Based on the neon-pop ’80s animated TV series, this live-action update of Jem and the Holograms stars Aubrey Peeples (ABC’s Nashville) as a young singer-songwriter, Jerrica Benton, who skyrockets to fame via the Internet. With encouragement from her aunt (Molly Ringwald), and with her three sisters at her side, Jem hotfoots it to the big time only to discover that the head of her record company (Juliette Lewis) expects her to become something she’s not.
Director Jon M. Chu (Justin Bieber: Never Say Never) focused on the artist at the center of it all to make a smooth transition between the original cartoon and his sort-of prequel with a modern spin that sees the girls finding their sound. “The number one thing in a great movie is to have great characters,” Chu says, “characters that you care about, that you can feel for, that you can root for, that you can cry for, that you can go through all the emotions of the story with, so [Jerrica is] our vehicle in.”
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The plot and actors may be new, but Chu promises some nods to the candy-colored original — a welcome relief, to be sure, for fans who criticized the film’s first trailer for seemingly straying from its source. “We definitely have holograms!” he says, but adds that they’ll be in their beginning stages. (As for the Misfits, one of the Holograms’ competing bands, Chu wouldn’t say if they’ll be there or not, but it’s certainly possible.)
The film’s second trailer (below) made good on Chu’s word. It was released earlier this week and introduced Synergy, whose absence from the first trailer was one of the causes for backlash. In the cartoon, Synergy was a holographic computer made by Jerrica’s father that projects her stage persona, Jem, onto her, which helps her keep her identity secret. In the trailer, however, Synergy is a cutesy robot that projects old family videos.
Ultimately, Chu wanted to make a film that honored its futuristic and fantastical inspiration, but also added to the canon. “[The film] is a love letter to Jem, but we’re not trying to compare ourselves to the original cartoon,” he says. “The original cartoon did what it did. It survived all these years and has an amazing following. It’s inspired so many people. We wanted to do a similar thing for a new generation.”
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