New Space Jam film has some neat moments – but it's not a slam-dunk

Space Jam: A New Legacy

(U), 115mins 

★★★☆☆

BUGS BUNNY, basketball and NBA legend LeBron James make a most unlikely trio.

But anyone who saw hoop king Michael Jordan with the Looney Tunes crew in the original 1996 Space Jam already knows What’s Up, Doc in this sequel.

LeBron plays himself convincingly, as a tough-but-fair dad to three kids including youngest son Dom (Cedric Joe).

Gaming-obsessed Dom wants to hang out in his bedroom writing code and working on Dom World, an on-screen basketball battle. But his dad doesn’t get it.

Tech rules over at the Warner Brothers’ movie lot, too, where silver-suited baddie Al-G Rhythm (geddit?) lives inside the Server-Verse with virtual lackey Pete. Too much carrot juice

When LeBron rejects his proposal to be a big-screen star, the AI villain (played by Don Cheadle) is so furious he kidnaps Dom, digitises him and banishes his dad to Tune World where he discovers Bugs Bunny, living alone and drinking too much carrot juice.

The only way to get Dom back is for LeBron and Bugs to assemble a cartoon classics crew — including Daffy Duck, Wile E Coyote, Tweety Pie and Sylvester and Road Runner — to win a basketball showdown.

But the moment LeBron tumbles into Tune World and we switch into animation, the plot goes awry.

The historic Warner Brothers references are so endless it’s like someone’s had a bet on how many they could cram in.

Among others, the Clockwork Orange droogs, Mad Max, Harry Potter, The Matrix, Game Of Thrones, Wizard Of Oz, King Kong and Superman are all here, piled up in a cartoon car crash.

More enjoyable are the traditional cartoon caper touches and the original Looney Tunes characters staying true to their roots (although the less said about Porky rapping as The Notorious P.I.G., the better).

But, overall, something is lacking here. LeBron deadpans funny lines perfectly, although in this hallowed company the best gags should come from the Looneys.

The Server-Verse also looks surprisingly low-budget and there’s way too much basketball — not just for us Brits.

Some neat moments, but not a slam-dunk.

The Croods 2: A New Age

(U), 96mins 

★★★★☆

IT has taken eight years for this sequel to reach us but the wait was worth it.

The story picks up right where we left it, with the original voice cast reprising their roles as the family of cave-dwellers, still on the hunt for the ideal place to settle in prehistoric times.

Eep (Emma Stone) and former nomad Guy (Ryan Reynolds) are going through the pangs of teenage love, while Eep’s overprotective dad Grug (Nicolas Cage) does his best to hinder their growing need for privacy.

When they stumble upon a utopian paradise con-structed by the Betterman family, Guy’s childhood neighbours, the bonds of family and lovers come under threat.

Meanwhile, a dangerous secret threatens the survival of their safe haven.

This sequel continues the boisterous clash of tradition with modernity that powered the original, with some mighty action set-pieces thrown in.

The animation is glorious and there is plenty of wit to chuckle at. Cage is in his element, as Grug butts heads with Peter Dinklage’s man-bunned hippy dad Phil.

Every character is a joy to behold, especially during a final-act rescue that will rock your socks off.

By Hannah Flint

The Forever Purge

(15), 103mins 

★★☆☆☆

IF you reckoned this patchy series had outstayed its welcome with just the five films, I have bad news.

The title is ominous, hinting at an endless parade of predictable sequels.

Here, the people of America don’t get to commit murder on just one evening in the year – the premise that ignited the series opener.

Now, they keep going well into daylight hours.

That might count as a twist of sorts but really it does little to improve the on-screen product.

It still feels patched together with odds and ends from Mad Max movies, featuring loons in skull masks whooping wildly as they whack all and sundry with baseball bats.

There are attempts to legitimise this festival of violence with a less-than-subtle political message.

And to a certain extent, it does the job. It is hard not to get behind the Mexican immigrants who join together with a Texan family to take on a bunch of right-wing cranks determined to eliminate outsiders.

But the baddies are so cartoonishly inept, they are even less frightening than that Donald Trump supporter who stormed the Capitol in a furry Viking hat.

The only thing that scares me? There is no end in sight for The Purge.

By Grant Rollings

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