Additional Bite-Sized Reviews, Nov. 2021, pt. I: ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy,’ ‘Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin,’ and More

LeBron James in SPACE JAM: A NEW LEGACY — Photo: Warner Bros.

In this edition of my monthly movie and television catch-up article series titled ‘Additional Bite-Sized Reviews,’ I take a look at some of the Warner Bros. films that I may have missed earlier this year, but I also take a look at a Paramount+ sequel to a very popular franchise, and a Netflix spin-off film. Is Space Jam: A New Legacy any good? Is the latest Paranormal Activity-film a return to form? Can Matthias Schweighöfer’s Army of Thieves live up to Zack Snyder’s Netflix zombie flick from earlier this year? Well, read more to find out what I think about all of that (and more) in yet another jam-packed edition of Additional Bite-Sized Reviews!


  • What are Additional Bite-Sized Reviews?
    – My monthly movie and television catch-up review series ‘Additional Bite-Sized Reviews‘ is an evolution of the Overview-article section previously titled ‘What I Didn’t Write About.’ I was originally inspired by film critic Peter Sobczynski’s article series ‘Films I Neglected to Review,’ wherein he writes short, or brief, reviews of films that he hasn’t had the time to write full reviews about. Therefore, in articles such as this one, I will provide my readers with my thoughts on select films, shows, and even classics that I feel like giving my thoughts on, even though I don’t have the time to dedicate thorough reviews to them.
  • Why do the bite-sized reviews not include either a letter grade or a review score?
    – In my full and thorough reviews, I like to score or grade what I watch. But since these reviews aren’t as detailed, I think it is fairer to the films and shows to simply just decide whether or not to recommend them. I guess you could say this is the only type of review that is basically ‘scored’ with the classic thumbs-up/thumbs-down-method on my site.

Those Who Wish Me Dead | Film | Dir. Taylor Sheridan | Release Year: 2021 | Seen on: HBO Max Nordic | Recommended?: Mixed Thoughts.

It is pretty much exactly the kind of action-thriller film that I expected it to be from the trailers. Nowadays, these kinds of films probably end up on streaming services rather than in movie theaters which is a little bit of a shame. Because there is an audience for this type of film, and I did enjoy the film somewhat even if it is admittedly a middle-of-the-road film with very few distinctive qualities.

It is a bit of a disappointment, though, because I expected a little bit more from Taylor Sheridan after Wind River (which he wrote and directed) and Sicario (which he wrote). There aren’t a lot of surprises here (though I was surprised to see Nicholas Hoult in the movie), but it is a decent and serviceable film that I think a lot of dads will like a lot. Also, for some reason, it made me think of the fake Entourage-film Smoke Jumpers.

Army of Thieves | Film | Dir. Matthias Schweighöfer | Release Year: 2021 | Seen on: Netflix | Recommended?: Yes.

I did not expect the first Netflix spin-off of Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead to be just as good as — if not better than — Snyder’s first original film in years, but here we are. German actor-turned-director Matthias Schweighöfer was delightful in Snyder’s film, but I was worried that the prequel film focused entirely on his character would be too much of a good thing. It’s not.

Although Schweighöfer may be more delightful in moderation, his quirky character is still fun to watch here, and I greatly enjoyed the overall story in this film, even though it was extremely predictable. Admittedly, my expectations were low, but I was a little bit impressed by Schweighöfer’s film. I loved the story of the Ring Cycle-safes, and the introduction of this story kind of gave me National Treasure-vibes. I grew up watching the Olsen Gang-films, where the main character constantly wants to crack Franz Jäger-safes, so this film was right up my alley in a way.

Not everything worked, though. The Army of the Dead-references sometimes felt shoehorned in (thankfully, only a single scene uses the distracting shallow focus style from Snyder’s film), Interpol was way too cartoonish and clumsy in this film, and the predictable and sometimes quite silly plot can be too much at times. But this movie never feels like an afterthought. In fact, it may be better than Snyder’s film.

Tom & Jerry | Film | Dir. Tim Story | Release Year: 2021 | Seen on: HBO Max Nordic | Recommended?: No.

Strangely, this is the first film I watched after HBO Max launched in Denmark (I did watch a couple of Succession-episodes beforehand, though). I was taken aback immediately when cartoon pigeons started rapping and singing A Tribe Called Quest‘s “Can I Kick It?” Look, at this point, seven months after the live-action/cartoon-hybrid was released in the United States, I doubt that I’m going to be able to say anything that hasn’t already been said about it hundreds of times, but here goes nothing.

I think, on the positive side of things, that there are some fun moments with the titular characters in this film that, admittedly, did make me a little bit nostalgic (though those moments are few and far between). But I never warmed to the cartoon/live-action blend — I thought everything just looked too bright (including the animation) — or, for that matter, the attempts to make the characters feel more modern and hip, and I thought the subplot involving Chloë Grace Moretz’s character — a young woman who lies her way into a job at a hotel — was just extremely uninvolving and poorly written. It is strange, to me, that they decided to focus so much of the plot on human drama that nobody going to see the movie would be interested in at all. It is a movie made for children, but I had hoped for more.

Space Jam: A New Legacy | Film | Dir. Malcolm D. Lee | Release Year: 2021 | Seen on: HBO Max Nordic | Recommended?: No.

Honestly, I prefer the original film. I am willing to concede that I look at the original Michael Jordan star vehicle with rose-tinted glasses and a lot of nostalgia. In a way, it was an indelible part of my childhood, even though I don’t think I’ve ever thought of it as a great movie or anything. I liked it. I probably still like it. It was a fun and relatively entertaining live-action/cartoon-hybrid that for some reason had a pretty solid cast even outside of the animated world. However, I also don’t think I’ve ever asked for a sequel, but here it is.

It feels perfectly natural that LeBron James, arguably the best NBA player since Michael Jordan retired, has now taken over the main role. It makes sense that he is now the one you’d want to go to war on the basketball court with. What, however, doesn’t make a lot of sense to me is that A New Legacy has been turned into something closer to Ready Player One.

Maybe I’m misremembering the original film, but I don’t remember it ever being as reliant on empty references — visual or otherwise — as A New Legacy is (though I’m sure there was some reference humor back then as well). At times, this movie feels like an entire film’s worth of ‘I understood that reference’ memes. It is also essentially a commercial that highlights the power of the Warner Bros. content library.

Frankly, the most interesting thing about the film is that Warner Bros. are essentially the villains of their own film. James is essentially up against their algorithm (Don Cheadle’s character Al G. Rhythm from the Warner Bros. Serververse). The fact that LeBron James, in this very film, essentially declines the kind of idea that the film is built around is so strange to me.

I will also, however, say that the message of the film, which is that your kids don’t have to follow in your footsteps, is a perfectly fine message for a family film. The cast in A New Legacy is also surprisingly solid. I did not expect to see Steven Yeun in this film. Unfortunately, it is a very small appearance. As for LeBron James, he is surprisingly wooden in early live-action scenes. This was a little bit of a surprise to me because I remember him being relatively good in Trainwreck.

Although the game has its awkward moments, the film is at its best when it is just a basketball game, where the Looney Tunes get to do what they do best. Unfortunately, the brand exercise takes up so much of the film, and, frustratingly, it is also an unnecessarily long film.

Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin | Film | Dir. William Eubank | Release Year: 2021 | Seen on: Paramount+ | Recommended?: No.

While Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin is not quite as bad as I thought it might be, given that it was released on Paramount+ with little fanfare, I will say that the latest entry in the film series is quite trite and bland. There isn’t anything in this film that you haven’t seen done better before in The Blair Witch Project, Midsommar, Hereditary, The Visit, or several of the other Paranormal Activity films for that matter.

It is set up as being a film about a young woman documenting her first encounter with an Amish-ish community, which her long-lost mother comes from, and I think that with such a brief description you can still pretty much guess what happens for the rest of the film.

On top of that, the film is riddled with illogical character decisions, and it has a general reliance on jump-scares that you know exactly when will appear. Also, it doesn’t always seem like a found-footage movie. The actual look of the film, the number of cameras they have, and the types of shots they pull of stretches credulity, and I found myself confused as to who exactly were holding cameras in certain scenes.

– Reviews Written by Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.

One thought on “Additional Bite-Sized Reviews, Nov. 2021, pt. I: ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy,’ ‘Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin,’ and More

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