Quantcast

Space Jam 20th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray Review)

space jam coverAs you now realize, it’s been 20 years since the release of Space Jam. This blend of Looney Tunes adventure with the patience of Michael Jordan made for a box office success that was admired by few and battered by others. If your thoughts on Space Jam weren’t favorable back in 1996, you likely will not find yourself suddenly coming around to it. For those who do have some nostalgic joy or genuinely find amusement and admiration for the technological achievement had here, the film is back on a Blu-ray that features no new additional content or much reason to re-buy it if you haven’t already, save for a fancy steelbook package.

a

Film:

space jam 4

The plot is pretty straightforward. The film’s version of Michael Jordan has recently retired from basketball and is trying to make a career in baseball. Meanwhile, the Looney Tunes have been invaded by aliens and end up recruiting Jordan to help them defeat the aliens in a basketball match that will determine whether or not the Tunes are taken to another planet to perform as slaves. That makes it sound darker than it is when this is actually a pretty fast-paced sports comedy featuring some cartoon favorites and Jordan doing just enough to show off his affable personality (as seen in his Nike ads).

There is nothing special about the story. It follows all the familiar tropes of a sports movie that involve underdogs and the price of fame. There’s no real attempt at deep, thematic drama here. One can even take issue with the creation of Lola Bunny, given how she’s mainly around to be hit on/rescued by Bugs. All of that said, the movie works as a fun technical exercise that coasts on the charm of seeing the Looney Tunes and Jordan doing their best to make a spirited sports comedy that can entertain families.

Director Joe Pytka deserves credit for doing all he can to make Jordan’s interactions in this animated environment look great for the time. The film is no Who Framed Roger Rabbit? as far as just how solid the screenplay and merging of filmmaking ideas can be in a time where CG was less of a thing. Still, there are some good gags and enough energy to pad out the runtime, in addition to noting what kind of effort went into making a convincing basketball game that involves Jordan and animated characters.

Whether or not you laugh at all of this is another story. There are some pop culture references here and there (Pulp Fiction seems to have come out of nowhere) and the general zaniness of the Tunes is completely present. Some of it works well enough, even if some of the mischief is toned down a bit. Thank goodness for Bill Murray being game enough to want to really add some improvised energy to this thing, as he’s always welcome to goof around.

Space Jam hasn’t really aged poorly, because nothing about it has really changed. It’s the same as it ever was, which means you can laugh a little and enjoy the animation effort or write it off. It’s not much more than a vanity project of sorts, but WB was invested enough in the idea to do what they could to make it worth. That said, it is fun to see Charles Barkley sulk around after his talent gets taken away.

 

Video:

space jam 1

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail: With no attempt to remaster the film for this latest release, Space Jam looks fine, but nothing special. This is a consistent viewing experience that benefits from some sharp details at play thanks to the HD upgrade.

Depth: Given the blending of Jordan with animation, you actually do get a sense of dimensionality here that does not go unnoticed.

Black Levels: Blacks are strong enough, though nowhere as deep and rich as other animated features that have come out more recently.

Color Reproduction: Colors pop, which is great for a film that features lots of colorful tunes.

Flesh Tones: Jordan and the live-action sequences standout well. Facial textures register appropriately enough.

Noise/Artifacts: The film’s age is less of an issue, given the previous attempt to remove spots and other inconsistencies.

 

Audio:

space jam 7

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French German, Italian, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Danish, Finnish, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish

Dynamics: The film’s lossless soundtrack does plenty to provide the preferred audio enjoyment for a flick featuring Looney Tunes and basketball noises. The cinematic interpretation of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and others means getting a bit more depth than usual and matching that with a soundtrack, Jordan and more. It manages to work quite well here.

Low Frequency Extension: Thanks to some choice soundtrack selections and the basketball action that goes down, the LFE channel gets to shine a good number of times.

Surround Sound Presentation: The balance is well-handled here. All the wacky voices are heard on the center channel, in addition to good care placed on hitting the others.

Dialogue Reproduction: Everyone, human, animated, or otherwise, is heard.

 

Extras:

space jam 6

Despite being the 20th Anniversary Edition, this new Blu-ray has nothing new to offer with the exception of its steelbook case. That’s a shame, as some sort of retrospective (or even just making this a double-feature package with Looney Tunes: Back in Action) would have been in order.

Features Include:

  • Audio Commentary with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and director Joe Pytka – This is a novel idea that features voice actors Billy West and Dee Bradley Baker joking around and telling some stories about the production with Pytka, who is obviously more invested in talking technical. Enjoyable for fans of the film in search of more knowledge.
  • “Fly Like an Eagle” (SD, 3:53) – Seal’s music video contribution for the film.
  • “Hit ‘Em High” (SD, 4:52) – Hear the music stylings of B-Real, Coolio, Busta Rhymes, LL Cool J and Method Man, all in one music video.
  • “Jammin’ with Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan” (SD, 22:32) – This EPK is actually more interesting than you’d think, given the inclusion of some behind-the-scenes footage of Jordan and Murray working with guys in green screen suits to make the basketball scenes work.
  • Theatrical Trailer (SD, 1:15)
  • DVD Copy of the Film
  • Digital HD Copy of the Film

Summary:

space jam 2

I’m all for having cool steelbook cases in my Blu-ray collection, but it’s a shame that is all this new release of Space Jam has to offer. There are fans of the film out there who surely would have liked a little more. Still, the film looks fine and has a strong audio track to make it the best way to currently see it at home. If you’re ready for a Space Jam, this edition has you covered.

Order Your Copy Here:

space jam cover

Share

Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

  1. No Comments