Rumour Has It: Space Jam 2 Finally in Production

Space Jam was an all-time favorite flick for me and my brother growing up in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Over and over again, we would watch NBA legend Michael Jordan shoot hoops alongside the Looney Tunes in a cosmic basketball game against the Monstars, the ginormous forms of the Nerdlucks, who steal and absorb talents from Jordan’s NBA peers and transform into the likeness of the respective players–Pound, the orange alien leader, tranforms into Charles Barkley; Nawt (red) into Muggsy Bogues; Bang (green) into Patrick Ewing; Blanko (blue) into Shawn Bradley; and Bupkus (purple) into Larry Johnson–to take the Looney Tunes and enslave them in their failing amusement park by order of their greedy boss, Mr. Swackhammer (voiced by the incomparable Danny DeVito). At one point, my brother and I, as well as some of our friends and relatives, may have secretly wished for a sequel simply because of how good Space Jam was, especially since it brilliantly executed the live-action/animation hybrid filming style just like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? before it. Now, nearly 20 years later and entering the second round of this year’s NBA Playoffs, that wish is about to come true. But not in a way we imagined it at first.

After nearly a year of Internet speculation regarding Space Jam 2, The Hollywood Reporter journalist Rebecca Ford released a statement that Justin Lin, director of four Fast & Furious films since 2006’s Tokyo Drift and upcoming Star Trek Beyond, and co-writers Andrew Dodge and Alfredo Botello are working on a script for the long-awaited sequel to the film starring Warner Bros.’s celebrated cartoon gang, the Looney Tunes. Space Jam 2 will also star not Michael Jordan, but his youngest successor LeBron James.

As a cinemaniac, I’m happy to hear that production of Space Jam 2 is actually underway. However, as an animaniac, I’m very skeptical about how the animation of the Looney Tunes will turn out in the film given the current trends seen on Cartoon Network. Although reruns of the original Looney Tunes cartoons are still being aired at from 10 to 11am on the weekdays, the animation standards for the recent shows have been driven to the ground. The voice-acting’s great, sure. But the problem lies in character design. Yes, I understand the character designs in the original Looney Tunes have been remodified through the decades ’til the death of the original and sole voice actor Mel Blanc, but the designs of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety Bird et al were just fine in Space Jam and Looney Tunes: Back in Action, as well as some animated series that aired some time after, like Duck Dodgers. I know that in Space Jam, the cartoon characters were CGI-animated to a minimal extent because CGI-animation in the 90s was not as advanced as it is in today’s animated films, but I’m afraid that the designs of the characters, not to mention their personalities, are gonna be as distasteful and unappealing as they are in The Looney Tunes Show and Wabbit.

For the athlete in question. I was expecting a plot involving Bugs and the gang summoning Michael Jordan back to their world to play against another team that’s twice as intimidating as the Monstars with a different motive. But since Jordan has retired from basketball for good, save for owning the Charlotte Hornets, Warner Bros. has LeBron James in his place. I believe they made the right choice to pick James to help out the Looney Tunes this time around. He gave a stellar performance in Trainwreck, so I’ll give him a chance with Space Jam 2. I still have his Miami Heat jersey (#6) hanging in my closet, and I will happily wear it the day the movie is released, whenever that will be.

The only question I have now is, how come LeBron James didn’t tweet anything about Space Jam 2?

 

Advertisements

Sonic the Hedgehog: Running to the Big Screen

Sonic-the-hedgehog-wreck-it-ralph-character-guide
Sonic’s promotional picture for the 2012 Disney animated film “Wreck-It Ralph.” No concept artwork for the new Sonic film is being produced at the moment, but this a close second. Courtesy: Wikia

If you saw Sonic among other video game characters in Disney 2012 animated film Wreck-It Ralph, you probably thought that will be the first and last time the Blue Blur would appear on the big screen, right? Wrong!

Sega Sammy has announced Wednesday, Feb. 10 that they are indeed working with Sony Pictures to produce a live-action/CGI-animated hybrid Sonic the Hedgehog movie to be released in…2018.

There were some Internet whispers about a Sonic film being produced by Sony a couple years ago, with some speculating that if the movie is being made at all, it would be released either this year or in 2017. Some fans, like myself, were elated to hear the news of Sonic scoring his own big-screen gig, and some got impatient when Sega Sammy said it would be completed by 2018. I consider myself to be on the border of excited and impatient. Excited because, like the majority of the Sonic fanbase (which I’ve been a part for 12 years and counting), I have been waiting for a Sonic film, or movie industry chatter of it, to see the light of day; and impatient because two years is too long for us to see the final cut in theaters. Then again, the original Sonic Adventure took 18 months to develop.

I’m also skeptical about the quality of the new Sonic film for two reasons. First, one of the laws of the gaming community dictates that films based on video games do not adhere to source material, therefore we shouldn’t waste our money on film adaptations of such games. To wit, the live-action Super Mario Bros. movie (1993). In this film, Mario and Luigi’s (Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo, respectively) plumbing business is being financially ousted by a major construction company in Brooklyn, Princess Daisy studies archaeology at NYU, and Bowser (or King Koopa) attempts to merge the dinosaur-civilized dimension with the human world 65 million years after a meteorite split the universe in two–a story that is the polar opposite of the canon’s plot. I saw some parts of the movie as a kid but not the whole thing, so I saved myself from an incessant head-banging session after hearing from the core Mario fans themselves how badly the movie performed. In 2007, both the late Hoskins and Leguizamo stated in an interview with The Guardian and the autobiography Pimps, Hos, Playas and the Rest of my Hollywood Friends, respectively, that the Super Mario Bros. movie was the worst film they ventured into as actors.
Secondly, live-action/CGI hybrid films suffered a 20-year history of harsh panning from film critics, who deemed Space Jam, Osmosis Jones, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Alvin and the Chipmunks, and The Smurfs as extremely pale compared to the first live-action/CGI hybrid Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Space Jam was stellar because Michael Jordan was cast to play alongside the Looney Tunes in a intergalactic basketball game against aliens who usurped the talents of Jordan’s NBA peers, but I guess the critics attacked the other films mentioned above for implementing the same formula the 1996 Warner Bros. classic created: cast famous celebrities as either the voices of the cartoon characters or as co-stars with their favorite characters. You can guess which film did either-or.

I hope that whoever is directing the new Sonic movie is so loyal to the franchise he’ll follow the source material and keep the personalities of the Sonic characters intact. Whether the director will base the movie on the games, the comics, or even both remains to be seen. As for which actors will co-star with Sonic and Company…well, I’m expecting they will celebrities who have been Sonic fans since either ’91 or ’98. The game series’s voice-acting cast should remain as they are unless either Jaleel White or Ryan Drummond are called upon to reprise their role of Sonic.

For the next two years, let’s give Sega Sammy and Sony Pictures our best wishes on Sonic’s cinematic endeavor.