Monday, 5 May 2014 | MYT 6:25 PM

Blast from the past: Retro cartoons getting live-action treatment

Classic children’s television shows are making a comeback in a big way, and on the big screen, too!

It cannot be denied that when it comes to pop culture, the 1980s and early 1990s got a few things wrong. From atrocious hairstyles to cringe-worthy fashion sense, there are a few embarrassing things about ‘em eras that we would rather not bring to light.

Not now, not ever.

However, the age of mullets and thick shoulder pads were not all bad because there were some pretty good things that went on back then that are still deemed cool today – like music, movies and cartoons.

In fact, cartoons were so good “back in the day” that the people who watched them as kids grew up to become some of the most awesome people on Earth ... To prove this, movie producers are banking their millions on some of these good ol’ retro cartoons.

Since these cartoons already have a solid fan base (made up of people already in their 30s and 40s, but who cares?), it is pretty easy to market them as movies in today’s age. Just look at the Transformers and G.I. Joe franchises which respectively made over US$2.6bil (RM8.3bil) and US$650mil (RM2bil) worldwide. Hey, I just said they were awesome, not Oscar-worthy!

Joining the likes of these two much-loved cartoons and a slew of other animated series getting the live-action and big screen treatment are Jem And The Holograms, Captain Planet And The Planeteers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Voltron.

Jem And The Holograms

This is a cartoon about an average girl who leads a secret life as a popular singer. Yes, Jerrica Benton was the original Hannah Montana way before Miley Cyrus was born ... heck, long before Miley’s father was even famous!

Jerrica’s alter-ego Jem, her sister Kimber and friends Aja and Shana make up Jem And The Holograms, a highly successful pop group that sings hit songs and look perfect at every turn with pink hair and wild makeup. They have rivals in the forms of The Misfits and The Stingers who sometimes, honestly, have catchier tunes.

It was recently announced that Nashville actress Aubrey Peeples has been cast as the lead, Jem/Jerrica, while Stefanie Scott will play Kimber, Aurora Perrineau as Shana, Hayley Kiyoko Aja and Ryan Guzman as Rio.

You know what would be funny? If Jem And The Holograms, The Misfits and The Stingers join a dying talent show, namely American Idol, and one of them puts on a performance so bad that the show is cancelled, once and for all.

Captain Planet And The Planeteers

Gaia, the spirit of the planet, sends five magic rings (four with the power to control nature and one controlling the element of “heart”), to five chosen youths: Kwame from Africa, Wheeler from North America, Linka from the Eastern Europe, Gi from Asia, and Ma-Ti from South America.

And when these Planeteers’ powers combine, Captain Planet and his perfectly coiffed green hair make an appearance to defend the planet from eco-villains.

Rumour has it that Sony Pictures is in final negotiations to get the rights for the movie adaptation of the 1990s cartoon. which will be produced by Mark Gordon and Don Murphy. Maybe they should include a scene in which Captain Planet shows up every time someone doesn’t flush the toilet and scare the living crap out of them (pun intended).

The power is yours: Captain Planet wants you to do your bit to save the world.
The power is yours!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Forget the fact that they look more like tortoises than turtles but Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael and Donatello are undeniably four of the most popular talking, walking and crime-fighting sea creatures in the world.

The upcoming movie, based on the super hit cartoon series of the same name, is directed by Jonathan Liebesman and featuring the “acting talent” of Megan Fox as well as Pete Ploszek, Alan Ritchson, Jeremy Howard and Noel Fisher.

The vigilante turtles and their reporter friend/driver/confidante April (Fox) run around New York City trying to keep the world safe from the hands of villain Shredder. Although a live-action movie was already made in 2007, it didn’t garner as much love and attention (and more important, money) as the producers would have liked.

I wonder if they can do a short piece on the Ninja Turtles and April visiting our local markets to catch vendors selling turtle eggs? (It is ILLEGAL to sell or purchase turtle eggs for consumption, BTW.)

Turtle power: The pizza-loving turtles are ready to kick some evil butts.
Turtle power: The pizza-loving turtles are ready to kick some evil butts.


Do you know what is better than the Transformers? It’s Voltron. There, I said it.

This 1984 cartoon features a team of space explorers that travels in robot lions (don’t laugh) that join together to form a giant robot which is pretty much indestructible. There were several versions of the Voltron cartoon, each with crazier storyline than before but hey, it was still as awesome as heck.

It took forever for the Hollywood folks to finally decide to create a live-action movie version, which hopefully will hit the big screen this year.

There really isn’t much information about this movie yet but they better come up with something after teasing the fans for so many years. If it’s the storyline that they still can’t figure out, maybe it can just be a movie about how Voltron kicks the living lights out of Transformers and everyone lives happily ever after?

Voltron: Defender of the Universe
Voltron: Defender Of The Universe

Tags / Keywords: Entertainment , Entertainment , animation , cartoon , movies , Voltron , Captain Planet , Jem


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