As a fan of 1980's cartoons, arguably the best decade for kids television, it's always a treat to see a live action re-boot on the big screen. Transformers, GI Joe, He-Man, TMNT, & The Smurfs just to name a few. Well, it's time to add another series to that ever growing list! Hasbro's Jem & The Holograms, although I have to warn you, this ain't your mommy's Jem. Since the trailer was released, the movie has received a ton of negative backlash, mostly from longtime fans of the original cartoon. Some unfair, but some warranted.
The movie version is deliberately aimed more towards today's generation and that didn't sit well with the thousands of Jem fans who waited decades for this live action film to hit the screens. The movie's young cast, Nashville's Aubrey Peeples (Jem), The Boy Next Door's Ryan Guzman (Rico), A.N.T. Farm’s Stefanie Scott (Kimber, Jem's sister), Pretty Little Liars’ Aurora Perrineau (Shana), & CSI: Cybers' Hayley Kiyoko (Aja) send a clear message onscreen as to the demographic they truly represent, and that isn't sitting well with longtime JEM fans.
Let's also mention that the movie's producers, the all-male team of John Chu, Scooter Braun, and Jason Blum are being hit over the head with the fact that the show's creator Christy Marx isn't exactly thrilled with the project. Here's what she had to say on FACEBOOK:
Not surprisingly, I’m being inundated with inquiries about the Jem movie. Here’s what I have to say about it. I’ll answer the obvious and most frequent question first: No, I had no inkling that the movie was being developed or had reached this stage until a couple of days ago. Someone high in the Hasbro PR department thoughtfully reached out to me to let me know about the movie and the impending announcement so that I wouldn’t be blindsided by it. I appreciated that gesture. That same afternoon, John Chu also reached out and called me and we had a long, wonderful talk. I greatly enjoyed talking with him, sharing our love of Jem, and becoming acquainted. Many people wonder how I feel about it. I don’t think I can hide that I’m deeply unhappy about being shut out of the project. That no one in the entertainment arm of Hasbro wanted to talk to me, have me write for it, or at the very least consult on it. I wouldn’t be human if that failed to bother me. My other unhappy observation is that I see two male producers, a male director and a male writer. Where is the female voice? Where is the female perspective? Where are the women? Now, as far as not bringing me on-board, that’s the reality of franchise IPs. It’s their property (HASBRO), they can do whatever they want with it, and they have no obligations whatsoever to me. Was it a smart decision? You decide. Finally, I want to say good things about John Chu. He treated me with honesty and respect. He is sincere, passionate, and filled with a desire to make the best Jem movie he can make. He wants to reinvent Jem for a current audience. His take is somewhat different from the approach I wanted to take, but that just means it’s different, not that there’s anything wrong with it. I urge everyone to judge the merits of his work on the result and I hope he delivers us an excellent, truly outrageous movie."
SO WHAT DID I THINK OF JEM?
With that said, let's talk about the movie itself, having just seen it myself (Thanks MP!). Let me add first that I wasn't a big fan of the cartoon show, since I was more of a Robotech kid so I sat down with no prior judgments whatsoever. If you expect to see an homage to the 80s cartoon, then you won't enjoy this film. Now, if you want a fun movie filled with warm moments and good music then you're in for a treat! Using the elements of social media that are responsible for so many internet success stories, Jem & The Holograms tells a good enough story to keep you engaged and smiling for most of the film.
The performances during the movie are full of vibrance with songs like Youngblood being really catchy, and the colors incorporated into the cinematography creates this trippy, new wave essence that plays directly into the JEM lore. The way they bring forth the legendary Synergy is the only complaint I would make. I would have loved to see something along the vein of an A.I. that comes alive for the band, helping create music just like in the original cartoon. Synergy in this day and age could have been easily brought to life with CGI and used to play tribute to the original cartoon. This version of Synergy was created as a curious robot toy, used to relay a loving message on behalf of its creator, Jems father.
The additions of Juliette Lewis and 80s movie legend Molly Ringwald balanced out the cast, as Juliette's portrayal of Starlite Records CEO Erica Raymond hit the mark very well. I will also add that seeing Molly Ringwald onscreen in an 80s reboot was perfect. I don't want to spoil too much, but toward the end of the movie there is a scene that will bring you back to those Sixteen Candles days.
The Verdict 8/10 Stars!
Don't let all the drab negativity online stop you from taking your daughters, nieces, sisters, etc to see this film. It's not going to win any Oscars, but it won't bore you to death either. It has a great message for the youth of today and although it does separate itself from the 80s cartoon, there is a little treat after the credits for fans of the original show. Speaking of those fans, here's a little blast from the past for you. The original duo that brought Jem to life!