By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
The toy company Hasbro will most likely have a hit with their theatrical relaunch of the My Little Pony franchise. The simply named film My Little Pony the Movie debuts October 6th and it will have enough humour to appeal to young fans and old. Newcomers might be at a loss to understand what the hubbub is about; all anyone needs to know is that these talking animals are an embodiment of the best virtues of knighthood. But this club is not exclusive. The ponies do their best to teach to the world (and each other) how to be a better person. In this film, we meet Capper, a cat who can easily challenge Puss in Boots (DreamWorks) for the title of which animated feline to love and a team of parrot pirates who embody the true romance of sailing the seven seas. Well, in their case, it’s the skies over Equestria.
The story sees Princess Twilight Sparkle (Tara Strong) and her friends prepare for a festival. Moments before any fun can take place, a very familiar if not generically evil Storm King (Liev Schreiber) — I was reminded of how alike he is to The Emporer in LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures — and his assistant Tempest Shadow (Emily Blunt) raid the kingdom. Sparkle’s sisters are captured and she barely escapes. and attempt to capture her too. This unicorn gone bad and the wolf-like conquerer teamed up because Shadow believed the king can restore her broken horn. Between all the various types of horses believed to roam this world, I think more unicorns types exist because they are inherently more magical than ponies and pegasi. This stems from their mythical origins. While the toy company may have never considered making this connection since the introduction of this product line in 1981, some newer and older fans may well wonder.
I found myself enjoying the tale which does a great job in showing to audiences the value of friendship, kindness and teamwork. The cuteness factor is not overdone. The production is slick. Moments of computer-generated set designs and backdrops with digitally animated characters blend nicely together, showing Hasbro is proud. The story becomes more solid act two and even the music is catchy. My favourite tune is Capper’s “I’m the Friend You Need.” When half the voice talent are singers, the joy is in hearing them sing their numbers instead of having studio talent replace them. These scores have a Broadway-style appeal, and thankfully this movie is not a huge musical. The story takes precedence and screenwriters Meghan McCarthy (the current lead writer of the 2010 series), Rita Hsiao and Michael Vogel nicely balance the genres out.
Those who know little of the series will not be missing out. But if you have the patience of a saint, this film is worth the 99-minute watch. There’s no tease after the credits, so if your child is still restless after this lengthy watch, you can leave sooner than later.
4 Stars out of 5