My Little Pony movie review: With routine story, over-the-top visuals must do the heavy lifting
If you’re tired of extravagant 3D animated films, My Little Pony may work as a nice throwback to the simple pleasures of Sunday afternoon television cartoons. It’s not particularly a great film but there’s just enough sugary charm and colour to keep children entertained, and young fans of the material it is based on, engaged.
This is of course the film adaptation of a TV show called My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic which is owned by Hasbro, the guys who also own Transformers and other such vibrant properties that cater to kids. This property features magic ponies, apart from the assortment of splashy colours and catchy pop music by Sia — a combination that somehow falls right into the heart of post-modern pop culture.
We’re introduced to Equesteria, where all kinds of magical beings co exist. Our hero, the pink pony Twilight Sparkle (Tara Strong) is busy working towards the ‘Friendship Festival’, while the unicorn Tempest Shadow (Emily Blunt) arrives to kidnap princesses of the land. Tempest is working at the behest of the ultimate bad guy Storm King (Live Schreiber) who wants to harvest the princesses’ magic powers to take over the world. The film follows Twilight and her friends’ escape and their quest to vanquish Storm and save Equesteria.
It’s a routine story that doesn’t try too hard to thrill you, instead director Jayson Thiessen is content to let the over-the-top visuals do the heavy lifting. The film plainly zooms from one energetic set piece to another, employing a laugh-a-minute technique, cutesy moments and the usual learning lessons for children about friendship and life. There are plenty of moments that work as throwbacks to the TV show, but even if you aren’t familiar with the original, it’s easy to guess which these moments are. It’s also nice that the film works as a standalone piece of harmless adventure rather than an adaptation of a pre-existing property, much like the first Transformers film.
The film is also a musical, which means non-stop singing. Some of the songs are fun but those not into this kind of filmmaking could get tired after a point. The film also falls into a strange trap towards the end of the film, where the battle is won through an act of vehemence, which goes against the theme of friendship and love that the filmmakers cram down your throat early on. The film is also rife with the usual superhero movie clichés, and could have been more memorable had the writers attempted something far more unique. In a world where even kids have so much superhero and animated cinema choice — that too right at home on streaming platforms — it’s difficult to find a big enough reason to take them to the theater for films like these. Ultimately this is an adequate distraction if your children absolutely need to be shown something on the big screen this week.