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SPACE JAM

While I’ve never exactly sang the praises of SPACE JAM ($20) from the highest mountain, the film proves to be a fairly amusing mix of animation and live action- with a decidedly commercial appeal. All of the classic Warner Bros. animated characters are on parade in SPACE JAM, and for the feature, they are teamed with legendary basketball player Michael Jordan- hence the commercial appeal (let us not forget all those 90’s era commercials featuring Mike and his "Space Jam Buddies" cross promoting long distance service). Certainly, the talents of such classic animation directors as Bob Clampett and Chuck Jones are missed on this production, but SPACE JAM does manage some amusing charms of its own.

The plot of SPACE JAM finds that a group of tiny aliens that have come to Earth, with the intention of enslaving the Looney Tunes characters and forcing them to work at an intergalactic theme park (did the Six Flags PR department approve this script?). However, Bugs, Daffy and the rest of the gang manage to outwit their potential kidnappers- getting them to agree to a winner take all game of basketball. Unfortunately for our heroes, those itty-bitty aliens manage to steal the talents of some of the NBA’s best players and transform into a group of basketball playing Monstars. Now facing real opponents, the desperate Looney Tunes convince a baseball playing Michael Jordan to come out of basketball retirement… and to save them from perpetual servitude in outer space. The cast of SPACE JAM also includes Wayne Knight, a hilarious Bill Murray, plus Theresa Randle, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing and the vocal talents of Danny DeVito.

Warner Home Video has made SPACE JAM available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. SPACE JAM has been nicely upgraded to high definition with a very respectable 1080p presentation that still manages to blow the previous standard definition releases out of the water. Of course the SPACE JAM visuals tend to be have some issues relating to how the film was shot and composited in postproduction. For the live action sequences, close-ups almost always look best, with medium to long shots displaying varying levels of fuzziness and other inconsistencies. The animated sequences are a bit more consistent in appearance and display good levels of sharpness. Sequences mixing live action and animation tend to be on the softer side. Colors are relatively bright, especially where the animation is concerned, but processed shots appear more muted. Blacks are a tad milky at times, but the whites are correct. Contrast is constrained much of the time due to how the film was produced. The elements from which SPACE JAM has been mastered are free from noticeable imperfections. Grain is insignificant.

SPACE JAM is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. As I stated about the DVD edition, the sound design is fairly aggressive and makes good use of all the discrete channels. Unbound by reality much of the time, there is a cartoon quality to the sound effects, which ping pong all over the place. Thanks to the lossless encode, the bass heavy music has been given a nice boost, as have the sound effects. Dialogue is cleanly reproduced and is always easy to understand. . French and Spanish 5.1 channel tracks are also provided, in addition to English, French and Spanish subtitles.

The interactive menu gives one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental features, many of which have been ported from the previous DVD release. Starting things off is a is a running Audio Commentary with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and director Joe Pytka. While not the most informative commentary out there, it does have its amusing qualities. Next is the Featurette: Jammin’ With Bugs Bunny & Michael Jordan, a twenty-two minute program that offers interviews, as well as a brief look behind-the-scenes and a glimpse at some of older animation/live-action materials that venture into the same technical territory as SPACE JAM. Music Videos for Fly Like An Eagle by Seal and the Monstars Anthem- Hit ‘Em High are also provided, as is a Theatrical Trailer.

SPACE JAM, albeit overly commercial, remains looney tuney cartoony fun. The Blu-ray presentation offers a significant upgrade over DVD, but does have some visual limitations due to the heavy postproduction mixing of animation and live action.

 
SPACE JAM 


Space Jam [Blu-ray] (1996)

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DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2011 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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