I have an intense passion for movies, and I believe that film critics help people think better about the media they consume.
When it was announced that Hasbro was coming out with a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic movie with the ponies as humans, it shocked many of the series' fans. Many hated the idea, but there were also some who defended it.
I reacted negatively to this news at first. The main issue is the character designs. They looked unrealistically tall and thin, like most dolls, and had large heads and eyes, again, like dolls. This didn't seem like a movie so much as a way to cram the pony style into a Bratz doll mold. And I didn't want anything to do with it.
But, I also wanted to refrain from judgement until I saw the film.
Plot Summary - Contains Spoilers
Twilight Sparkle is adjusting to her new life as a princess in Canterlot. The wings are a bit awkward and new, and she doesn't know what duties Princess Celestia might assign for her now that she is a princess.
She is about to go to sleep when a mysterious mare breaks in and steals her crown. The "mane six" and Twilight chase her, but she gets a way in a mysterious magical portal that looks like a mirror. Celestia explains that Twilight must go through the portal and retrieve her crown, since it's also one of the six Elements of Harmony. She will be expected to go and face this danger alone.
She goes through the portal, becoming a human. Spike goes along too, turning into a dog. Hilarity ensues as she has trouble figuring out the basics of being a human. It also comes as a shock to her that this world is devoid of magic, and she no longer has her unicorn horn. At the high school, Canterlot High, she encounters human versions of every pony. Many ponies show up in this world as humans, including Twilight's 5 main friends, as well as Celestia and Luna, who are the Principal and Vice-Principal, respectively.
When Twilight finds her old pony buds, everything isn't all rainbows right away. It turns out, the antagonist who stole Twilight's crown, Sunset Shimmer, has also been secretly manipulating them all, so that they all hate each other. Sunset Shimmer was originally a unicorn, and a student of Celestia before Twilight.
Twilight is able to fix their friendships, but still must win her crown back by being crowned the princess of the Fall Formal dance. Sunset Shimmer has repeatedly won this contest, and this year was expecting to be unopposed. Yet Twilight knows she has to compete, for the fate of Equestria, and...
Doing that somehow entails all the girls putting on these adorable yellow pony ears and dancing around in the school cafeteria. Hey, it was cute! Over time, the mane 6 work together to get Twilight voted as princess. But when she's accepting her crown, Snips and Snails (now under Shimmer's control instead of Trixie's) steal Spike!. This creates a dramatic standoff where Shimmer threatens to destroy the portal if Twilight doesn't relinquish her crown. Twilight refuses to let go of her crown, once she assures that Spike is safe.
Her experience taught her that her friends, which are the most important thing to her, exist in any world.
Then Snips, Snails, Shimmer, the mane six, and Twilight get into a tussle over the crown, but eventually, it winds up on Shimmer's brow.
She transforms into a red, winged, demon-like creature using the power of the crown. Shimmer terrorizes the entire school with her powers, but is defeated when Twilight rises up against her, saying that the "magic of friendship" exists in all worlds.
So of course, friendship saves the day, Twilight saves Equestria, and gets to rock out to a bit more bad pop music before going home to live as a 4-legged animal again.
- Cuteness: everything about this movie was funny and adorable. It was also just as upbeat and positive as any MLP episode.
- They don't gloss over the awkward, uncomfortable transition from pony to human. Some shows and movies act like being human when you've been something else comes naturally, but it shouldn't.
- The opening was neat. I think it's time MLP got a new opening, and I was really happy with this one.
- Costumes were cool, and crowd scenes were interesting. Every scene was very lively and interesting.
- Good feels at the end.
- Also, it's kind of funny how the name Twilight Sparkle is synonymous with the name of the villain, Sunset Shimmer.
- The romantic subplot. It was unnecessary and seemed hastily thrown in. Plus it's icky how much this unspecified human resembles Twilight's brother, Shining Armor, in human form (he's just a different member of the royal pony guard). Also, the boy in question isn't an interesting character.
- It is just a shameless doll commercial.The dolls themselves actually look kind of cool, because this movie had some very cool costumes. But it's still a doll commercial.
- The music was lame. It had none of the charm of a typical MLP song. I'd call it Disney-channel or teenie-bop pop. The songs still had good choreography and cheerful animation, but they sounded bland and mindless.
- There's a few logical problems. For example, how did the human version of Princess Celestia, Principal Celestia, know about the world of Equestria, as is revealed in the end? And if she knew all along, why not simply give the crown back? I hate that she knew about the truth all along, because that means that she (and her hoofed counterpart back in Canterlot) were sending Twilight on an unnecessary snipe hunt just to "test" her. Also, if there are already human versions of every pony in the human world, why doesn't Twilight encounter the parallel world version of herself? Is she possessing the body of someone who normally inhabits the world as a normal human? Is the real Twilight locked in an underground cave? What happened to the real human version of Twilight? Or the real human body of Sunset Shimmer?
- Some things are not very well explained. For instance, it's revealed that, in a new world, a single Element of Harmony can have tremendous power, even by itself. This makes no sense, because the Elements only work in Equestria when all six are combined in, well, harmony. Second, the powers it gives are vaguely described.
- The villain's past and motivation aren't really explained much, either, except that it's said that she was once Celestia's student. The how and why of her fall from good to bad is not explored enough.
This movie is not great, but not terrible. The main issue is it didn't seem as well planned or thought out as a typical episode of the series. A lot of the magic made little sense, as did the plot in general. There are some jokes and memorable emotional moments, but the movie is skippable. It's made to appeal to small children, meaning that it's dumbed down for children in a way that the original series never was.
It can be passable as fluffy entertainment, but it's not going to ignite sparks of passion in the hearts of fans of My Little Pony; Friendship is Magic. It just feels like a slightly off episode of the show.
Rachael Lefler (author) from Illinois on October 15, 2013:
Yeah, I guess it would be cool if Sunset Shimmer's past was explored more in the show proper in season 4, it would even be cool if she became one of the villains in whatever action episodes 4 contains.
I've bought one of the comics, maybe I should just read more of them.
I think season 4 is going to go more deeply into history, specifically, it should be explaining more about alicorns, princesses, and Celestia and Luna's history, the promo is hinting at that.
Overall, I can't fault this movie too much because it's cool that they are experimenting with the direction of the show and breaking from the status quo. This show is very creative and intelligently written overall.
Steven Daniels on October 15, 2013:
good review, as i think we had very similar opinions about this film. I too found the music in this one to be too teeny boppy, but i think that was intentional due to the high school setting.
As for sunset schimmer's past, your right that is a huge plot hole, but I have heard rumors that she might show up in season 4, so there's a strong possibility they might explain it then. As for now, i do know there's like a hasbro comic book company called idw that publishes mlp comic books, where it's allegedly rumored that her origins is explained in more detail there along with the backgrounds of other characters that they haven't been explained about on the show. I haven't read it myself, but this is just what i heard.
as for your query about the whole why didn't twilight run into a human version of herself, well you remember when she met pinkie in the human world? Pinkie asked her if she had like a twin sister that looked exactly like her and had a dog that looked exactly like hers if you remember. I just sort of assumed that maybe the twilight of that world is home schooled, and hasn't officially met the others yet in that world. I figured maybe that was intentional just in case they decide to do a spin off show with equestria girls, and they can have the other five girls befriend the twilight of that world because she reminds them of the other twiley from equestria if that makes sense.
As for the other sunset schimmer running around, i just assumed that maybe she sent her to an alternate universe or some sort of magical prison like Chysallis did in "Canterlot Wedding" to cadence. Or maybe she just killed her because...well she's evil and all.
As for the whole stuff about the elements of harmony working differently in the human world, I can only guess it's probably explained more in the comic books as other bronies and pegasisters keep bringing that up whenever they ask about sunset's past, so maybe it's explained more about the elements of harmony too in there. Idk.
Anyways, keep up the good work and all that. cheers.