Jem and the Holograms

Jem and the Holograms

In Theatres: 
Oct 23, 2015
Running Time: 
118 minutes
Jem and the Holograms was the first piece of media I was a fan of.  I remember being six, begging to go to the small town video store, staring at each VHS looking for any new Jem tapes. Jem was the first fandom I made my parents sick over because when they ran out of new tapes, I just repeatedly rented the old ones. I even saw the VHS only specials, had the toys, books, and enjoyed daycare specifically because I could play with their Jem toys. I was all in.
You can imagine my excitement when I heard a movie version of my first love would be released. Half the joy in anticipating the release was speculating how a something so beloved would be updated and transformed.What would the music sound like? Would the style be just as outrageous? How would they handle the sci-fi tech that is Synergy
But the then Jem trailer came out and my heart sank. It looked like the story of Hannah Montana dipped in the memories of someone who had once dreamed of seeing an episode of Jem. A story of a YouTube sensation that hits the big time and does soft cosplay of Jem in her spare time; and that is exactly what it was. Instead of radical hologram producing, wardrobe changing amazing piece of tech, Synergy is now the illegitimate tiny robot child of a Furby and EVE that project. The music, excellent, full formed, and catchy as it is, has absolutely no rock sound at all. It’s so out of sync you begin to wonder if the instruments they’re playing are in the music at all.
If you had no connection to the original cartoon, you may have some good, mindless fun. The concert scenes are full of energy and the costumes are pretty outrageous. However, Jem suffers from a lead who is given no defining characteristics. Jerrica (Aubrey Peeples) is so bland and flavorless, that you can’t imagine anyone wanting to be like her.  No excitment, no glamour, no glitter, no fashion, nor quest for fame reside in her. In fact, she’s reluctant, which is just bewildering. 
This was not a problem with the other characters. Kimber is all ambition, love, and charm. Stefanie Scott makes her so endearing that you wonder why she isn’t the star of the bunch. Aja (Hayley Kiyoko) is the most interesting of the crew. Aja is quippy with a past, is into engineering, bold fashion, and throws herself into adventure. Unfortunately, Aurora Perrineau’s Shana only seems to be there to round out the band. She’s treated like an afterthought so often, you wonder why they bothered. Even when there are shots featuring the group, she is very often cut in half or off the screen entirely.
It seems to clearly be a script that could only see a chance in production if it were sold as Jem. There are so many competing ideas on how to tell this story when all they had to do was work with the source material. Perhaps instead of trying to make an overly earnest point about the internet giving folks the chance to reveal their real selves to the world and painfully stuffing the cartoon’s theme song lyrics to the cartoon into character’s mouths, imagine if they had dared to stick more to the absurd, colorful source material and fully committed? The entire time I could not help but wonder what Jem could have been if it had been handled by the visionaries who brought Scott Pilgrim to the screen. 
A thought that plagued me for the full two hours was the absence of The Misfits. Pizzaz (Kesha), Roxy (Hana Mae Lee), Stormer, and Jetta (Eiza González) do not make their appearance until the credits are rolling. That’s right; the rivals of Jem and The Holograms are absent from the movie entirely. I mean, would you make a Batman film and not include any villains? This choice illustrates where priorities in bringing the much beloved cartoon to the big screen; it was to tell a story of their own, not Jem’s story.
Not seeing The Misfits again is the only thing I’ll miss in the sequel to Jem that will never be made.
Maria Jackson
Review by Maria Jackson
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