‘Jem’ Comes to Blu-Ray and Deserves a Second Chance

GameStop, Inc.

Although Jem and the Holograms was a box office bust, it is still worth giving a look, whether you’re a child of the ’80s or the parent of tweens who enjoyed Hanna Montana it’s a fun flick that the whole family could tap their feet together to. I never really watched the cartoon as a kid…well, except the last 10 minutes before it lead into G.I. Joe and Transformers. All three shows were voice directed by Wally Burr, the last man ever to direct Orson Welles.

Jem CoverThankfully, Michael Bay wasn’t attached to another classic ’80s property (I’m looking at you Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 and Transformers 5) and director Jon M. Chu was brought in to the take the helm of a property no one was quite sure how it would workout. He was given a chance with G.I. Joe: Retaliation, which wasn’t a bad film, but just like Jem and the Holograms, a departure from the original series. Luckily, Chu had experience making concert and dance films, so Hasbro, Universal, and producers Jason Blum, Stephen Davis, and Scooter Braun got the right guy for the project.

Chu had originally pitched a different version 11 years earlier that looks completely different than the finished product. He confessed that if they didn’t find the right Jerrica, they would have shut down the project. Enter Aubrey Peeples, a petite singer/actress who has some pipes on her. Bringing in CSI: Cyber‘s Haley Kiyok0 as Aja, Aurora Perrineau as Shana, and Stefanie Scott as younger sister Kimber to round off the quartet and Jem and the Holograms are reborn.

Of course a few things were changed, like Eric Raymond becoming Erica, but with Juliet Lewis as your chief villain, you can’t complain about gender-bending the character as she kept to the essence (from what I remember) to the original series and Rio (Ryan Guzman) is now her son…hey, if Marx was okay with it, no one can really complain, right?

Even ’80s IT girl, Molly Ringwald is brought in to play Aunt Bailey, and the original voices of Jem, Samantha Newark, and Britta Phillips have roles in the flick. Chu did what he could by giving the ultimate fanboy/fangirl experience with a limited budget, from incorporating lines or the original theme song into the dialogue to the sexual tension between Rio and Jem. It was all there, with a couple of hiccups in the story, but really, being turned into a YouTube sensation LITERALLY over night is no crazier than Synergy being Jem’s late mother’s consciousness in the cartoon (see, those last 10 minutes before G.I. Joe paid off!).

Unfortunately, with the box office numbers, the set up for a sequel that would have merged the cartoon with live-action may never see the light of day. Hopefully, since Jem was made on a $5 million budget (basically a half-day shoot spent on Transformers 4) we could get a straight to Blu-Ray version of what would have been a squee moment for these characters.

The Blu-Ray includes a gag reel, several deleted scenes, and the extremely catchy Youngblood movies video (attached just above). The featurette about the reinvention of Jem and the Holograms is intriguing and makes sense for a film that takes place 30 plus years after the original run.

I am guilty of doing the same thing with Transformers, G.I. Joe, and TMNT, professing “That’s not what I grew up with!” The reality is, I’m in my 30s now and what was made for me at 5 years old is not going to resonate with a 5-year-old today. Take off your nostalgia goggles, realize that this was not made for Generation X in mind and enjoy it for what it is, a fun family film that has cameos by the original voice actresses and show creator Christy Marx.

Jem and the Holograms gives a nod to the original series by rebooting a franchise that should stand as a new face to an ’80s classic. Remember, in the past 30 years there have been over seven incarnations of the Transformers, five updates for G.I. Joe, three frontmen for Van Halen, six guitarists and three drummers for KISS, and Jem and the Holograms should be given the same chances that all those other male dominated properties and bands received.

Rock’n’Roll might be dead and we may have grown up, but reimagined versions of your favorite childhood shows will never destroy the joy you felt when you first watched them. Give this incarnation a try and get the songs stuck in your head, you can hate me now and thank me later.

Jem and the Holograms is out now on Digital HD and comes to Blu-Ray and DVD on Tuesday, January 19, 2016.

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One Response

  1. Johnathan Smythe January 16, 2016 Reply

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