“Jem and the Holograms” failed pretty spectacularly this weekend at the box office. As a superfan of the animated series (seriously, I’m on the DVD extras talking about it), I’m hardly surprised. The film had so little to do with the source material that, whether or not it was a good film on its own, it got fans angry. It makes you wonder why anyone would attach a story to a franchise name and then completely ignore what made it popular to begin with.
Now listen, I’m not a purist. I read all the “Game of Thrones” and “Hunger Games” books and for the most part, the changes have actually been good. (There are a few exceptions, but those were less about the fact that it was different from the book, and more because the actual plot point was a problem. I’m looking at you and that rape scene, “Game of Thrones.”) The thing is, they keep enough of what made people fans in the first place.
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In the original series, Jerrica was a business owner. She ran a home for girls. She’s got a supercomputer named Synergy that casts holographic projections allowing her to be a secret rockstar. She’s close to her bandmates (related to some of them) and they work as a team. Anyone see the film? Now she’s a young girl, Synergy is sort of a rolling movie projector, she dumps her friends and it’s really all about “kids these days” and that Interweb thing. They stripped all of her power away and all of the charm of the source material.
Editing, compressing, that sort of thing, work just fine in adaptations. The “Harry Potter” books were long and there was no way to get everything in. However, they didn’t turn Harry into a super sassy guy on a soccer team who found out he had magic, Ron into the school bully and Hermione into a clothes horse. Say what you want about the “Transformers” movies (and I rarely say anything good other than, “Look! Shiny robots!”), but at least they resemble the original.
As a fan, and as someone who writes about this stuff for a living, I can tell you that the film had massive amounts of good will and excitement from fans when it was announced. If it hadn’t ignored what was wonderful about the cartoon, I would have seen it multiple times. When you take the essence of what everyone loved away from a property, you’re dooming yourself to failure. You had a built-in fan base and you lost it, because you thought you knew better. If something is popular with thousands upon thousands of people, you may want to look at why that is before you destroy it.