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Title: Jem and the Holograms

Movie: :2stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :4.5stars:
Extras: :2.5stars:

HTS Overall Score:76

Does anyone remember the old 80’s cartoon “Jem”? I certainly do, as I was raised with Saturday morning cartoons as a staple of my 80’s childhood. It’ was a fun and quirky cartoon starring Jem and her band, the Holograms, and their many adventures in music. Primarily aimed at young girls, it was considered “radical” back in those days by splicing in actual music videos with the cartoon drawings. However, there were times of conflict where Jem had to have some more action oriented bits to try and appeal to a wider audience (mainly boys), and ran for 3 consecutive years with great success. Now fast forward 30 years and we have a live action remake of the series, but one that is so soul less and tasteless that the fun and entertainment of the original series is all but lost. In reality the title is about the ONLY thing that relates to the series itself, and while that’s not a horrible thing, as modern audiences need something updated that fits in with the culture of the day. However, “Jem and the Holograms” is about as entertaining as punching yourself in the stomach a few dozen times with a lead pipe.

Jerrica (Aubrey Peeples) and her sister Kimber (Stefanie Scott) have had both their parents taken from them at a young age. Moving in with their aunt Bailey (Molly Ringwald) the pair is situated with a new family complete with another set of sisters. The 4 girls (including new sisters Aja and Shana) have grown as close as family could ever get, although there is something missing. Aunt Bailey is about to lose the house due to her family business not doing so hot and the girls are desperate to help. While they are all musically talented, Jerrica is the best out of the quartet, but also the shiest as well. After Kimber uploads a video of Jerrica singing to youtube, the shy girl goes completely viral and pulls a Justin Bieber on the world. Contacted by famed music producer, Erica Raymond (Juliette Lewis), Jerrica is pulled into the L.A. world of music where she now has to go under the name “Jem”.

Refusing to leave without her sisters, Jerrica wheedles a deal out of Erica to allow the other three accompany her to L.A. where the 4 sisters are skyrocketed to instant fame and fortune. However, while they are there, Jerrica realizes that the broken robot that her father gave her before he died may actually contain a puzzle that will allow Jerrica to complete her father’s invention. The thing is she has to go around on a sort of scavenger hunt around the city while she’s lambasted with the daily dealings of being a rock star. You know, being forced to work long hours, give up your identity to become a fake identity created by the studio, and making eyes at the hunky college intern named Rio (Ryan Guzman).

“Jem and the Holograms” really resembles very little in comparison to the original 80’s series it was based on. So much so that diehard fans of the series have given it some SCATHING reviews after the movie came out. I originally thought it was just a case of sour grapes, but after watching the movie I can totally see why. Many movies don’t exactly line up with their cartoon counterparts, but end up being rather entertaining on their own. “Jem” manages to be neither. The script is squalid, the characters are horribly annoying, and the music is the same auto tuned pop songs that filled these types of movies for the last 5 or 6 years. Don’t get me wrong. I like simple electronic pop as harmless music. I mean, I even don’t mind watching the latest “Barbie” animated films and they’re filled with that type of stuff. The problems come from having a film that just interjects music at every turn claiming that it’s something “original” and “real” when you can actually see the dub work being done, or heave the auto tune machine doing its work.

If the music was just not my cup of tea I would have said, hey it’s just me, but the painful script writing and trite dealing with the scavenger hunt made this movie amazingly bad at times. The situations the girls are put into are so completely ludicrous that I was actually dying of laughter for a good portion of the movie, and let me tell you that this laughter was NOT something intentional in the movie. The 4 girls force feed the plot down your throats with exposition and explanation regarding the robot and the hunt that you honestly start wondering if this was a bad episode of “Scooby Do” or “Jem”. You know it's bad when a theatrical film rakes in only $2.25 million while being shown in over 2000 theaters. In fact it got so bad that Universal actually stopped reporting on the film after the 2 week mark. Something which is completely unheard of, making "Jem and the Holograms" one of the biggest theatrical flops of all time.


Rated PG for thematic material including reckless behavior, brief suggestive content and some language

Video :4.5stars:
While the movie is nothing spectacular, the video certainly is. Shiny and razor sharp, it resembles a live action “Barbie” movie in every way imaginable. Filled with bright and richly saturated neon colors, it sparkles and dazzles at every turn. Pinks, blues, reds, greens, and even more crazy colors are spread out all over the screen, and after seeing how the music industry is, doesn’t even seem that weird. Fine detail is incredible, with every bit of makeup on Jem’s face readily apparent, and the detailing on the luxurious outfits stand out even more. Blacks are deep and inky, with no signs of crush or banding anywhere. The disc is truly amazing and almost is a true reference disc.

Audio :4.5stars:
The 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio track is every bit as good as the video encode, showcasing an aggressive mix that latches onto the music and doesn’t let go the entire time. The film does have a lot of dramatic elements, that lends itself towards a front heavy mix, but the inclusion of so many music and concert scenes allows for the whole sound stage to open up and embrace the listener in a 360 degree layer of sonic immersion. The surrounds are filled with music a 50% of the time, and the rest of the time there’s plenty of ambiance to bleed through into those back speakers. The LFE is deep and POWERFUL, pounding away with every song on stage, as well as dropping some really low downbeats during non-musical adventures as well. Sometimes I felt the musical numbers got a bit louder than they should have, but it wasn’t a whole lot louder.

Extras :2.5stars:

• Deleted Scenes
• Gag Reel
• Youngblood - Music Video
• Glam, Glitter, Fashion and Fame: The Reinvention of Jem
• Feature Commentary with Producer/Director Jon M. Chu

Overall: :3.5stars:

“Jem” is nothing spectacular and is actually pretty bad, but I had a couple of good chuckles and toe tapping moments along the way. If your daughter is sub 12 years old, they may get a good bit more entertainment out of the film than I did, but I wouldn’t really expect much of anything if you’re going to sit down and watch the movie by yourself. If you’re a fan of the original “Jem” tv series, then look elsewhere, as the only resemblance of the original series comes in the last 5 minutes of the movie as Erica goes to get a rival band to rise up and defeat Jem. In fact that section of the movie was one of the ONLY portions that actually felt like a Jem movie AT ALL (and ironically the lead singer of that band was played by Ke$ha). Audio and video are spectacular, and the disc has decent extras, but I personally would skip this one unless you have a little girl who’s begging for it.

Additional Information:

Starring: Aubrey Peeples, Stefanie Scott, Aurora Perrineau
Directed by: Jon M. Chu
Written by: Ryan Landels
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish DTS 5.1
Studio: Universal
Rated: PG
Runtime: 119 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: January 19th 2016

Buy Jem and the Holograms On Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Skip It

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