I have been wanting to post some new toy stories as of late but there have been a few things going on. My mom had major surgery earlier this past week so I have been taking care of her and making sure she is comfortable while she heals. With everything being a bit behind though, I do want to talk about a few things that have gone on in the world of pop culture that have been firing people up!
First thing's first, do yourself a favor and go watch Mad Max: Fury Road. It is probably going to be my favorite movie of the summer. There have been nothing but great reviews from people. Having already been a huge fan of the series, it is a welcome joy to see George Miller return behind the wheel of a new Mad Max film. Tom Hardy works for me as Max. The film also works as a continuation of the original three and can also be scene as a stand alone reboot. The character of Max is a simple yet complex one. He is motivated by self interests, forever wanting to be alone, yet ends up helping people in need. The film itself is a speeding contradiction. The story line is as basic as a story could be, yet watching this Summer popcorn flick is like experiencing a stunning piece of film that leaves you dazzled and anything but mindless. Charlize Theron is the reason to watch though. Her Furiosa is what I want to see more of in terms of strong heroic women in movies. I simply can't get enough of this movie. It feels fresh and new while also fitting right in with the older films in the series. Just a glorious movie experience.
Speaking of Mad, I also just finished the Mad Men series finale and while I still need to process my way through this series I have to say this: I am really glad this show is over. While not a horrible show, I have found it to be one of those shows that became a chore to keep up with. The last few seasons I found myself caring less and less for the characters. Except for maybe Joan, but even she was beginning to grow stale for me. I love the look and style of the show as well as the actors, but I am glad it has ended. Some are saying the ending was brilliant, I see it more like they tried to tidy up some story lines while still managing to paint a portrait of the true nature of these characters that could continue long after the credits rolled. What I would have enjoyed instead was the end of this series being the end of what should have been a full season last year (they split the season into two parts and aired it over the course of Spring 2014 and 2015) and give us one last season with the new direction that the characters went in. I feel like there were some interesting stories that could have been told for a richer final season than what we got.
Either way, the real topic I want to discuss is the topic that has made so many people mad that I haven't been able to keep my thoughts together, until now. The issue that I am referring to is the new Jem and the Holograms trailer that debuted earlier this past week.
Here's the poster for the film. Notice it is only Jem, the rest of the members of the band are not featured in the poster. Of course Kimber, Aja, and Shana are in this movie, however what the movie is about is quite a head scratcher. When we first heard of the new Jem movie, the basic plot was this: Jerrica and her sisters embark on a scavenger hunt through Los Angeles to uncover a secret left behind by Jerrica and Kimber's father all while grappling with the fame of being in a band. What we see unfold in the trailer has nothing to do with that plot. Instead we find out that Jerrica and Kimber Benton live with their aunt Mrs. Bailey and her foster children Aja and Shana. Jerrica is incredibly shy but can sing really well. Kimber secretly captures that raw talent on camera and uploads it to the Internet where things get viral. Soon Jerrica and the others become a full fledged band signed by Starlight Music under the tutelage of Erica Raymond. (In the original series Erica Raymond was a male character by the name of Eric Raymond. This updated film has done a gender swap.)
As the trailer goes on, we meet Rio, see some far out make up looks, and see Jerrica become marketed as Jem and soon marketed as a solo act ditching the Holograms which causes problems with their relationships until Jerrica/Jem is ready to make amends and do the right thing to rock out with her sisters. It feels like the entire movie is given away in the trailer while One Direction plays in the background. Now I have nothing against One Direction, but for a property that is going to have all original new music, shouldn't we be hearing the new music from Jem and the Holograms and not One Direction?
I am torn on this trailer, but before I get into that, let me just throw out what I am wishing for this movie. A part of me is still holding out hope that what we saw in the trailer will not be the whole movie. I am hoping that what was shown in this trailer is maybe the first half of the movie. The tired old story line of the one band member wanting to go solo and nearly ruining the band has been done to death both in real life and in the movies. My hopes are that Jerrica/Jem has a come to Synergy moment where she reunites with the band while her aunt Mrs. Bailey gives the girls a letter from Jerrica and Kimber's deceased father where the girls then go on the scavenger hunt and eventually find Synergy as well as the knowledge that Jerrica Benton owns Starlight Music because her father was the original owner. Working together with Synergy, Jem an the Holograms show Erica Raymond and the evil music corporation what real music is about and the film sets the stage for a story that is a little more faithful to the original source material as well as setting up a sequel where Erica Raymond gathers the Misfits to help take down Starlight. That would make me feel somewhat better.
Because truth be told, I don't dislike the look of this film. I don't dislike the actors portraying the characters. I think they could all do a decent job. What I don't like is the story that the trailer tries to capture. It does not feel like Jem and the Holograms. It feels like some movie that puts Jem and the others in the film by name only. Where are the Misfits? Or at the very least Synergy? Say what you want about another Hasbro property like the Transformers films, and a lot of folks do, but Hasbro would not allow a Transformers movie to be made without the Autobots and Decepticons. That is an integral part of the story regardless of how that property gets reinvented. So to have a Jem movie without characters like the Misfits or Synergy... it just feels weird.
The other issue with this new Jem also deals with the merchandise. The Jem cartoon was originally made to help sell the Hasbro dolls. I would assume that Hasbro is also interested in releasing merchandise for a movie that is based off one of their toy lines. There are different scenes of the girls in the movie wearing headphones that look similar, but in different colors, so I can assume there will be some sort of Jem and the Holograms headphone sets by Beats or whatever. The big seller though would be the dolls. One can't forget the dolls that would be based from the movie or any other aspect of medie. In a world where Monster High rules the school and new characters are constantly being created, what kind of doll line would we get if the only options are the four members of Jem and the Holograms and a Rio? That's five dolls. This could be fine for sales at first, but eventually for a toy line to succeed there has to be a variety of characters to collect. This is not a new concept. Monster High has been so successful because Mattel continues to create new dolls and deliver products that people are not tired of buying. If Synergy and the Misfits (to say nothing of the other secondary characters) are not a part of the film how will they be represented in a doll line?
If Synergy and the Misfits come into this new doll line, it would stand to reason that they'd have to also be featured in a movie. I would hope. Unless Hasbro isn't planning on having any merchandise at all for this film. I do not know if that is the case or not, but let's just say that Hasbro has no interest in making a toy line for this new Jem movie. I have to really ask, why make the movie anyway? I don't think toy companies and movie studios want to join forces just to deliver a great movie for fans. They want to join forces to make a movie that will sell products. I am very curious to see what will happen in the way of merchandise for this film to say nothing of the actual ticket sales. I feel like it could be a hit for a younger generation, however with so much backlash from fans online, the writing might be on the wall for this movie.
At the end of the day though I had really hoped for more with this trailer. I know the property has to be reinvented and updated for a new generation, I completely get that and in many ways embrace that thought process, however there is a way to be new and fresh while still holding onto some semblance of the original. If not why even call it Jem and the Holograms? I can handle many things. I can handle Eric Raymond now being a woman named Erica Raymond. I am totally down for Molly Ringwald and Juliette Lewis being in this film. I could even be content with the Misfits being absent if I knew there were plans to bring them on for a sequel and make this first movie a true origin story featuring just Jem and the Holograms. However I fear that this movie will be nothing but a tired old story about the price of fame that will be in Jem's name only. It just makes me sad because there aren't many properties that were aimed at girls that get this sort of chance to strike it on the big screen. A lot of people have been waiting a long time for Jem to have her comeback (I know I have) but this comeback sadly sounds a bit flat.
Discussion over! Feel free to leave your comments about any of the topics discussed above and keep it here! There will be some exciting toy stories coming up soon! Take care everyone!