feeling from A New Legacy being one massive ‘infomercial’ for both LeBron – and the whole Warner Bros back catalogue of film franchises.
A major Warner Bros universe seems to be on the way to add to the likes of their current DC Comics’ and King Kong franchises – with everything from Harry Potter, The Matrix, Game of Thrones, The Gremlins, The Iron Giant, Austin Powers, The Flintstones, Mad Max, Rick and Morty and even Casablanca referenced. So a bit like Spielberg’s Ready Player One – but just not as ‘tastefully’ done.
Of course, this one is based around the classic Looney Tunes brand as LeBron gets sucked into a virtual ‘Serververse’ by Don Cheadle’s scheming computer AI ‘Al-G Rhythm’ – in this real-life-crossed-with classic and CGI animation adventure – via his youngest son Dom’s (Cedric Joe) basketball game that he was developing.
Once trapped there, LeBron is sent to the far reaches of the Warner Bros galaxy – think a movie version of their Lego Dimensions video game – to find a team to beat Al-G’s multi-faceted group The Goon Squad (portrayed by some of the NBA’s highest profile stars including Damian Lillard, Anthony Davis, Klay Thompson and Diana Taurasi), or he and his son will be trapped in this computer-generated land forever.
With LeBron only able to muster characters from the Looney Tunes world – Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam, Sylvester, Tweety Pie, Tasmanian Devil, Wile E Coyote etc – and only Lola Bunny (Zendaya) with any basketball skills at all, it soon becomes clear that it’s going to take more than a bit of luck to win the game.
Particularly as Al-G has taken LeBron’s son under his wing – with the father and son having squabbled due to Dom wanting to choose a potential career in video game development over basketball – and manipulates him and his gaming skills to get a nigh-on-unbeatable team.
But via some wooden human acting, the same tried and tested formulaic ‘underlying’ messages, and some colourfully zany animation, this just about gets there to provide an eclectically fun – if little overlong – nearly two-hour jaunt.
My seven-year-old son, Joshua, really enjoyed it, despite the irritability-factor starting to set in – with an unnecessary twenty minutes tagged on to the run-time.
But despite some absolutely shameless product placement – it does seem like one long ‘advert’ at times – there’s still a likeability factor coat-tailing on the sentiment of the iconic first film, and the lovable roguishness of Bugs and co.
It’s nowhere near a slam dunk – but the ball just about drops in after rolling around the ‘rim’ a few times.
At least now LeBron can tick this off his ‘lifetime goal’ checklist . . .
ESP Rating: 3/5
Showcase Cinema De Lux Peterborough
Cast: Lebron James, Don Cheadle, Cedric Joe, Sonequa Martin-Green, Ceyair J Wright, Khris Davis, Lil Rey Howery, Damian Lillard, Klay Thompson, Anthony Davis, Diana Taurasi, Nneka Ogwumike & The Voice Of Jeff Bergman
Running Time: 1 Hr 55 Mins
Director: Malcolm D Lee
Go to www.showcasecinemas.co.uk for all the latest film information & showtimes at Peterborough’s Showcase Cinema De Lux