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BWN Nerds’ Movie Review: Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021)

Well the Nerds are more like…A nerd this week. Patrick and his German Judge powers get full creative control! Space Jam: A New Legacy…oh no. Does it stand a chance with Patrick?

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Welcome to this week’s edition of the Nerd Review!  Every week the Nerds give you their take on a different movie from the Nerdosphere.  This week, Patrick flies solo and reviews the Lebron James/Looney Tunes film Space Jam A New Legacy

The Flick:  Space Jam: A New Legacy

What’s it About: Angry at being rejected by Lebron James, an angry Artificial Intelligence kidnaps, James and his son into the virtual world.  The AI challenges James to a basketball game or be deleted forever.  James must team up with Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Looney Tune gang to defeat the evil AI and save the world.

Metacritic Score: 36

The Nerds’ Take on Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021):

Patrick:  Dave decided Disneyland was more important than the Nerd Review this week so, dear reader, you are stuck with me and my lone review of Space Jam: A New Legacy.  The little O’Dowd made it inevitable I would be catching this sequel on HBO Max come release day.  I had some interest in the movie as I have some affection for the Michael Jordan original.  Space Jam: A New Legacy is nowhere near as good as its predecessor.  I didn’t hate it, but the film is loaded with some seriously annoying flaws.  Those flaws weren’t enough to turn off the little O’Dowd, which left me thinking kids will enjoy the movie in ways adults may not.

The plot of the film is similar to the Michael Jordan original with the twist that Lebron needs the help of the Looney Tunes to join his team this time around as opposed to Bugs and company needing Jordan’s help.  You see, a self-aware algorithm named Al G. Rhythm (get it?) chooses Lebron James as the perfect celebrity to endorse him.  Al manipulate Warner Brothers executives into reaching out to James and pitching him to utilize Al’s technology to feature him in their next film.  When Lebron turns them down and calls the technology stupid, Al devises a way to bring James and his son into the virtual world.  Al Promises Lebron that he can be let go if, of course, Lebron can beat his evil basketball team.  Al then tells Lebron he can assemble his players from any characters in the Warner Brothers Universe…before sending James to Looney Tunes World.

There Lebron meets Bugs Bunny, the lone inhabitant of Looney Toons land.  It turns out, Al tempted all of Bugs’ friends away with promises of better lives in other WB properties.  Bugs tricks Lebron into helping him regain his friends by “helping” Lebron find players.  Bugs does, but only by sending Lebron to lands where other Looney Tunes are living.  Naturally, Al has assembled a team of super evil players by using Lebron’s son Dom’s video game program to make players based on real pros.  Al also manipulates Dom into siding with the goons by playing on Dom’s resentments of his father.  Everything culminates in a basketball showdown between the Tune Squad and the evil Goon Squad.  I won’t spoil the ending, but I am sure you can guess which team won.

I’m going to start with the good here.  The animation in this film is first rate.  Audiences are treated to a classic Looney Tunes look, including an animated Lebron James, to some higher tech appearing computer graphics designed to make the Tunes “real”.  It is pretty well done and the overall look of the movie was the better for the animation work.  There is also plenty of Looney Tune slapstick for audiences to enjoy.  As I mentioned earlier, the little O’Dowd was all for watching this movie and it was the fun Looney Tune characters that engaged him.  None of the jokes/sight gags/etc. are particularly ground breaking, but they were certainly fresh for my child.  Wile E. Coyote and his multiplier machine was a particularly high note.

As far as the cast, the voice acting is very good, with a specific hats off to Jeff Bergman who had the daunting task of voicing Bugs.  Simply stated he nails it.  The real highlight of the movie though has to be the villainous Al G. Rhythm played by the great Don Cheadle.  Cheadle hams it up so, so well and you can tell the dude was just out there having the time of his life.  He’s silly, sneaky, maniacal and fun for the duration of the movie.

Lebron James however was…fine?  He didn’t struggle delivering lines, and he did well interacting with his animated green screen counterparts.  So, what was the problem here?  Lebron James the Space Jam character is kind of a terrible person and father.  He is obsessed with molding his sons into future basketball stars even when it is clear that Dom has no interest in the game.  LeBron goes all Mommy Dearest on Dom when he reveals he doesn’t want to go to basketball camp.  Frankly, I completely understood why Dom would so quickly side with Al.  His dad was an asshole.  It really took away from the movie because I struggled to cheer for the hero.

The other big problem with this film is that it is a two hour long Warner Brothers love fest.  Look, I get that there was going to be some property placement.  That becomes clear from the moment Al pulls Lebron his world.  But, man, they really drill the audience over the head with it.  Did you know Warner Brothers owned the rights to Harry Potter movies?  Well, if you didn’t Voldermort is at the big game to let you know.  DC?  Hey!  They’ve got Wonder Woman too! Although I have to admit, I liked her sequence of scenes with Lola Bunny.  The audience sees King Kong, The Iron Giant, Hanna Barbara characters like Yogi Bear.  I mean Pennywise the dancing f’n Clown makes an appearance.  That’s right, a child eating alien clown is front and center at the big basketball game for no reason I can fathom other than Warner Brothers could use him.

Which brings me to my rating.  If I were rating Space Jam A New Legacy solely on its merit as a film, I would rate it far lower than where I landed.  It’s hard for me to get behind a movie that is little more than a billboard for a giant corporation.  Couple that with a protagonist who is a pretty terrible parent and a fairly mundane story, I should be giving this movie a score under a 2.  But I have to step back and look at this film through the eyes of its intended audience.  So I asked, the Little O’ Dowd what he would score Space Jam and his response, “7/5.”  That tells me that despite my problems with the movie, children will likely love it.  My son isn’t even all that into basketball, yet after watching A New Legacy he demanded we immediately watch the original.  Therefore, I’m going to split the difference here and score Space Jam: A New Legacy just a shade over 2.5.

Nerds’ (Patrick’s) Rating on Space Jam: A New Legacy: 2.63/5.0


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Bandwagon Nerds

Bandwagon Nerds #97- Random Acts Of Genocide

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Bandwagon Nerds Mario
Bandwagon Nerds #97- Random Acts Of Genocide

The Bandwagon continues its unstoppable march to Episode 100, but makes a pit stop at Exit 97 this week. On the show, the guys put a cherry on the top of  This Is Pop as they review the final Episode of Season 1 and offer up their thoughts on the series as a whole. They then recap Episode 6 of Marvel’s What If…?  What If Killmonger not only rescued Tony Stark, but brought the world to the brink of a global conflict? The Nerds also make a quick, but hugely important, stop at the Trailer Park as trailers dropped for (finally) Season 2 of Locke & Key, along with the first trailer for Marvel’s next big series, Hawkeye (Rey Cash could barely contain his excitement). On the second half of the show, Andrew Davis of Popanime Comics (@popanimecomics) jumps on the Bandwagon to talk to the guys about all he has going on at Popanime Comics and his other ventures. Andrew then sticks around to touch on some News from the Nerdosphere with the fellas. Lastly, the guys celebrated Batman Day by talking about The Dark Knight Trilogy. What makes it quite possibly the most beloved trilogy of all-time and how does it stack up with other fan favorites such as the Star Wars Trilogy or Infinity War/Endgame? The Road to 100 gets a little shorter with this extra awesome Episode of BWN!

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About Bandwagon Nerds

Join Patrick O’Dowd, David Ungar, PC Tunney and Rey Cash as they keep everyone up on all things nerd, and maybe add some new nerds along the way. It’s the Bandwagon Nerds Podcast!

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BWN Nerds’ Movie Review: Malignant (2021)

The Nerds tackle some topical horror! James Wan’s new thriller Malignant! Do they love it? Do they hate it? Is Patrick losing his German Judge powers?

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The Nerds tackle some topical horror! James Wan’s new thriller Malignant! Do they love it? Do they hate it? Is Patrick losing his German Judge powers?

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Nerd Review!  Every week the Nerds give you their take on a different movie from the Nerd-o-sphere.  This week, Patrick and Dave review James Wan’s return to horror with Malignant!

  • The Flick:  Malignant
  • What’s it About: Young Madison is having vivid nightmares of people in her life being murdered.  Even more horrifying, Madison discovers her dreams are becoming reality, perpetrated by an unknown entity.
  • Metacritic Score: 50

The Nerds’ Take on Malignant (2021):

Patrick: Ok, everyone, I need to do something out of the gate.  I need apologize to Dave for putting this movie up for the Nerd Review.  I’m not sure what prompted me to suggest Malignant for this week’s movie.  Maybe it was seeing Aquaman and Saw director James Wan’s name attached as writer/director.  Maybe it was the hype train of advertising bombarding me every time I signed into Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Regardless, Malignant is a tropey, sometimes silly and overall bad movie that left me laughing out loud instead of shaking in terror.  I have a feeling this may be one of the shorter reviews I write, and that, my friends, is not a good thing.

Malignant tells the story of Maddison Mitchell, who is plagued by horrifying dreams where she watches various people being brutally murdered.  Before we get there though we get a prologue taking place in some sort of hospital where a patient named Gabriel has been murdering people.  The doctor in charge declares she hoped Gabriel could be saved, but with no hope she must “remove the tumor.”  The film jumps forward to present day where we see a pregnant Maddie complaining to her Husband/Boyfriend/It doesn’t matter he’s dead anyway guy that the baby has been moving and making her uncomfortable.  The conversation with her partner devolves into and argument as we learn Maddies has miscarried before and that the guy has a violent streak.  The argument culminates in the Boyfriend(husband?) violently shoving Maddie into a wall and cracking her head open.  That night, Maddie dreams of her husband(boyfriend?) being brutally murdered by a figure in a trench coat.  Maddie awakens to find that her dream wasn’t a dream at all and that her man is dead and the figure is still in the house.  After a brief chase, Maddie is knocked unconscious.

I won’t divulge more plot specifics.  The rest of the film follows the formula of the first death.  Maddie has a dream of a murder by this mysterious figure only to find that it happened in real life.  Naturally, all the victims are in some way connected to Maddie’s past, specifically her childhood.  This connection leads the police to consider Maddie a suspect, so we have a mystery of sorts on our hands.  Since this is a horror movie and a mystery to boot, there is a twist.  I won’t ruin it here, but it was not challenging to figure out.  All in all, Malignant isn’t the worst horror movie out there, but it is nothing special.  In fact the movie is downright tropey.  Wan really didn’t give the audience anything they haven’t seen before in any number of other horror flicks.  To complicate matters the last 30 minutes aren’t just bad, they’re straight up comical.  There is a big reveal late in the movie that caused me to pause the film, rewind it and bring the Mrs. O’Dowd in to the room to see the scene too and get a laugh.  It’s bad.

There are couple of filmmaking elements I did appreciate even if I found Malignant’s plot to be lacking.  First, Wan does some pretty slick camera work early in the film.  Specifically there is a scene early on where Maddie is running through her home and Wan uses a top down camera angle to follow her as she runs.  It’s as if you are hanging from the ceiling watching her below.  The scene makes for a terrific visual.  The other highlight for me was Marina Mazepa.  Mazepa does the physical acting for the entity in Maddie’s dream.  The physical work done by Mazepa is nothing short of jaw dropping.  It is truly amazing stuff.

In his day, James Wan has given us some truly unique horror movies.  Saw, Insidious, and The Conjuring are all terrific, and better, films worth the watch.  I just can’t recommend Malignant.  The film was predictable, tropey and the last 30 to 45 minutes are just plain goofy.  If you’re a fan of Wan’s work and a completest, sure, check this one out.  Otherwise, spend your time watching one of his old classics to give yourself a good fright.

Patrick’s Rating: 1.68/5.0

Dave:  If you are fan of horror movies, you have to be able to suspend your disbelief. Many horror movies deal with topics and issues that, on some level, seem patently absurd and ridiculous. And, most of the time, that is OK. A serial killer invading our dreams to kill us is crazy, but it is grounded in such a supernatural element that practically all horror fans not only accepted it, but exalted in it. The same can be said for a hockey mask wearing undead man-child, or a doll possessed with the soul of a serial killer, or saying the name of a mythical killer five time while staring in the mirror. It is all craziness and ridiculous but it works because of how the story is told and how the horror is presented to the audience. Then there is the utter ridiculosity of our review topic this week, the latest film from Aquaman director James Wan, an utterly absurd movie called Malignant.

Plot wise, Malignant focuses in on Madison, a woman who has had a terrible history of miscarriages over the past few years. Pregnant yet again, her douchebag of a husband slams her into a wall and she bashes the back of her head. Bleeding badly from the back of her head, she locks herself in the bathroom. Shortly thereafter, a shadowy figure enters her home and brutally kills her husband. This then sets off some utterly crazy, and mostly nonsensical, scenes for the rest of the movie. We learn that the killer is an entity named Gabriel. At first, we think he is Madison’s imaginary friend. Then we learn that he might not be so imaginary after all. Then it is revealed that Gabriel is actually a teratoma, a very extreme version of a parasitic twin. Madison’s real name is Emily and she was in a mental ward for many years with Gabriel existing as a horribly deformed head, face, and appendages extending out of the back of Emily’s head and body. When it is learned that Gabriel is highly dangerous and borderline homicidal, doctors at the mental hospital decide to surgically remove Gabriel. But they cannot get all of him because he is sharing Emily’s spine and brain. So, they remove as much of him as possible, shove what is left into Emily’s skull, and sew her up. He lies dormant for many years but is awakened when Emily’s husband slammed the back of her head into a wall. When Gabriel takes over, his half-developed face protrudes from the back of Emily’s head, she falls into a trance-like state, and Gabriel uses her body in reverse. That’s right…. he/she/it runs backwards and is able to fight like Shang-Chi using his/her/its arms and legs in a virtual upside-down manner.

Beyond ridiculous, right? More like insipidly stupid. The plot is a train wreck in the grandest of fashion. But there is more. Never mind that none of it makes a damn bit of sense and is pretty much a medical impossibility, but it forces you to perform mental gymnastics just to come remotely close to being able to suspend your disbelief. How exactly did Gabriel learn to fight like Bruce Lee? How does he end up with the strength of, say, Black Panther, even though he is still using Emily’s body, and using it in reverse no less? This is where this movie utterly fails. It tries to create a supernatural element and actually does a good job of it for the first half of the movie. But then it completely shits the bed by trying to come up with a quasi-real-world explanation for what is happening that is so beyond insane that it is impossible to suspend your disbelief and, by the end, you just want it to be over. The final scenes of the movie are particularly hard to accept, or really watch, without getting moderately nauseous.

As if all that is not bad enough, and as I am sure Patrick will mention, there are way too many tropey moments for my liking. The movie badly accentuates played out horror movie stereotypes and moments. For instance, Emily/Madison’s sister, Sydney sets out to find out the truth about her sister and so she decides to go to the mental hospital where everything went down involving Emily and Gabriel. Naturally, the hospital is this magnificent structure sitting abandoned on a cliff overlooking the ocean. Even more ridiculous is the fact that not only is Sydney able to break into this abandoned hospital, but the hospital (with no security of any sort) still has all the patient records on site, in the basement, available to be stolen, retrieved, and looked at by anybody. HIPPA violations notwithstanding, anyone who knows anything about how mental institutions handle patient records knows the complete idiocy of this scene. This goes beyond tropey and just becomes completely asinine.

It is not all bad though. As I said, the first half of the movie was pretty good. There were some genuinely tense scenes early on and I was enjoying it…right up until they started to try and explain Gabriel in terms of anything other than a supernatural entity. After that, it went downhill faster than the Swiss Bobsled team in Cool Runnings. There are some really good action sequences and the chase scene through the Seattle Underground was quite excellent….at least until you try and wrap yourself around how Gabriel could have done what he did when he was really just using Emily’s body in reverse. And the scene where Gabriel annihilates a police precinct full of cops and prisoners was quite cool…until, again, you realize that this is all being done by someone essentially operating a human body in reverse.

Uugghhh. I cannot recommend this movie on any level and if I am saying that, you know this has to be pretty bad. The cool action sequences and the largely enjoyable first half of the movie are not enough to overcome the back half of sheer stupidity and daft, idiotic, deranged, and insane insults to our intelligence. There just is no salvaging this disaster of a film. Yes, you can watch it for free if you have HBO Max, but that is 2 hours of your life you will never get back. Your IQ will likely go down if you watch it. Avoid this one at all costs.

Dave’s Rating:  1.25/5.0

 

Overall Nerds’ Rating for Malignant (2021): 1.46/5.0


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