Well, after two previous DVD attempts, in the dreaded full screen format, Warner Home Video finally gives fans what they’ve wanted all along- a 16:9 enhanced, wide screen Special Edition of SPACE JAM ($27). While I’ve never sang the praises of SPACE JAM 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 cross promoting commercials featuring Mike and his "Space Jam Buddies"). 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 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 their two-disc Special Edition of SPACE JAM available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. This is a really nice transfer that is leaps and bounds beyond the previous two full screen DVD offerings. The image is pretty sharp and nicely defined, although the mixing of animation and live action does introduce a slight bit of softness. Colors are strongly rendered and appear quite vibrant throughout the course of the movie- without noise or overt fuzziness. Blacks are accurate and the whites appear stable. The film element used for the transfer is clean, although one will notice a grain structure from time to time. Digital compression artifacts always maintain a low profile.
For a "kid’s movie" SPACE JAM comes with a very impressive Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. The sound design is highly 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. Additionally, the sound track has a driving quality, which is attributable to its use of bass heavy urban music. Dialogue is always very cleanly rendered and fully intelligible. French and Spanish 5.1 channel tracks are also provided, in addition to English, French and Spanish subtitles.
Animation and sound serves to enhance the interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements that have been spread across both discs of this set. Disc one includes 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. A theatrical trailer is also included on disc one.
Disc two starts off with 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. Next are some relatively new cartoons, including: Another Froggy Evening, Invasion Of The Bunny Snatchers, Night Of The Living Duck and The Duxorcist. Bugs Vs. Daffy: Battle of The Music Video Stars offers twenty-three minutes worth of musical performances from classic cartoons with new framing animation. Music videos for Fly Like An Eagle by Seal and the Monstars Anthem- Hit ‘Em High close out disc two.
Third time is indeed a charm as the wide screen Special Edition of SPACE JAM clearly demonstrates. This time out, Warner finally delivers the version of the movie that DVD fans have wanted since day one- a really good looking 16:9 enhanced presentation and some nice extras.
reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied
or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.