If you've ever wanted to know what it feels like to be the last person left on planet Earth, go to any theater screening "Jem and the Holograms." I guarantee you will be the only person in the room.
"Jem and the Holograms" tells the story of Jerrica Benton and her sisters - Aja, Kimber and Shana - as they shoot to rock-n-roll stardom after Jerrica posts a video of her singing a song she wrote on YouTube.
The plot, if you can call it that, really isn't much more involved than that. "Jem and the Holograms" is actually an extremely hard film to follow, because the script is all over the place and has no real direction. Some random and boring things happen, then a plot point is revealed even though the film did nothing to build up to it, and then some more random and boring stuff happens.
There has been much criticism of the film for not appearing to be true to the source material, however it is actually true to the source material to a fault in many places. The film strives to stay very grounded, and to tell a meaningful story with depth and importance, yet there is a sentient robot named Synergy who can project holographic images that is just out-of-place in the world this film has created for itself.
Another thing that felt sorely out-of-place was anytime the film ventured into over-the-top humor, which it does in a few spots. Again, with the serious and dramatic tone of the film, these bits of zanyness feel out-of-place and detract from the film itself.
It is actually really hard to find an area where "Jem" doesn't fail in every way. The acting is a very redeeming quality, even though Molly Ringwald and Juliette Lewis are the only really well known actors in the film. The costume and make-up is also very well done and make the film a pleasure to look at, even if it's rather excrutiating to sit through.
In many ways, "Jem" is similar to 2001's "Josie and the Pussycats," but "Josie" was a better executed film. The music in "Josie" was also far superior, as the music in "Jem" is just as boring as the script.
The movie also doesn't offer much for the younger female audience. While young girls could easily be enamored with the costumes, make-up and pop music, the film actually spends precious little screen time showcasing these elements.
Also noticeably missing was rival band the Misfits, who had served as the antagonists in the original cartoon. The Holograms' record producer, Erica Raymond, is somewhat of an antagonist in the film but she has no real pathos or motivation. At one point, she coerces Jem into signing a solo contract cutting out the rest of the band, but there is no clear motivation for this. At no time is Erica at odds with the band, nor is any jealousy or animosity built up between Jem and her sisters. It just comes out of nowhere and is only done to make Erica the bad guy for no reason.
Scott Mendelson at Forbes would have you believe that it was some sinister, misogynistic plot that ultimately failed the movie; that if it had been a movie for boys the studio would have given it more money or advertised it better then it could have been different. The problem with this line of thinking is that it wasn't money or advertising that was the ultimate downfall for Jem and her Holograms. Instead, it was a lack of talent behind the camera that produced a terrible script which was executed extremely poorly. The visual style of the film was great and it could have been a more enjoyable movie without requiring any more money to be spent on it.
In the end, "Jem and the Holograms" had no direction. It is a poorly assembled string of random events and preachy morals that the film takes no time to explain. The story just wasn't there, and the movie manages to disappoint on almost every level imaginable.
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