My Little Pony trots back to the big screen with a cinematic outing based on the wildly successful (and surprisingly cross-generational) ‘Friendship Is Magic’ incarnation of the toy franchise.
As she is busy preparing for the Friendship festival, Princess Twilight Sparkle’s efforts are interrupted by the arrival of Tempest Shadow (Emily Blunt), a broken-horned unicorn and the herald of the Storm King (Live Schreiber). As the other princesses are captured, Twilight Sparkle manages to flee along with the rest of ‘the Mane six’: Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, Rarity and Spike the Dragon and heads south, following Princess Celestia’s last, incomplete instruction to seek help from ‘the queen of the hippo’.
If the basic plot beats of this movie seem a little familiar, it’s probably because it’s essentially the same story as told in the 1986 movie only this time, the production values are top notch. Much of the improvement comes from the basic strengths of the “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” TV show. The characters are distinctive, visually appealing and well rounded, with voice performances so good it’s a surprise to learn many of the voice artists double up and play more than one pony. The deceptively simple 2D animation design belies a richness of detail and imagination that brings Equestria to vivid, colourful life.
The antics of the ponies are archly cutesy and there’s more than a knowing nod to the fact that a significant proportion of the franchise’s audience is not made up of pre-teen girls but you don’t need to be a Brony to appreciate the occasional sly humour and references thrown in. While the film provides excitement and mild peril, it’s essentially a gentle and undemanding celebration of the power of friendship and the importance of kindness which, let’s be honest, aren’t terrible ideas to commend to the audience.
The songs aren’t showstopping greats but they’re pleasant enough and a vast improvement on the cacophonous calamities of the 1986 movie. With half term upon us, “My Little Pony: The Movie” is, at the very least, not a film you’ll have to suffer through. It didn’t turn me into a Brony, but I can totally see why people could get into it. As far as my little moviegoers were concerned, though, it was magic!