Movie Review – “My Little Pony: The Movie” (2017)

 

 

E’Yup. I saw this movie in theaters. Was it awkward? It was weird to say “Can I get one ticket to ‘My Little Pony: The Movie’ please?” but other than that, I was the only one in the movie theater. That’s what going at 10 p.m. on a Thursday night will do for you.

But I can honestly say that, if you’re a fan of the show “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic,” then you will enjoy this movie. It is the same humor, characterization, storytelling, and mythology as the show but on a much bigger budget and slightly changed animation style. If you don’t care for “Friendship Is Magic” or outright hate the show, then you will hate this movie just as much if not more.

This movie isn’t going to convert any haters or disbelievers of the show into fans. Like “Friendship Is Magic” in general, it is targeted mostly towards little kids and this movie excels at keeping those toddlers and little girls engrossed. The adult fans of the show? It depends on what they’re looking for.

Personally, watching “My Little Pony: The Movie” makes me appreciate the most recent season of MLP even more because of how much the characters have changed. My biggest grip with the movie is that it focuses too much on certain characters, in particular Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie, giving them all the good lines, jokes, and standout moments. This leaves little for the three other main characters, Rarity, Applejack, and Fluttershy. AJ and Fluttershy especially get the shaft in this movie, as they get almost nothing to do over the course of the film outside of be in the background.

 

 

Even when Fluttershy gets to do something in this movie, it usually resorts to her traditional cowering in the corner and being afraid of all the threats they face. The problem is that the show’s version of Fluttershy has evolved beyond this point. In seasons six and seven, she has overcome her fears and anxieties to become a rather assertive yet still kind pony. The movie’s version of her resorts back to the early seasons, where every episode she had to overcome a new fear that hadn’t surfaced until that episode.

Also, not a single line of dialogue from one of my favorite new characters in “Friendship Is Magic,” Starlight Glimmer. This shows that the movie is stuck in the early days of the show, where characterization is basic and mostly revolves around simple ideas for the characters, like Rainbow Dash always talking about being awesome or Rarity only focusing on fashion. That was a little disappointing to see.

While I would prefer to watch a good two-part of the show over this movie, like “To Where And Back Again” or “Twilight’s Kingdom,” the movie still isn’t bad. It nails the style and sense of humor of the show and it does feel grand seeing our heroes traverse an entirely new land to discover all new races with their own backstories and mythology. I even enjoy the animation style since it makes all their movements feel more fluid and connected, and the detail on all their eyes is wonderful.

If you’re a parent with a little kid who wants to see this movie, they will have a good time. If you’re an adult fan of the show, try going to a late showing on a weeknight when there won’t be any kids around and you will at least enjoy some parts of the movie. If you’re on the fence about this movie, then this probably isn’t for you.

Final Grade: C+

 

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Top Ten New Episodes Of “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic”

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One of the biggest surprises I have experienced since I started this blog and catalog of thoughts on film, television, etc., is not one you would expect.

Of all the reviews, countdowns, editorials and ramblings I’ve posted in the last few years, the one that has had the most longevity and some of the most views is not my revelation on Godzilla, or my favorite films countdown or even some of my early reviews. It is the countdown of my 10 favorite episodes of “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.”

I post my reviews and editorials on multiple sites, and on one of them (World Of Entertainment) that particular countdown is in the top ten in terms of viewing in 2014 (though the highest viewed article from that year was my fan reaction to Gareth Edward’s “Godzilla”). But more surprising is that it is the most viewed article on the entire site for 2015.

I am beyond words. I knew there were bronies and pegasisters all over the internet, but damn.

Well, if that’s case, why not do another one? There has been a whole new season of “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” since the last article I published on the topic, and well over 30 new episodes.

As such, I will be counting down my top ten favorite episodes of “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” since my last countdown. Like the previous one, these are the episodes that have stuck with me the longest after watching them. The ones that I felt best personified this creative, funny and thought-provoking show made for both children and adults.

For those MLP fans out there, this will include every episode between “For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils” and the end of season five, “The Cutie Re-Mark.”

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Number Ten: “Tanks for the Memories” (Season Five, Episode Five)

Quick back story for this episode – Every one of the main characters has their own pet. Twilight has an owl (named Owillicious), Pinkie Pie has a baby alligator who has no teeth (named Gummy), and Fluttershy has a bunny rabbit that seems set against ruining her life (named Angel). But the best pony-pet dynamic is Rainbow Dash, the speedster who is always up for a race, and her pet turtle, equipped with a magic propeller, named Tank.

Tanks for the Memories” is as close as MLP will ever get to the death of a pet. Since this is a show aimed for little kids, they would never be allowed to kill off any character, so they come up with the next best solution – Have Tank enter hibernation during Rainbow Dash’s favorite time of the year.

And of course, Rainbow Dash has an over-the-top reaction that would make even the Grinch feel jealous, by stopping winter from coming. Rainbow Dash would rather stop the time of year that makes her feel the most alive than lose her pet turtle for six months.

The first half of the episode is Rainbow Dash being unwilling and stubborn about losing her pet and that she can stop it. The second half starts with Rainbow Dash taking drastic measures to stop winter, including a “Mission: Impossible” style break-in to a weather factory. But what propels this episode further is the ending, with Rainbow Dash realizing that Tank will be gone and there is nothing she can do about it. A hard truth that any kid with a pet has to learn eventually.

This one was a touching episode with lots of funny bits scattered throughout. Plus Equestria looks beautiful in the winter, especially when it all plops down at once. Thanks for that Rainbow Dash.

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Number Nine: “Inspiration Manifestation” (Season Four, Episode Twenty-Three)

Imagine a magic spell that could bring everything you ever wished to life. Everything you ever want to create, your hopes and dreams met with just a thought. Would you be consumed by this spell? Would all your generosity to help others turn into a lust to perfect everything in your own image?

This is what makes “Inspiration Manifestation” so great, as Spike finds a spell book to help out a stressed, overworked and under-appreciated Rarity. It is something so very rarely seen on this show, in a world full of magic, both good and bad, there is a spell that can be taken as a good thing, but can corrupt the user. But the strange thing is that, even as Rarity descends into madness, she still feels like she’s doing the right thing. Being the element of generosity, Rarity puts others and their well beings above herself, so the interest of others is in her mind. So if that means replacing all of their chariots with “Rar-iots” because these ones are better, then so be it.

Of course, this is an episode that focuses primarily on the relationship between Rarity and Spike, who has always had a crush on Rarity but has never reciprocated those feelings. Spike, in a desperate attempt to keep Rarity happy, agrees with everything she says even if the spell is beginning to take her over. But once he puts his foot down and steps up for himself, telling her that what she is doing her is wrong, the real Rarity comes back. A good lesson for anyone who has ever had a crush on someone else – they’re not perfect, so don’t treat them like they’re royalty.

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Number Eight: “Do Princesses Dream Of Magic Sheep?” (Season Five, Episode Thirteen)

MLP seems to follow the “Mystery Science Theater 3000” style of comedy – These jokes are made, not for everyone, but for the right people. And this title, for those that get it, will find it hilarious.

One of the more mysterious and tragic characters in MLP is Princess Luna, the magical pony that controls the moon and the night. Her sister, Princess Celestia, controls the sun and day, and is often beloved by all of Equestria for providing life and happiness, while Luna’s work is overlooked. After years of being treated badly, Luna fought back and became the terrible Nightmare Moon, threatening to plunge Equestria into eternal night. But Celestia used her powers and the Elements of Harmony to trap Luna in the moon for a thousand years. After that time expired and the new Elements of Harmony forced the evil out of Luna, she returned to her princess duties and a protector of the night.

But not without punishing herself.

We find out in this episode that Luna put a spell on herself and created a nightmare creature that feeds off of her bad dreams. Now she has the same dream every night, of our main characters destroying Nightmare Moon, so that Luna would never forgive herself for what she did as Nightmare Moon.

And now that creature, called the Tantabus, has escaped from her dreams and is finding new ponies to unleash their worst nightmares on.

This the episode that best explores the character of Princess Luna, as a tortured soul who is filled with nothing but regrets and wants nothing more than to forget past, but is unable to.

Combine that with an imaginative story of exploring every main characters dreams, including Rainbow Dash fighting off Changelings, Twilight being in a never-ending library and Applejack with an apple that is ten times her size, and one of the biggest nods to previous episodes in the entire show in the final confrontation with the Tantabus, and you have a wonderfully beautiful and entrancing episode.

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Number Seven: “The Lost Treasure Of Griffonstone” (Season Five, Episode Eight)

If there’s a theme throughout season five of MLP, it is redemption.

One thing that MLP has always done in the past is to convert old enemies into new friends, like the malevolent Discord and the phony “Great and Powerful” Trixie. Because locking up the bad and evil characters isn’t going to solve anything, and often times they’re misunderstood rather than evil. Especially in the case of our returning “villain” in this episode – Gilda the griffon.

Early in season one, Gilda was cast out of Ponyville by her former friend, Rainbow Dash, after she was an ungrateful and unpleasant bully to Pinkie Pie. Someone who was once seen as a one-dimensional villain is now shown to be a complex character that has been shunned her whole life for looking different, except by Rainbow Dash, her only true friend. Rather than despising her for what happened, Pinkie Pie welcomes Gilda with open hooves (or claws in Gilda’s case). And as Rainbow Dash reopens to her friend, so do we.

We are also given a history lesson about Griffons in the world of Equestria – a once proud race who lived together in harmony, until they were split apart by greed and selfishness. Which is what we see now – a once-mighty city on the verge of collapse, full of creatures that are too full of themselves to notice that everything they’ve stood for is falling apart.

This whole episode is one great reason why I love this show – Detailed world-building, heart-felt moments of kindness, and giving old characters new opportunities to become better characters due to quality writing. Throw in two of the best characters, Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash, going on an adventure through this city, and you get some of the best comedy and character moments of the season.

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Number Six: “The Cutie Re-Mark” (Season Five, Episodes Twenty-Five and Twenty-Six)

The redemption train keeps on rolling.

Certainly the most complex new character to come out of season five was Starlight Glimmer. She was introduced in the first two-parter to open up the season, “The Cutie Map.” Our cast of characters travel to a small town that she ran, where every pony had the same cutie mark. In Starlight’s words, this is her version of a utopia, where no pony is judged for being different and everyone is treated equally.

After her plans are thwarted and the town returns to normal, Starlight escapes into the mountains. Only to make her return here in the two-parter to end season five. Now she seeks revenge on Twilight for ruining her dream of a perfect world where other ponies would never be hurt by a cutie mark. Her plan of vengeance? To go back in time and prevent Rainbow Dash’s Sonic Rainboom that caused all of the main characters to get their cutie marks, thus separating their special bond.

What Starlight could never have predicted was what this event meant to the safety of Equestria. Twilight and Spike attempt to stop Starlight Glimmer, and fail every time, always returning to the “present,” with each one getting progressively worst, as a former villain throughout the show succeeded in their plans to conquer Equestria. From Nightmare Moon unleashing eternal night, to King Sombra using the forces of the Crystal Empire to unleash a never-ending war, to the Changelings draining all the happiness out of ponies and forcing the survivors into the forest and always judging every newcomer that might be a Changeling.

This is, without a doubt, the darkest and most disturbing episode of MLP. We watch as Equestria falls apart, the lives we’ve witnessed over the past five seasons be destroyed by war, chaos and cruelty. In one timeline, Rainbow Dash has lost one wing and has it replaced with a metal one. While in another, Fluttershy, the element of kindness is ready to viciously kill Twilight because she might be a Changeling.

And all because Starlight wanted revenge on Twilight. Revenge, the most worthless of causes.

The second half of the second episode is dedicated to why Starlight would do all this and how she got to where she was. Twilight then realizes that she can’t beat Starlight. There’s no way she can stop Starlight from her plans and that the two could be at this for all eternity if they wanted to. But it would never solve Starlight’s problem – her inability to trust others and see that a cutie mark should be cherished, not mocked.

I won’t spoil how this one ends, since it could mean big things for the future of MLP. But let’s just say that, like when Twilight became a princess, this could have big implications for the next season.

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Number Five: “Amending Fences” (Season Five, Episode Twelve)

But the theme of redemption is not limited to minor characters. In this case, Twilight is the one seeking to redeem herself in her first full episode about the newly crowned princess since “Magic Duel.”

Twilight, now dubbed the “Princess of Friendship,” has a realization one day – Before the events of this show started, she was a terrible friend. She was always reading a book or studying, never paying attention to her friends from Canterlot. And when the show started, she ditched everything there to move to Ponyville, never saying goodbye to anyone. Now she wishes to make up for this by returning to her roots and making amends to her old friends. What she finds out is that most of her old friends never thought badly of her, that this was who she was and just enjoyed her company. That is except for one friend, Moondancer.

In a call-back to the first episode of MLP, which was more of a throwaway line at the time, we find out that Moondancer was having a party, something she never did since she was an even bigger bookworm than Twilight. But Twilight, her best friend, couldn’t make it because she had “lots of studying to do.”

And now Moodancer does nothing but studying for the sake of studying. Her journeys take to the library and back to her rundown cottage in the woods, far away from every pony. She has given up on socializing, because she knows that it will only end in misery when they have to leave or become too important for you.

This is a great example of how the writing on MLP is improving, giving us glances at these characters that make us question if they’re doing the right thing, while still being accessible for children. An episode like this would have been impossible in season two or three, but we see Twilight has a character who has made mistakes and wants nothing more than to make up for it.

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Number Four: “For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils” (Season Four, Episode Nineteen)

I mentioned in “Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?” that Princess Luna is in control of the night, but she also has the ability to enter other ponies dreams and talk to them through their visions. We saw Luna do this with each of the Cutie Mark Crusaders, first with Scootaloo in “Sleepless in Ponyville” back in season three, and early on in season five with Apple Bloom in “Bloom and Gloom.” This is Sweetie Belle’s turn and it is the best of the trilogy.

With “Sleepless in Ponyville” and “Bloom and Gloom,” those were dealing more with Scootaloo and Apple Bloom’s fears of being rejected by Rainbow Dash and what it would mean to get a cutie mark, respectively. This one delves, not into Sweetie Belle’s fears, but the fact that she always feels overshadowed by her sister, Rarity. When she makes an entire play, including the set and dialogue, all any pony could talk about afterwards was the customs, designed by Rarity. Even when she tries to do what she loves, it is always about Rarity.

What follows is a “Christmas Carol”-like story, as we see the past, present and future of the relationship between Sweetie Belle and Rarity through dreams, while Luna puts a new perspective on what Sweetie Belle sees of her older sister. That when she made a fool of herself at her fifth-birthday party, Rarity was the one to turn the party around by making every kid happy, or that Rarity spent endless nights getting the costumes for the play ready, pushing aside all her other projects to do so.

This takes the amazingly creative dreamscape of the previous episodes and gives it a touching character piece about two sisters who now see more than just themselves in each other.

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Number Three: “Crusaders of the Lost Mark” (Season Five, Episode Eighteen)

Yeah, yeah, stupid pun title. I know, but the importance and execution of this episode cannot be denied.

There’s no other way around it. This episode makes the list for a good reason – The Cutie Mark Crusaders finally get their cutie marks. And it was done so well.

For five seasons, this moment has been building up. Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo’s adventure began in early season one, when they found each other and decided to try to find something they were all good at and find their cutie marks together. Since then, they’ve strayed far from getting into dangerous situations to get their marks and instead found out more about themselves, like the previously mentioned “For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils.” They also learned what it means to have a cutie mark that it is not just a sign of maturity but that you have found your place in the world.

Now it all comes together perfectly, as we have one last tale of redemption with the one character every fan thought was unredeemable – the bully of the Cutie Mark Crusaders, Diamond Tiara.

For as long as the Crusaders have gone on their escapades, Diamond Tiara has been there to scoff at them, always calling them “blank flanks” and getting every kid in the school to laugh at them. As it turns out, her cutie mark allows her to persuade others into doing her bidding, which she has always used for her selfish and greedy purposes. She is, in every sense of the word, a bully. Until this episode, and we learn about how her parents don’t see her as their daughter, but as a way to climb the social latter faster.

Diamond Tiara has been misled and confused her entire life that she needs to block out anyone less than her and treat them as filth. When she learns what the Crusaders do outside of school, she says they are very lucky to be able to explore and learn about themselves. Diamond Tiara had this lifestyle thrust upon her and didn’t know any other way to take out her anger and confusion on the world.

The moment the Crusaders realize that Diamond Tiara has potential to help others, rather than hurt them, they help her realize her potential and what her mark truly means. They not only earn a new friend, but get their marks as well. They have found their calling – To help other ponies earn their cutie marks and help them realize what their marks mean.

The crusade comes to an end, but begins all over again.

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Number Two: “Brotherhooves Social” (Season Five, Episode Seventeen)

And now we reach a new type of story for the final two episodes: Minor character theater.

If there’s one thing I loved above all else in season five, it was the world and character building. Not just what was done with the main characters, especially the Cutie Mark Crusaders, but the characters that normally don’t get the spotlight. It comes across like the show’s creators are aware of how popular this show as become, and that many fans’ favorite characters are not the main ones. Sometimes they’re background characters, ones who have never said a word or have less than a few seconds of screen time per episode, yet they pack so much character into those few seconds.

“Brotherhooves Social” is one of best examples of that, as the only main character in this episode is Applejack, for about two minutes. The focus of this episode is Applejack and Apple Bloom’s big brother – Big Macintosh, or Big Mac for short. A character that is known for his unbelievable strength, and his limited vocabulary of “E’yup!” and “Nope!” He is shown to have an impressive vocabulary and has even joined a barbershop quartet in one episode, but he chooses to stay with those two words most of the time.

In this episode, Applejack and Apple Bloom are excited for the upcoming Sisterhooves Social event, which they dominate every year. But when Applejack is called away due to a problem in Manehattan, Apple Bloom is crushed. So, Big Mac, in an attempt to please his baby sister, dresses up in drag, going by the name Orchard Blossom, so that he and Apple Bloom can compete in the event.

This is one of the funniest episodes of MLP, because of how different Big Mac and Orchard Blossom are. Orchard has a massive southern vocabulary, taking every opportunity to use the most fancy words imaginable. Orchard is extremely social and wants to get to know every pony, while Big Mac is content to himself and only talks to others if it is absolutely necessary.

And of course, no pony buys the disguise, they all know it is Big Mac dressed as a woman.

The final event of the social really highlights the comedy, as Big Mac desperately tries to win one event for Apple Bloom, and his strength breaks the entire course. The sight of an angry Big Mac in drag running right at Rainbow Dash is a sight that needs to be seen.

But what makes this episode stick with me is the ending, where Big Mac opens up to Apple Bloom. We learn that, even though he may not say much, doesn’t mean he isn’t feeling anything. That he feels like he’s being left behind, Applejack has a big role in Equestria and he stays on the farm doing his job. And yet, all Apple Bloom ever seems to talk about is Applejack. He can live with being on the farm all day, but it upsets him that his sister thinks so little of him.

“Brotherhooves Social” is a wonderful character building episode, with a touching ending, great comedy throughout and character building on someone that deserves more attention.

And the Number One best new episode of “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” is (Say it with me, pony fans)…

slice of life

“Slice Of Life” (Season Five, Episode Nine)

This was the episode that fans have been waiting years to witness – a celebration of everything that is wonderful about MLP.

“Slice Of Life” is the 100th episode of MLP, a massively impressive achievement no matter what your show is about, and the creators of MLP have dedicated this one to the bronies and pegasisters, because they know this show would never have lasted five seasons and over 100 episodes without their support. So the creators give us a love letter to everything that fans have been asking for, to the background characters.

Outside of the final line of the episode, none of the main characters say anything or are featured here. This is an episode entirely about the characters who never have had an opportunity to shine and their “normal” lives in Ponyville. From the fan-favorite cross-eyed and clumsy Derpy, to the completely self-aware and hilarious Doctor Whooves (yes, they make every possible joke they can about that), to the “Lebowski” ponies that look and behave exactly like their counterparts in “The Big Lebowski,” to the odd-yet-captivating relationship between DJ-PON3 and Octavia, one pony that is obsessed with modern techno beats and another that masters in classical cello music and share a house together.

Every major character that fans have speculated for years is given an opportunity to shine in this episode, as the town prepares for a wedding while our normal cast of characters are off fighting a monster. Derpy is as dim-witted as she is kind, the Doctor is obssessed with science and technology (what little there is in this world) while making as many “Doctor Who” references as possible, and the two musical ponies compliment each other nicely as they support each other in their endeavors to make better art.

But my favorite in this episode, by the slimmest of margins, is Lyra and Bon Bon. These two do everything together (In “Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?,” there is one scene where we see their dreams, and they have joined into one creature, similar to Nickelodeon’s “Cat-Dog”). But when Bon Bon finds out about this monster the main characters are fighting, called a Bug-Bear, her cover is blown and her secrets have been revealed.

I won’t go into too much detail, but let’s just say there is often confusion about Bon Bon, especially in marketing and toys for MLP. Sometimes she’s Bon Bon, other times she’s Sweetie Drop, and every time she’s spoken on the show she has had a different voice actress. The way it is handled in this episode is unforgettable.

And that’s how I would describe “Slice Of Life” – unforgettable. Every scene is packed with references and jokes, each character is wholely unique and it wonderful to see a new perspective on MLP that has never been explored before. This episode gives us exactly what the fans wanted out of a tribute episode and I loved every second of it.

 

Mini-Review – “My Little Pony: Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks” (2014)

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How anyone reacts to this movie will depend entirely upon how you feel about the musical numbers in “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.” Because this movie is entirely about those songs, down to the plot revolving around a battle of the bands and the villains gaining power through singing.

Personally, the songs in “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” are my least favorite part of the show, as they’re not often catchy and add little to the episode that wasn’t already there. As a result, I did not care for the majority of “Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks.”

The first film at least a bit of charm to it, with the pony version of Twilight Sparkle being turned into a human while learning about how to act like a person, all the nods and references to the show and the dynamic relationship between Twilight and the villain, Sunset Shimmer. Now all of that is gone in the sequel, with no defining character moments and the film ends up repeating many of the same lessons the show already took care of, like knowing when to ask for help or to never take things too seriously.

The only bits that were amusing were the ones in the pony world, where the animation and color scheme compliment the environment and quirky nature of these characters. It still freaks me out that many of these characters are supposed to be human, yet have blue, pink and purple skin. It works fine on magical otherworldly ponies, not so much on people.

If you have not watched any of the television show, do not bother with “Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks.” If you didn’t like the first film, this one will not change your mind. But if you enjoy the musical numbers in the show and liked the first film, then this one will be just fine.

Final Grade: D+

 

Top Ten "My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic" episodes



“My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” is not only an excellent childrens program, but also a respectable show. I have stated this in the past, but it bears repeating. 
I was initially hesitant to watch a show about brightly colored ponies and their adventures in friendship, especially since that is something aimed for little girls. One thing that got my attention quickly was how the creators of the show treated their audience with respect and kindness. Never once does the show attempt to talk down to its audience or force its messages and morals down the audiences throat. 
That aspect caught my curiosity, but what caught my attention was how well-crafted the show was. Each episode had stellar voice-acting, animation that is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, writing that made the stories compelling and worth watching and morals that can be used in real life and aren’t rehashed from other television shows. 
I believe that “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” is a perfect children show that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. While the show knows who the target audience is, that doesn’t stop it from aiming jokes, stories and even entire characters at a more mature audience. 
With 83 episodes to watch at this time, there is a fair share of impressive episodes. Which is why I’ve decided to do a top ten of the best episodes of “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.” These are the episodes that I feel best represent the show and what it is capable of. Whether they are making you laugh, making you think or making you smile, these are just a sample of what the show is capable of. 


Ten: “Power Ponies” (Season 4, Episode 6)
One of MLP’s favorite things to do is to put in little references, but never draw attention to them. Just letting the fans figure them out on their own. 
For example, one of the reoccurring characters is a pony with an hourglass cutie mark (the little tramp stamps on all the ponies) and has appeared different times in the show as a Pegasus (winged horse) and a regular earth pony. His name is Doctor Whooves. Another is at the end of an episode that will be featured on this list, that is quite similar to the medal ceremony at the end of the first “Star Wars.” Even simple references, like “Chocolate Rain.”
Well, this episode is full of those kinds of references, without even needing to know them to enjoy the episode. Our main characters get sucked into a comic book and become the title characters, the Power Ponies, each with their own unique super power that in turn is a reference to another superhero. 
Rarity gets the power of creating energy constructs with her mind (a reference to Green Lanturn) but mostly uses them for fashion and glamor purposes. Pinkie Pie can run at super sonic speeds (hey there Flash, nice to see ya) but she uses them to dash down the street to cupcake store before anyone even notices. 
However, the best one of all is Fluttershy, the quiet and kind one who would never hurt a fly…getting the powers of the Hulk. When she gets angry, she turns into a gigantic rage monster. Of course, it takes her a while to finally get mad but when she does it is hilarious. This episode makes the list almost solely on Fluttershy hulking out and being the funniest moment in any episode. To watch her meek and happy spirit disappear and to see the anger set in is wonderful to watch.


Nine: “Dragonshy” (Season 1, Episode 7)
One of the most common questions amongst fans of the show is who the best pony is. For the most part, it seems to be split equally between all six main characters, with each one having a good argument for why they are better than the others. 
My pick for the best would be Fluttershy, not because she is the funniest or most dedicated, but because she only wishes to help others. She represents the spirit of kindness. Forgiving, respectful, courteous, selfless, understanding and would do anything to make her friends feel better. She sees all life as equal, from the tiniest insects to the massive dragons. 
The moment I realized this was an admirable trait was in this particular episode, where a dragon has decided to rest near the town of our main characters, Ponyville, and threatens to cover all of their land in a dark cloud of smoke and smog. It is up to our heroes to climb the mountain and get the dragon to leave, by whatever means necessary. 
Most of the episode is the journey up the mountain, with Fluttershy not wanting to tag along because of her fear of dragons and constantly slowing down the group. Since this is early in the shows run, the group isn’t fully developed yet and characters like Rainbow Dash and Rarity don’t believe in Fluttershy and wish she wasn’t coming along.
Once they finally get to the dragon and attempt to get him to leave, their plans fall apart and they are nearly demolished by this beast. It isn’t until Fluttershy steps up and asserts herself against the dragon for hurting her friends. In the process, she makes the dragon cry. 
“Dragonshy” is exciting, well-paced, gives us a greater sense of this world and is a wonderful piece at building up the character of Fluttershy. That beyond her shy exterior lies someone who will do whatever it takes to protect what she loves. 


Eight: “Too Many Pinkie Pies” (Season 3, Episode 3)
Ah, Pinkie Pie. Always willing to do anything for a laugh or to brighten someone’s day, even if that means breaking the fourth wall. She only has one setting: Over the top craziness. 
Which is why one Pinkie Pie is enough. When she discovers a magical mirror pool that creates copies of herself, suddenly the town is overrun with an army of fun-loving destroyers. 
This one makes the list because of how consistently funny it is, whether casting spells that turn frogs into oranges, a newly copied Pinkie Pie learning how to pronounce her friends names or the final sequence where every copy is forced to watch paint dry to find out who the real one is. 
It is also a nice change of pace for Pinkie Pie, as having multiple copies surrounding her causes a crisis within her and makes her think what exactly makes her stand out. That she isn’t just the loud, crazy and happy-obsessed pony but the thoughtful and caring one who only wishes to make others lives a little bit brighter. 


Seven: “Lesson Zero” (Season 2, Episode 3)
I find that the main character of the show, Twilight Sparkle, is often at her funniest when she embraces the madness. She is the most restrained and calm-minded of the characters, always with everything in order and has a plan for all occasions. To her, life is one giant test that you must be prepared for or else you will fail. 
When things do go wrong, Twilight goes absolutely insane. Even if the tiniest thing is out of place and there is a chance she could look bad because of it, she will lose. This episode is the best example of that, as Twilight must always send a weekly report to her mentor, the ruler of this land, Princess Celestia. When she finds out that a week has gone by and she has not learned anything new, she goes crazy and tries to force others to learn anything. 
This includes going to see all her friends and making conflicts happen, as well as forcing everyone in town to love her stuffed animal by means of a spell.
In a way, Twilight’s logic makes sense. She believes if she does not do everything Celestia tells her to do, then it will make both of them look bad, and Celestia could use her godlike powers to do anything to Twilight as punishment, including sending her back to the lowest level of schooling. Failure is never an option with her, so to she her attempt this is what makes this episode so powerful. 


Six: “The Ticket Master” (Season 1, Episode 3)
If I were to get someone interested in this show three episodes to start on, it would be the initial two-parter that opens up the show and this episode. The first two episodes are great at establishing the world of Equestria and how it operates and sets the ground work for how the show will progress. 
The following episode, “The Ticket Master,” is wonderful at telling us how each of our main characters will work, their differences, strengths, weaknesses and why we should care about them. 
Celestia sends Twilight two invitations to the biggest pony event of the year, the Grand Galloping Gala. The problem is each of Twilight’s five friends has a good reason for why they want to go, and Twilight only has two tickets. 
This episode could easily become formulaic but never becomes cliche or predictable. The reasons for why each one wants to go is admirable and true to their character, and Twilight never shows any signs of picking favorites. She sees them all as equals and would love to give them all the tickets, but can’t. 
There is of course attempts from the other characters at bribing Twilight, but each attempt feels genuine in helping out Twilight, not just some attempt to win the ticket. They may care about going to the Gala, but they care about Twilight more. 
A great introduction to the show and one of the most well-written episodes of the shows run.


Five: “The Return Of Harmony” (Season 2, Episodes 1 & 2)
One of the biggest pieces of lore with MLP, is that each of the six main characters is a piece of an unbelievable source of power, known as the Elements Of Harmony. Each character represents a different admirable virtue, such as loyalty, generosity, kindness and honesty.
In the two-parter to open up the second season, these virtues are tested when a thousand-year old threat returns, Discord, the spirit of disharmony and unhappiness. An omnipotent creature whose only wish in life is to create chaos and corrupt the innocent. He is the most effective villain in the shows run for a couple reasons, one is that instead of just using his powers to do whatever he wants, he instead gets the head of his victims and makes them think terrible thoughts. He makes them realize their weaknesses and lets them draw their own conclusions. 
The other reason is who voices Discord, John de Lancie. You may not recognize the name, but you will remember his voice and personality. De Lancie played Q on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” an omnipotent creature who is supposed to watch over the universe but had grown bored and decided to just start messing with whoever he encounters. 
Sound familiar? 
According to the shows creator, Lauren Faust (who also created “Powerpuff Girls” and “Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends”), Discord is one gigantic reference to Q, topped off with the actor who played Q now voicing the spirit of chaos. Beyond that, he is the perfect rival to our main characters. He loves what he does, even if that means corrupting others and making the elements of generosity, honesty and kindness into elements of greed, lying and cruelness. He could use his powers to do whatever he wants, but what would be the fun in making sense?
Four: “Bats!” (Season 4, Episode 7)
I believe this is the most well-written episode of the show thus far. Every character is at their best here, where a horde of vampire fruit bats have attacked Applejack’s home and threaten to suck all of her apples dry. She and the other main characters see them as nothing but monsters who need to be dealt with, except for Fluttershy who feels they are simply misunderstood and that this can be dealt with peacefully. 
The conflict is not forced by any means and comes naturally from within the characters. Something I wish the show did a bit more often was make the conflicts of certain episodes revolve around different viewpoints of our main characters. That way it feels akin to a family feud, with each one having a valid point but too stubborn to see the other side. 
This is also one of the most atmospheric episodes. It takes its time, especially at night when our heroes are hunting down whatever it is that continues to eat the apples, even after they’ve dealt with the bats. It all leads up to one of the coolest designs for a character in the show and something that I hope returns someday. 
This is everything that I love about the show all in one package. Excellent writing, beautiful animation, comedy that hits all the right notes and a conflict that never gets old. 


Three: “Magic Duel” (Season 3, Episode 5)
Twilight’s character took an interesting course in season three that saw many shades and development. We saw her look beyond her view that life is a test and that self sacrifice is sometimes the only way, that there is room for change in every creature and her ultimate change that leads her to become an important figure in Equestria. 
Before that, she had to face the challenges of her past. An old foe, “The Great and Powerful” Trixie, whom Twilight forced out of town in a previous episode, has returned with one of the most powerful magical amulets in the world and challenges Twilight to a magic duel, with the loser leaving Ponyville forever. 
If this episode shows anything it is Twilight’s role in Ponyville and why she earned it. The moment Trixie shows up, the others call on Twilight. She is the only one they trust when the situation looks grim. You’d think this would go to her head, but she embraces it and does her best to stop the threat. She is quick thinking and resourceful, but also willing to admit her mistakes, especially with Trixie. 
Outside of that, this is one that either had me laughing or impressed by just how much magic can accomplish in this world. It can take many forms and have different meanings, but the fantasy elements are some of the more awe-inspiring parts of the show. 


Two: “The Cutie-Mark Chronicles” (Season 1, Episode 23)
One of my favorite elements of the show is how cutie marks are used. In this world, a cutie mark will appear on a pony when they have found what they wish to do with their lives. Their mark is a representation of their dreams and goals in life. It is a sign of growing up and realizing what exactly is in important to that particular pony. 
This episode is fairly straight forward: It explains how each of the six main characters got their cutie marks. It also has an interesting vehicle, as each of these stories is being told to the other three main characters, the Cutie-Mark Crusaders, little fillies who don’t have their marks yet and go on adventures in an attempt to find their calling. They feel that if they can learn from their elders, it will better prepare them for future adventures. 
The real drive of the episode is the back story for each of the main characters. Each one is unique and stays true to their roots. The most interesting one is Pinkie Pie’s, as she grew up on a rock farm where she wasn’t allowed to smile or play. After she saw a giant rainbow that made her light up, she realized that she wanted to share this happiness with everyone else so that they don’t experience the same sadness she had to endure. 
This one is fun from start to finish. Great pacing, touching and still finds a way to have a good moral even if it is mostly back story. 


One: “Sonic Rainboom” (Season 1, Episode 16)
This is the episode where I fell in love with this show. Every character gets a chance to shine here, whether through comedy, drama or just being themselves. There is never a dull moment and every scene lasts just long enough to get the point across without overstaying its welcome. 
The episode follows Rainbow Dash as she competes in a flying competition in an attempt to impress her idols, the Wonderbolts, the best flyers in Equestria. Naturally, she is nervous about competing and wants her friends to be there for her. Unfortunately, this is happening in the Pegasus City of Clousdale and only Pegasus can stand on clouds. Thanks to some spells by Twilight, Rarity magically grows butterfly wings and becomes so enamored by their beauty that she competes as well. 
Like “Bats!” this one is incredibly well-written, with the conflict arising naturally from within the characters flaws, without changing elements and values just to suit the plot. You could also make a case that this is just as much about Rarity as it is Rainbow Dash, with both changing as characters and having genuine moments where they realize their flaws. 
Also, this is the most exciting episode to watch, especially once it gets to the competition. There is always a sense that Rarity’s wings would disappear at any moment, and the more she becomes absorbed into them, the worse her downfall will be. This leads to one of my favorite moments in the show where Rainbow Dash has to save Rarity and prove to herself that she is tougher than she thought. 
“Sonic Rainboom” is, like “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” in general, a brilliant example of creativity and imagination. It does not just want to get kids attention, but wants to entertain them and give them stories that aren’t too far off from other more adult shows. It is respectful and does a great job at covering a full range of emotions. 

Movie Review: "Equestria Girls" (2013)



A while back I wrote a piece entitled “What’s the big deal about Ponies?” In that piece, I talked about a television show that I had recently gotten into, entitled “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” and how I felt that it was a near perfect children’s show that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. 
That even though it’s show clearly aimed for little girls and features brightly colored ponies as its main cast, there is enough witty and clever humor, writing and morals for it to be enjoyed by anyone.


Well, like any other successful children’s show, like Power Rangers and Transformers, the program has now garnered it’s own movie, “My Little Pony: Equestria Girls.” The key difference with this product though is that the same people who created the television show were also the ones to create this film.
From the beginning, the creative team made it clear that this would not only be a continuation of the show’s story, but also have enough substance to create a spin-off show, which would have the same cast but they would be humans instead of ponies. Granted, this was all the Hasbro toy-line’s idea to create new ways to sell toys and dolls, but let’s look past that since the creative team had nothing to do with that.
As a fan of the show, it’s strange watching the film since it retells the story of the first two episodes, except with the main cast now being oddly colored humans going to high school. It’s done in much of the same style as the show, with the writing style still being crisp and clever, but the animation style is jarring to watch.
For those unaware, “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” uses a flash animation-like style, with many distinct colors and quick movements. In a show about ponies, some of whom can fly or use magic, this kind of animation style suits the off-the-wall comedy and sets the tone for the colorful and quirky world. 


However, when it becomes humans instead, the animation doesn’t quite fit. Characters attempt to move like humans, but they try to keep the same energy and style of their pony counterparts. Thus watching them even walk feels awkward and clunky. 
Normally I’d give a short description of the plot, but to do so I’d also need to explain three seasons worth of plot points. To describe it rather briefly, the main character in the show, Twilight Sparkle, has be chosen to go on a quest into an alternate world to retrieve a magical crown. In this world, she is transformed from a pony into a human and must learn how to act in this brave new world before another corrupted pony uses the crown for her own selfish needs.


The question I’m left pondering is, if you’re not a fan of the show, would you like the film? 
There are many jokes that only people who have watched the show will get, like the first time Fluttershy introduces herself to Twilight or a reference to Pinkie Pie’s “Party Cannon.”
Fans of the show will love little in-jokes like that, but non-fans will just scratch their heads. Still, there is plenty of humor for all sorts of people, like Twilight trying to act like a human, so those who have never watched an episode won’t be left out in the rain.
What I enjoyed the most about the film was something new to the series: the villain, Sunset Shimmer. The creative team could have easily made her the stereotypical snobby popular girl, but instead chose to give her an interesting parallel to our protagonist. 
She was raised on the same principals as Twilight and tutored by the same god-like pony. The key difference is that Sunset never made any friends, because she was so absorbed with the power she wielded. Twilight eventually became one of the most powerful and well-respected ponies in the land, and Sunset was shunned.


Sunset represents what Twilight could have been if she didn’t accept elements of kindness, generosity, honesty and others into her life, choosing to use her powers to inspire instead of conquer. Sunset not only strengths Twilight’s character, but makes for a cool but unique villain.
As such, I feel there is enough substance here for non-fans to enjoy the film. The writing is still crisp as the show, even if a little clunky at times, the humor is typically solid and the morals still ring true. However, the animation style doesn’t fit with most of the character actions and there are quite a few moments that come off as hooky.


Honestly, “My Little Pony: Equestria Girls” just feels like a watered-down version of the show. Instead of watching this film, I’d recommend just watching a couple really good episodes.
For fans of the show, watch it for all the little neat and cute references. For non-fans, watch it if you’re not too sure about show. Maybe this film will give you the incentive to watch a 20% cooler program…
…Now you know why I don’t like putting in references in my reviews.


Final Grade: C

What’s the big deal about Ponies?

I’ve been meaning to say this for a while now, but I could never find quite the right words, so here it goes: I’m a brony. For those unaware of what that means, it means that I’m a guy who enjoys “My Little Pony”. 
Now there are varying degrees of this, but this is what it means for me: I do not collect the figures, dolls, accessories, or anything like that. I don’t fantasize becoming a pony or anything like that. The only thing it means is that I enjoy watching the most recent incarnation of the show: “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic”. 
Why? The answer is actually quite simple: I’m a fan of excellent television shows. Believe it or not, that show is a superb example of television-making, in terms of animation, writing, pacing, comedy and morals. I know, I had my doubts when I first started watching the show. But, after watching a few episodes, I realized that there was quality storytelling being done here, and it very quickly grew on me. 
I originally watched the show on a dare by one of my friends. We were talking about how this “dumb” pony show was getting a bunch of attention, and we weren’t sure why. So, we decided to start at the source by watching a few episodes. We didn’t realize that the show would become so addicting and fun. Ever since, I’ve been hooked. 
Now, some of you are probably thinking: Come on, Paul. It’s a show about baby horses and is aimed at little kids. And my responses to that is, so what? Let’s talk about what the show is about first. Yes, the show is about ponies and their adventures in friendship. Some might think that automatically means it’s bad, while I’ve personally never felt that way. Just because the show’s concept is odd or even stupid, doesn’t mean it’s bad. 
To me, saying that a show or movie is bad simply by looking at the premise or concept of the show, is judging a book by it’s cover. You don’t know wether its good or bad until you watch it for yourself. My advice to those who say that a show about ponies is immediately bad? Watch the first three episodes, and then come back to me and see if you still feel that way. Who knows? Maybe you’ll end up liking it.
As for the target demographic of the show (i.e., little kids), while the show is aimed for girls between the ages of 3 and 12, part of what makes the show so great is that there are jokes and even entire characters that are there strictly for a much older audience. You could be sixty years old, and still laugh at the majority of jokes in the show. This is how I developed the main way I describe the show: It’s a damn-near perfect children’s television show that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. 
Also, here’s an interesting fact about the show. While the target demographic of the material is little girls, the bulk of the audience actually ends up being males between the ages of 18 and 35. Make of that what you will, but to me, it just goes to show how diverse and varied “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” really is. 
But the defining characteristic of the show is how much it changes the way children’s programs are made. For the longest time, most children shows were bad, because the creators of those shows didn’t really try. They were told to make something that children would watch, not necessarily enjoy. They didn’t really respect the children they were feeding this filth to, so of course their material was going to suffer for it. I would say that most children’s television programming has been like this since about 1998.
Yet every once in a while, you get that rare exception of a children’s program that respects the intelligence of their viewers, even if they are little kids. Their belief is that kids are still people, and people deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. These creators give their audience the kind of program that they will not only watch, but enjoy and remember. “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” is that kind of show. 
It is so nice and refreshing to see this show out there, when everything else seems like it’s made to make you realize how terrible life can get, like “Breaking Bad” and “The Walking Dead”, or shows that don’t treat their audience with any sort of respect or intelligence, such as “Family Guy”, “South Park”, “TOSH.0”, “Two and a Half Men” and lots of other children’s programming. 
Now, don’t get me wrong, shows like “Breaking Bad” and “The Walking Dead” are not bad shows. Quite the contrary. It’s just that, any time I’m done watching an episode of “Breaking Bad”, I’m either terrified about what’s going to happen next, or depressed about what happens to Jessie or Walter. Not always a good feeling. 
Then there’s a show like “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” that makes you happy, gets you to smile and makes you realize just how great life really is. That’s why I mean by the show being refreshing. It’s a change of pace amongst the other big name shows out there right now. 
Those shows might be fantastic and well-made, but you have to ask yourself: When I’m done watching some guy getting tortured on “Homelands”, what am I feeling? How do I feel about what I just watched? Am I comfortable with it? How am I going to look back on what I just watched? 
Of course, these answers are going to vary, but the thing that remains is, most television shows out there these days leave you feeling roughly the same.
Amongst the gritty and harsh dramas currently on television, “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” offers a breath of fresh air and something you might not expect out of that kind of show: quality children television, with enough substance and character for it be enjoyed by anyone. 
If you haven’t watched an episode of it already, I would highly suggest watching one, just to say that you watched it. The first two seasons are available on Instant-Watch Netflix, and the third season just finished up. Overall about 65 episodes so far.
If you still think I’m odd for liking this show, even after making my case for why I enjoy the show, then I don’t think anything else will change that. Then again, if you personally know me that well, then you probably know the other kinds of things I enjoy (or did enjoy): Godzilla, Power Rangers, Star Trek, among other things. 
Yeah, I’m an odd and weird person, and I’m proud of it. We’re all odd and/or weird, in our own special way. I embrace what makes me strange. What makes me a Godzilla fan. What makes me a brony. What makes me who I am.