“Space Jam: A New Legacy” (Adventure / Animation: 1 hour, 55 minutes)
With: LeBron James, Don Cheadle and Cedric Joe
Director: Malcolm D. Lee
Rated: PG (Violence and some languages)
Movie review: “Space Jam” (director Joe Pytka, 1996) starred the legendary Michael Jordan. Twenty-five years later, “Space Jam: A New Legacy” debuts with another great basketball player, LeBron James.
Once again, a basketball freak stars alongside one of the best stage thieves, Bugs Bunny. The story is similar for both films, so it feels like a remake rather than a new heirloom.
LeBron James plays himself. James wants his sons to follow in his footsteps, but his son Dom James (Joe) has other plans. Computer programmer, Dom wants to become a game designer.
The father-son relationship is put to the test when Al G. Rhythm (Cheadle), the dishonest artificial intelligence of Warner Bros. Pictures, kidnaps LeBron and Dom. LeBron must work with Bugs Bunny (voiced by Jeff Bergman) and other Looney Tunes characters to win a basketball tournament against a formidable team. It’s the Tune Squad versus the Goon Squad.
In one scene from this film, LeBron James talks to the executives of Warner Bros. of the bad decision to choose athletes as actors. James is terrible in this role but he will win an Oscar. This film builds on his accolades as a sports superstar.
It also draws on comedy via animated Looney Tunes and heavy visual effects. the comedy is poor, even for Bugs and the other Toons. The film scores high for its sophisticated eye candy, but its visual aspects are an overload.
This is especially true for the audience on the basketball game stages. Audiences include the eldritch clown “It” Pennywise, Space Ghost, King Kong, Rick and Morty, The Flintstones, Stanley Ipkiss from “The Mask” and The Droogs from “A Clockwork Orange”. These tertiary figures in the background are a distraction, despite their appeal.
Warner Bros. highlights other creations under its aegis. Viewers can see stylized scenes from “The Matrix”, Rick’s cafe from “Casablanca”, a set from “Game of Thrones” and moments from “Mad Max”. Often, “Space Jam: A New Legacy” is a concentrate of everything Warner Bros. possesses. Think of it as a business synergy led by Malcolm D. Lee of “Girls Trip”.
“Space Jam: A New Legacy” creates a new narrative for new generations and is enough to keep the little fries entertained. For those who have seen and remembered the original, this is simply a repeat capitalizing on the fame of another cart icon.
Rating: C (Stuffed full of visual goodies that are a commercial overload.)
Play in the cinemas of the Valdosta stadium
“Black Widow” (Action / Science-Fiction: 2 hours, 13 minutes)
With: Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbor, Rachel Weisz and Ray Winstone
Director: Cate Shortland
Rated: PG-13 (intense violence and action, language and thematic material)
As complicated as many Marvel Studios films are, “Black Widow” is fun action with interesting characters. It’s the start of a new phase for Marvel films.
Scarlett Johansson gets her independent story. She doesn’t disappoint, although the action scenes cut down on the time to get to know the first Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero and her family better.
Natasha Romanoff (Johansson), aka Black Widow, reunites with her distant family to take down the Red Room, led by General Dreykov (Winestone). First, Natasha must team up her skilled assassin sister, Yelena Belova (Pugh), and their parents, Alexei (Harbor), known as the Red Guardian, and scientist Melina (Weisz).
The film takes place between the films “Civil War” and “Infinity War”. We know how Black Widow’s story ends, but this superhero addition once again puts her at her best in action.
Natasha Romanoff first appeared in “Iron Man 2” (director Jon Favreau, 2010). She was just a feast for the eyes. Black Widow quickly became an integral part of The Avengers. She is at the heart of this film. She and a talented cast manage to grab attention with plenty of action scenes and visual effects.
Aside from the action sequences, “Black Widow” is more science fiction than anything else. Each scene involves a new gadget or brain altering chemical. The techno chatter is interesting but the script uses it a lot to explain just about all the behaviors.
“Black Widow” is an enjoyable action flick at its best. Despite stereotypical moments like elongated car chases and bullets that too often miss their targets, the film has a few surprises in store. Stick to the end credits for one more scene.
Note: B- (It behaves admirably in a complex network.)
Play in the cinemas of the Valdosta stadium
“Escape Room: Tournament of Champions” (Thriller / Action: 1h28)
With: Taylor Russell, Logan Miller and Deborah Ann Woll
Director: Adam Robitel
Rated: R (Violence, Terror / Danger and Blasphemy)
Movie Review: Six people are again in an escape room, where their decisions have life and death consequences. This is a sequel to “Escape Room” (2019), also directed by Adam Robitel (“Insidious: The Last Key”, 2018). The sequel has its thrills, but the best audiences can do is get away from this repeat movie quickly.
Zoey Davis (Russell), Ben Miller (Miller) and four people find themselves trapped in a New York subway. Soon they realize that they are all survivors of Minos Escape Rooms. As such, they are champions who must work together to solve clues to survive in more lethal rooms.
The beautiful Taylor Russell creates a sense of urgency in these films as Zoey Davis. The feminine innocence of her character prompts her to quickly want her to be safe and successful. She’s not a damsel in distress. Russell plays a smart character. Plus, she’s ready to help others survive. Remember she had to save Ben Miller from Logan Miller in the prequel to this franchise. The two are close friends who always help each other.
Their relationship makes more sense than the absurd story. “Escape Room: Tournament of Champions” is an incredible movie. What are the odds of having three women and three men in a subway car alone in New York City when they don’t all live in the metropolis?
One would have to predict quantum mechanics at an omnipotent level to achieve much of what this film details.
This criticism gets lost. This film needs little brainpower to predict that it will end like its previous one. He even leaves the door open for another addition. Apparently, players can’t do the only thing the audience can do: escape.
Note: C (Another coin offers the same story.)
Play in the cinemas of the Valdosta stadium
“Pig” (Drama / Thriller: 1 hour 32 minutes)
With: Nicolas Cage, Alex Wolff and Adam Arkin
Director: Michael Sarnoski
Rated: R (Violence and profanity)
Film review: “Pig” marks a gripping tale about a man and his pig. This man is Nicolas Cage and he delivers a captivating performance.
Cage plays Robin “Rob” Feld, a former celebrity chef based in Portland. He now lives in the Oregon wilderness as a truffle hunter with his trained forage pig. After some people steal his beloved pig, Feld searches Portland with his partner, Amir (Wolff) as a driver.
Director Michael Sarnoski (TV series “Olympia”, 2012) and Vanessa Block have come up with an interesting script. It’s a light blend of “Fight Club” and “Pulp Fiction” with gourmet cuisine. It’s a story of relationships, more importantly, of tragically lost associations.
Rob Feld’s story is in three parts. Everyone captures a unique part of themselves while trying to find their pig. As Feld and Amir scour Portland to find those responsible for the kidnapping, more and more information emerges about Chief Feld and why he became a recluse in the wild.
Like life, this story evolves as it continues. Feld’s life becomes omnipresent, and Cage’s portrayal of the private man becomes more tangible. This is good but it also makes you wait to find the reasons why a man puts his life in danger to find a pig.
The ending may not be what you want, but it works despite all its thematic disappointments. This exists because of Cage’s wonderful performance as the film’s frontman.
The scenes of him and Alex Wolff are captivating. Men differ in ethnicity, age, and socioeconomic status, but their lives are an intertwined association in a way not seen by others. Yet each scene offers an understanding of these men like Feld and Amir understand each other and their motivations for their work.
A lot of non-verbal communication occurs with this script. The times are irritating because some actions are unknown. We must remain patient; “Pig” is an investment. Such is its strength and its noble flaw. It’s work, but it’s worth it.
Grade: B (No bullshit, “Pig” is good.)
Adann-Kennn Alexxandar has been a film critic for over 20 years for the Valdosta Daily Times.