Saturday, February 6, 2016

Jem and the Holograms (DVD)

When I was a kid (9 or 10), I loved the Jem and the Holograms cartoon. It had everything I could have asked for all rolled into one: Action, adventure, comedy, mystery, romance, Sci-fi, and a killer soundtrack (yep, even at the tender age of pre-teen, I was all about the music...which explains a lot about how I still am today). Every Wednesday at 4 p.m., I was faithfully planted in front of the TV, anxiously awaiting the continued adventures of Jem and her band of sisters as they traveled to exotic locations and thwarted the next evil scheme of their arch-rivals, The Misfits. And revisiting the cartoon 20-some years later...I found it to still be pretty awesome (although I did wonder how The Misfits and Eric Raymond didn't end up doing 20-to-life in prison for some of the stunts they tried to pull off).

So back in 2010, when I heard the first whisperings that there might be a live-action movie based on my favorite childhood show, I was understandably geeked. Fast forward to 2013, I was starting to lose hope that this movie would ever be made (each check of IMDB told me that the film was "in production" and no further information was available besides that). Then the first photos were "leaked"...and then the trailer...and then a Fall 2015 release date was announced. Unfortunately I missed the movie while it was in the theater. It was quickly pushed aside to make room for the latest Even-Worse-Movie-Based-On-An-Already-Bad-Teen-Book (gag). And, of course, each movie complex has to have at least 3 theaters devoted entirely to the influx of people lined up to see Star Wars VII (I'm not dissing Star Wars. The original trilogy was a cornerstone of my childhood). Also because the so-called professional reviewers didn't have a very stellar reaction to the film.

I will hereby disagree with every negative thing the critics said. This movie was awesome!

Jem and the Holograms (2015) is an entirely new Jem story, updated for the 21st Century. But the critical pieces still remained faithful to the original story: The music, the importance of friendship and family, the battle of good vs. evil. In this 2015 update, Jerrica Benton is a shy teen who lives with her three sisters and her aunt. All four girls are exceptionally musical, but despite Jerrica's sister Kimber's obsession with all things social networking, that talent is unnoticed. Then Kimber secretly posts a video of a disguised Jerrica singing an original song, and things explode! The girls are contacted by Erica Raymond, the mean-girl-esque owner of the country's biggest music company. The girls are wisked away to Hollywood, where they will begin their new life as rock stars. But not everything is sunshine and happiness. Jerrica is worried that her aunt will lose her house and, when Erica pressures her to sign a solo contract in exchange for the money to save the only home she knows, Jerrica caves. Feelings are hurt, band drama ensues, and everything almost falls apart. There's also a mystery involving finishing Jerrica's (deceased) scientist father's final and greatest invention (I'll say right now that Synergy is almost as cute as Wall-e, and certainly as cute as BB8, if not cuter).  In the end the good guys win and the bad guys get their just desserts (no spoilers as to how, though). There's even a bit of romance toward the end. And a bit of a cliffhanger ending that hints there may be more to come (and I hope there is!).

Overall, Jem and the Holograms is an awesome movie. It wasn't Lord of the Rings or (original) Star Wars caliber, but then it wasn't that sort of film. For a film marketed to teen girls, it was fantastic. Plus, the lack of sex, drugs, and fowl language makes this movie a good choice for the younger crowd. I enjoyed the story, but my favorite part was the costumes, which are fantastic enough to give Lady Gaga wardrobe envy.  The only negative thing I could say about this movie is the soundtrack was sort of wimpy (Kind of Katy Perry wannabe, but still catchy), despite the talent of the musicians (It's not that it's awful. I just think those girls were capable of something more worthy of iconic an powerhouse Girl Band like Heart or The Runaways).   

I'll absolutely recommend this one!! --AJB

and p.s.: Check out the original cartoon, if you have the chance. OPL owns the first season.

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