Is the “Brony” thing pretty much over? Like, I know they still exist. They still roam around the internet and stuff and still hold conventions, but their day of being a phenomenon is over, right? They’ve faded into the background of fandom, like people who really like Stargate SG-1 or Xena– innocuous at best, an obscure punchline at worst. So yeah, I saw the new movie with the sister entity, and what few people were there were mostly families with little girls. Only saw one potential Brony, and that guy probably looked at me and said the same thing about me, so yeah.
Anyway, it was cute enough. The songs were pretty forgettable. The animation was maybe a notch or two above the TV show, which is to say it was nice-looking Flash stuff with bright colors and good character designs, but nothing particularly impressive. This is far from Redline or anything like that, just decent-looking. It’s good to see a 2D animated movie made for the US market and in US theaters. That’s probably the most positive thing I can say there.
The thing that makes the Friendship is Magic iteration of My Little Pony work is the characters. All of the major, recurring characters have enough facets to them to really play off of one another well. They aren’t just “I’m really into one thing” sorts of kids characters. Rarity isn’t just “the fashion one,” she’s also a bit of a drama queen who can weaponize her fussiness. They’re full of quirks and contradictions and all sorts of stuff that works well in an episodic show. And that’s probably the biggest problem with the movie. Any given episode usually focuses on one or two of the characters, with the rest acting as supporting cast or simply not appearing if not needed for the given story. That way, the handful of characters focused upon can interact and do their thing in the allotted time. It’s a sitcom. Even the more adventure-focused two-parters usually focused on Twilight Sparkle and her destiny or whatever, and the good two-parters also had a villain who would act as another focal point, complete with their own stuff.
A big theatrical release like this doesn’t have the luxury of just being another episode. When this is your one shot at “the big time,” you kinda expect to see everyone have their moment in the spotlight. Even if it’s just one scene, when you have six characters who make up “the series,” you figure each of them will be allotted their moment. That doesn’t really happen here. Twilight’s the clear star here, and that’s to be expected, but the other pony who gets to really do stuff is… Pinkie Pie.
The crux of the movie comes down to that friendship stuff, and how after however many seasons of the show, Twilight still doesn’t really get it. Apparently she’s supposed to be the Princess of Friendship or something like that (a new development for me, since I lost track a couple of seasons ago), but she’s the only one to crack when things get serious. There’s something about an evil monkey king who controls the weather or something. He does bad stuff. The ponies have to go on a journey to find some Queen to get help. More bad stuff happens. They find the Queen of the Hippogryphs, who is also the Queen of the Sea Horses, and said Queen has a MacGuffin that can save everyone from the evil monkey.
Thing is, she won’t just give it to the ponies. She needs it to keep her people safe. So Twilight concocts a plan to basically steal the thing, and dupes Pinkie Pie into distracting the Sea Horse Hippogryph things with an annoying song about friendship. Said song actually gets the Queen to change her mind and help out, but Twilight gets caught stealing the damn thing. They get kicked out of Sea Horse Hippogryph Land and start bickering. Pinkie calls out Twilight, and Twilight basically says she doesn’t need friends who screw up all the time.
That was Twilight’s initial deal back when the series started. She was a hikikomori pony. She didn’t need any friends other than her enslaved dragon hatchling. She was tasked to learn about friendship by one of the pony princesses, but apparently she’s still not quite getting it despite being anointed the embodiment of friendship.
Twilight sucks, and may be a worse “villain” than the actual villain of the movie.
So yeah, it’s Pinkie Pie who’s the glue throughout everything. She never gives up, and its largely her actions that ensure they win in the end. The others are there and might get a line or two. Rainbow Dash screws up once in her cocksure way, but the rest (especially Fluttershy) are just kinda there. So it’s weird that a show with a strong cast and messages about friendship and unity has a big movie event like this and has everything fall down to two characters. That’s kinda the nature of these movie event things, but it still runs counter to what makes the series itself work.
At least the villain rocks. Or, rather, the real villain of the movie. The monkey dude kinda bosses peeps around and takes all the glory before being outright killed at the end of the movie (turned to stone and “allowed” to fall and shatter = murder), but his main henchman rocks. She’s a rogue unicorn called Tempest Storm (not her real pony name), who’s horn was broken off by a monster bear as a kid. She still has magic, but she doesn’t have the finesse of a regular unicorn. She just shoots big lasers and explosions, and can kick ass physically as well and wears armor and stuff. She’s exactly like one of those OC pony characters Bronies make up for their dystopian fanfics. But yeah, she does the bulk of the actual villain work. She chases down the ponies and fights them and beats up NPCs for information. She is the villain of the story, the monkey dude’s just a background whatever. Of course she sees the error of her ways when monkey dude betrays her, but it’s also cool that her main goal of getting her horn repaired never happens. She comes to accept that being a blunt instrument is A-OK. That’s what she is, and once she stops trying to murder them the other ponies are down with that. They have their own personal murder machine to sick on bad dudes. Sadly enough, she’ll likely never show up again in any relevant way. Also, her real name is Fizzlepop Berrytwist. She shoulda kept that. It’d be far more intimidating to be murdered by someone with that name than some faux posturing name about storms.
It was enjoyable enough. Not as bad as the worst episodes of the series I’ve seen, but not nearly as good as the best. This was not on par with the episode where Rarity was kidnapped by the Diamond Dogs, but it’s hard to compete with an episode where the baddies are David Bowie references.