If you walked into the cinema for My Little Pony: The Movie with your little girls wondering what could possibly prompt a toy company to make a full-length feature based on seven seasons of a cartoon featuring anthropomorphic ponies, then you haven’t been paying much attention to what your kids are watching.
While this is the first theatrical feature-length movie featuring lovable, talking, colour-coordinated ponies, it is not the first movie for the franchise. Okay, fine. The Equestria Girls movie series, which reimagined the humanised ponies as teenage girls in a high school setting (don’t ask) are not part of the main series, but with some of the same creators and voice actors, who can really tell?
With messages of love, friendship, loyalty, trust, heart and compassion, spoon-fed to audiences via a repetitive storyline and through upbeat dance numbers, it’s no wonder that your eight-year-olds are enamoured with the franchise.
Meanwhile, adults might want to puke, not because the themes are abhorrent, but because the creators of this movie felt it perfectly normal to regurgitate familiar storylines to a captive audience. A rogue pony as the main antagonist, wanting to absorb the special magic of the ponies? A tale of forgiveness and trust, filled with happy songs? Ponies arguing and fighting, before getting together for a little romp in the barn? Haven’t we seen it somewhere before with Sunset Shimmer?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against the movie. Unless you’re a Brony, chances are that you won’t even think of watching this, so this review won’t matter to you. Or unless your teen girlfriend wants to, then you might want to reconsider your life choices.
If you’re a parent, there’s not really much of a choice because depriving them of this cultural milestone in their upbringing is something that you will have to suffer in the years to come. If you don’t want to lose your level of prestige in front of your kids, here are some Cliff Notes to remember.
Tempest Shadow (Emily Blunt) – don’t judge a book by her cover. She might look evil, and act all rebellious, but remember Sunset Shimmer? Despite her losing her unicorn horn, she’s perfectly redeemable, if you know how to get to her.
Spike the Dragon (Cathy Weseluck) is not the only pet sidekick audiences will love, as Grubber (Michael Peña) is now batting for the other team. And anytime you have Michael Peña in a movie, the laughs are inevitable.
As for the usual ponies – Toilet Spa Girl…. I mean, Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Fluttershy, Rarity and Pinkie Pie -they all look better now. It’s the additional details in their eyes – animators could not do much to change the exterior looks of the ponies, otherwise Hasbro would need to redesign seven years worth of toys, but the new glowing, emotive eyes are pretty sweet to look at.
The movie also introduces several new characters, including Captain Celaeno (Zoe Saldana), a pirate parrot, Princess Skystar (Kristin Chenoweth) a seapony, and Songbird Seranade (Sia), but my fear is that after the movie is over, audiences won’t see (or hear) much from them in the main TV series.
And if you’re a fan of the songs from My Little Pony, call me bias, but the tunes from My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks remain as my favourite. Now, Rainbow, performed by Sia, is probably the most standout, but it’s sung by Sia, so that’s a whole new realm of music altogether. Time To Be Awesome is the most melodic, and you’ll probably be listening to the soundtrack when the movie is available on home video, so try to embrace it.
Who knows? Maybe the message of love, tolerance, and understanding that the movie is driving home will find itself parked nearby.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
I might have walked out feeling indifferent, but my six-year-old loved the movie, and really, who is this movie for? If your child loves MLP, then this is a must-watch.