Jem and the Holograms doesn’t have very much going for it, save maybe for Juliette Lewis who hammed it up well enough, and doesn’t even crossing into the so bad its good territory, and I’m not entirely sure if it’s even worth a Netflix/Redbox.
Jem and the Holograms
Genre(s): Fantasy, Music, Drama
Universal | PG – 119 min. – $34.98 | January 19, 2016
Date Published: 01/19/2015 | Author: The Movieman
THE MOVIE – 1.75/5
Harmless but dumb. That’s exactly how I would describe Jem and the Holograms after watching the feature film adaptation of the popular 1980s animated series. I have to admit up front, I only vaguely recall that show but never watched it so I can’t comment on how this compares, so I don’t have the same vitriol compared with the fans, but have to say, the film just is plain not very good.
The film opens with various clips from YouTube (a common theme throughout) and finally a video with Jerrica (AUBREY PEEPLES), a young lady who seems to have talent for writing music lyrics but is camera shy, unlike her sister, Kimber (STEFANIE SCOTT), who shares her life on social media. Jerrica also has two foster sisters, Shana (AURORA PERRINEAU) and Aja (HAYLEY KIYOKO). Jerrica and Shana came to live with their aunt (MOLLY RINGWALD) when their father died and mother had already passed years before. And now the four are closer than ever.
When Jerrica’s aunt’s home is about to go into foreclosure, she takes it upon herself to tape herself, in semi-disguise, singing one of her songs after which she wants to delete but Kimber instead saves and uploads it to YouTube where, in a matter of moments, it receives millions of hits and likes and shockingly only a few down votes. Yeah, right. But as it spread like wildfire, the video, credited under the name of JEM (a nickname Jerrica’s father gave her), attracts the attention of Erica Raymond (JULIETTE LEWIS), CEO of Starlight Records.
Erica offers Jerrica, Kimber, Shana and Aja to come to Los Angeles for a three show concert series to capitalize on Jem’s popularity which would also lead to a lucrative contract which will help out their aunt who is experience money troubles which could potentially split them up. When they get there, Erica is earnest and begins the quartet’s makeover from clothes, make-up and even has Jerrica take on the Jem personality permanently. While in town, Erica has her intern son, Rio (RYAN GUZMAN), serves as their chaperone.
That’s really the basic plot. Yeah, there is a dumb, all things considered, subplot involving a robot called Synergy designed and built by Jerrica’s father, which was dormant but suddenly switches on and displays a hologram with coordinates which the girls follow leading to another and an ultimate prize later in the film. Trust me, it’s not very impressive in spite of the filmmakers’ attempts at a heartwarming scene.
Jem goes the general direction in the rise to fame movies and other adaptations such as Josie and the Pussycats, and its ultimate message, albeit worthy, is beaten into the audience. Heck, I think these things ideas were examined on “Hannah Montana” and I’m fairly certain it was the central theme in her movie which I had the unfortunate pleasure of reviewing years back.
Now, I’m sure those behind this project, Jon N. Chu (director of such, ahem, gems as Step Up 2 the Streets, G.I. Joe: Retaliation and the upcoming Now You See Me 2) in particular, had the best of intentions and the cast doesn’t do half bad of a job with the script they were given, not to mention admittedly some of the songs were catchy enough, but in the end Jem and the Holograms is a messy picture with poor pacing and for fans out there, too much deviation from their beloved cartoon series. But even for myself, I found little to no enjoyment and I never watched the cartoon.
All that said, I suspect even if this were 100% faithful to the show, I’m not entirely sure it’d made for a better movie nor would’ve made that much more at the box office (a laughably paltry $2.26M worldwide gross). Watching some clips of “Jem” on YouTube, it’s cheesy as all hell and that was part of its appeal and still works today but in the live action format, I don’t think it translates so well.
Jem and the Holograms doesn’t have very much going for it, not even crossing into the so bad its good territory, and I’m not entirely sure if it’s even worth a Netflix/Redbox and certainly should be skipped at all costs in the physical format.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.0/5
This release comes with a semi-glossy, slightly title-embossed, slip cover. Inside is a standard DVD Copy and redemption code for the Digital HD copy.
Audio Commentary — Producer/Director Jon M. Chu provides a low key but informative enough track dispersing behind-the-scenes tid-bits about casting, filming locations, etc. This was most certainly recorded before the opening weekend as he hints about sequels.
Glam, Glitter, Fashion and Fame: The Reinvention of Jem (10:30; HD) is a making-of featurette with behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with members of the cast and crew about trying to keep the essence of the cartoon but make it their own.
Deleted Scenes (20:02; HD) — There are 12 scenes removed or cut down for one reason or another, although it’s all likely due to repetitive moments or pacing issues. It also includes another celebrity cameo with Ariana Grande.
Gag Reel (4:55; HD) contains the usual line flubs.
Music Video (2:36; HD) – “Youngblood”
VIDEO – 4.5/5
|Universal unveils Jem and the Holograms onto Blu-ray presented in its original 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and a 1080p high-definition transfer. A movie like this lends itself to look pretty darn good in HD with bright colors throughout from the stage lights to the make-up on Jem and company. Detail also is sharp and well defined and I did notice any major instances of artifacts, aliasing or other flaws.|
AUDIO – 4.25/5
|Much like the picture, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track makes excellent usage of the variety of bubblegum pop music strewn throughout the film, to the point it’s robust and louder than anything else in the film. But in addition, dialogue levels sounds crisp and clear and other effects, such as the sounds of Synergy bot, comes through the front and rear channels well enough.|
OVERALL – 2.25/5
|Overall, Jem and the Holograms doesn’t have very much going for it, save maybe for Juliette Lewis who hammed it up well enough, and doesn’t even crossing into the so bad its good territory, and I’m not entirely sure if it’s even worth a Netflix/Redbox. The Blu-ray release offers good video and audio transfers and a surprisingly fair amount of features on the whole.|
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.