The Other Side of Animation 236: My Little Pony – A New Generation Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

There is always this hurdle that fans of a new film or show based on a beloved property has to go through whether they like it or not, the new iteration of said property. With something like My Little Pony, the last incarnation of the show had a decade worth of seasons, DTV specials, and a feature-length film. Like, that’s a ton of stuff for one generation of a show. It’s time for a change of pace and that’s going to happen for any long-time running series. At the end of the day, what it all adds up to is that the new incarnation of the franchise adds something distinct to make it stand out, and the execution of said new entry in the franchise is entertaining. Luckily, My Little Pony: A New Generation has put its best hooves forward for a rather magical time. I promise you, the horse puns will be as minimal as possible in this review. 


Our story follows Sunny Starscout, voiced by Vanessa Hudgens. She is an earth pony that lives in a nice oceanside town known as Maretime Bay, a community full of only earth ponies. In this incarnation of the franchise, it takes place after a rather long length of time from the last show, and now the earth ponies, the pegasi, and unicorns are segregated and live separately from one another. Sunny is the only one to believe that there used to be a time period where they all lived in harmony, and is constantly laughed at for believing in something as optimistic as living together in peaceful harmony. One day, as she is almost forced back to her place, a unicorn shows up and causes the entire town to crumble into chaos. This new unicorn is named Izzy Moonbow, voiced by Kimiko Glenn in her second horse/pony appearance this year alongside the amazing Centaurworld. Sunny soon realizes that something is amiss in Equestria due to the fact that unicorns can’t use their magic. Sunny and Izzy then go on a journey around the land to try and reunite the three races and bring the world together. Along their journey, they meet two pegasi ponies named Zephyrina Storm and her sister Pipp Petals voiced by Liza Koshy and Sofia Carson, and Sunny’s friend from Maretime Hitch Trailblazer, voiced by James Marsden. Can our heroes find a way to unite the world and bring metaphorical and literal magic back to the world? 



With this being a brand new batch of characters and a new setting, is there enough here to make the film and world feel different from the previous show? The world feels a little more technologically advanced with certain pieces of tech like phones and HD screens being noticeable, which doesn’t fully take away from the magic and timelessness of the previous show, and honestly adds a bit more to the overall theme of how the world has metaphorically and literally lost all of the magic. It still has its fantastical details, but the setting helps bring the film up to date in a better way than the 90s version did where they took out the magic and just placed the ponies in a “50s era/Happy Days” setting. It takes a pseudo similar approach to how Onward handled its lost magic approach, but without the discrimination and themes of segregation and propagandistic campaigns. 




Oh yeah, while this is a film based on a toy line of multi-colored ponies, the film is unapologetic with its themes and commentary. The overall world in this film is split up, due to the works of discrimination and propaganda fueled by racism and it’s also mentioned in the songs as well. Sure, this is nothing new in the world of My Little Pony, but it’s nice to see them not regress in terms of world-building and storytelling. This has happened before where the previous incarnations had some substance to them, but then the more recent one was just “sell toys who cares about plot and substance”.  While the story and characters do feel like this is a pilot film for an upcoming series, the characters are likable. They are distinct within their designs and personalities even down to subtle animation quirks that they are given due to this being a film. It’s also nice that they aren’t going full tilt with “they are the previous generation, but 2.0” with the cast of characters. They all feel distinct, and this is the first time in a while where a male lead is introduced into the core cast. Some of them could have had a bit more time to be fleshed out, but again, this is probably a pilot film and their personalities are going to be expanded upon in the main series. 

Animation-wise, while it won’t be competing against some of the bigger CGI films of the year like Luca and the upcoming Encanto, A New Generation does look attractive. It has good character animation, the texture compositing makes for a rather lovely film, the color palette is pleasing, and it’s pretty much a better-looking version of the other toy and show-based film of this year, Paw Patrol: The Movie. Boulder Media, the Irish studio behind the first season of The Amazing World of Gumball, and many other productions helm the animation here, and they did a fantastic job. You don’t need to spend millions and millions of dollars on theatrical/feature animation, you just need to know how to work around the budget and make it look satisfactory. Having the highest-end animation doesn’t always mean the film is going to be good. 



The voice cast is quite strong with actors that include Vanessa Hudgens, Kimiko Glenn, James Marsden, Sofia Carson, Liza Koshy, Elizabeth Perkins, Ken Jeong, Jane Krakowski, Phil LaMarr, and Michael McKean. And yes, the original cast of the previous incarnation of the franchise does make an appearance with Tara Strong, Tabitha St. Germain, Andrea Libman, Ashleigh Ball all playing their respective characters for a humorous and lovely 2D animated sequence. The songs are also another mainstay from the franchise and they are quite good in this film. They were composed by Alan Schmuckler and Michael Maher, while Heitor Pereira composed the overall score of the film. The songs are diverse in tunes and the singing is actually on point for a lot of the characters, but there are going to be songs you will like more than others. 

There are only a few criticisms to be found with this film. The first one is that the story and its overall execution does feel like a pilot film for a TV series. The pacing feels a touch repetitive in terms of how the story unfolds, and like previously said in the review, not all of the five main characters get development. The later they are introduced, the less time they have on screen. They are likable, but if you were a fan of these characters, then you will have to wait and see how they turn out in the upcoming TV series. There are also some mixed feelings overall to be had with how the final act unfolds. It’s like when you go from Bayonetta 1’s final boss, which is this deity that throws literal universes at you, and you finish it off by throwing it into the sun, to Bayonetta 2’s final boss who is this human-sized boss when the previous bosses were gigantic individuals. It feels like a step backward to go from a powerful demonic pony from the first season of the previous show to a mama’s boy that uses something that you would find in a Super Mario game piloted by Bowser Jr. He fits the overall theme of the film, but still. 

A New Generation is, well, a new incarnation of the franchise that hits it out of the park with an overall fantastic first impression. It has a solid core theme, the animation is quite lovely, and it’s an enjoyable time with a solid soundtrack to boot. The fact that there was a lot of obvious effort put into the film is incredible. This could have easily been some slapdash film put together to get the new series off the ground without doing anything different, and yet here we are in a period of time where even some films made with a license in tow can be rather delightful experiences. If you are hesitant to check out this new film because you were such a huge fan of the last show, well, it’s understandable, but you should also get over it. Embrace both the old and the new. It’s on Netflix for free, so you have nothing but time to waste in that regard. Next time, we shall journey back to Netflix for a limited series that is such a delight! 

Thanks for reading the review! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!

Rating: Go See It!

The Other Side of Animation 103: My Little Pony the Movie (2017) Review

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

You know what? It seems like a lot of times, movies are not surprising anymore. You usually know or can predict how a movie is going to turn out if you look at the overall picture. Of course, seeing it in person and predicting how it is going to turn out are two different things, and if you want to have a solid base for your opinion on a film, you should watch it. Sometimes, you get a nice little surprise, but most of the time; you kind of know what to expect. It makes it all the more important when something you were expecting to not be all that great, turns out to be a solid fun time. This is where My Little Pony the Movie comes into play. For the record, I have not watched this show in years. I lost interest, and from what I remember, while I think the show itself was actually pretty good, I was not looking forward to this. On the other hand, this is the first 2D American-animated film we have had in almost a decade. It’s a good idea to support it if you are tired of CGI animated films. It’s a gamble, since I can understand how some filmgoers who are probably older teen-young adults would be hesitant to purchase a ticket by yourself, unless you have a young niece or nephew who wants to see it. Then again, I don’t think you need to be 100% a kid to enjoy this, but I should probably just start talking about the movie.

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The story follows our lead character Twilight Sparkle, voiced by Tara Strong. She is having trouble setting up a Festival of Friendship, due to personal self-esteem issues of being a good princess and wanting everything to go as planned. Unfortunately, as we see the arrival of the big guest at the festival, Songbird Serenade, voiced by Sia, the kingdom is under attack. The individual in charge is a unicorn with a broken horn named Tempest Shadow, voiced by Emily Blunt. Tempest Shadow works for a powerful individual known as the Storm King, voiced by Liev Schreiber. Twilight and her friends, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, and Applejack flee the kingdom and must go on a magical adventure to find a solution to save the kingdom, and take down the evil Storm King.

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A lot of animated films this year have been underwhelming for many reasons, but a major point of interest for me, was the fact that most animated films this year didn’t really know what they wanted to be. Despicable Me 3 wanted to be a big laugh-out-loud comedy, but clumsily tried to have a story arc between the lead and his brother that went nowhere. Cars 3 was meant to be this hugely emotional experience, but it couldn’t focus or stay committed to its more mature ideas, and played its trump card too early. Batman and Harley Quinn couldn’t balance out dark comedy with the heavy amounts of violence. It’s like some of these films had an idea of what they wanted to do, but either quit halfway through, or the writers didn’t know what to do, or maybe execs stepped in. I don’t know what happened, but do you know what is the most refreshing aspect about My Little Pony the Movie? It’s the fact that it knows what it wants to be. It wants to be a fantasy adventure film, and that’s perfectly okay. It wants to have the leads go through exotic and dangerous lands, and meet new characters. It wants to have a few solid action sequences, and it does so. It’s not a complicated movie, and I like that. I admire that, while simple, it’s a film that knows what it is.

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What I like a lot about this film is the fact that it is the first mainstream 2D animated film released in theaters. We haven’t had this happen since 2011. Sure, 2D is slowly making a comeback, but it wasn’t just a side gimmick, or a neat fact. Now, in terms of the 2D animation, it’s really nice. The movements are fluid, and everything is way more expressive than the TV show. It wasn’t something like previous movies based on TV shows in theaters, where it was just a slightly higher budgeted episode of the show. Now, technically, it’s not fully 2D, since they use CGI models for buildings and certain things, and I do have some comments about that, but overall, the animation in My Little Pony the Movie is high quality. I was concerned with how much of the advertising was showing off the big named celebrities, and that the main characters of the show were going to get sidelined, but thankfully, the main six characters do take up a majority of the film. You follow them throughout most of the film, while sometimes cutting back to the villains. A lot of the writing and jokes are pretty good, and I found myself laughing and chuckling throughout the entire film. I remember the show being charming with its writing and characters, and that carries over into the movie. I like the chemistry all the characters have, and I found it engaging. I think it helps that the voice cast from the show came back to voice their characters. Tara Strong, Ashleigh Ball, Andrea LIbman, Tabitha St. Germain, and Cathy Weseluck hold their own against the celebrities like Emily Blunt, Michael Peña, Taye Diggs, Zoe Saldana, Kristin Chenoweth, Uzo Aduba, and Sia. Even the original songs by song writer Daniel Ingram are actually pretty good. They are catchy and well-composed. I found myself humming the villain’s song after watching the film.

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Sadly, one of my concerns about the film, the huge celebrity names attached to it, partly came true. A lot of the celebrities don’t have a lot of screen-time, and some of them don’t have a lot to do. Sia pretty much appears at the beginning and the end of the film for the big dance party. Uzo has a fantastic voice, but her character doesn’t do much, and that goes for Kristin Chenoweth as well. The only celebrities that have something to do are Michael Peña, Emily Blunt, Taye Diggs, and Zoe Saldana. That’s a huge shame, because in the movie, you will rarely see Liev Schreiber, who is the lead villain. He has some of the best lines in the movie, but he doesn’t feel as big of a threat as he should. Emily Blunt’s character is more imposing than Storm King.  It leads the final fight to be well-animated, but it rings hollow when they defeat him, since he was played up for more comedic moments than anything else. The story also hits some familiar story elements that will probably annoy older viewers. The kids probably won’t mind it, but it does lead to some of the film’s few pacing problems. The only other major complaint I could come up with is that the CGI and the 2D animation do not mix well. There are many times where you see the fluid 2D animation interact with the CGI buildings or backgrounds, but do not gel, and it’s very obvious. It makes me wonder what kind of budget they had, to not be able to do full 2D animation.

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It’s by no means a grand or super amazing film. It’s not one of the best fantasy adventure films like Castle in the Sky or April and the Extraordinary World, but it’s a solid and harmless movie. I see no harm in going to see it. You would think they would simply bank on the popularity of the show, but they didn’t. Yes, they could have expanded on some elements better, I wish the characters with big celebrities behind them had more to do, and yeah, I could see some arguments about how it probably shouldn’t have been in theaters, but it’s a solid film. Go see it if you have a niece, or go enjoy it yourself. I can think of much worse animated films that are in theaters or on Netflix than My Little Pony the Movie. Well, we are almost ready to review some spooky films, but I need to get through some animated films first before doing so. Next time, we are going to check out Napping Princess. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed the article, and I will see you all next time.

Rating: Go See It!

Hit-or-Miss Movie Predictions: My Little Pony: The Movie

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial!)

While 2017 may be an underwhelming year for animated films, I would hardly call it forgettable or lacking in curious oddities. One of those cases that I have been the most curious about is the upcoming My Little Pony the Movie. It’s hard not to know about the megaton hit that is My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. And if you are curious, yes, I have seen some seasons of the show and found it admirable. It’s not my cup of tea, but I totally respect and understand why this show is such a hit, and why so many people like it. I was a tad concerned when they announced a movie was in production. I mean, I am not surprised, but at the same time, there was a span of films from the early to mid-2000s that were based on animated TV shows, and while some made bank, they weren’t always of the highest quality. Of course, some of the films had some development troubles, and we ended up with inferior products, but still. When they recently released the poster and the first main trailer for the film, I had a lot to think and talk about with the overall trailer, and my first impressions from it. This won’t be long since I don’t have much to say, and who knows if I’ll honestly go see it day one, unless I’m with my niece or something.

The Animation

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I’ll start us off with some technical stuff and talk about the animation. At first, I thought the film looked great. It might be flash animation, but it’s not like the show looked terrible. It still had pretty good expressions and movements. This looks like it had a lot of money put into it, with very smooth movements and more robust colors. It’s honestly nice to see some 2D animation for a majority of the running time. Due to how every film these days has CGI animation with maybe some 2D thrown into the mix, it’s refreshing to see 2D animation come back into theaters that’s not an indie or foreign film. However, I started seeing people talk about how the animation was off-putting. I decided to rewatch the trailer a couple of times, and that is when I started to spot some problems. First off, it looks like it’s going to be 2D on either certain CGI backgrounds/sets, or only certain elements are CGI. It definitely looks a tad distracting when you watch it and spot the CGI. It might be done in the same art style as the show, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be noticeable. There were some scenes where it was completely obvious that it was CGI, like the windmill sequence. Even then, at the very least, I admire that it stays true to how the show looks, and does look theatrical quality, something I’m surprised Lionsgate knows the definition of in terms of animation.

The Cast/Story

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This is where my biggest gripe with the film comes into play. It’s more or less the marketing of the film, but this film has a real fetish with not giving the actual leads of the film top billing. If you look at the poster and the trailer, they get none of the billing. All the big names you see on there are either side characters or the villains. Granted, I don’t hate the casting choices. I mean, you can’t go wrong with some of these choices. Emily Blunt, Michael Peña, Uzo Aduba, Zoe Saldana, Sia, Taye Diggs, and Kristin Chenoweth have proven that they can be entertaining actors, and some even downright amazing actors. However, the problem comes with them being the only ones who get top billing in the trailer and the poster. You don’t see any of the voice actresses in the trailer or on the overly glowly and bright poster. Actually, you do see them, but they are stuck in the small print at the bottom of the poster where no one, unless you want to know who did what major role in the film, is going to care or read that part.
I just find that so backhandish, since Tara Strong, Ashleigh Ball, Andrea Libman, Tabitha St. Germain, and Cathy Weseluck are the characters you will be following the most in the entire film. I get that you need to get as many people to see this, whether they are fans of the show or not, but we are at a period in time where voice actors need to get better respect and treatment, due to how hard they work to bring hugely memorable characters to life. It makes the whole situation worse when Ratchet & Clank, the biggest bomb of animation in 2016, was willing and happy to show off James Arnold Taylor, David Kaye, and Jim Ward along with the other actors on the poster. Granted, they did the same thing with the trailer for that film, with showing off the celebrities first and foremost, but still. Plus, it’s not like celebrities these days are big reasons to watch a movie, especially an animated movie. If the movie is terrible, then the actors aren’t going to fully save the experience.

It’s problematic, since it comes off that Lionsgate is desperate for people to come see this movie, and to be frank, the movie looks fine. It looks like a fun magical action adventure film set in a universe that has been popular since 2010 with characters people love.  I think the story seems adequate, with an evil force wanting to take over the kingdom. It seems like the actors and voice actors are having fun with their roles, and while I do think they don’t need that many celebrities for the film, they are at least trying since, I didn’t pick up on Michael Peña at first.

Any Lingering Concerns/Last Minute Comments?

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I rolled my eyes a little when I saw that Sia was going to be in the movie. Not that I think she is terrible or anything like that, but with how most animated films are made these days, I won’t be surprised if you don’t see her for about 90% of the film, and only appears at the beginning and the ending where it’s going to have that popular film trope, dance party ending. I’m also wondering if it’s too late to be making this movie. Like, they needed to make this movie a few years back to cash in on the fan base when it was at its biggest.

Prediction: Adequate

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I can see the success of this film going either way. It could be an unexpected hit, it could be a flaming dumpster fire waiting to happen, or it can be just a fun romp that’s not great, but not terrible. I never want a film to bomb, even if I’m not looking forward to it. I want to be surprised and when I do see this film, I want to be entertained. Nothing is worse than a film that wastes your time. I hope the film by MLP:FiM director and screenwriter Jayson Thiessen and Meghan McCarthy turns out to be a blast for anyone who does go see it. I just wish they gave the voice actresses some of the top billing. We will have to see in October and when more trailers come up to see if this will be good or bad.