Lebron James and Sonequa Martin-Green star in player in ‘Space Jam 2: A New Legacy’, an amazing new sequel to Warner Bros. mixed live action/animated basketball scifi fantasy adventure.

Warner Bros. had an unlikely hit on their hands with the original 1992 Space Jam movie. Starring Michael Jordan, the film presented a fictionalized account of what happened between Jordan’s initial retirement from the NBA in 1993 and his 1995 comeback,  in which he is enlisted by the Looney Tunes to help them win a basketball match against a group of aliens who intend to enslave them as attractions for their theme park.

In the new film, it’s Lebron James in the starring role, facing off against an artificial intelligence named AI-G Rhythm (played by Don Cheadle) who has kidnapped his son Dom to force him to play against his handpicked team of basketball monsters. The Goon Squad is back, baby.

While the original film combined hand-drawn animation with live action, the new one ratchets it up to eleven, with not only clean, fresh looking cel animation, but inventive CGI as well, blending back and forth between the real world and the 2d and digital realms as though it was the most natural thing in the world. The original Loony Tunes basketball dream team is back, but there are a lot of additions to the roster of background characters, as Warner Bros. dips into just about every pop culture intellectual property it owns.

We are definitely feeling a Ready Player One vibe here, as a mob scene including everybody from Fred Flintstone to King Kong graces the trailer – instead of the The Oasis, though, the virtual realm to which Lebron is abducted is called The Server-verse. (The “Server-verse”? Oh well. It’s a cartoon. Just roll with it.)

We just had to put the video on slo-mo and pick some of them out. We spotted:

  • The Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo (with the whole Scooby gang)
  • The Iron Giant (who also made an appearance in Ready Player One)
  • The gang of Droogs from A Clockwork Orange
  • Magilla Gorilla
  • Yogi and Boo-boo Bear
  • Fred & Wilma Flintstone and Betty and Barny Rubble (and Bam-Bam) in Fred’s stone age foot-powered car, along with Fred’s dino-crane in a later shot
  • Jabberjaw
  • The Night King from Game of Thrones
  • Captain Caveman
  • Ma Fritelli from The Goonies
  • George and Jane Jetson in their flying bubble car (their daughter Judy appears in a later crowd shot)
  • A Flying Monkey from Wizard of Oz
  • The evil clown known only as “It”, from the movie of the same name
  • Space Ghost
  • Frankenstein Jr. (we’re pretty sure it’s him, we only see him from the back)

The creative approach to telling the story borrows heavily from Loony Toons cartoons, as well it should.

A curious wrinkle is Sonequa Martin-Green starring as Kamiyah James, Lebron’s wife. In real life, James is married to Savannah Brinson, who has been James’ rock through his entire rise to basketball stardom. Theirs is a storybook romance that turned into a lifelong commitment to one another. They have three children, Bronny, Bryce and Zhuri – not one of whom is named Dom. So the film recasts his wife, and changes her name, and then invents a son he doesn’t have in real life – so that raises an eyebrow there.

Also noteworthy is that Lola Bunny, Bugs’ female opposite number on the Tunes Squad, has been redesigned to make her more a real character and less of a hubba-hubba sex joke as she was in the previous film.

To be frank, we didn’t know what to expect from the trailer for the new Space Jam 2 movie, and we weren’t expecting much, let alone to be suddenly filled with desire to see this film. Boy, were we wrong.

Space Jam 2: A New Legacy opens July 16 simulaneously on HBO Max and in theaters nationwide.

-30-