Good evening, everypony, and welcome back to another edition of "Batbrony Reviews"! Well, I have some catching up to do on a few very important reviews, and what better place to start than with the momentous "My Little Pony: The Movie" (2017). The first feature length film featuring the canon ponies of Generation 4 (not counting the previous first Equestria Girls film that had a limited theatrical run, though it is worth pointing out that those were not considered canon when first released, but rather only just confirmed as being in continuity as of the Season 7 finale), "My Little Pony: The Movie" is a testament to the remarkable run that G4 MLP:FiM has had as well as the sheer size of the fandom it has generated. It is undoubtedly by this point one of the most popular and profitable media franchises owned by Hasbro, and even though Transformers may be more profitable still (though their box office returns have been dwindling quite a bit as of late), MLP is undoubtedly one of the most, if not the most, critically acclaimed television or film media currently being produced by Hasbro. Thus, a film was inevitable, and many were actually surprised it took this long to put one out into theaters, but it finally happened, and thus, just before the conclusion of MLP:FiM's seventh season, well over 150 episodes into the show, we finally got a theatrical feature for MLP:FiM. Was the wait worth it? Well, let's find out, without further ado, this is "Batbrony Reviews: My Little Pony: The Movie."
WARNING: This should go without saying, but there are indeed LOTS of spoilers below. If you haven't seen the movie yet, this is your last chance to turn back now if you don't want it spoiled.
A short disclaimer before I begin. Unlike many of my reviews, which either focus on specific characters involved or dissect every intricate detail of an episode, this will be a far more general review, even compared to my season finale/season in review blogs. My reasoning? Simple: this movie is 99 minutes long, packed with more actual content than even any episodes ever have been (including two-parters), though that is not to say it necessarily has more depth than any MLP episode ever has. But the film, I believe, must be analyzed as its own property within the MLP:FiM universe, not necessarily how it relates that much to the continuity of the show itself since it's not required to watch the show to understand what's going on (at least, not entirely). It is a part of the show, it is a part of the show's universe, but it is still it's own story, and while there is some chance we may yet see characters or species even introduced in the movie end up in the show, the movie in the long run will only have so much of an impact on the show itself. Therefore, I'll break this review down into five simple categories: Story, Characters, Music, Animation, Themes. That should give a solid enough overview of every important aspect of the film without becoming overly long or tedious. With that out of the way, let's begin.
The story follows a familiar pattern for longtime fans of the show (at least in its general structure), but in its set up serves as a solid format for introducing newcomers to the show, in a sense. The Mane 6 and everypony else in Equestria are putting on a Festival of Friendship at Canterlot, and Twilight, of course, is nervous as hell about making sure everything goes right. After her friends reassure her that everyone will come together and do their part, Tempest Shadow, the right hand mare of the Storm King, arrives with a large part of his fleet of airships and attacks Canterlot! Three of the princesses are magically imprisoned, Twilight escapes with her friends, and they go on a number of adventures to enlist the aid of the Hippogriffs, who turn out to be hiding away under their traditional homeland beneath the sea as Sea Ponies. While their plans do not go as hoped, they still manage to make some new friends and allies, and in the end, take down the Storm King, reform Tempest Shadow and many of his defeated forces (namely Grubber), and free the princesses, Canterlot, and the rest of Equestria from his tyrannical grip (not to mention everyone else he'd been terrorizing for some time). Lessons were learned, friendships were made or reaffirmed, and fun and adventure was had by all. The End.
Let's get this out of the way right now. This is not the best story that MLP has ever had, and if you're expecting that, you're going to be disappointed. Long time fans, in my opinion, should not go into it expecting this or even wanting this. The nature of a film based on such a long running series as MLP:FiM is not to be the pinnacle of the series itself. That is a disservice to both the fans of the show and moviegoers who have never seen one minute of the show before. Instead, a movie based off of a cartoon show that has been running this long (though I suppose it should apply to any show that has been running this long, even if others may have to deal with fitting into their show's continuity more depending on the nature of the show itself) is to give an accurate representation of what the show itself is all about. What are the core themes, who are the main characters and what are they like, and what is the general nature of the show as a whole and how it is executed. An older example of this (which, appropriately enough, our beloved Lauren Faust was closely involved with, having written the screenplay) is "The Powerpuff Girls Movie" from 2002, directed by Faust's husband, Craig McCracken. McCracken, Faust, and their team set out to accomplish the same exact thing that MLP:FiM: The Movie does, give audiences a general idea of who the Powerpuff Girls are, what they do, and why the show as a whole is worth watching, and they did it splendidly. This movie does the same about as well as the former did, in two important respects: it is a general enough affair that most general audiences could at least find something positive out of it without complaining about not knowing the show's continuity, but at the same time it does not compromise itself inordinately for the sake of newcomers, to the detriment of long time fans of the show. This is unashamedly an MLP:FiM movie, and it embraces every element that the fans of the show love, and that the creators of the show KNOW the fans love. It simply presents all of these elements in film format, not for television, so the pacing is slowed down, there are some longer conversations, and at times a tad bit of redundancy since, let's be honest, this crew is not used to creating something this long, but never in a bad way. The beats and general progression of the film are fairly predictable, but again, this is not bothersome if you accept the movie for what it is, something that is more interested in executing itself with its own unique identity as opposed to its structure being original or unique. The core themes of the show, at the end of the day, remain at the film's core, tying everything together: the power of friendship, adventure, humor, perseverance in the face of insurmountable odds, fun, exciting, and exotic settings, both old and new, and the capacity for new friendships to either emerge from hardship, struggle, and even hatred and conflict, and for old friendships to survive true adversity and trials. These were all there, and since they were, even if it was hardly the most nuanced or complex story ever presented by MLP:FiM in any format, I was still completely satisfied by the experience for what it was, especially because it was so confident in what it was and sure of itself. Overall, this was exactly the story this movie needed to deliver.
Unlike the aforementioned Powerpuff Girls Movie, "My Little Pony: The Movie" actually opted to add a bevvy of new characters, many of whom we probably won't see in the show again (though I know there's more than a few I wouldn't mind seeing again). This was probably mostly to help fill more of the film's running time, and that's fine, because they never felt like that's all they were doing. Every new character served a purpose and was very enjoyable to watch in their own way for unique reasons. Capper was a delightful, suave con artist who went through a nice redemption arc, Captain Celaeno and the Sky Pirates were a lot of fun to watch and not nearly as awkward as they appeared they could have been in some of the trailers, fitting into the overall flow of the movie just fine, Queen Novo was fun when she showed up but sadly didn't feature more (and was also pretty believable as another one of this world's rulers along with Equestria's princesses given how ardent she was in looking out for her people), I cannot rave ENOUGH about Kristin Chenoweth's Princess Skystar, who was every bit as adorable as I thought she would be (not to mention the added bonus of getting some Chenoweth vocals in MLP: The Movie did not hurt one bit), Songbird Serenade, by far the least developed of the new characters, still served her purpose well enough with some smashing great vocals from her VA, Sia, Grubber was surprisingly quite funny and even though he was clearly there just to be a comedic foil, it never got irritating to me, and the Storm King, while not nearly as threatening in demeanor as Tirek, Discord (when he was still a villain), Queen Chrysalis, or even Nightmare Moon, was the perfect villain for this movie, and hats off to Liev Schreiber for genuinely having fun with his performance.
The standout of the new characters was, of course, Emily Blunt's outstanding Tempest Shadow (a.k.a. Fizzlepop Berrytwist), who serves as the primary villain for most of the film before the Storm King shows up near the end and she completes her character arc of getting reformed. This character is undoubtedly where the movie's writing is at its strongest. Unfortunately some might draw lazy parallels between her and Starlight, but the fact of the matter is that, even though their backstories and redemption arcs have some broad similarities, the specifics are far more different and nuanced. Starlight didn't believe in cutie marks to begin with, but never expressed a desire to be a loner until her revenge plot against Twilight (even then, her working by herself was more circumstantial than anything else). She wanted to be a part of something special, hence why she started her "utopian" community in the first place; she wanted a place to belong to that she felt functioned as an ideal home and society should. Tempest, on the other hand, by the start of the film has completely turned her back on ponies in general, not just an aspect of pony biology or what it means for pony society. She's far more anger-driven than Starlight ever was, and her purpose is singular: she wants to feel like a real unicorn again. She's extremely self-conscious, even troubled, by the injuries she sustained as a foal at the claws of an Ursa Minor that disfigured her and, most notably, cleaved off most of her horn, and she is willing to do anything, even doom all the other ponies of Equestria - since in her mind, none of them were able to help her anyway all these years, so why should she care about them now when they never cared for her - to get it restored and feel whole again. It's quite a tragic backstory, a little more on the nose than Starlight's, but still relatable, especially for anyone who has disabilities or disfigurements of their own and has ever felt like an outcast or not whole because of it. She even was willing to turn to the Storm King for help just because she believed even he of all people actually would help her, and clearly even the slightest chance that anypony cared about her was what she wanted more than anything else; unfortunately, as it turned out, not only did the Storm King end up betraying, but he really couldn't have cared less, and that flippant attitude of his actually really made his betrayal of Tempest all the more hurtful. He didn't do it out of purposeful maliciousness, he just didn't give a shit to begin with, and for a pony like Tempest, so desperate for any measure of love or care, such a glib attitude about her problems had to hurt more than even deliberate hatred from him would have. Thankfully, through a combination of words and deeds, Twilight and her friends are able to show Tempest the light by the end of the movie, and she in turn turns her back on the Storm King and helps them all save the day, finally finding a place among her kind, even without her horn restored.
Of all of the new characters who should make a return to the show, Tempest is by far the one I'd like to see the most, though I'd certainly love to see them all at some point again (aside from the Storm King of course, considering he kinda caught a case of "death-by-shattering-into-a-million-pieces-of-stone-itis"), including Grubber, the Sky Pirates, Capper, and most definitely Queen Novo, Princess Skystar, and the other Sea Ponies/Hippogriffs (one has to wonder now if they'll end up all becoming hippogriffs again now that the Storm King is no longer threatening their land). Every single one of their celebrity voice actors, from Emily Blunt, Liev Schreiber, Kristin Chenoweth, Michael Peña, Sia, Taye Diggs, Zoe Saldana, and Uzo Adaba, all did a smashing good job, did not sound in the slightest like they were phoning in their performances, and seemed to genuinely enjoy playing these roles, and I commend them all for that, especially Blunt, who probably had the hardest job of the bunch in having to play as serious and straight of a role as Tempest Shadow. Other children's television shows and movie adaptations, take notes, THIS is how you make great use of celebrity guest actors; you give them actually important, well-written characters to work with, not just sloppily put together and poorly thought out roles that solely exist to make room for the celebrities themselves (I'm looking at you Disney, wasting Kristin Chenoweth of all people in dreck as bad as Descendants, FOR SHAME!!!).
As for the returning cast, most of them had strong showings and all of them were exactly in character as they should be. The two exceptions are Fluttershy and Applejack; while both of them had a few moments here and there, neither of them had too much time explicitly devoted to featuring them, especially Fluttershy, and that's a damn shame. It wasn't bad enough that I think the movie's creators did them wrong or anything, not at all, it just felt like when it came down to picking who they were gonna focus on, they took the easy route and chose the more flamboyant and energetic characters from the Mane 6 with the biggest fanbases to feature, so it's just disappointing that longtime fans didn't get to see Fluttershy and Applejack really shine in a feature length film and first time viewers didn't get to see what makes these two characters so very special. That said, they had enough moments that I was sated with what we got, and they probably still got more moments than Spike did (who oddly enough probably had fewer major moments than Grubber did, which is just weird, but he had his moments too nonetheless). After that, Rarity probably had the 4th most amount of screentime of any Mane 6 character, and while she didn't get her own solo song number like Pinkie Pie and Rarity did, she still sang a few times and did get a wonderful scene where she got to display her generosity to Capper, which started his path to reform in a quiet and very nicely handled way. She also got some of the biggest laughs of the movie, more so I would argue in her visual humor than in any of her lines; I mean don't get me wrong, Tabitha was as funny as ever, but the animators made full use of a character as flamboyant as her and gave her some wildly funny expressions and visual gags (my personal favorite being her checking her appearance in a mirror in the middle of falling to her doom, good Lord that was perfect ). Rainbow Dash had a very strong showing for the most part and got about as much screentime as I'd expect her to get in a movie like this, but thankfully it never felt like they were egregiously turning the movie into "The Rainbow Dash Show" just to sate or please her huge fanbase, and her shining moment in inspiring Captain Celaeno and the Sky Pirates felt perfect for her, so I can't fault the writers for giving her that. Intriguingly enough, not just Twilight but Pinkie Pie as well were the two most important members of the Mane 6 here, and while for one that's hardly surprising, for the other it is slightly more so, but I think I know why. Twilight featuring front and center for the Mane 6 isn't surprising at all, and I long ago accepted that she will always be the main character of this show (even if one could argue she was not the most important character in certain seasons like Season 7). For a movie, it makes perfect sense that the centerfold character should feature more than anyone else. What was somewhat annoying was that we went through very old Twilight problems in a large amount of this film, like her worrying too much about a special event going correctly, or her losing faith in the power of friendship and trying to do things the easy way instead. Despite the size of the threat, and it was a major threat, make no mistake, it still felt a little tired to go through these problems for Twilight between Season 7 and Season 8, and it kind of reinforces arguments that this movie should have come out sooner; if this had happened in canon anywhere from Season 3 to Season 5 I probably could have bought Twilight being this insecure about these things, but she hasn't been such a worry wart in quite a long time now. I believe it was mostly so that newer audiences could get an idea for what things Twilight tends to worry about, as well as simply because it gave the film some more conflict for the Mane 6 itself (not to mention it tied Twilight's arc somewhat into Tempest's as well), so for the most part its forgivable enough, but it definitely feels redundant at times. However, Pinkie Pie as the second most important member of the crew was not an issue at all. At first glance it seems fairly obvious that she'd be one of the top 3 most featured characters of the group considering she has a large following, is very recognizable, and is already the funniest pony out of the bunch, or at least the biggest source of comedy (as she easily is here). But interestingly enough she was NOT just comedic relief, and that's where her performance was truly outstanding. Pinkie Pie, while not stupid by any stretch of the imagination, has in my opinion the simplest and most basic belief in the power of the friendship between herself and all her friends. That's not to insult her understanding of it or anything, it's just not really nuanced or complex for her (not taking some of her past insecurities into account, of course); she knows it's a wonderful thing, she believes in it more easily than any of her other friends, and she never loses faith in it or what it can accomplish. Facing as big of a threat as they do, that faith is incredibly important, and Pinkie frequently keeps the group going and does her best to bolster spirits however she can without largely ever batting an eye, and this is best displayed in two scenes. First, she tries to get exactly what they need from the sea ponies simply by showing them that the ponies are worth caring about through the simplest of actions, showing that they themselves care about the sea ponies and are willing to give them their time, even as their home is threatened and in terrible danger, enjoying the simplest of activities with one another because the sea ponies could use it, having had it pretty rough for some time hiding away from the rest of the world. And the best part is that was all going to work, before Twilight tried stealing the sea ponies magical pearl behind their backs and got the group banished. Afterwards, her next most important scene happens when Pinkie finally angrily confronts Twilight about her losing her faith in their friendship and trying to do things the wrong way, and in that moment she is the perfect choice for expressing the entire group's feelings towards Twilight. It's a rough scene to watch, but it makes sense why she's so angry seeing her longtime friend completely turn her back on doing things the right way, the way they know will work even if it's not always easy. It's raw, it's powerful, and it's one of Pinkie's most mature scenes ever. So her serving as the heart of the group here worked just fine by me, especially when one considers that this is but one of their dozens of adventures that they've had by now, and that all of them have had different moments to shine in each and every one. Someone is always stepping up when the moment calls for it, and this time it just so happened to be Pinkie, who as far as I'm concerned had the best arc of them all, especially since Twilight's was a little more standard and predictable for her and this kind of movie. That said, on the whole I thought that all of the Mane 6 (and Spike) had as a group the movie they needed; like many of their earlier adventures, this was most definitely more ensemble performance of the group as a whole than any one character (besides Twilight and to some extent Pinkie) dominating most of the screen time, and seeing as for many people this would be their first exposure to the Mane 6, it makes perfect sense that this is how the movie's creators would want to portray them. The nuance and complexity we longtime fans know is there for all of them is for the show itself, while here, we got mostly the basics, but also enough information that it was clear there's a lot of history and complexity to these characters beneath the surface. I'm having a hard time imagining how it really could have been better for them, so as far as I'm concerned, this was exactly the showing we deserved from our favorite group of ponies.
As for supporting characters and background ponies, believe it or not, they didn't have nearly as much to do as we usually have come to expect from them. I suppose the princesses getting into trouble was nothing new on their end, but even the background ponies didn't do much in their cameos aside from look miserable a lot once they'd been enslaved by the Storm King's forces. Overall this wasn't terribly surprising given that the movie had so many new characters to introduce (who had background characters themselves, including an adorable sea pony foal who had some incredibly cute cameos). HOWEVER, there was a big, big, BIG exception to that general rule, one that pleased me GREATLY! That's right, in a giant love letter to the fans, none other than the greatest background pony of them all, Derpy Hooves, quite intentionally took a figurative bullet for the team when she desperately shoved Twilight out of the way from a magically enchanted item that Tempest had thrown at her to turn her into stone, saving Twilight's life and pretty much saving the day in doing so. Sure she spent the rest of the movie encased in stone, but by the end of it she was released and back to normal, good as new! It's an awesome shoutout to the fandom and lovers of Derpy like myself, and of all the background ponies to get that kind of love, she deserved it more than anypony else.
The music in this movie quite evidently channels the general sound and feel of more Broadway-esque Disney showtunes of the past, particularly the grandly staged numbers of the Disney Renaissance. That doesn't mean like it ever feels like Daniel Ingram straight up lifted any tunes from Disney, oh no, it's just clear what his inspiration was. On the contrary, the music is great as ever, and each piece (unlike more thematically consistent Disney pieces) feel very unique and like they could be in a different movie altogether, but here it works since they're usually staged in radically different settings. The biggest exception to this rule, of course, is Sia's number at the end, but even that works just fine for what it is, even if it sounds the least like a song we'd expect to hear in this show.
We Got This Together - The first number is a fun and fairly standard Mane 6 ensemble. Nothing particularly notable about it aside from it having a very pleasant tune, and I never complain about all of the Mane 6 singing together (which happens in most song numbers in this film, but it is most deliberately centered on them here). In fact I actually think the most memorable thing about this song is that it really was one of the first points where the movie truly got to show off its animation. Sure we'd already seen how different it all looked for about 10 minutes by that point, but this gave us a fun tour around Canterlot for about three and a half minutes, and all with a fun song playing to go along with it. A fun, solid opening number to be sure.
I'm The Friend You Need - THIS song is where the movie's soundtrack really began to shine. "We Got This Together" is a great number in its own right, but it also sounds very familiar for the show. "I'm The Friend You Need," however is a tango sung by a male character (male characters of note being rare as it is in the show, it's even rarer one getting to sing), a style we've really never gotten to hear on the show before, and goodness me is it deliciously fun. Taye Diggs's vocals especially sell the number, and its visuals are quite fun to boot, with the ponies unsettling settings delightfully contrasting their Equestrian-selves.
Time To Be Awesome - "Time To Be Awesome," in my humble opinion, is actually Rainbow Dash's single best song ever. It's kind of the anti-"I'll Fly" of her song numbers - while that song, from "Tanks for the Memories," has a good tune, it's also about her not giving a buck about how her trying to keep winter from happening is going to buck everypony else over all so she can just spend more time with Tank. The message never sat right with me or many other Rainbow Dash fans, not because the show was trying to sell it as the right thing, but because by making it such an upbeat tune, they kinda made it sound like the Element of Loyalty quite literally stabbing everyone else in the back was a good thing. "Time To Be Awesome," on the other hand, is the polar opposite. It has Rainbow Dash channeling all of her best qualities to lift others up and remind them that if they're willing to do it, it's not so hard for anyone to be awesome. That's Rainbow's loyalty at its best, when it inspires other to be their best selves. It doesn't hurt that both Ashleigh Ball and Zoe Saldana absolutely kill it on their vocals, and the kickass Celtic/Gaelic instrumentals (at certain points, sometimes mixed in with a dash of pirate-tune instrumentals to give it a swashbuckling feel when some of the pirates sing their own verses, including one voiced by none other than Nicole Oliver) are quite awesome as well. By far one of the best original tunes in the movie, it's only slightly soured by the fact that Rainbow Dash completely bucks everypony over, including the sky pirates she just inspired, when she hilariously unnecessarily does a Sonic Rainboom at the end, drawing the attention of Tempest Shadow and her forces. But ah well, that's RD for ya, and we love her for it.
One Small Thing - BY FAR my favorite song of the entire. This song is catchy as hell. Repeat after me. This. Bucking. Song. Is. Catchy. As. Hell. It is everything I would ever want musically out of an MLP movie number. Memorable lyrics, a bouncy and deliciously fun tune, fun instrumentals, and bucking operatic singer Shannon-Chan Kent as Pinkie Pie and MOTHERBUCKING GEM OF BROADWAY Kristin Chenoweth as Princess Skystar. Holy shit, that is a delicious duo of amazing singing voices that absolutely delivered 1000000%, seriously, my choral singing self was so pleased by this. The second I heard Kristin Chenoweth was gonna be in this movie I could not wait to hear her sing in MLP and knew very well that her song could easily end up being my favorite of the movie, and my instincts were bucking right. She and Shannon-Chan were gems together and the song itself is insanely fun. On top of that, as with "Time To Be Awesome," it was yet another Mane 6 member at their best, this time Pinkie Pie getting to show how much just showing ponies a fun time can mean so much to them. She helps an entire city of exiled hippogriffs come out of their shells and simply enjoy themselves without even asking for anything in return, and until Twilight was caught trying to steal the sea ponies magic pearl, it was going to actually turn the sea ponies/hippogriffs into their allies. The way Kristin Chenoweth sells her own vocals, you can simply feel how much everything that Pinkie is doing for them means to them. A song like this is MLP in its purest form and one of the biggest reasons I have always loved the show, and definitely ranks up their with some of Pinkie Pie's most legendary song numbers like "The Smile Song."
This song is pure joy and I love it so much!!!
Open Up Your Eyes - This is, objectively speaking, probably the best song in the movie in terms of what it does for the plot itself. "Open Up Your Eyes" is not just a villain song, but a song that tells a story. Tempest's story. In it we get her entire worldview laid bare, and it's rather heart wrenching once it is all laid bare before us. Tempest is simply a loner who, by and large doesn't put her faith or trust in pretty much anyone at all after feeling dejected for so much of her life as a result of her injuries and dangerous broken horn. She only trusts raw power and those with it who she believes might actually care enough to help her, or at least give her what she wants if she does enough for them first. What comes next for her after she fixes her horn, who knows? We never get that far, and it doesn't seem clear that Tempest knows either what she ultimately wants. First and foremost, she just wants to feel whole again, because she feels like that's the only way her life might mean anything again. It's tragic, utterly tragic, and the soft visuals when her backstory unfolds make it even more so. It looks like the memory of a child laid bare, something innocent that goes so terribly wrong because of one accidental moment that never should have happened and changed so much for her. So as far as villain songs in general go, it's very unique. It's not a villain just cackling out their plan in song, or how evil they are or how happy they are that they're about to win. It's Tempest just telling Twilight a story and telling her to stop believing that her idea of Equestria and friendship is right, that the world is just a cold, dark place that will crush you if you let it, and the only way to keep that from happening is to crush others first. Tempest isn't exactly happy about this, she just wholeheartedly believes it, and when we see that, we see just how tragic as a villain she is. It's probably the best villain song that MLP has ever had and easily blows "This Day Aria," out of the water, though again, I must emphasize that it is hardly a traditional villain song, and may not even entirely fit that category.
Rainbow - Sia sings a Sia song in MLP. That's it. What else do you want me to say? I mean it's a good song, even if it is radically different from the rest of the movie's soundtrack. I think what I most appreciated about it was that it was slow, like the movie was exhaling. It could've taken an easy route and been faster and more upbeat, ya know, a kind of party dance tune like so many kids movies these days end with, but instead it went for something a bit more emotional and quiet, and I really liked that. It doesn't feel like the ponies are moving on from a frantic climax to a frantic party, but instead are just breathing easily, enjoying one another's company quietly after saving the day yet again, and that everything is going to be OK, even for Tempest. The single most disappointing thing about it really is simply that Sia's character was literally in this movie just to sing that song. I mean, she shows up to Canterlot, sings some kind of awkward pop-jail number for 10 seconds (seriously, that was a weird scene and I have no idea why she of all ponies gave Twilight a meaningful look when she got back to Canterlot given that they'd known each other for a total of five bucking seconds), and then sings this song at the end. Honestly I think it would have been better if she just straight up showed up at the end of the movie for the first time, like her travel was delayed or something. At least it would have felt more honest then as opposed to her showing up at the beginning of the film. But anyway, yeah, I liked this song a lot and had no trouble with it being at the end of the film.
There's about seven other songs on the MLP: The Movie soundtrack, and I can't speak to all of them since I haven't heard all of them yet. Some of them are covers of older songs, like their "Thank You For Being A Friend" cover (which is deliciously hilarious in concept but also is actually quite lovely the way they did it), and some are original numbers, like Lukas Graham's "Off To See The World," which you may have heard in the MLP: The Movie trailer and credits (and as much as I hate to admit it, I actually quite like the song, despite hating Lukas Graham and his annoying, smug Danish ass himself - seriously, who has a shoutout to themselves in one of their own songs about how humble they're supposed to be in the face of fame, that's so bucking stupid and asinine?!?!). Overall, I'd say pretty much every soundtrack number from the movie itself is more than worth adding to your music library, and if you haven't done so, you really should, they're all quite excellent and perfect for this particular project, definitely some of Daniel Ingram's best work to date, especially given what he was asked to do in making music so different from MLP's normal fare.
The animation in "My Little Pony: The Movie" is radically different from the normal fare we're used to in the show. The show utilizes about as advanced of Adobe Flash animation as one could possibly hope to achieve with that technology, but even so it is still distinctly CARTOON animation meant for television. The movie, on the other hand, uses Toon Boom Harmony, which has been used by movies like "The Princess and the Frog" and television shows like "The Simpsons" (at least since the mid-2000s). According to art director Rebecca Dart, they wanted to keep to the look and feel of the television show, and the use of Toon Boom Harmony enabled them to add "simple yet impactful changes" to the designs for the big screen, such as depth and shadows for their eyes and ears, and the impression of heart-shaped indentations on the bottom of their hooves. Some CGI models are sprinkled here and there, especially for some of the larger ships or objects, and while they look a bit out of place they looked overall much better in the final product than they initially did in some of the early trailers. Overall, while this animation is hardly groundbreaking or revolutionary, the distinctive look for this movie is very appreciated and very much sets it apart from the show and other MLP productions as its own uniquely animated feature. It's so polished that you can't help but appreciate how much hard work the production crew put into bringing this movie to the big screen using a completely new animation style, and is one of the most apparent testaments as to how sincerely this production crew worked to make an actually, objectively good movie and not just a quick cash grab.
As I've said throughout this review, a movie based on a show as long-running as MLP:FiM has to try to encompass the most general, basic elements that have garnered the show as much of a fandom as it has built up through the years, and this applies to the themes of the movie as much as anything else. They're probably the simplest part of the movie if I'm being honest, with the most complex elements entering in Tempest's story. Just because they're simple, however, doesn't mean they're not delivered well. The biggest theme that sits square at the center of the movie is just a downright simple, steadfast faith in the power of friendship to overcome all sorts of troubles that life may throw your way. The Mane 6 don't just embody this in how they stick together throughout the film, but also in how everywhere they go, they affect someone else's lives with their friendship. From Capper being reformed from his con artist ways after being touched by Rarity's simple act of generosity in fixing up his clothes, the Sky Pirates loyally standing by the ponies after Rainbow Dash inspires them to take up their Sky Pirate mantle once more, Pinkie Pie giving the sea ponies a day of joy and revelry like they haven't had in quite some time, and Twilight herself going out of her way to save Tempest even after all Tempest had done to almost destroy Equestria and her friends and loved ones. Sure, this movie doesn't exactly create the wheel, but it is utterly confident in what its theme is, sticks to it, and executes it as proficiently as it could. That right there, that focused and very clear-cut theme that is repeatedly reinforced through the movie, is very much worth commending given that so many children's films these days seem incapable of even justifying the reason for their existence and seem downright as aimless as they are pointless.
This was the movie I wanted. I'm not saying everyone else has to think of the film exactly as I did, but for me, a guy who's been a brony since 2012, this was exactly the feature length, theatrical film version of MLP:FiM that I have wanted for years. It didn't try to do too much, but it also had a point and purpose for its existence. It wasn't revolutionary, but it was clearly ambitious and well-crafted all the same. It was mostly made for fans, but invited first-time viewers just enough that some might be willing to come back for seconds in the show itself if they paid attention closely enough. Most importantly, it accurately reflected and embraced everything we've come to love about the show itself through the years, but simply did so in a film format. At the end of the day, no matter how different it looks or sounds or how much longer it is or how many celeb voice actors it had, "My Little Pony: The Movie" is distinctly, unmistakably as much a part of that universe as anything from the show ever has been. No compromise, no watering it down, this was a pure, unadulterated MLP:FiM experience, a love letter to Generation 4 of My Little Pony and all of its fans, and a true testament to how wildly popular this show still is and how loyal its fans remain to both the show itself, but more importantly, its core themes and messages. As the old saying goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, and the creators of "My Little Pony: The Movie" clearly recognized that they didn't exactly have to change all that much in translating this television show to the big screen. I thank them for that, for embracing this show and all of its elements, and for giving us a truly memorable, fun, and downright thoroughly enjoyable cinematic experience!