My Little Pony, much like its boyish counterpart – The Transformers, has a generations spanning popularity. Despite the 5 to 12 age range on the boxes, just as Transformers is not just for little boys, My Little Pony is not just for little girls. And now, like The Transformers, My Little Pony has hit the big screen!
Now let me start off by saying I know waaaay more about MLP than any self-respecting 40 year old male should. As the househusband I watch it with my two kids when it comes on TV at 8.30am every morning after their mother goes to work. In fact I probably know almost every episode from Season 4 onwards off by heart! Whilst my daughter loves Fluttershy and my son and wife both love Pinkie Pie, I’m most definitely a Rarity man, whom I find really sexy amusing, especially when she throws a drama queen fit. I also really like DJ Pon3 for some reason, she is just so cool! The cartoon itself is really well done, it’s thoroughly amusing on many levels and I defy anyone to watch the 100th episode special from season 5 and not crack up laughing! Fantastic battle scenes, great music, an interesting and ever expanding cast – in fact I can confidently say it’s probably one of the best kids cartoons out there today. As such I was hoping for a lot from the movie when I took my family to see it …
… but sadly it did not deliver.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s certainly not a bad movie. But if you are familiar with the cartoon this feels like they have watered it down for the movie rather than beefing it up. A good way would be to compare them to ice cream. The cartoon is triple-raspberry swirl with rainbow sprinkles – delicious and exciting! The movie is a bowl of vanilla – certainly nice enough and you may even want a second helping but you aren’t going to rave about it to your friends.
The storyline is very formulaic, but given the target audience for this flick that is forgivable. All the ponies are gathered for a giant party being organised by the heroine of the show Twilight Sparkle, when the bad guys turn up, capture the other 3 Princesses of Equestria and enslave the Pony race. Cue Twilight and her friends escaping, meeting new comrades in their search for help, then returning to defeat the big bad, turn an enemy into a friend (cause Friendship is Magic dontcha know) and bring freedom back to the land. I think even most young kids, whom this movie is primarily aimed at, could predict what would happen next in a very by-the-numbers plot.
Sadly, everything that happens feels like a sanitized version of the cartoon, designed to have the broadest appeal by ‘playing it safe’ . The one argument between friends (Twilight finally after all these years gets a gutful of Pinkie Pie) is very short and undramatic, as opposed to some of the larger Rarity & Applejack spats from television. Likewise the music, which should be a major highlight in a movie like this, lacks punch and is not particularly catchy. The 2014 Equestria Girls Rainbow Rocks has far superior music that sticks in the head and keeps you humming for days. The animation, which given the world the storyline is set in had the potential to dazzle, suffers from bland backgrounds, though these are necessitated by the storyline sending the ponies through deserts and other sparse locals. Tempest Shadow is a pretty cool bad guy with her sparking broken horn and is rounded out fairly well on the whole. However her boss, The Storm King, is a predictable character who is frankly neither scary or amusing, despite the writers trying to portray him as both.
There is not much character development here. Given the cartoon is in its seventh season perhaps it was felt there is not much more for the 7 stars of the show to grow into. It would have been nice for the girls to at least use their different abilities in significant ways to aid the plot. Rarity’s entire contribution consists of performing a 2 second fix on a coat, earning them a friend in a roguish cat which in turn ends up giving Spike his only interesting thing to do in the movie – being used by said cat as a flamethrower. Rainbow Dash awakens the buccaneering spirit of some air pirates, but her signature sonic-rainboom does nothing but give their position away to the bad guys. Applejack and Fluttershy sadly bring nothing at all to the plot and in fact the movie could have easily been done without them. None of the characters really engage in the kind of humorous banter that makes the cartoon so funny and don’t really bounce off each other, mainly they just react to events and – in the case of Fluttershy at least – look scared.
The two stars of the movie from the regular cast are Pinkie Pie and Twilight Sparkle. Pinkie serves as the anchor of the group, being too silly-headed to have her spirit brought low by the various precarious predicaments. Meanwhile Twilight allows herself to lose hope but in the end, predictably, uses the spirit of Friendship to win Tempest Shadow over the side of good and defeat The Storm King.
So is this movie worth watching? Well again, it’s like a bowl of vanilla ice cream. You will enjoy it but you will soon forget you consumed it afterwards. I laughed out loud a couple of times but sadly my two young kids never did. Given the price of a movie ticket these days you can easily wait for this to be released on DVD and in the meantime get your MLP on with the brilliant cartoon instead.
This movie gets 3 out of 5 party cannons.
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