Fans of the popular 1980’s Jem and the Holograms comic book series were both excited and nervous to hear about the movie reboot, knowing the difficulties that come with remaking cartoons into live-action films.
Unfortunately, old fans will likely be disappointed with the reimagining of their favorite childhood TV show as it pays little tribute to its roots. On the other hand, a younger generation of fans might have an all new appreciation for Jem and her band of rockstar sisters, connecting with the modernized theme of finding fame on YouTube and still sticking to your roots.
Here’s what five critics have to say about the film, which opens in theaters Friday:
1. The Wrap‘s Alonso Duralde says the “bubblegum musical” might be “more of a toe-tapper than you might have imagined.”
“If you’re a hard-core Jem fan who’s still mad that Synergy is no longer a super-computer and that the rival band The Misfits are nowhere to be found (stick around after the credits, I’m just saying), you won’t be won over by this reimagining of the material,” he writes. “But if you never had much investment in the Holograms, and aren’t expecting any singles as great as ‘Three Small Words’ from Josie and the Pussycats, you may find this bubblegum musical more of a toe-tapper than you might have imagined.”
2. The Hollywood Reporter‘s Frank Scheck: “Fans of the original series will be outraged, while newcomers will be mystified.”
“The show’s devoted fans would be well advised to steer clear of the final product,” he explains. “It’s safe to say that it must be miles ahead of this wan, bloated screen version which forgoes the original’s sci-fi and thriller aspects. Reduced to a teen girl empowerment vehicle that trots out every show business cliche about sacrificing your values for stardom, the film is a non-starter that is unlikely to attract the intended target audience.”
3. Variety‘s Geoff Berkshire says the “director struggles to create an entirely faux pop star in ’80s toon series adaptation.”
“A campy cartoon encapsulating ‘80s excess transforms into an earnest live action ode to the naval-gazing YouTube generation in Jem and the Holograms,” he notes, adding that the film’s main character played by Aubrey Peeples keeps the story alive. “[She] keeps the film watchable, delivering a capable star turn with enough flashes of soul to belie the script’s artifice and credible pop vocals to boot.”
4. Forbes‘ Scott Mendelson: “Jem And The Holograms Is Outrageously Misguided”
He writes, “It roars to life when its characters are singing their hearts out, but there are shockingly few ‘Jem and her band do their thing onstage’ moments.” He continues, “Jem and the Holograms spends the entire movie getting its characters to the point where they might, in a theoretical sequel, resemble the characters we know and love.”
5. IGN‘s Terri Schwartz notes, “This is not the adaptation fans were hoping for.”
“If Jem and the Holograms had been an original movie with a similar plot, it would have been the stronger for it, but taking a recognizable and beloved brand and reappropriating its iconic components to service a different story works against Chu’s new movie,” Schwartz says. “Jem and the Holograms’ strengths lie in its attempt to analyze YouTube fame and the positive effects it can have on people.”
Jem and the Holograms hits theaters on Oct. 23.
(E! And Universal Pictures are both members of the NBCUniversal family.)
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