Jem and the Holograms was one of the last remaining Hasbro products to get film adaptation and fans have been chomping at the bit for the cult show’s revival. Jem before my time as an animation fanatic, but there is something inherently charming about the series as a whole. There is no bigger representation for girl power in the 80s than with the story of a pop group who protects the world’s greatest synthesizer/A.I. When you dig into the story of Jem and the Holograms with several elements of dual identity and hologram technology, there’s actually a lot of fun you can have turning this property into a live-action movie.
What’s truly outrageous about this film is the behind the scenes production, led by horror company Blumhouse Productions. This will be one of their few non-horror films; the last one being the 2014 smash hit Whiplash. Aiming for a younger audience, Jon M. Chu (Step Up 2, Step Up 3D, & Justin Bieber: Never Say Never) has been selected to direct and Nashville star Audrey Peebles will play the titular Jem. So how is Lionsgate using all these facets for the live-action adaptation?
This is sadly another case of “in name only” re-imagining that has driven the Internet into righteous fervor. I didn’t expect the Jem reboot to keep any of the looks or sounds necessarily from the 80s, but I would have hoped for something to keep my attention. If it reminds me of the decade at all, the plot is ripped straight from every single 80s cartoon: “How do I decide be between fame and fortune versus the values of friendship?!”
This trailer does not offend me; it’s so safe and generic to even elicit an emotional response. If I’m furious about anything, whoever cut and edited this trailer really did a poor job keeping any surprises from the audience. I have just watched the entire movie, beat-by-beat, beginning to end with no flashes of ingenuity or visual/musical flair. Jem and the Holograms is the perfect way to reintroduce to kids to memorable pop and nu-wave from the decade, but they’d rather aim more for the safeness of the Hannah Montana crowd. And yet Hollywood misses the mark, as how could either of these target demographics overlap with one another?
Although Jem is going through a minor resurgence with the comic book and Hasbro’s reinvention of most of their old properties, this trailer is doing absolutely nothing for them. Especially at a point when the public is perfectly fine watching Holograms at concerts. In a time where we love superheroes and big glitzy, glamoury works of the past, you go for the safest, straight-to-Disney Channel route? American Idol was just cancelled, let’s try and not go back to banality.
If I hold out any hope for this movie, is that perhaps the film can be subversive of the music industry just like the Josie in the Pussycats adaptation did a decade ago. Turning viral, Youtube acts into musicians is a more common practice than you would think, and hints of the Photoshop joke or the male cop who gets autograph gag give it a tinge of intelligence. The inclusion of former teen icon Molly Ringwald is a great idea and I’m happy the original voice actresses of Jem, Samantha Newark and Britta Phillips, will have small roles. At this point, I’ll be happy if it isn’t as awful as Equestria Girls, but I feel the pain out there for everyone who loved the original series.
What are your thoughts? Do you want Jem and the Holograms to reach out to a new audience with a different sound? Is this film dead on arrival? Leave a comment below!