Saturday, October 24, 2015

Movie Review: Jem and the Holograms

I just got home from watching the new Jem and the Holograms movie. While it is still fresh on my mind, I wanted to write about it. So while I have plans to post a fantastic Halloween toy tale for you all, let's take a break and get a little outrageous. There will be spoilers aplenty so if you have not seen the film yet and want to know nothing, than do not click the link and read this review. You will be spoiled like old milk! Otherwise, carry on!

Ok first thing is first, I liked the Jem and the Holograms movie. I do not think it was a perfect film nor do I feel that it is the Jem film I would have truly wanted to see, but I did like it. I laughed and smiled. I got a little misty eyed. I danced a little in my seat. I clutched my pearls with that end credit scene. I even panicked as my boyfriend and friends were nearly attacked by a chunky thing flying at us with wings. That last part has nothing to do with the actual movie and more about the theater, but whatever. 'Tis the Halloween season to be exposed to something creepy. Let's break this all down.

Some of you may recall that I wrote about my first reactions regarding the trailer that was released back in May. Like a lot of people I was underwhelmed. That first trailer showed off a version of Jem and the Holograms that felt nothing like Jem to me. I also seem to recall writing my wishes for the film and what we would really see in it and those elements would eventually be revealed (i.e. Synergy.) I really like that I also wrote about my hopes for Erica Raymond to gather up the Misfits to help take down Jem, which technically happens, though that is more set up for a sequel. A sequel I hope we will get.

Anyways, the film tackles a few different themes, mostly that of social media, music, fame, and family. Fashion is there too, but it is more like the dressing. There is a story at the heart of this movie. Aubrey Peeples plays Jerrica/Jem and while she is not the older business woman/rock star from the cartoon, there is a ground work for that type of role with the film's main character. She loves her family and loves music. She is on a search to find herself while staying true to those around her.

The other Holograms are there as well, Jerrica's bio sister and keyboardist Kimber (Stefanie Scott) is played with a spunky sass just like the cartoon. I liked the chemistry between both actresses. I believed they were sisters. A gripe I do have though with the film was the emphasis that their deceased father, Emmett Benton, placed on Jerrica (his Jem) and the sort of absence that Kimber had in that part. There is a scene towards the end where (spoiler alert) Jerrica and Kimber's father talks to Jerrica via a hologram about how great she is and yada yada, but there is hardly a mention or love given for Kimber. That rubbed me the wrong way.

The next Hologram up was the fashion designer/drummer Shana played by Aurora Perrineau. While I loved that they remembered Shana as a fan of designing fashion and having that sweet kindness like in the cartoon, I would have really loved for them to remember that her skin color was darker. I personally feel that had a woman with a darker skin tone been cast it would have really given the show some needed diversity. There were moments of the film where all four girls seemed to have a similar skin tone and I always loved that there was such a diverse cast of characters from the cartoon.

Finally there was Aja played with a tough girl approach by Hayley Kiyoko. She felt like the tomboy of the group and had more of an edge than the other girls. I really liked that trait as it did remind me of cartoon Aja. There were even moments where Aja was driving them around much like she did in the cartoon. Also Aja had some great quips like her animated counterpart.

Molly Ringwald played Aunt Bailey their aunt/foster mom. She started out as a nice moral compass for the girls in the beginning of the film but disappeared for most of the story until the end. She did a great job, it's always nice to see Molly Ringwald.

The scene-stealer of the movie though was Erica Raymond played by Juliette Lewis. When the trailer first came out I was highly curious as to why Eric Raymond was now Erica Raymond, but I must say, after seeing Juliette Lewis play Erica Raymond, it totally worked for me. I loved every line and scene she was in. Simply put, she had the best lines. Juliette Lewis brought some fun snark and a touch of camp to the film that reminded me of the cartoon. There were some holes as to her motivations, aside from being bitchy and wanting a solo contract for Jem, it wasn't completely apparent as to why she was "evil." She was just a ruthless business person. Until that end credit scene though...

Rounding out the main cast was of course Rio. Ryan Guzman certainly captured Jerrica/Jem's eyes and I am fairly certain the eyes of many folks. As my friend David said during Rio's shirtless scene, "Ohh Jerrica looks thirsty doesn't she?" Rio had an interesting role in this movie. There was no dilemma over him not knowing the dual identity of Jerrica/Jem. He knew her truth and a romance was clearly set up. A big change from the cartoon also saw Rio being the son of Erica Raymond, and by film's end he takes control of Starlight Enterprise and in a round about way names the band Jem and the Holograms. Those are two other gripes that I have with the film. I would have preferred that Jerrica and her sisters name their own band. I would have also liked someone else besides Rio becoming owner of Starlight Enterprises. However those are details that I understand get changed from big screen adaptations of cartoons. I totally understand that the source material is not going to be an exact carbon copy, which is why this movie is not perfect. There are flaws.

Other flaws included the pacing of the film. There seemed to be an odd sense of time. For instance one minute everyone was mad at each other for Jem going solo and in the next moment everything was ok like nothing it all unfolded in the same night. The use of Synergy seemed underutilized too. I personally liked the robot element of Synergy in the film, it certainly was simpler than a massive techno computer organ, but I would have loved for the film to have expanded more upon the powers and abilities of Synergy. For instance it would have been cool for Synergy to project a hologram of that sci-fi 80's aerobics goddess that we all know and love. Hopefully those are concepts that could get fleshed out into a sequel.

So all gripes and flaws aside there were things that worked for me with this movie. The chemistry with the cast was nice. I felt like the characters really showed off traits that were similar to their animated counterparts. More so than what was ever shown in the trailers. I also enjoyed the songs and concerts that were shot in the film. A lot has been said about director Jon Chu but I do like how he filmed the concert scenes. I also am hooked on the final song from Jem in the film called "I'm Still Here." There was also some adventure in this movie too which felt very Jem to me. This wasn't some bland coming of age music tale with the name Jem slapped on it like the trailers made it appear to be. There were plenty of Jem Easter eggs throughout and I believe that the folks behind this film were really trying to make something that respected the source material even if it seemed like it wasn't.

This leads to my biggest complaint about this movie and that is the entire way it has been marketed and handled. For the life of me I feel like Hasbro wants this film to fail. It has been said that the movie is being geared towards girls ages 6-16, yet aside from some commercials on Nick I have no clue how that demographic is going to get interested in this movie from a marketing stand point. There is no doll line. Hell, the soundtrack can't even be found in stores. There is one book based on the movie, but again, that is not found in stores. Stores like Shop Bop and Sephora have products out for this movie but they are clearly geared for an older audience. The clothing line and exclusive doll at Shop Bop are all very expensive. The make up and hair dye at Sephora, while awesome, is not really aimed at a younger set. I noticed that Target has an exclusive girl's line of Jem clothes, but I only found out about that through Facebook by chance.

So here we have a movie that has a nostalgic bent to it being geared towards a younger demographic but with merchandise that is for an older crowd. An older crowd that hates this movie because the trailer made no mention or appearance of said nostalgic bent. I've read the comments. I have seen the reviews. People hate this movie. Particularly because the trailers released were not indicative of what the movie was really about. There are nods to the cartoon and not just because Samantha Newark makes a cameo. (Samantha was the voice of Jerrica and Jem form the cartoon.) There is dialogue, actions, and character traits that do pay tribute to the original source material. No one would know that though unless they go to see the film. But no one is planning on seeing the film because the marketing for it has been a nightmare. It is such a sad thing.

Look, I'm not trying to sway people. If you hate it you hate it. I can't change that. (Although can we all collectively agree that the phrase 'raping my childhood' is not the best way of describing being let down by a remake?) I didn't find this movie to be terribly offensive. It wasn't perfect but it wasn't awful either. I enjoyed it and I'd like to see it do somewhat well so that we can get a sequel because that end credit scene was what needed to be featured more in the movie. Erica Raymond comes across the Misfits to take down Jem and it was all cheesy in the best way possible. It was just perfect. Well... sort of. I love Kesha, but they can't give Pizzazz those furry green Moss Man eyebrows if a sequel gets made. They just can't. Kudos though to the make up streak across Jetta's face. Who else thought that the Misfits were depicted as really bad girls for basically just hanging out in what appeared to be a deadly back alley? They really felt and looked seedy. Plus, was Erica Raymond getting led into an orgy? It was really something else. I loved it, even the campy line that Pizzazz gives in reference to the opening song from the cartoon. "Our songs are better, we're gonna get her." It was the best kind of mess.

Either way if there is an inkling of interest to see this movie go out and see it. Have an open mind. It isn't as bad as I thought it would be from that first trailer. It really suffers from terrible marketing. Seriously. I went with my boyfriend and two friends. Before we went to the movie, we stopped at Walgreens for candy and they had the latest line of Barbie dolls that are a direct cash in off of Jem, and I bought one. My thinking was, "I am about to see a Jem and the Holograms movie that I never thought I'd see, and having a doll that contains that fun edge of glamour, glitter, fashion, and fame would be perfect." It's just sad that the doll had to be Barbie and not, well ya know, Jem.

If you've seen the movie let me know what you think! Good or bad I can respect everyone's opinion, but please don't attack me for mine. I'm not trying to get into a nerd war with anyone.

Also, stay tuned! I've sifted and edited through over 300 photos for an epic October 2015 Bodacious Baddie! You do not want to miss it. Take care everyone.


  1. Huh... I guess if you can give this movie a shot, then I will have to as well. I think I'll wait for it to come out in other media though...

    1. Yeah I've heard from a lot of people that they will be checking it out on other media too. I mean it has its flaws, but I did find myself enjoying it. I had some eye rolls, but I really did find some good in it.

  2. I was in a Spirit Halloween store a couple days ago and was surprised to see a whole line of official (Cartoon) Jem costumes and a bunch of Jem-themed accessories. The costumes were picked over, but they still had Jem, Pizazz, and Synergy. Never thought I'd see that.

    1. Yeah Spirit has been good about that. They have had some Jem costumes for a couple years now, it's where I got my Pizzazz costume and that was in like 2012. But I am glad they continue to make them and even expand on what they have to offer.

  3. one should not have judged the movie just by the trailer. for after all there was no way as much as fans wanted hollywood was going to do just a full adaption of the cartoon. though wish they had included synergy and the misfits. which turns out they left out due to issues with the name. plus the only other thing that bothered me is that turns out the studio and hasbro turned down jems ownn creator to take part in the film as both script writer and consultant.

    1. I forgot to mention that in the review, but you bring up an excellent point, I wish Hasbro and the studio had consulted with Christy Marx. She needed to be a part of this movie in a big way. She could have saved it or at least let the door open for fans to be on board with it.

      I wish a holographic Synergy had been in it too. My goodness the Misfits would have been perfect as well. They missed the mark in some ways but also got some things right in others. It is just a shame it didn't do well at all. I feel like it will become a cult classic. More people need to give it a chance.

  4. I have never been a JEM fan-only because I never watched the show as a kid, even though it looks amazing! But I have always been a Josie and the Pussycats fan and I loved that movie, even though a lot of comics and cartoon fans didn't like it for various reasons.
    I thought there was enough of the Josie feel in the movie that I liked in the movie -so, since you are a mega fan of the Jem franchise, I trust you, when you say this movie was good.

    1. Thank you. It was good. I would have enjoyed some things to have been different or added in, but for it being a reimagined movie set in the present day, it was able to create some semblance of the old show while also being something new for a newer generation. It could have been so much more though too. It's just really crazy how those things all work out.