The big screen remake of the classic 80s cartoon, sees 'Jem and the Holograms' lose their spark for the YouTube generation.
Taking a classic cartoon and trying to remake it for the big screen is always a tricky business, but in the case of the new Jem and the Holograms movie it’s a critical disaster. The live-action remake of the beloved 80s cartoon hit US cinemas this weekend, leaving a sour taste in the mouth of critics who were left wondering, what happened to the once ‘truly outrageous’ Jem?
Jem and the Holograms on the big screen.
Starring Aubrey Peeples as Jerrica aka Jem, the film’s plot revolves around the shy teen struggling with fame after becoming an internet sensation. After being discovered on Youtube, Jem lands a record deal and her own band, The Holograms (played by Stefanie Scott, Hayley Kiyoko and Aurora Perrineau, but it's not all one big rock and roll fantasy.
Along with the pressures of fame Jem also has to deal with scheming record company boss Erica Raymond (played by Juliette Lewis) and a sub-plot which involves her looking for pieces of the robot Synergy, hidden by her late father.
In the original cartoon it was Synergy that had transformed Jerrica into Jem, but in the film, the computer’s powers is just another element of magic that didn't manage to transfer on to the big screen.
Writing in the New York Post critic Sara Stewart commented, “Director Jon Chu stretches Jem to a ridiculous 2 hours, via endless amateur-musician YouTube clips. Anyone can be a star, they attest - and always be yourself! (Except when you're Jem. I guess.)”
The Hollywood Reporter’s Frank Scheck was equally scathing about the film, writing, “Not being part of the generation that watched the show, I can't vouch for its merits. But it's safe to say that it must be miles ahead of this wan, bloated screen version which forgoes the original's sci-fi and thriller aspects.”
Another element of what made the cartoon so special that has sadly been lost, is the girl power aspect of Jem's story. "It takes a cartoon that was originally about a group of women who unquestionably held power and turns it into a tale of a meek and weak-willed young woman who is arbitrarily given fame and holds zero agency except for that which is granted to her by the men in her life,” wrote Forbes' Scott Mendelson.
But it wasn’t all bad, as the LA Time’s Rebecca Keegan found that, "In revisiting the pop rock quest of a multiracial group of adopted sisters in suburban California, Chu has made a stylish and self-aware musical fantasy for the YouTube generation.”
However, when it comes to bad reviews, this gem (sorry) from io9’s Charlie Jane Anders might just have sealed the film’s fate as one of the year’s biggest critical disasters, "You should drag your children to see this movie only if you wish them to come away understanding your contempt, not only for their intelligence, but for their very personhood."
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