On October 6th, 2017, My Little Pony: The Movie was released in theaters. Like many other fans of the TV show (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic), I was expecting this new film to be no more significant than the other My Little Pony: Equestria Girls movies. However, I was very satisfied leaving the theater – and Rainbow Dash’s “Time to Be Awesome” song was playing on repeat in my head.
The movie opens with Princess Twilight Sparkle preparing for a festival in Canterlot when the city is invaded by Commander Tempest and troops of the evil Storm King, who has come to steal the magic of Twilight Sparkle and the other princesses (Celestia, Luna, and Cadence). He plans to use their magic to overthrow all of Equestria, the land where the ponies live. Twilight and her five friends, aka the “Mane Six,” escape during the invasion and go on an adventure – seeking help to save their home.
The story is similar to those of the previous Equestria Girls movies, but more professionally executed in terms of portraying emotion: The tone of each scene is well-expressed through the script and the characters’ facial expressions, and in this installment the ponies don’t turn into high school girls. Instead, the main characters’ speech and actions are justified – nothing they do is unreasonable or confusing. The supporting characters are also given unique backstories to explain how they got to where they are now. Their roles stand out from the background without outshining the “Mane Six.”
Aside from the well-developed characters, the biggest element that caught me off guard was the animation. For the past seven seasons and four Equestria Girls movies, My Little Pony has maintained a consistent animation style, but in this movie it is very different. The movements are much more fluid than in the TV series, which makes the film satisfying to watch. Additionally, previous My Little Pony productions have been animated in 2D, but for this movie the animators used a combination of 2D and 3D to enhance the scenery’s depth. Furthermore, the main characters’ shapes have changed slightly to make them more adorable. Their eyes are enlarged, their cheeks are rounder, and every time they hit something there is a squeaky toy sound effect. My heart melts when a pony makes a sad face. The ponies are very, very squishy.
My Little Pony: The Movie exceeds expectations. I walked into the theater expecting a repetition of the past four Equestria Girls movies, and walked out impressed. The new characters bring a fun element to the film and their motives are explained well. The changes to the animation and character design are risky, but successful. Although the plotline is similar to the those of previous Equestria Girls movies, there was enough new content and character variety that it far surpassed them. My Little Pony: The Movie is an excellent film for both fans of the TV series, and aspiring animators seeking an example of well-executed animation.