Friday, October 23, 2015

Jem and the Holograms
Releases October 23rd, 2015
1 hr 58 mins
Rated PG
Action/Adventure, Drama


Director: Jon M. Chu
Writer: Ryan Landels

Aubrey Peeples as Jerrica Benton / Jem
Isabella Rice as young Jerrica
Stefanie Scott as Kimber Benton
Hayley Kiyoko as Aja Leith
Aurora Perrineau as Shana Elmsford,
Wynter Perrineau as young Shana
Juliette Lewis as Erica Raymond
Ryan Guzman as Rio Pacheco
Molly Ringwald as Aunt Bailey
Nathan Moore as Zipper
Barnaby Carpenter as Emmet Benton
Ryan Hansen as Stephen the Guard
Quddus as VJ
Nicholas Braun (uncredited) as Brad
Christy Marx (cameo) as Lindsey "Lin-Z" Pierce
Samantha Newark (cameo) as Hairstylist
Britta Phillips (cameo) as Stage manager

Review by Stephen M.

When the trailer first came out, the boos were raining down hard on the film because of how much the film appeared to deviate from the cartoon from which it is based.  Watching the film, the movie definitely draws on some elements of the cartoon but still lack the feel and certain key elements that were prominent in the animation.  The movie while at times a fun coming of age teen film, fails to capture the heart and soul that resonated to the fans with a quirky plot and subpar musical score and performances.

In the film, Jerrica Benton a timid songstress is lured out by her sister Kimber (Stefanie Scott) and friends to perform as Jem.  She gains a huge following on Youtube when Kimber leaks a video of Jerrica performing and is quickly signed by Starlight an entertainment company led by the shrewd mogul Erica Raymond (Juliette Lewis).  As a side story, Jerrica's father left behind a half completed robot upon his death in which Jerrica and friends must rebuild with clues left behind by Jerrica's dad.  And yes, of course a budding romance story is also a must in these type of films filling up the cliche thermometer.

While the movie has its moments, the plot tries to take you in too many directions with two stories going on at the same time.  While both subplots are integral to the maturation of the Jerrica's character, some things are just rushed and felt out of place.  In the beginning I felt like I was watching the origins of Justin Bieber, switching gears to Miley Cyrus's alter ego days of Hannah Montana, thrown in with a bit of the film Earth to Echo.

As far as the musical performances, Aubrey aside from her first public performance as Jem which is one of the finer moments of the movie were hardly inspirational despite what the filmmakers might otherwise want you to think.  Their choice of her final song is quite puzzling when the first song has more energy and beat to it, making it kind of anti-climatic at the end.  My other favorite moment that is non-musical is when the security guard asks Jem for her autograph for his "daughter."  The part of the daughter and father near the end is very touching as a father myself, but may just be added mush or noise for everyone else.

Overall, I would recommend waiting for it on Netflix or Cable if you're a young teenager and into musical movies.  Otherwise this movie with a really narrow audience target just doesn't excel enough in any areas to make it worth the time of adults or even Jem and the Hologram fans.  Close to two hours long, the film felt every bit so, and was tough to endure with only occasional glimmers of laughter and brilliance.  Despite the long run time, cut are the Misfits and classic band battles Jem and the Holograms participated in.  Quite simply, Jem is no gem.


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