My Little Pony: The Movie

Over four years ago, I reviewed a film on a whim. I had to drive almost an hour to get to the theater (which meant something pre-Houston days), for the only screen time it was showing. Something like 12:30 pm on a Saturday. A very limited release, I guess you could say.

That movie was My Little Pony: Equestria Girls. It was my first foray into the subject. Oh, I heard about it before on the internet, and heard about bronies, but I never thought about watching the show before. I just went to see the movie because, damn it, I watch everything, so why not that as well? I went in blind. I didn’t have any background on the show.

Now sure, after it I watched a few episodes and thought it was okay. Nothing I would binge watch, but something I could watch occasionally. And now, years later, I have seen tons of episodes over seasons. I understand the characters now. I have made art with the characters. But I am still not up to some obsessed level with the show, because I haven’t seen most of it. Just parts of episodes here and there. The kids have seen a lot more than me.

But I feel qualified (As fuck!) to review My Little Pony: The Movie. New art style, same ponies, music, and fun. I was excited for this. I took my whole family to this. My youngest daughter, who is two? This is now her first movie ever seen in a movie theater.

I was excited and ready to go.

I just really wanted to find out if Friendship was still magic.

The story starts us off with Twilight Sparkle (Tara Strong) and Spike (Cathy Weseluck), properly freaking out because there is about to be a Friendship Festival, with all the kingdoms and princess and even goddamn derpy all excited. They need to highlight friendship, so that everyone can be so fucking magical. For whatever reason, the highlight of the festival is a pony, Songbird Serenade (Sia) singing. She feels stressed, but it is okay, because she has her FRIENDS to help her. They got this. Rarity (Tabitha St. German), Applejack, Rainbow Dash (Ashleigh Ball), Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie (Andrea Libman).

Well, turns out friendship can’t do everything, all the time, right away. Because a few storm clouds start to gather, even though Twilight asked for good weather. Maybe she didn’t friend enough of the people?! Inside the storm clouds are some sweet airships, apparently led by Commander Tempest Shadow (Emily Blunt)! With a name like that, of course she is fucking evil. She is a unicorn, with a broken horn. The saddest. With a head minion Grubber (Michael Pena), they work for The Storm King (Liev Shreiber), and Tempest goes and freezes 3 of the princesses! I don’t even have to tell you which one is able to escape.

The last words they heard were to find the Queen of the Hippos. Huh. Okay. Well, if that is the way to save everyone, then that is what they will do. And on the way, they will find a singing cat (Taye Diggs), some bird sky pirates led (Zoe Saldana), some water horse thing (Kristin Chenoweth) and her mom (Uzo Aduba).

Guys. I think friendship is back on the table.

Like the subtitle suggests, this certainly is a whole movie. 100 minutes long, big adventure, tons of fun, a beautiful heart, that is faithful and strong with…um, kindness. That last bit will only make sense to some of you.

They have about five or six songs, the best one from Rainbow dash about being awesome. A couple of decent ones, and a few forgettable, including Sia’s songs. Which on that note, Sia is my first real dislike of the film. Oh cool, they made a pony that looks like…Sia as a horse. Why couldn’t they have just made a singing pony by Sia be a pony? Kind of just feels shoe horned.

The story and plot is actually pretty good while also still being easy to follow. It isn’t entirely original, but it does some good things. The biggest problem with the story comes from Twilight Sparkle, our main character. The writers just totally seem to disregard her. She acts totally out of character from my point of view. Why? to advance the plot. And that sort of thing can really anger someone.

In a movie one can easily argue about how a character would act. But with 7 seasons behind us, it is easy to figure out what Twilight would do. They could have set it up better to better explain her actions, but she comes across as stupid, shallow, and certainly not the PRINCESS. OF. FRIENDSHIP.

My other biggest gripe? A totally huge disparity when it comes to pony importance. Of course Twilight is the most important, sure. But not too far after her is Pinkie Pie in terms of lines, jokes, and plot advancement. Then not far after, Rainbow Dash. But after that? Much further down, very far down, come our other three ponies. They basically exist as extremely minor characters with an occasional joke or reference. It was odd. Balance the main characters before you add an equal number of characters for celebrity sake.

Fans of the show should still enjoy it, minus the straight up murder of Twlight’s actions. I’m sure I will end up watching it again.

2 out of 4.

Batman: The Killing Joke

I have never seen a DC animated movie before I watched Batman: The Killing Joke. Sure, I have heard a lot of good things about them, but I never really made time for them. They are supposed to be decently animated, well voiced, and of course, tell great plot filled stories, better than the current live action films.

I figured it was the best time to finally get on the train. The hype for The Killing Joke was insane. The graphic novel itself is incredibly well known and respected as one of the best Batman stories ever. This is the first R-rated DC animated film ever made. And of course they decided to release it in theaters for Fathom Events. It sold out. So they made a second showing for the one day only event. Then they added two more the next day. And some theaters had multiple screens each night at the same time.

I. Had. To. See. This.

And I have never been so disappointed to get so dang hyped for something I had little experience for.

King? That’s not the card that is super relevant, damn it!

The Killing Joke is a story about Batman (Kevin Conroy) realizing that one day, either he might end up killing The Joker (Mark Hamill) or vice versa. And Batman doesn’t want to do that. He wants to try to talk with The Joker. But The Joker has escaped again.

And The Joker wants to get revenge, harsh revenge. Mainly on Commissioner Gordon (Ray Wise) and his daughter, Barbara/Batgirl (Tara Strong). He wants to break Gordon and break Batman in the process, just like he was broken a long time ago. Yes, we get Joker backstory.

Oh, and also, there is a 30 minute intro or something completely unrelated, about Batgirl and Batman having a relationship and a sociopath gangster named Paris (Maury Sterling) who abuses Batgirl. John DiMaggio is also here for gangster voice work and Brian George as Alfred.

The Killing Jokeeee
Life. Life is the real joke. HA HA HA HA!

Let’s ignore the story for a bit. Let’s just talk about the animation, a crucial part of any animated movie. It is hard to describe in any other way other than shit. It feels so cheaply done. When characters walk it feels sometimes rushed, sometimes blocky. It is a buzzkill to watch. If they were going for a comic book feel, I cannot tell. In addition to that, for whatever creative reason, the vehicles in the movie are very different visually and a lot more 3D feeling than the rest of the 2D film. It again just feels lazy, like they had to use a different program just to get the film out in time.

The prologue of this film is a big what the fuck. First, it is almost half the movie. I haven’t seen a prologue that long since Digimon: The Movie. They apparently added in this story, not attached to the comic, in order to build up Batgirl a bit more. In The Killing Joke she is seen as a prop just to get hurt and abused and it has its fair share of controversy. So they give her a bigger role with this aspect. It is meant to draw parallels between her feelings towards Batman and this new villain, with Batman’s own feelings towards her and the Joker.

And it fails. The random gangster objectifies her at every turn and basically always has the upper hand. Batman is seen as a huge dick in the prologue, void of any emotion, and a very out of place love scene. It also comes with a stereotypical gay character out of the 90’s! The prologue is meant to give the Batgirl more material to work with, but in all honesty just turns her into a sex object for a longer period of time. Yeesh.

As for The Killing Joke portion, it is still only okay. The voice acting is decent, the animation is poor, the backstory is interesting. But again, this portion of the film feels rushed. Joker’s plan to drive Gordon insane has only two or so components and clearly not enough to break him. The film has the R rating for subject matter, but so much of it is still implied. Show me animated dong, damn it. It felt censored.

This is not something you should have seen in theaters, but by the time this review is up, it is already out. They made their money, it is a financial success, and now people might buy it for their homes. But it is not worth owning or really watching. In all accounts, your money would be better spent just on the graphic novel itself most likely. Rent this one if you must.

1 out of 4.

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls

I guess I should make one thing clear right off the back. At the time of watching My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, I have never seen anything related to the TV Series before. So I am going into this movie completely blind, knowing full well there will be jokes and references I don’t get.

Now, I have since gone back to watch the TV show for a few episodes. You know, for “research.” I am not saying I am a “Brony” but the show has merits on its own.

It also has strange colored women. But if it worked in Doug, it can work here, damn it.

The story begins with Princess Twilight Sparkle (Tara Strong) heading to the Crystal Empire for the Princess Summit. All of her friends are invited too: Rarity (Tabitha St. Germain), Applejack and Rainbow Dash (Ashleigh Ball), Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie (Andrea Libman), and her dragon companion Spike (Cathy Weseluck). It is a pretty big deal and will be a pretty big party!

Twilight Sparkle still feels weird wearing her magical crown though, not used to the power and responsibility that comes with it. However, in the middle of the night, a thief breaks into her room and replaces her magical crown with a replica! Oh no! Sunset Shimmer (Rebecca Shoichet), a bitter former student of the Queen, has stolen the crown (an Element of Harmony) and put it through a magical portal to a strange new world.

Twilight Sparkle is going to have to go chase after Sunset Shimmer to retrieve the crown, before the portal closes in three days, and she must go alone. When she goes, she is transformed into a strange new life form: a teenage girl in high school! Sunset Shimmer rules the school with an iron fist (hoof?), too. The school is  also made up of people who have very similar personalities to her pony friends back home, but they are all enemies here!

Can Twilight Sparkle restore the friendship that used to exist in this school? Can she get retrieve the crown before the portal closes, trapping her in the human world for a long time? Will the fact that “Friendship is Magic” come up at all in this movie?

Friendship Orgy Circle!

Audience wise, I was surprised that college and middle aged people actually outnumbered teenage and younger girls. Go figure, the “Brony” crowd is real and showing up in theaters, increasing ticket sales. In fact, they were a rather rambunctious group, constantly cheering and clapping at small cameos and tiny jokes. It actually made the experience better.

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls is only 70 minutes long and it is made up almost entirely of high school prom based cliches. But I still found myself laughing out loud several times throughout. There are at least four original songs as well, of course about friendship and working together, basically the cheesiest things ever. Yet they still entertain. They reminded me of this famous song from the first season of “The Powerpuff Girls.”

Unfortunately, this movie was probably just made to sell dolls and figurines. The rumors are that they will create a second show, one set in the human world with the girls if this one does well, creating even more merchandising for kids. Yes, every movie is made for profit, but no one likes an over saturation of one product.

The movie offers a great message for kids, especially with how they dealt with Sunset Shimmer. Often times, in kids movies, the villain will be completely one dimensional and just pure evil. This film at least breaks the mold from that.

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls can be watched if you haven’t seen the TV series, you just won’t get a lot of the smaller references thrown in. You just have to be able to find it in theaters, most only having one show time a week. It is good for families, and not incredibly boring, just probably an extreme cash grab. Still a better movie than The Croods. Brony up!

2 out of 4.