Podzilla 1985

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Reflections on Jem

I got a little surprise today after work. I was killing some time at our local Hastings and saw that Jem and the Holograms, the movie, was out on Blue Ray and DVD already. I mean I'm not really that surprised. It bombed in theaters so the quick home release is a tactic to make back some sales.

Now I was in no way ready to just buy this failure, I've heard few good points about it, but I still wanted to see it for myself. So I hopped over to the rental section and nabbed myself a copy for the night. After a quick stop for pizza, Jem got popped in the Xbox One and the journey started.

I told myself going in that this was not going to be a good Jem film, so I tried my best to just look at it as a movie in general. Yes I still picked at the Jem aspects because that's what it was mean to be, but I didn't hold them accountable for the most part. As a Jem movie yes is has some major problems, but as a feel good coming of age movie it really wasn't bad.

The characters were likable, and and you had no problem hating the villain. It was touching, though a bit pushy at times. If it had been just a basic music based film it would have probably fared much better.

The problem, it wasn't. It was meant to be a Jem and Holograms movie. 


I'll start with the problems I have.

Character Misrepresentation.

I am a long time Jem fan. I know my world bible for the series and I want it as true to form as can be. So first off them being younger pissed me off. I can deal with that but I still didn't like it. Mrs Bailey, the caretaker of the Starlight girls, being turned into Aunt Bailey I can also forgive. It's minor, a bit irritating, but forgivable. Besides I love Molly Ringwald so I'll let it slide. I'll ever let the whole Erika Raymond thing go even though I don't really want to. She was a bitch, as she should be, but she was too mean to  the public. Eric was a snake, but he knew how to smooze, not just degrade and belittle. The gender swap did nothing for his role, other that make him look worse and make me miss the old slime ball. But two characters bothered me more than the rest.

The first being Rio. Jerrica's high school sweetheart. Jem's road manager, and tech support. He was neither of these in the movie. No he was Erika's son, who was training to take over Starlight Music. Oh and he sings. Rio never sang in the show. He also never knew who Jem really was. It was one of the major constant plot points of the cartoon. He was basically dating both Jerrica and Jem not knowing they were the same woman. He was also very set in his ways of detesting all liars, so Jerrica could never really bring herself to come clean to him. She didn't want him to feel like a fool and in turn hate her. Way to just throw that all out the window. Now don't get me wrong movie Rio was still really likable, but he also became rather generic. 

My other problem was Zipper. Now by the end of the film I liked him a lot, but at first I was confused. Zipper was always Eric's hired hit-man of sorts. He did all the dirty work and was paid nicely for it. Heck he set fire to the Starlight House for Girls so that Eric could put pressure on Jerrica to give up her share of Starlight Music. He was never just an assistant, and had nothing to do with Eric's music dealings. Hired muscle. That's it. Now by the end of the movie I liked Zipper's role even if it was out of character.

Musical Mishaps.

While the music in these film wasn't bad, it didn't strike me as Jem and the Holograms. I would have liked it to at the least have a feeling of the old group. A small touch of retro if you will. It can be done. Most of it just didn't grab me. The only song that I liked right from the start was "The Way I Was" which served as Jem's solo act song. Her Lady Gaga like transformation was unnecessary, but the song actually resonated with me. I could see myself listing to it on it's own. Even "Young Blood",the movie's anthem, took a couple of times to start growing on me. The rest of the songs are easily forgettable. More generic pop for the trash.

The thing that bothered me the most music wise was probably meant to be cool and experimental. On several occasions they would show music themed video clips and the switch back to the film with it playing as the back ground music. It was rather distracting. I get the concept since the band was started as an internet video in this round, but it came off as a cheap answer to a real background score. Not a fan, though it was probably cool for the people who's videos got used. If they even got told about it.

Science Substitution.

Synergy was a super computer that could create realistic holograms remotely. She is the reason there is a Jem. She literally projects the image of Jem over Jerrica though her remotes, the star earrings that Jerrica always wears. She was never a little robot that was there to remind Jerrica how much her father loved her. As far as the family love aspect goes Synergy was meant to be a reminder and sudo substitute for Jerrica and Kimber's late mother Jackie Benton. She was modeled after her after all, and on several occasions gave the young women advice when they felt lost. The robot was a little cute, but I wasn't impressed.

Alright now that I got that out of my system let's look at the good.

The girls had a good dynamic. They weren't dead on, and they had some flaws but over all not bad. Jerrica was still trying to take care of everyone and seemed to be the most level headed. Kimber was still younger, a bit pushy and selfish. I was happy that Shana still had her fashion, but she felt pretty flat other wise. Aja was always one of my favorites. She was still a little hard, maybe a little too much so but also forgivable. I even don't mind that her engineer and auto skills got swapped for techie hacker skills. What I didn't like was they made her a kleptomaniac. Ashley of the starlight girls had been the little thief not Aja.
I also was fine with their updated looks. They still felt true to the 80's icon without being literal. Don't get me wrong, I loved their little 80's flash back video at the beginning. Small little nudges to the cartoon without being completely shoved in our faces. Did anyone else also catch the old school my little pony in one of the old family clips? It totally made me smile.



Finally the real meat and potatoes. By far the best part of this film was the ending credits scene. We get our beloved Misfits, and Erika starts feeling more like the Eric we remember. That scared desperate side that knows he's in over his head, but will still manipulate the shit out of you to get his way in the end. That is the evil Raymond we all love to hate. That is how my Jem villain needs to be portrayed. 

We learn that she booted the spoiled punk band from the label, but now she needs them again. I didn't love all of their looks, but I could tell who was who before they ever said any names. Jetta looked awesome, even though she shouldn't be there if Raya isn't. Once again willing to over look. But the real gem of this scene was Pizzazz. Kesha was a great pick for our spoiled rich girl rocker. She came off a little nuttier than our attention hungry princess of old, but it just worked. This one scene just oozed the potential this film could have had. It had the right tone and screamed just what the fans were hoping for. Problem is this sequel set up will probably lead to nothing, because of the bad box office turn over, and over all poor fan response. 

So I pose this to all of you Jem fans out there. Yes it was bad. As a Jem movie it was bad. As a film on it's own though it was not. Please go watch this again, in the comfort of your own home, and give it a fresh look. There is potential here. I would like to see what could happen. Are you truly ready to give up on our favorite cartoon rock groups? 

I'm not. 

I am willing to give a sequel a shot. 

Are you?

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