Thursday, May 14, 2015

End of Week roundup, May 15

--So given that we keep an eye on movie-related social media, we tend to get more than an eyeful of any big announcements out of Hollywood. Multiple folks tweet/retweet the same article of breaking news, and still others tweet/retweet articles quotig those articles of breaking news, meaning we tend to get many of the same news items over and over again. Through no fault of movie fans following their fave stuff on Twitter, or our fellow movie newshounds online, we see the same news items sent over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, to the point that there are movies we hate before they're even out of development. (We strongly suspect that this was one of the main things that soured us on superhero movies, for example - such blockbusters get reported on so constantly it's no wonder that others besides us are tired of them, more than a year before they're even completed.

--So this often has the effect of ruining our objectivity over things, especially when we see multiple people getting indignant (or, per usual internet discourse, outraged) over certain Hollywood maneuvers. Enough people get upset over the same thing, and you either nod numbly in assent or wonder what the big deal is.

--So. That Jem & the Holograms movie they got coming out.

--It's based on a beloved 80s cartoon, which details the adventures of a supernaturally cotton-candy pop trio, usually against their dark mirror, the trashier (but still kid-friendly) pop trio the Misfits. Pitched heavily toward young females, the candy-colored confection has retained a cult status among those who came of age to it. I don't doubt it's as fondly recalled by women who were teenagers during its run as the GI Joe cartoon is by their male counterparts. Obviously, being a beloved property of days gone by, a contemporary remake was inevitable.

--And now that the trailer's gone live, folks are apoplectic. The engaging, often surreal, if not out-and-out bonkers tone of the original has been discarded in favor of what appears to be a devoutly traditional, familiar, and oddly po-faced rags-to-riches music stardom story, courtesy Step Up franchise director Jon M. Chu. Cue the thinkpieces bemoaning the tone-deafness of the trailer, and the unthinkable desecration of a beloved icon of our youth.

--And in the wake of all of these voices raised as one (mainly out of weariness because, as stated earlier, we see an awful lot of them in a short space of time), we can only resignedly ask: What did you expect? We're in the middle of an increasingly fatigued Hollywood era in which blockbusters are loaded with special effects, drowning out human interplay, tangible character arcs, and artistic vision. Even our most colorful and wacky superheroes are now mired in grim & gritty, over-familiar plotlines that suck all of the pop joy out of their inspirations, turning them into faceless product. Of course you're going to see Jem, the Holograms, & co. shoehorned into a rote, familiar, American Idol-influenced story of modest beginnings-superstardom-falling out-triumphant reconciliation

--Some of the writers of these pieces have even suggested alternatives. Why didn't a woman direct this movie? (Never an unfair question, incidentally.) Why couldn't the Wachowski siblings have turned this into a suitably pop-frenetic piece of eye candy like their Speed Racer? (Indeed, my own pick for the job, Joseph Kahn, would certainly have brought the verve of his music videos to bear and salvaged the inherent colorful absurdity of the source material.) But as good as these alternatives may even have been, this kind of free-wheeling willfully cartoonish work isn't what Hollywood's bankrolling, and it even seems somewhat naive to bemoan that Chu's Jem & the Holograms is anything but the watered-down piece of formulaic dreariness promised by the trailer.

--Trailers lie, of course. Trailers are often put together by marketing departments whose sole goal is to move product & sell tickets. It's entirely possible that Chu's movie is, in fact, the movie that Jem fans have yearned for in the last 30 years. Trailers often obscure what's really going on in the movies they sell, so the next chorus may yet bemoan the fact that a deserving pop confection like Jem was never really given a chance.

--Our thought right now is that it's in the fans' court. They can be as loud as they want online, but the movie, as it exists, is going to happen. If they turn up their nose at a movie that may yet be the movie they'd always imagines, they'll only have themselves to blame. Much more likely, if the movie is the stinker everyone's expecting, but fans go to see it regardless on the notion that even a shitty Jem movie is better than no movie at all, then they'll only have themselves to blame...for the downright inevitable Jem II. Though maybe that movie will give the studio a chance to screw up the Misfits, too.

--Time, as always, will tell. Until then, have a good weekend. And enjoy Mad Max: Fury Road. Men's rights activists are giving it a thumbs down, which is as powerful a positive endorsement as any movie could hope for.

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