Space Jam: A New Legacy – film review

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Space Jam and Space Jam: A New Legacy.

I don’t think I’ve re-watched Space Jam since I saw it at the cinema in 1996… so it’s been a while! But the film is adored by many, and has a following of its own within the broader Looney Tunes fandom. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to call it a classic of the 1990s, but I daresay a lot of self-proclaimed “90s kids” would – even though many of them were born far too late to truly warrant the label. But we’re off-topic already!

The original Space Jam was a unique offering. A blend of live-action and animation, a mixture of comedy and sport, it’s a film that’s hard to define and pigeon-hole, and as a result of its premise – and wacky, child-friendly humour – it’s well-remembered and held in high regard even a quarter of a century later. Going back to that premise for a second time always felt like a risky move for Warner Bros. simply because it can be very difficult to recapture the magic of such a genuinely different, one-of-a-kind title.

Promo poster for Space Jam: A New Legacy featuring the Road Runner.

But this is the reality of modern cinema. In the realm of kids’ films – a genre Space Jam: A New Legacy is surely included in, despite its appeal to the millennial generation – Disney has pushed the boat out ever further with its recent slate of remade classics, and in a broader sense the idea of reboots, soft reboots, and remakes is something practically every major film studio is throwing money at. In a sense, Warner Bros. doesn’t really care whether anyone actually likes Space Jam: A New Legacy, because they know that the name and branding alone will convince many fans of the original to turn up and see it no matter what the critics say. The film is, to use an outdated movie industry term, “bankable.”

I recently had this conversation with a family member who lamented the existence of Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story – which is due out later this year, in case you care. They were despondent at the idea that one of their favourite films of all time was being remade, and I can sympathise. Remakes, by their very nature, are aiming low. They can only ever hope to be considered “just as good” as the original, but never even try to surpass it.

LeBron James in Space Jam: A New Legacy.

But remakes serve a purpose, at least from the point of view of corporations. They’re easy money, because film studios know that millions of fans of West Side Story or Space Jam will turn up for the new version – even if only out of morbid curiosity! There’s also an argument to be made that, in some cases, younger audiences aren’t interested in watching films that they deem to be “too old.” Thus a remake can, from an artistic point of view, be argued to bring a story or a setting to a new generation of prospective fans. Whether that’s the case with Space Jam: A New Legacy is debatable; the film isn’t a straight remake. Nor is it really a sequel, instead I think it’s best described as a riff on the original concept, taking some familiar and some new characters and throwing them into a similar – but not identical – story.

That’s the area that Space Jam: A New Legacy occupies. Not a sequel, not a remake, but a riff. A shaken-up copy made a quarter of a century later with, let’s be honest, business and financial reasons at its core. It’s not an artistic piece; it wasn’t made because its director or writer had a burning passion for the wonderful, underexplored universe of Space Jam. Nor was it made because the original film was desperately crying out for a sequel or an expansion. It was made purely because corporate executives at Warner Bros. were looking through their back catalogue in search of something to monetise, and Space Jam caught someone’s eye. If we were being cruel, we might say that Space Jam: A New Legacy is soulless.

Space Jam: A New Legacy could feel, at times, very corporate.

One of the reasons I was curious to see Space Jam: A New Legacy – beyond the vague interest in a follow-up to a film I remember with fondness from the ’90s – was the involvement of Sonequa Martin-Green. Martin-Green plays Michael Burnham, the main protagonist of Star Trek: Discovery, and like many Trekkies I’m always interested to see other projects involving stars of Star Trek. Though I haven’t always felt that Michael Burnham was the easiest protagonist to root for in the franchise, there’s no denying Martin-Green’s talent and hard work, and just like she excelled in The Walking Dead a few years ago, she put in a great performance in Space Jam: A New Legacy. Though her character played a supporting role, it was still great to see her and her performance elevated the film.

I’ve seen more Space Jam films than I have basketball games. Basketball isn’t a big sport here in the UK, and while I have tried it in PE lessons at school way back when, it isn’t a sport I follow, nor do I know much about it beyond the basic rules. LeBron James is among the few basketball players whose names I’ve heard, but that’s really where my familiarity with the sport ends.

Sonequa Martin-Green as Kamiyah James.

Space Jam: A New Legacy felt, at points, like a love letter to its star, which was a very strange thing to watch. Some films can feel like vanity projects – John Travolta’s Battlefield Earth, Kevin Costner’s The Postman, and even to an extent William Shatner’s Star Trek V: The Final Frontier all cross that invisible line, and Space Jam: A New Legacy comes close. The introduction of Don Cheadle’s Al-G Rhythm is a scene which has him reading aloud a list of James’ accomplishments on and off the court, and the film’s title sequence is likewise a flattering summary of his career. For a film where this man is the star, it makes watching those sequences feel more than a little weird.

I didn’t have high expectations for LeBron James as an actor, and while he won’t be winning an Oscar anytime soon he did, to my surprise, manage to put in a solid performance. His early scenes left me concerned that I’d find him too flat and wooden, as many sports stars and athletes can be when they try acting for the first time, but when the plot got going and he and his son were transported to the Warner 3000 server-world, the quality of the performance definitely improved.

LeBron James finds out that he’s been turned into a cartoon.

While we’re discussing the acting, Don Cheadle was clearly having a great time as Al-G Rhythm, and embraced the opportunity to play a cartoonish, somewhat over-the-top villain for a change! It was fun to see him in the role, and he did a creditable job. Cedric Joe, who took on the challenging role of young Dom James (a character inspired by LeBron’s real-life son) put in a great performance. He was believable as a young man who felt rejected by his father and overshadowed by his legacy, and his struggle to get his dad to “let me be me,” as he put it, was the emotional core of the narrative.

The voice cast who played the Looney Tunes did a good job, but I have to caveat that by saying that none of them really got much material to work with. Most of the ‘Tunes weren’t even secondary characters, but were relegated to background roles. They all got to show off their greatest hits from past Looney Tunes outings, but even the two main players – Bugs and Lola Bunny – didn’t get an awful lot to do for much of the film.

Most of the Tune Squad didn’t have a lot to do.

At the centre of Space Jam: A New Legacy, underneath the cartoon comedy and basketball trappings, was a story that aimed to be uplifting. It was trying to send a message to kids that everyone has different passions and different talents, and not being good at sports doesn’t mean you have no worth. The film also wanted to tell a story to parents about allowing their kids to step out of their shadow and embrace the things they like, to experience different things and figure out their own path. Those messages are important in a film like this, and their inclusion made it feel like Space Jam: A New Legacy had purpose.

However, that purpose was in danger of getting lost in a film that was very commercial. There was a lot of product placement in Space Jam: A New Legacy, including things like E3 (a video game industry event), Red Vines (an American candy), a whole lot of Nike, Mercedes, Dell, Bose, and many, many mentions of Warner Bros. itself. It’s been a long time since I saw a film so heavy on product placement, and there were moments where this marketing ploy felt overwhelming. It adds to the sense I mentioned above that Space Jam: A New Legacy is a corporate product first and an artistic work second.

Space Jam: A New Legacy had a lot of product placement.

I literally cannot fault the visuals and animation work in Space Jam: A New Legacy. For a film to incorporate fully live-action scenes, traditional cartoon animation, 3D computer animation, greenscreen CGI sequences, and even footage from older films is a monumental task, and the animators, CGI artists, and editors did an amazing job not only on the individual segments but at blending it all together. The film’s climax is the basketball game, and this sequence features real actors and CGI creations alongside each other, and it works seamlessly.

Space Jam: A New Legacy is thus a visually impressive film. Not every element is unique or beautiful in its own right, but the technical skill required to bring so many different things into the same project is truly impressive. Aesthetics are a matter of personal taste, and I’m sure some folks will criticise some of the designs used for the characters and settings, but on the whole I felt what was presented on screen looked fantastic, and unlike in many CGI-heavy titles, I honestly couldn’t find fault; there were literally zero moments where the animation work didn’t hit the target it was aiming for. That’s something I find quite amazing.

The film did well to blend so many different elements seamlessly.

There were a lot of callbacks and references to other Warner Bros. properties, including a number of scenes from famous films that the characters were inserted into à la Forrest Gump. This was unexpected, but many of these scenes and cameo appearances were funny and added a lot to the film. Space Jam: A New Legacy has a pretty childish sense of humour, but sometimes that’s perfectly fine, and its comedy generally stuck the landing as far as I’m concerned.

Seeing characters from other franchises, like the Night King from Game of Thrones or the titular characters from Rick and Morty meant that there was something for adults to laugh at too, and though the humour was hardly sophisticated, it was, at points, more than simple cartoon slapstick. Perhaps younger viewers will cringe at things like Porky’s awkward rap battle, but you know what? I’m going to admit right now that I found that whole sequence – and many others – hilarious!

LeBron James and the Tune Squad.

In fact, despite initially having pretty low expectations for the film, there were plenty of enjoyable moments under the corporate fluff, and I found myself chuckling more than I thought. Though the narrative was silly – playing a computerised basketball game in order to win freedom – the basic premise underlying it was a father learning to connect with his son and embrace what makes him special instead of trying to push him in a certain direction. That story shone through the cartoon wackiness at key moments, and was just enough of an emotional force to make Space Jam: A New Legacy a more enjoyable film than I might’ve thought.

Was it the perfect film, or the perfect vehicle for telling this kind of story about bridging the gap and coming to an understanding? Perhaps not. Its commercial aspects certainly detracted from that message at points, which was a shame. Also, in a film which was supposedly half about basketball and half about the Looney Tunes, the cartoon characters themselves didn’t exactly get much time in the spotlight. That was perhaps the biggest let-down for me, as it made the film feel less like “basketball meets Looney Tunes” and more like a LeBron James vehicle with some cartoon trappings.

Despite that, however, I had fun with Space Jam: A New Legacy. It probably wasn’t as good as the original – as films of this nature seldom are – but it was visually impressive, had a narrative that was relatable for kids and for adults, and the quality of the acting performance from its lead took me a little by surprise. All in all, it was a perfectly entertaining way to spend a couple of hours.

Space Jam: A New Legacy is out now in cinemas in the United Kingdom, United States, and certain other countries and territories. Space Jam: A New Legacy is available to stream on HBO Max in the United States, and will come to streaming platforms in other countries and territories at an unspecified later date. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

We’re halfway through 2021!

It’s the last day of June, and as we bid goodbye to the month we also mark the halfway point of 2021. I think that makes it a good opportunity to take stock and look ahead to the entertainment experiences that lie before us between now and Christmas.

Pandemic-related disruptions continue across the entertainment industry, but after more than a year of evolving working practices due to coronavirus, I think it’s not unfair to say that many more projects have managed to enter or remain in production over the last few months than were able to at this point last year. This bodes well for upcoming titles across film, television, and video games, and today I’m going to pick out a small selection of each that I’m looking forward to before the end of the year.


It’s probably television that has the most to offer – at least for me personally – in the second half of 2021. There are several big shows coming up that I can’t wait to get stuck into, and I’m sure you can probably guess what some of them are!

Number 1: Star Trek: Discovery Season 4

Discovery’s third season was an entertaining ride, and succeeded at establishing the 32nd Century and the Federation’s place in it. In the aftermath of the Burn – the galaxy-wide catastrophe which devastated known space – and the shortage of dilithium, Season 4 will hopefully see the crew beginning to pick up the pieces.

The trailer for Season 4, which was shown off in April as part of Star Trek’s First Contact Day digital event, also showed Captain Burnham and the crew facing off against a “gravitational anomaly” which seemed to be wreaking havoc with the ship and the Federation at large. What is the “gravitational anomaly?” I don’t know – though I have a few theories! We’ll find out more when Discovery Season 4 premieres on Paramount+ (and on Netflix internationally) in the autumn.

Number 2: Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2

After a hilarious first season, Lower Decks is returning to our screens in August – and this time Star Trek fans the world over should be able to watch the show together. Season 1 had the difficult task of taking Star Trek into the realm of animated comedy for the first time. Having proven to be a success with that concept, Season 2 can let its hair down and really double down on what fans loved last year.

There are a couple of lingering storylines left over from the Season 1 finale that I’m genuinely interested in seeing resolved. But beyond that, I can’t wait for more wacky Star Trek-themed hijinks with Mariner, Boimler, Rutherford, and Tendi! Luckily we won’t have to wait too long for this one; Lower Decks Season 2 will debut on Paramount+ (and on Amazon Prime Video internationally) on the 12th of August – barely six weeks away!

Number 3: Star Trek: Prodigy

This one has to be tentative. Upcoming children’s show Star Trek: Prodigy has been suggested for a 2021 broadcast, but with no date confirmed as of yet, and with the aforementioned Lower Decks and Discovery taking up the Star Trek broadcast slots for much of the rest of the year, I don’t know where ViacomCBS plans to fit Prodigy in.

Despite that, as we continue to learn more details about the series, it sounds genuinely interesting and looks set to be a lot of fun. The best kids’ shows manage to have something to offer adults as well, and I hope Prodigy can manage to do that while retaining an atmosphere that’s fun for children. Out of all the recent Star Trek projects, Prodigy feels like it has the most potential to introduce the franchise to a new generation of fans. There’s currently no date on the calendar, so watch this space.

Number 4: Rick & Morty Season 5

We’ve already had two episodes of the fifth season of Rick & Morty, but there are eight more to come over the next few weeks! The trademark brand of wacky, non-sequitur humour that the show is known for is still present, and it continues to be a barrel of laughs! Rick & Morty paved the way in some respects for Star Trek: Lower Decks, and there are similarities between the two shows in terms of sense of humour and animation style.

Rick & Morty’s largely episodic nature keeps the show fresh, and while there are some jokes and storylines that perhaps take things too far, on the whole the show has largely avoided the trap of going over-the-top or falling into being offensive for the sake of it. You know the formula and main characters by now, and Season 5 seems like it’s shaping up to offer more of the same – and that’s a compliment. Rick & Morty Season 5 is ongoing on Adult Swim in the United States (and on E4 in the UK).

Number 5: Foundation

Isaac Asimov’s genre-defining epic is being adapted for the small screen by Apple, and it will star Jared Harris. Harris was fantastic in Chernobyl and also put in a stellar performance in The Terror, so I can’t wait to see what he’ll bring to the role of Hari Seldon. Foundation is an incredibly ambitious project; the seven-book series spans hundreds of years of galactic history and deals with some very deep and complex themes.

Apple TV+ is very much a second-tier streaming service. This is its first big push to change that; Apple’s first real foray into big-budget scripted television. I hope the company can use its phenomenal financial resources to do justice to one of the seminal works of science fiction.

Number 6: Dexter

I watched several seasons of Dexter in the mid/late-2000s, but eventually the series started to feel repetitive so I switched off. I’m curious, however, to see what the passage of time will do for the show and its titular anti-hero when it returns in what has been variously billed as both a “reboot” and a “continuation” depending on who you ask! The concept of Dexter was interesting when it kicked off in 2006, and hopefully the new season can recapture the magic of those early years of the show.

The idea of a show about a serial killer where the killer is known to us as the audience, and not only that but is the protagonist was genuinely different. Dexter’s work with the forensic team was a big part of what gave the show its unique mix of police/detective series along with gritty, violent drama, and I’ll be curious to see where the new season has taken the character – as that will be the key to its success.

Number 7: The Dropout

If you aren’t familiar with the story of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos, it’s one that’s simultaneously riveting and frightening. Holmes and her startup Theranos promised to revolutionise the way blood testing works, enabling people to take blood tests without needing to visit a doctor and in a less-painful way. But it was a fraud: the technology didn’t work and Holmes and her team covered it up.

There have been several great documentaries and news broadcasts going into detail on the Theranos case, and with Holmes and others still awaiting trial it remains unresolved. This adaptation of an ABC News podcast will be the first dramatisation of the events of the Theranos scam, and despite some production setbacks it looks like it has the potential to be truly interesting when its broadcast on Hulu (and on Disney+ internationally) before the end of the year.

Number 8: Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series (full title unknown)

I’m beginning to wonder if we’ll see the first season of this incredibly expensive television show this year. With half the year gone, there hasn’t been much news about Amazon’s Game of Thrones-killer. That aside, a return to Middle-earth sounds incredible, and by taking the action away from most of the characters we’re familiar with from the films, hopefully what will result will be a genuinely different experience that doesn’t try to mimic the films too heavily.

Amazon has thrown cinema-level money at its Lord of the Rings adaptation, so I’m expecting to see something incredibly impressive for that investment.

Number 9: The Witcher Season 2

I’ve never played The Witcher 3 or any of the other games in the series. But the first season of Netflix’s adaptation of the original novels was great, and it’s always nice to see a high-budget fantasy project make it to screen! The first season debuted in late 2019, and I had half-hoped to see Season 2 before now. It’s still possible it won’t happen before the end of the year, but a recent teaser from Netflix suggests that Season 2 is in post-production and progressing nicely.

After such a long break, I feel like I should probably re-watch Season 1 before sitting down to see any new episodes! Henry Cavill will reprise his role as Geralt, and all being well Season 2 will be just as good as Season 1.

Number 10: Tokyo Vice

This true-crime series is based on the memoir of an American journalist, Jake Adelstein, who spent several years in Tokyo. In short, he documented a lot of police corruption during his tenure as a newspaper reporter in the 1990s, and given HBO’s pedigree at making high-budget series, I think there’s a lot of potential here.

Speaking as a westerner, Japan can be somewhat of a mystery. Romanticised by some, ignored by others, the truth is that many folks who’ve never set foot in Japan don’t know the first thing about Japanese life – and Tokyo Vice may just blow the lid off the seedier underbelly of Japan’s capital city in a big way. I’m calling it right now: this show could be 2021’s Chernobyl.


An increasing number of films are coming straight to streaming platforms – or being released digitally at the same time as heading to the box office. This is great news for me personally, as I’m not able to go to the cinema in person. There are some interesting titles coming up in the second half of the year.

Number 1: Jungle Cruise

In 2003 I felt that making a film based on the Disneyland/Disney World ride Pirates of the Caribbean was a stupid idea. Shows what I know, eh? Pirates of the Caribbean was great fun, so I’m hopeful that Disney’s latest ride adaptation will be as well. The Jungle Cruise ride takes theme park guests on a riverboat through – you guessed it – a jungle!

Hopefully the excitement that the ride offers will translate well to the screen. Parts of the trailer looked very CGI-heavy, and I hope that won’t be too offputting or problematic. Otherwise all I can really say is I’m looking forward to seeing what the film has to offer.

Number 2: Free Guy

Ryan Reynolds stars as a video game character who becomes sentient. I don’t know what else to say other than that sounds like a hilarious premise, one well-suited to Reynolds’ comedic style.

Video games have been the subject of many different films over the years, both as plot points and as direct video game adaptations. But no film so far has taken this approach; Free Guy looks set to be a unique experience when it arrives on the 13th of August.

Number 3: No Time To Die

This is the third or fourth time I’ve put No Time To Die on a list of “upcoming” titles. But this time it really is going to be released! Right?! Delayed by almost two years at this point, Daniel Craig’s final outing as 007 looks set to be an explosive and action-packed experience, and hopefully will bring down the curtain on his tenure in the role in suitable fashion.

The film will feature Academy Award-winner Rami Malek as its main villain, and I’m very interested to see what he’ll bring to the table. All being well, No Time To Die will be released at the end of September – and I’m curious to see whether it’ll be released on Amazon Prime Video as well, following Amazon’s acquisition of MGM.

Number 4: Encanto

We don’t know too much right now about Disney’s next big animated film. It’s set in Colombia, so there’ll be a Latin/South American feel. The film will focus on a girl who’s the only one in her family unable to use magic. I think we can expect an uplifting story of someone learning to be themselves and discover their own talents!

Lin-Manuel Miranda, who composed the soundtrack to 2016’s Moana (as well as Hamilton, In The Heights, and many others) is collaborating with Disney for a second time on the soundtrack to Encanto. That alone makes the film very exciting and worth checking out. Currently Disney aims to release Encanto in cinemas with no word on a Disney+ premiere.

Number 5: The Green Knight

I’ve long had an interest in the legends of King Arthur, and this film adaptation of one of the lesser-known Arthurian works looks set to be interesting at the very least. I got almost a horror or supernatural vibe from the trailer for The Green Knight, and while I’m not a big horror fan personally, I think the film has potential.

I’m not familiar with the director or most of the cast, so I can’t comment on the film’s pedigree. But with a decent budget and solid source material, this could be an interesting one to watch when it arrives at the end of July.

Number 6: Space Jam: A New Legacy

I don’t think I’ve re-watched the original Space Jam since it was released in 1996. But despite that, the idea of a sequel to the fun basketball-meets-Looney Tunes flick seems like it’ll be a lot of fun! Starring Star Trek: Discovery’s Sonequa Martin-Green alongside basketball legend LeBron James, the film looks set to follow a similar formula to its famous ’90s predecessor.

Nostalgia is a big deal in entertainment at the moment, so I’m not surprised to see ’90s hits like Space Jam being brought back. Hopefully A New Legacy can live up to the original film when it’s released in just a couple of weeks’ time.

Number 7: Dune

As with Foundation above, Dune is an adaptation of an absolutely iconic work of science-fiction. Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel has been notoriously difficult to bring to the screen, and while this version is the first part of a duology, in many respects the complicated story might be better served as a television series than in the cinema.

Despite that, however, I’m looking forward to Dune’s November premiere. A huge budget, visual effects that look outstanding, and a star-studded cast will hopefully all come together to make this latest adaptation a success.

Number 8: Top Gun: Maverick

It’s been a long time since I saw Top Gun, the film which propelled Tom Cruise to superstardom. To produce a sequel 35 years after the original film is, in some respects, a risk. But as already mentioned, nostalgia is a huge driving force in the modern entertainment industry, and with Cruise stepping back into the shoes of fighter pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, there’s already been a huge amount of interest.

Top Gun: Maverick will come to Paramount+ shortly after its theatrical release, which will hopefully give the streaming platform – Star Trek’s digital home – a nice boost.

Number 9: The Matrix 4

Although The Matrix 4 remains on the schedule for 2021, with so little information about the production – not even a name – I think we have to call this one tentative. 2003’s Reloaded and Revolutions seemed to bring the story to a pretty definitive end, so I’ll be interested to see where a new instalment takes the sci-fi/action series.

Most of the original cast are reprising their roles, and Lana Wachowski is set to direct. After the Wachowskis came out as transgender and completed their transitions, many critics have re-evaluated The Matrix and its “red pill, blue pill” analogy through the lens of trans experiences. As someone who’s recently been exploring my own gender identity, I’ll be very curious to see what the fourth film in the series has to say about the subject.

Number 10: Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City

The Resident Evil film series, which ran from 2002 to 2016, is a rare example of a successful video game adaptation on the big screen. Following 2016’s The Final Chapter, Welcome to Raccoon City aims to reboot the film franchise, and bring it closer in line with the video games that originally inspired it.

The video game Resident Evil 2 was recently remade, and that game’s success may have inspired some of the choices made for the film, including the decision to incorporate several major characters from the video game series. Even though horror isn’t really my thing, the Resident Evil films always managed to be the right mix of frightening and action-packed, and I’m hopeful for something similar from this reboot.

Video Games:

Some folks felt that this year’s E3 was a disappointment because of how many games have been pushed back to 2022. That’s another consequence of the pandemic, unfortunately! But there are still a number of exciting games coming before the end of the year.

Number 1: Kena: Bridge of Spirits

Kena: Bridge of Spirits has been on my radar for a while. Its Disney-inspired art style looks utterly adorable, and I can’t wait to give the game a try. There’s always room for this kind of single-player action-adventure title, and the premise of being a “spirit guide” who helps the newly-deceased sounds unique and fun.

I’m hopeful that developers Ember Lab, working on their first game after transitioning from digital animation, will succeed at creating an enjoyable, perhaps somewhat different experience.

Number 2: Bear and Breakfast

One of the indie highlights of E3 in my opinion, the adorable-looking, vaguely Stardew Valley-esque Bear and Breakfast is scheduled to launch before the end of the year. The premise, in case you didn’t get it, is that you run a bed & breakfast in a forest, and you’re a bear. What’s not to love about that?!

The game’s cartoony visual style looks cute, the premise sounds unique and just the right kind of silly, and I’m just really looking forward to giving Bear and Breakfast a shot.

Number 3: The Lord of the Rings: Gollum

This one has to be tentative, as there’s been very little movement on the game all year. Its absence at E3 was noticeable, and we may learn that it’s going to be delayed until next year. However, Gollum is a very interesting project. What could a game where this vile, villainous character is the star possibly have to offer? There have been antiheroes in gaming before, but few characters are as repulsive as Gollum!

And I think that’s what’s so fascinating about this title. Taking on the role of Gollum, and experiencing an adventure in Middle-earth from his perspective is almost certainly going to make for a game that’s one-of-a-kind.

Number 4: Mario Party: Superstars

Though its price seems rather steep, Mario Party: Superstars is bringing back classic boards and mini-games from the original Nintendo 64 Mario Party games. I had great fun with the first Mario Party in particular, and being able to play remastered versions sounds like a blast of nostalgia and potentially a lot of fun.

I can’t escape the feeling that Superstars might’ve been better value were it half the price, or an expansion pack for Super Mario Party instead of being a full-price standalone title. But despite that, it sounds like fun.

Number 5: Halo Infinite

After a disappointing trailer last year, Halo Infinite was delayed and reworked, ultimately meaning it didn’t launch alongside the Xbox Series X last November. Following a year-long delay, the game is now set to launch in time for Christmas, alongside a free multiplayer mode.

Since Halo Infinite will be coming to Game Pass I daresay I’ll give it a go when it comes out. After a six-year gap – the longest in the history of the series – fans will be clamouring for more from the Master Chief, as well as looking to see whether 343 Industries have finally managed to get the elusive Halo formula right. With a television series also in the works, Microsoft is investing heavily in the Halo brand.

Number 6: Age of Empires IV

Sticking with Microsoft, the next big brand they’re bringing back is Age of Empires! After the first three games were successfully remade over the last few years, the launch of Age of Empires IV is the series’ real test. Can Xbox Game Studios craft a title that successfully brings the classic real-time strategy series firmly into the modern day?

Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition in particular has built up a solid fanbase, with plenty of folks playing the game competitively online. A lot of them will be interested to try Age of Empires IV, so the game has the potential to be a success. The original Age of Empires was my first real introduction to the world of real-time strategy, so I’m rooting for the success of the latest entry in the series.

Number 7: Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga

This is another one we’ll have to call tentative. There’s been radio silence from Traveller’s Tales and Warner Bros. since the game was delayed back in April – having already been delayed twice previously. However, I’m still hopeful that we’ll see it before the end of the year – it would be a great stocking stuffer were it to launch in time for Christmas!

2006’s Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga was absolutely brilliant; a comedic, light-hearted take on Star Wars. I’m hoping this new game can live up to that legacy and bring a dose of fun to Star Wars. Maybe it’ll even make the dire Rise of Skywalker bearable!

Number 8: Road 96

I can’t actually remember where I first saw indie title Road 96. But the idea sounds great: a procedurally-generated game in which your character has to escape from a dangerous country. Some of the landscapes shown off in the trailer looked similar to the American Southwest, and I love the visual style.

Road 96 promises “thousands” of routes and non-player characters to interact with, and it sounds like this could be a game with a huge amount of replay value. I’m looking forward to trying it out for myself.

Number 9: Shredders

There have been some classic snowboarding games in years past: 1080° Snowboarding on the Nintendo 64 and SSX Tricky on the Xbox/PlayStation 2, just to give two examples. Shredders, which was announced at E3, looks like it’ll pick up the baton and offer a fun snowboarding experience.

Any game set in a wintry environment has to get its snow texture just right, and it looks as though Shredders has – at least based on pre-release trailers. I’m hopeful for a fun time when this lands on Game Pass in the run-up to Christmas.

Number 10: Forza Horizon 5

Forza Horizon 4 was great fun, and I’m hoping for more of the same from its sequel. The semi-arcade racing hops across the Atlantic to Mexico for this iteration, with promises of more cars, a bigger map, and diverse environments to race through. All of that sounds great!

Racing games often manage to look visually stunning, and Forza Horizon 5 is no exception. The game looks fantastic, and if it plays well too it could be a huge time-sink heading into the autumn!

So that’s it!

We’ve looked at ten television shows, films, and video games that I think will be fun as we cross into the second half of 2021. Summer is always my least-favourite season, with early sunrises making it harder to sleep than usual, annoying insects buzzing around, and heatwaves that make me wish I could afford air conditioning! But there are plenty of things to look forward to even as we roll through my least-favourite part of the year.

Star Trek: Discovery Season 4 has to be my highlight; if I could only choose one thing to be excited about it would be that! But Tokyo Vice is incredibly interesting too, a series which I think could blow up and become the next Chernobyl. Film-wise, Encanto looks great; any project with a soundtrack by Lin-Manuel Miranda is worth paying attention to! Dune I’m hopeful for, and The Green Knight could sneak in and become something more than I’m expecting. Kena: Bridge of Spirits is such an interesting and cute-looking video game, and a rare new IP in an entertainment landscape where sequels and franchises dominate.

2021 still has a lot left to offer, even though we’re already halfway through! I hope you found something here to get excited about – or maybe something you hadn’t heard of that you can add to your list.

All titles listed above are the copyright of their respective owner, studio, developer, broadcaster, distributor, publisher, etc. Some promotional video game screenshots courtesy of IGDB. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.