• My Honest Opinion on the My Little Pony Movie

    We are about two weeks past the big release of the My Little Pony movie, and now that the hype train is starting to settle down, it's time to look back at it. When we asked for ideas a few days ago during the Q&A, a lot of people wanted some opinions on what some of us blog dudes thought.

    I've been talking to people pretty much everywhere about it since seeing it, and have shifted opinions all over the place since then. So, without further adieu, my final verdict on the My Little Pony Movie below!

    (Definitely filled with spoilers, you have been warned!)

    I should probably start by saying that my expectations weren't astronomical going in, not because I didn't have faith in the people working on it, but because of the budget. Unfortunately we still don't have actual numbers,  but there are rumors that it was as high as 30 million. Even so, that isn't a huge chunk of change for an animated feature film in 2017. Toy Story 3 had a whopping 200 to funnel from, and the more girls-focused Frozen clocked in at 150.

    So with that in the back of my mind, I dove in. I was there for ponies doing pony things and new locales to explore across Equestria, and that's pretty much what we got. It wasn't perfect though, and just because the budget was small, doesn't mean they aren't worth pointing out. I'm going to nail some of the big ones that bothered me, then respond to some criticisms coming out of the general reviewer population.

    The Good: Epic Backgrounds With Beautiful Animation!

    When I first saw the trailer for the movie back during the Summer, I was actually kinda wary. After 7 years of pony being a specific way, seeing new models animated officially for my beloved equines was... jarring to say the least. We've had hundreds of amazing artists give their take on the characters and just like fanfiction raising expectations for storylines, fan art has made me more critical on the visual side.

    After getting used to them in the theaters though, they really grew on me. The super fluid motions, completely custom walk cycles (especially Rarity's amazing trot), and general overall expressiveness of their new models really shined through as the movie picked up. There were a few quirks here and there that I wasn't huge on (namely the really fat cheeks), but overall I'd say they are on-par with the regular show style in many ways, with a huge plus in animation.

    When the Beyond Equestria book released, I knew we had something special from the background artists, and they did not disappoint at all on film. So many epic set pieces really made the world feel even more alive. There were a few wonky 3D surfaces, but that panning shot across Canterlot at the very beginning with all the characters going about their daily lives in a beautiful environment really threw a gallon of gasoline on that "I really want to go there!" fire.

    The Bad: Too Many Characters, Too Little Time!

    This is something I've always felt Friendship is Magic suffers from in general, usually in the two-parters with everyone active. Could having the format extended from 20 minutes to 140 minutes help? Not if you pack so many new characters in there with them. Part of releasing a movie for kids is getting the parents hyped up with actors and actresses they recognize. This is why you almost always see dedicated actor trailers when a new animated feature is being advertised, and they always pack as much talent as possible in there. Pony did the same, but pony already has six main characters to add to that star-studded advertisement pile. We just got flooded.

    We had two major villains in Tempest and Storm King, and the latter barely got any time for the audience to grow to hate him. Stormy was the precursor to all of this. The big baddie that wants to take over the world and enslave everyone. Outside of that though, there really isn't anything. If you completely cut him from the movie and just replaced him with a Tempest who thought powering up the magic stick would allow her to fix her horn herself, complete with a need to take over the world and demand respect, the movie would have barely changed. Grubber would have provided the silly side of Storm King and all would have been much smoother.

    On the other side of the coin, a veritable armada of good natured side characters joined the fray. Celeano, Capper, Queen Novo, and Princess Skystar added another variable to the already packed cast, and I'd really love if we had more time to explore one or two of them. Considering how expensive their voice actors probably are, it's unfortunate that we might not see more. The comics did a good job of introducing them, but if you skipped those for the sake of spoilers (like I did), the ability to care for them really wasn't very strong in the movie alone.

    Some of the mane 6 were demoted almost to background pony status, with Fluttershy becoming a yaybot and Applejack throwing a lasso here and there. I'm sure there were a lot of fans out there hoping to see more of their mane 6 bestie, and while they did have a few good scenes each, it really felt more like Twilight, Pinkie, and Tempest were the stars.

    Even Twilight felt heavily nerfed. We are used to the original princesses getting wrecked every time a villain bats an eye, but bookhorse wasn't very spell-castery this time.

    The Good: The New Characters Were Still Really Awesome! 

    That being said, the designs and personalities of the new characters were top notch. For what little time we had with them, Tempest, Celeano, Skystar, and Capper made me leave the theater desperately wishing we could see more.

    I've been waiting 7 seasons for sky pirates, and we finally got some. I didn't once hope for an anthropomorphic cockatiel as the bringer of the concept over a pony, but she absolutely nailed it. Turns out birds really make great pirates. Who would have thought? Her and her crew were exciting with a dynamic I feel could have filled the entire movie up and still kept it entertaining. If the entire thing was a sky pirate adventure, it would have worked just fine. 

    Fizzleberry here was every edgy OC creators dream before we got to know her. I wasn't expecting much out of her at all going in, but in the end she really grew on me. Her dynamic with Grubber kept the dark from completely overtaking her overly dramatic scenes. Also dat song. More on it below.

    And we can't forget about Skystar. She was like a Pinkie Pie without the squeals. It would be amazing to see her really explore Equestria and get the Hippogriff nation up and running again now that the Storm King has been defeated. Her Maud Pie level love of the pet clams and quirky, inexperienced nature were both incredibly charming.

    The Bad: Very Little Time in Some Key Areas

    I know I'm not the only one that has been wishing for an epic adventure arc since season one. They were always my favorite fan-made ideas back then, and still something I occasionally read today. Unfortunately with so much packed into the movie, it feels like none of these new and exciting places were really fleshed out.

    The hippogriff island in general felt really brief. I'm still not sure what size or scale the home of the sea ponies actually is. It almost felt like an Atlantica from The Little Mermaid, but condensed into the size of King Triton's throne room. There was a lot that could have been explored here, and hopefully we will get to re-visit it at some point on season 8 if they all haven't shipped back up to the surface and returned to their original forms. What are their lives like? Is Seaquestria tiny or an alternate ocean dimension?

    Some of this is just due to the need to understandably keep the plot moving though, and with such a massive cast to pick from. This really just brings me back to the earlier argument that there were too many characters. While Sia's Songbird Serenade was excellent for marketing, I feel like stuff done specifically for that purpose really cut into our time in some of these other areas.

    The Good: The Songs Were Excellent! 

    Daniel Ingram and his team have always been an integral part of why this show is so captivating, and with a full orchestra at their disposal, they more than delivered in the song department. The way they were weaved into the plot didn't feel unnecessary either, which is something that bugs me in a few normal pony episodes and general kids movies.

    I've listened to "Time to Be Awesome" a crazy amount of times now, and Tempest's "Open Up Your Eyes" is right up at the top of the list for one of my all around best pony musical numbers. The epic feel brought on some serious nostalgia from my Disney days. I'd even argue that it rivals "Be Prepared" from The Lion King for my favorite villain song of all time.

    The Mixed: Rainbow and Pinkie Were Kinda... Dim? 

    I've debated this one for a week with various people, and some excellent points came up throughout. The low partt in the movie was Twilight Sparkle snapping at Pinkie Pie, and while watching I completely agreed with her even if her method of doing it wasn't the greatest. Right from the start, Ponks and Rainbow constantly get everyone in trouble doing things that are obviously dumb... but is that so strange?

    We've known these characters for seven years, and since the very beginning the entire concept of the show has been "X pony screws up and learns a lesson". Pinkie and Rainbow in particular have always made some of the poorest decisions. They constantly throw everyone else into sticky situations, and in true FiM tradition, that character quirk didn't slow down at all on the big screen. That's what makes them interesting. Pinkie lacks any kind of street smarts, and Rainbow can't help but show off.

    So, were they kinda dumb? Sure... But that's just how their characters are built. An external reviewer might think their lack of intelligence was for the sake of moving the story forward, but we all know that these two have never been the most logical of the bunch. It's part of their charm, and a fuel for adventure episodes going off the deep end. That's just more story for us!

    The Good: It Kept to the Spirit of the Show

    With all the gloom and doom going on for the 99 minutes of run time, the movie still kept to it's lighthearted roots. While I wouldn't call much "haha" funny, it still shined brilliantly with it's quirky nature and character interactions. For every enslaved Aloe and Lotus in the background was a jokey pony pun or cake obsession in the front. Even the Storm King was a total goofball, letting Tempest take over on the dark and brooding front.

    Ponyland has always had a dark side, and we ventured into it more than ever here with these external locations from Equestria. Our cartoon horse buddies haven't ever been major powerhouses thanks to their near-utopian world, and bringing their light to some of the less savory locales nearby really created an interesting contrast. They've never been super physically or mentally powerful compared to some of the other races we've run into, but they make up for it with good vibes and silly antics that make pony shine.

    The Overall!

    Was the movie perfect? Of course not. It had plenty of issues. There seemed to be a constant tug-of-war between re-introducing the characters and pandering to existing fans that I think could have been handled better, and over-stuffing the cast made everyone a little shallow.

    It was still incredibly enjoyable though, and I don't feel like it's getting the best feedback from the mainstream reviewers. Was it made to sell toys? Sure it was! We can't be unrealistic there. Hasbro is a toy company, and they create media on the side to sell them. Unfortunately the reviewer seems to be stuck in the 80's where toy commercial TV shows weren't also high quality. I think a lot of them went in expecting and even wanting to see a "BUY THIS PRINCESS PONY!" just so they could run home and complain about it, but that isn't what we got.

    Overall as a fan, I found the My Little Pony movie to be incredibly enjoyable and an excellent extension of the adventures of the mane 6. While several aspects felt rushed or shoe-horned due to the overly large cast, it still delivered on what I was expecting; a movie about friendship obsessed cartoon horses battling evil on the big screen. In the end, I got exactly that.