So I’m only the casualest of casual fans when it comes to mlp, I’ve only just started watching all the way through the show fairly recently, but yesterday I saw the movie both out of curiosity and out of a desire to support more theatrical 2D animation so I have some Thoughts (under a readmore because it’s long; only mild spoilers):
They changed the character designs a bit for the movie and all the ponies look squishy now and I’m not sure how to feel about it
The character animation is beautiful but the backgrounds are done in rather jarring cg with ugly gradients. I do think they start to look much better once you actually leave the city but there’s still a bit of a disconnect between characters and background. I think by the end though I just got used to it.
There were plenty of songs in the movie and outside of maybe one or two (the cat guy’s and Tempest’s) I really liked them all, then again the songs from the show tended to be of really good quality too
There are many side character cameos during the opening and ending scenes (such as Trixie, Starlight Shimmer, and Cheese Sandwich, to name a few), but thankfully they’re pretty much just left to the background so as not to be too distracting
Now I’m not a huge fan of the show’s humor and don’t watch it for a laugh but even then I found this movie’s humor to be a huge downgrade. There’s a lot of burp jokes (rather uncommon for the series) and one comic relief character who’s jokes boil down to being awkward and annoying and eating a lot. I didn’t laugh a single time throughout the movie.
I thought all the main girls would get a song to help out with the plot since Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie did but apparently not. Although that would’ve been the predictable route I still feel like it was a missed opportunity.
I couldn’t help but get the feeling that the writers were playing favorites with Pinkie Pie since outside of Twilight she’s the character with the most screentime and dialogue out of all of the Mane Six. She did so much to the point where you honestly could’ve taken out everyone but her and Twilight (and maybe Rainbow Dash to a lesser extent) and it wouldn’t change much of the plot at all. This was especially a negative for me since Pinkie and Rainbow Dash are my two least favorite of the main cast :/
As a Fluttershy fan in particular I was very disappointed since she got the least to do and barely did or say anything at all. If not for the fact that she was my favorite I probably would’ve forgotten she was there half the time (although I did legitimately forget that Spike was there most of the time). Before the movie we went to McDonald’s and they had toys for the movie and I didn’t see any Fluttershy toys displayed and honestly that about sums it up.
Because this is a movie after all I feel like there should’ve been a more even focus on all the characters? Each one should’ve gotten a chance to show off their skills and their element of harmony in order to help out and advance the plot like Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash kinda did. Again, it might’ve been a bit cliche but I think it would’ve been better. They manage to do that in the show with a lot of the bigger episodes so I don’t know why they couldn’t do it here.
Of the main characters in terms of importance, screentime, and dialogue, from most to least I’d rank it:
While they used their movie budget to show off their animation and explore the world more and go beyond Equestria I feel like they didn’t do enough with it. The plot doesn’t give any of these new characters enough time to make too much of an impression. They pretty much stick around for a song and some exposition and then leave and show up again for the finale. It really says something when the only new characters whose names I can remember are the Storm King and Tempest, the former because he’s the main villain and is mentioned a lot and the latter because she’s pretty cool and has the most screentime.
In a lot of ways this just feels like a longer episode of the tv show, only with nicer animation and celebrity guest voices, such as Twilight learning again how to trust her friends, the smaller character focus, the other princesses being put out of commission fairly early on so the Mane Six can save the day, the villains not believing in the power of friendship, same old same old
For a big theatrical villain the Storm King is really, really lame. He doesn’t have nearly the amount of threat or charisma any of the tv show villains did. I don’t have too strong of an opinion on any of the tv show villains but at least I could say they were very memorable in terms of both design and presence. This guy, not so much. He just sits around for most of the movie as Tempest does most of the work, and the most threatening things he does are constantly changing night to day and whipping up a tornado. Although let’s be real here, Tempest was always the main villain focus of the movie and if not for him promising her her horn back she could’ve kicked his ass six ways to Sunday.
Tempest was cool and all but man did her backstory feel really lackluster. She gets scarred and loses her horn when she’s very little (a concept which I do find to be potentially interesting if developed properly) and gets ditched by her friends so she hates friendship now. Alright.
As nice and ambitious as it was to explore the show’s world outside of Equestria and the ponies they really didn’t give you enough time to really get a good look at them. It wouldn’t surprise me if they explore some of these worlds more in future episodes because clearly they could’ve done more with them.
I know the show was made to sell toys but its writing is good enough to where it doesn’t feel that way. Only twice have I ever though “this was made to sell toys”, once in the show when the Mane Six got those gaudy and Extra new designs when they first took on Starlight Glimmer and again during this movie when they got those underwater designs.
I do have to hand it to them, they got a lot of celebrities to guest star but had quite a few of them do character voices instead of just using their normal voices. I was quite surprised when I saw the voice credits roll because I didn’t even recognize some of the actors’ voices (except Kristen Chenoweth, she’s very recognizable).
Overall, because I’m only casually into the show I didn’t go in expecting much, but I still ended up disappointed. Releasing a 2D animated movie with a wide theatrical release is risky these days, and yet in spite of that I felt they weren’t ambitious enough. They had some good ideas in here and plenty of elements set up that they just didn’t deliver on. It could’ve been so much better than it was.