Jem and the Holograms

Jem and the Holograms

Director: Jon M. Chu

Writer: Ryan Landels

Cast: Aubrey Peeples, Stefanie Scott, Aurora Perrineau, Hayley Kiyoko, Molly Ringwald, Isabella Kai Rice, Barnaby Carpenter, Jason Kennedy, Nathan Moore, Juliette Lewis, Ryan Guzman, Justin Alastair, Mischke Butler, Samantha Newark, Christopher Scott, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Chris Pratt, Jimmy Fallon, Alicia Keys, Hana Mae Lee, Christy Marx, Quddus, Kesha, Eiza González

Synopsis: As a small-town girl catapults from underground video sensation to global superstar, she and her three sisters begin a journey of discovering that some talents are too special to keep hidden.

MPAA Rating: Rated PG for thematic material including reckless behavior, brief suggestive content and some language

Note: While I did not grow up watching this show, I did do a lot of research on the original series prior to this review. I apologize in advance if my knowledge on a few things related to the original series is a bit lacking, but I did the best that I could to provide you the most accurate review that I could give you all.

Stevennix2001's Rating and Review Summary for those that want to skip the regular review below

1.2 / 10

Pros:

- Acting throughout most of the film was decent; apart from the mid credit scene

- The mid credit scene featuring "The Misfits" was unintentionally funny, as it reminded me how over the top Shonum was in the "Last Dragon."

Cons:

- Poorly written script.

- Songs fall a bit flat.

- The acting in the mid credit scene was cheesy, but it was funny as hell.

- Whenever Jem and her band were playing instruments on stage, it never looked like they were actually playing anything.

- The constant jump cuts to various youtube videos, during the film, was distracting.

- The characters were bland and forgettable.

- The synergy robot was unnecessary to the story itself, as you can tell it was just thrown in, so the "holograms" aspect to this film's title would make sense.

- While I don't necessarily condemn film adaptations for straying away from the source material at times, I do ask that they at least keep the key essential elements of what makes that source material endearing intact. Sadly, this film doesn't bother to do that, as it barely resembles the source material it's supposed to represent.

- Jerrica's father was a bit of a jerk. Seriously, he leaves behind all those clues just to say goodbye to her alone, while saying nothing to her little sister as well? Ouch. I guess we all know daddy's favorite was, huh?

Nostalgia Chick explains and reviews "Jem and the Holograms" TV show

This film was truly outrageous! Truly truly truly outrageous! Oh Jem!

Before I start this review, I would like to point out the fact that we all knew this film was destined the fail from the start. Let's not even lie about this to ourselves. From the moment the film was first announced, most people didn't seem to give a flying f**k about it.

Not to mention there was also the controversy surrounding the film that didn't help matters either, after All Spark Studios (Hasbro's new film division) decided to cast a lighter skinned mixed half black girl in the role of Shana, who was originally depicted as a dark skinned full blooded African American girl in the TV series.

Add in the fact that the trailers royally pissed off a lot of the franchise's die hard fan base to the point that it literally became the first trailer that I've ever seen, on youtube, that got more dislikes than it did likes. And take in mind folks, that's saying a lot considering that I've seen a LOT of movie trailers on youtube. Needless to say, this film was dead on arrival. I knew it. The fans knew it. Everyone else knew it, and I'm fairly sure even some of the people working for Hasbro probably knew it too.

Seriously, the only way this film would've made any money would be if it was somehow an Oscar contender, and if it turned out be the greatest movie of all time. Basically meaning it would've had to been so f**king good that it would've made "Citizen Kane" look like sh** by comparison. Sadly, that didn't happen for Hasbro, as this film just sucked.

As the trailers indicated, the film pretty much strays away from the source material to the point where it barely resembles the iconic cult franchise it's based on; outside of name only. Instead, you get a fairly generic film about a young girl named Jerrica Benson, who somehow ends up becoming famous after her music video goes viral on the interwebs.

Granted, I know other film critics have bashed the absurdity of the "being discovered on youtube" premise for this film. And while I agree it's definitely far fetched, we have to keep in mind that it's not entirely impossible either. After all, Justin Bieber was discovered on youtube ages ago, so it's not outside the realm of possibility that a musical artist could become famous overnight like this film suggests. Granted, it's highly unlikely, but not impossible.

Moving on though. Jerrica becomes rich and famous. However, nobody knows who she is. Some crooked music producer forces her to sign a solo contract without her friends and sister because...umm...reasons. Anyways, the band breaks up. They get get back together blah blah. The end.

Of course, there's also the damn scavenger hunt subplot. Throughout the film, Jem and her friends search aimlessly throughout the city to find parts for their robot named Synergy, whom is an advanced artificial life form that was built by her father before he died.

Sure, he projects holographic films of Jem's childhood memories hanging out with her dad, while occasionally displaying holographic maps each time they find a missing piece. All of this leading to Jem getting a holographic message from her dead father, who for some reason didn't love his other daughter enough to say goodbye to her in the message. Ouch. I guess we all know who's daddy's favorite kid was between them.

In all honesty if you took out the damn synergy robot, and replaced it with a regular scavenger hunt that would've resulted in them finding written clues on paper, with the end result being a paper message from her father instead saying the exact same thing, then it never would've changed this film.

If anything, it almost felt like Jon M. Chu was so f**king ashamed of this property that the only reason he included the damn synergy robot was just so the whole "and the Holograms" part of "Jem and the Holograms" would make sense in the damn movie title. But in reality, this film shouldn't have been called that name at all, as it barely resembles the property it's supposed to represent. Seriously, I haven't seen an adaptation stray so abysmally far from the source material since "Dragonball Evolution."

First of all, why are you calling it "Jem and the Holograms?" At least in the cartoon show, it made sense because holograms played a huge role in the story. Jerrica needed her holographic computer, Synergy, to project an image of her as being a pop star like Jem on a constant basis. Synergy also used holograms in various situations, to help Jem get out of quite a few sticky situations in the past. Whereas in this garbage of a film, it didn't even seem that necessary to the story, which is sad because holograms are utilized quite heavily in real life concerts that there was a lot you could've done with it.

Hell, any music guru could tell you that there's even holographic concerts showing Michael Jackson performing on stage as recently as this year, which is amazing considering he's already been dead for quite a while now. The point is we have the technology in today's era to produce lifelike holograms of people on stage, so why the hell didn't Jon M. Chu take advantage of this crap? It would've been helluva a lot more interesting than this blah fest we were forced to watch.

Sadly, that's not even the worst part about this film. The worst part is strangely the editing part of it. During certain moments, the film will often cut away to show like a quick youtube video of various people commenting about how Jem has influenced their lives, and then immediately jump back into the film. I'll admit that during certain moments these scenes can help you gain something of a perspective on how influential she becomes, as we see her rise to fame. However, the only problem is that the movie does this even during moments, where it's not appropriate.

During the climax for instance. Jerrica's love interest, Rio, finally stands up to his mother, who happens to be Jem's corrupt manager, and producer over at Starlight records, that's inexplicably trying to f**k over "Jem and the Holograms", and honestly doesn't give a rat's a** about art but rather how much money she can exploit from them, so she's like any other music producer out there right? Anyways, Rio is now written to be Erica Raymond's son, which is something of deviation from the original series. Hell, Erica was actually a man in the original series, but whatever.

Anyway, in this particular movie they're both related, and apparently Rio is Erica's son. At one point in the movie, Jem and Rio finds his father's will that explicitly states that he gets control over Starlight records, whenever he feels ready to take over it. Um..I'm not a lawyer or anything, but that's kind of vague.

What if Rio said he was ready to take over back when he was a freaking kid? Would the will allow him to do that? What if the guy is drunk off his proverbial a**, and he's a crack addict, but says he's ready to take over, then does he still get the company just because he says he's ready to handle it? Also, wouldn't there need to be some paperwork filled out before he could take over? Seriously, it can't be that absurdly simplistic. Moving on though.

During the climax where Rio stands up to his mom, we see various jump cuts throughout the scene of a bunch of black dudes dancing, as they stomp their feet on the ground in a nice rhythm while clapping their hands.

Rio would walk up to his mom saying how he found his father's will stating how the company is his to take whenever he's allegedly ready, and then it would jump cut to the black dudes dancing for a minute. Then jumps back to show Rio talking to his mom. His mom replies, and then it jumps back to the black dudes for a bit. Afterwards, Rio replies, and then it shows the clip of the black guys dancing again. And from here, this is part of the film's freaking problem. While I'll admit that some of these jump cuts are interesting, but there's too many of them during crucial parts of the damn film itself that it takes you out of the freaking story.

In the climax, there was no reason for there to be any jump cuts because it seemed like Jon M. Chu was trying to convey an emotional potent scene there, but when you do a random jump cut to something that has NOTHING to do with what's going on at that particular moment in the story, then it just becomes a distraction.

As for the acting, it was mostly decent throughout most of the film. Granted, it was rather obvious "Jem and the Holograms" were lip syncing during some of their songs, and some of the pop songs they sing fall a bit flat.

The chemistry between Rio and Jerrica/Jem seemed OK at best. Although it did seem like most of their attraction was based on physicality rather than any kind of emotional one.

However, there is one scene I would like to bring up, and that's the mid credit scene involving their infamous rivals, "The Misfits." Unlike most of the movie itself, this mid credit scene probably features some of the worst acting performances that I've ever seen. Not only were the actresses bad playing the "Misfit"..but it was hysterically bad. In a lot of ways, it reminded me of how unintentionally funny other films were that featured bad acting like "The Room" and Barry Gordy's "The Last Dragon", to name a few.

And from watching that one scene alone, it almost made me sad that they weren't the main antagonists throughout the film. Sure, the movie still might've sucked, but it would've been at least entertainingly bad to watch. Just watching Pizzazz say her stupid line about how "The Misfits" were going to get Jem was so ungodly funny that it reminded me of Shonum from "The Last Dragon" where he would say, "When I say who's the master? You say Shonum."

And that also leads me to my other complaint about this film, which is the characters. Apart from "The Misfits" being portrayed ungodly campy and stupid to where it's laughable to think about, the rest of the characters are kind of devoid of any real personalities, which makes the film even more forgettable. Granted, Jerrica gets a lot of character development, but the rest of her costars are nothing more than generic archetypes.

While I wouldn't go out of my way to say that "Jem and the Holograms" is the worst movie that I've seen this year, but it's definitely the most forgettable one that I've seen in a while. Unless you're some sort of deranged masochist with low tastes, then I would probably pass on this one altogether.

© 2015 Steven Escareno

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