MY LITTLE PONY: THE MOVIE
Director: Jayson Thiessen
Cast: The voices of Tara Strong, Emily Blunt, Andrea Libman, Ashleigh Ball, Tabitha St. Germain, Cathy Weseluck, Taye Diggs, Michael Peña, Zoe Saldana, Kristin Chenoweth, Liev Schreiber, Uzo Aduba, Britt McKillip, Nicole Oliver, Sia
MPAA Rating: (for mild action)
Running Time: 1:39
Release Date: 10/6/17
Review by Mark Dujsik | October 5, 2017
Like the TV show and toys upon which it was based, My Little Pony: The Movie was made for a specific demographic. I do not fit the demographic, so this review won't matter to anyone with an interest in the movie. Since the primary audience of people with an interest in the movie are probably children, it's unlikely that reviews, in general, mean much to them. As for the parents who will be bringing the kids, this review also won't matter, because, if your children want to see this movie, you'll be going along for the brightly colored, overly cutesy, and not-as-self-aware-as-it-thinks-it-is ride.
Even for those without a general knowledge of the basic premise, there's not a lot to unpack here. It's a movie about a group of animated ponies—each one a different shade of pastel, some able to fly, a few that are unicorns, all of them with big and sparkly eyes, and every one of them possessing a single personality trait that completely defines them.
They live in a village and really, really like the idea of friendship. The ponies here work together to set up a big festival, where equine dignitaries from around the world will visit. One of those visitors can control the sun, and another can control the moon. There's a third one that's important to the plot, but I must admit that I've already forgotten her power. Let's assume that, compared to the powers of controlling the sun and the moon, it's not particularly special.
The princess of the village, a flying purple unicorn named Twilight Sparkle (voice of Tara Strong), can move things via a beam of energy that her horn emits. This comes in handy when setting up decorations, but poor Twilight Sparkle seems to forget about her power when her fellow pony pals are in peril.
Yes, there's an adventure to be had, because this is the ponies' first big-screen outing. Something as simple as a big party wouldn't be worth the extra time, money, and work that come with a feature-length movie. Based on the rudimentary animation and the formulaic story, one wonders just how much extra really went into the effort.
It's obvious that the character design is intentionally simple. The filmmakers, though, have the ponies and assorted other creatures existing in a nearly 3-D world, where the ponies can wander through the village along every axis, giant zeppelins emerge from darkened clouds, and a jagged city rises out of the desert. Some of it, like that city, looks pretty good on its own, and some of it, like the various airships, looks as if the design process ended on the first go-around. Whenever the ponies move through the space—to walk or to sing through several musical numbers—it feels as if the character and background artists never even discussed how the two elements would go together.
The kids, of course, won't care, and they probably shouldn't, anyway. These are things noticed by someone who has no knowledge of the ponies and to whom the movie never provides a reason to care, despite his or her best effort to try to find some entryway into this world.
The plot involves an evil ram-like villain named the Storm King (voice of Liev Schreiber), whose magical staff needs the power of the powerful ponies to power it—or something like that. His chief commander, a unicorn with a cracked horn named Tempest Shadow (voice of Emily Blunt), invades the ponies' village, sending Twilight Sparkle and her friends on a quest to find a means of stopping the bad guy—or something along those lines.
Their adventures bring them to various places to meet various characters who are voiced by variously recognizable actors (e.g., Taye Diggs, voicing a Billy Dee Williams-esque cat, and Kristin Chenoweth, voicing the princess of a clan of seahorses that were once mythical creatures). The stars, though, are the lead ponies, who either fly really fast (Rainbow Dash, voiced by Ashleigh Ball), have a bad case of bashfulness (Fluttershy, voiced by Andrea Libman), talk with a Southern accent (Applejack, also voiced by Ball), seem a little vain (Rarity, voiced by Tabitha St. Germain), or become annoying very quickly by way of an almost manically cheerful temperament (Pinkie Pie, also voiced by Libman).
The ponies do what they're supposed to do, I guess, and there is a little charm to the style and sunny attitude of these characters—except when the story requires violent standoffs, which seem to go against the point. My Little Pony: The Movie is as advertised: It's a movie, and it contains ponies. In hindsight, that probably should have been the extent of this review.
Copyright © 2017 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.
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