‘Jem and the Holograms’ is a Fun Update that Hardcore Fans Should Enjoy

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When I first heard there was going to be a Jem and the Holograms movie being released by Universal Pictures, my biggest fear was Michael Bay would be attached to it. 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 & The Holograms

Aja (Haley Kiyoko), Jem (Aubrey Peeples) and Kimber (Stefanie Scott) rocking out on stage.

Thankfully, Bay wasn’t attached to another classic ’80s property (I’m looking at you Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and director Jon M. Chu was brought in to the take the helm of a property no one was sure how it would quite end up. He was given a chance with G.I. Joe: Retaliation, which wasn’t a bad film, but a heavy 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.

“Christy Marx, who I called after we got Hasbro to say yes to make the movie, she had done other re-brands and I walked her through all this stuff. She said the one thing she wished she could have done with the series was to focus on the sisterhood of these girls. We always kept them a little bit apart from each other, so we really built the story around that idea,” said Chu about Jem‘s creator.

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 here. Bringing in CSI: Cyber‘s Haley Kiyok0 as Aja, Aurora Perrineau as Shana, and Stefanie Scott as Kimber to round off the quartet and Jem and the Holograms are reborn.

Erica Raymond (Juliet Lewis) in Jem and the Holograms.

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 the gender bending 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, 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!).

Speaking of Synergy, she’s in there, but not how you expect. The twist is just enough to for the hardcore fans to go, “Okay, I can live with that.”

You can’t have a Jem and the Holograms movie without music and Braun was brought in with only two weeks to write a whole new soundtrack as there were licensing issues with the original animated series that could not be resolved in such a short period of time before production began.

“Jon told Jason I should be involved and Jason thought ‘Oh that’s good’ because I know music. The real reason Jon was doing that was he was expecting me to create a miracle (laughing). Jon said, ‘I can’t do the movie without Scooter,’ because the movie is so dependent on music. Jon had another movie to go shoot, so in two weeks, we had to cast the girls, get them in the studio and write six or seven original songs. We literally took our entire A&R staff in the office and pulled in the best songs for the script,” said Braun about getting the music together for Jem and the Holograms.

The story of Jem and the Holograms is all about female empowerment and sisterhood. There is no need for a declaration of, “I am a strong independent woman!” They are all strong independent women in their own way; Jerrica the introvert, Kimber the extrovert, Aja the brains, and Shana the fashionista. The unity of the band is building each other up, not tearing each other down, which Chu captures quite well. The fan submissions incorporated on what Jem meant to them is also touching and not focusing on one gender over the other. This is definitely a movie you want to take your 10-year-old daughter to, to feel inspired, plus the tunes are infectious.

“I think that one of the main messages of our film is about self-empowerment and self-expression, and trying to filter out all the noise of worrying what people think about you and just be yourself. It sounds cheese-ball but I think that’s a good message for anyone at any age or any generation. You always need to be reminded of that,” said Aubrey Peeples.

Jem and the Holograms opens nationwide on Friday, October 23, 2015

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3 Comments

  1. Christy Marx October 22, 2015 Reply
    • Avatar photo R.C. Samo October 22, 2015 Reply
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