Director: Jayson Thiessen
Cast: Emily Blunt, Kristin Chenoweth, Liev Schreiber, Michael Peña, Sia, Taye Diggs, Uzo Aduba, Zoe Saldana
Runtime: 1 hr 39 mins
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Opening Day: 2 November 2017
Synopsis: A new dark force threatens Ponyville, and the Mane 6 - Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, and Rarity - embark on an unforgettable journey beyond Equestria where they meet new friends and exciting challenges on a quest to use the magic of friendship to save their home!
If you’re reading this, chances are that you’re a parent who’s either wondering just how bored you’ll be in the movie or just how engaged your children will be. The good news is that your kids will love it; the not-so-great news is that you’ll probably be checking your watch in the meantime, unless of course you count yourself among one of the ‘bronies’ and ‘pegasisters’ who form a cultish fandom around the animated ‘My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic’ animated series.
To be fair, this big-screen adaptation is aimed squarely at its fanbase, who can tell you by the colour of these pastel ponies just who is Princess Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, and Fluttershy. These are the ‘Mane Six’, who in this adventure set out to save the Kingdom of Equestria from the Storm King and his army led by fallen pony Tempest. The latter has arrived just as Princess Twilight Sparkle is fretting over preparations for the annual Friendship Festival, and in order to save the other three princesses, the Mane Six will journey to the kingdom of the hippogriffs to ask for its queen’s help.
It’s a simple story stuffed with several action-packed set-pieces – one involves a feline con man named Capper who lures the ponies to his home with wicked intentions; another involves a band of aerial parrot pirates led by Captain Celaeno; and another at an art nouveau undersea realm has Queen Nuvo of the hippogriffs as well as her daughter Princess Skystar. There are a couple of well-intentioned messages at the end of it all, including one about empathy (through the ostracism that Tempest has experienced since losing her ‘horn’) and another about (what else?) the enduring power of friendship.
As far as wholesome is concerned, parents needn’t worry at all, for director Jayson Thiessen (whose appropriate calling card is as the veteran of numerous ‘My Little Pony’ episodes) keeps it friendly for anyone from the age of three. To ensure that it never gets too dark for the kid demographic, Thiessen also inserts a couple of pop musical numbers by series composer Daniel Ingram, including one by Sia who voices a pony pop star named Princess Serenade that is supposed to be the main attraction at the Friendship Festival.
Truth be told, the voice cast of the Saturday-morning cartoons would probably have done fine for this feature-length episode, but the filmmakers have gone here to assemble a Dreamworks-worthy list of celebrities. That list includes Emily Blunt (as Tempest), Liev Schreiber (as the Storm King), Taye Diggs (as Capper), Zoe Saldana (as Celaeno), Kristin Chenoweth (as Skystar) and Tara Strong (as both Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash). None of the voice acting is particularly remarkable, but then again, with so many characters onscreen at the same time, there’s hardly enough time to get to know any single one of them beyond the immediate state of peril they are in.
We’ve probably already said more than we need to for this movie – like we've mentioned at the start, you’re either a fan yourself (in which case, this review is moot) or you’re bringing your kid who’s a fan (in which case, this review is also moot). We can’t quite say for the former whether this movie honours the tradition of the 100-plus episode animated series, but that’s not likely to deter you from seeing it anyways. For the latter, let’s just say that your kids will love it, and by extension, that’s all the reason you need to get a ticket for them this school holidays.
(It will delight your kids - and that's probably all the reason you need to sit through this candy-coloured, feature-length extension of a Saturday-morning cartoon)
Review by Gabriel Chong