It’s time to giddy-up

This whole­some film cuts across age and gen­der, chang­ing longheld views on a TV show that be­gan as some­thing for lit­tle girls.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Showbiz - Re­view by ED­MUND EVANSON en­ter­tain­ment@thes­

OK, Spike, take a let­ter!

Dear Princess Ce­les­tia, To­day I learned an im­por­tant les­son. Never be too quick to judge some­thing by its ex­ter­nal ap­pear­ances.

My Lit­tle Pony: The Movie (MLP) is set to be a hit cin­e­matic ex­pe­ri­ence for fans and non-fans alike.

The film is based on the fourth gen­er­a­tion Has­bro TV se­ries My Lit­tle Pony, en­vi­sioned ini­tially for young girls.

It has, how­ever, gained a niche fol­low­ing of adult fans over the years thanks to its abil­ity to tackle both young and grown-up-re­lated sub­jects.

The film takes the es­tab­lished vis­ually-ap­peal­ing se­ries a notch higher.

It fea­tures en­dear­ing, heart­warm­ing char­ac­ters pos­sess­ing a con­sis­tent com­bi­na­tion of unique and beloved per­son­al­ity traits rarely seen in such per­mu­ta­tions.

As I un­der­stand it, Princess Ce­les­tia, your for­mer stu­dent Princess Twi­light Sparkle (Tara Strong), to­gether with her five best friends – Rain­bow Dash, Ap­ple­jack (both Ash­leigh Ball), Pinkie Pie, Flut­ter­shy (both An­drea Lib­man) and Rar­ity (Tabitha St. Ger­main), of­fi­cially fan-dubbed the “Mane Six” – as well as her trusty as­sis­tant Spike the Dragon (Cathy We­seluck), are in the midst of or­gan­is­ing the Friend­ship Fes­ti­val in Can­ter­lot (yes, that’s a horse pun on Camelot), the cap­i­tal of their home of Eques­tria. Now Show­ing

Their prepa­ra­tions are in­ter­rupted by the in­va­sion of the ruth­less bro­ken-horned uni­corn com­man­der Tem­pest Shadow (Emily Blunt) and her army of storm-crea­tures un­der the tyran­ni­cal rule of The Storm King (Liev Schreiber), de­sir­ing dom­i­nance and the pow­er­ful magic of the four Alicorn princesses.

And what fol­lows is a rip-roar­ing ride as the Mane Six and Spike, flee be­yond the com­forts of their home to find a way to fend off the in­va­sion, meet­ing an as­sort­ment of unique char­ac­ters in the process.

All this, while be­ing pur­sued by a re­lent­less and mo­ti­vated Tem­pest.

This an­i­mated mu­si­cal fan­tasy has the vibes of The Lit­tle Mer­maid, Aladdin and At­lantis: The Lost Em­pire, mixed with the epic-scale ad­ven­ture of The Land Be­fore Time, Pi­rates Of The Caribbean and The Hob­bit. With The Lego Movie and The An­gry Birds Movie thrown in for good mea­sure.

In­deed, this is a fun, ex­hil­a­rat­ing, fast-paced, ac­tion-ad­ven­turepacked film that wastes no time hit­ting you with ev­ery­thing in its arse­nal to get you pumped.

Cre­atively up­ping the themes of in­tense dan­ger and mor­tal peril, it strate­gi­cally in­ter­sperses hi­lar­i­ous hu­mour, adorable an­tics and head-bob­bing foot-tap­ping mu­si­cal num­bers with sad and touch­ing mo­ments.

Some of the re­ally-ma­ture-for-alit­tle-girl’s-show themes fea­tured here are stranger-dan­ger, en­slave­ment, hunger for and abuse of power, de­cep­tion for self­ish gains, self-con­trol against tak­ing ad­van­tage of others, and self-sac­ri­fice.

With all its pluses, there re­mains the (al­most un­no­tice­able) down­sides. The name­less vil­lain only known by the ti­tle “The Storm King” is a mono-di­men­sional (and at times com­i­cal) bad­die, lack­ing depth, pur­pose and im­pact on the au­di­ence.

Stun­ning vi­su­als and strong themes aside, the film’s plot seems quite or­di­nary. But the end­ing is a blast, though its scale could have been slightly grander.

This is not a film for the very young to watch on their own (yes, there’s a rea­son for the PG rat­ing). Clearly, the cre­ators were go­ing for di­ver­sity be­yond the tra­di­tional au­di­ence boundaries (while bril­liantly main­tain­ing the orig­i­nal el­e­ments of youth and fem­i­nin­ity) and dis­pelling for­ever the stereo­typ­i­cal no­tion that lit­tle kids’ car­toons are child­ish and in­ap­pro­pri­ate for adult view­ing.

Hard to be­lieve it’s come such a long way, Your High­ness.

The “orig­i­nal” mes­sages of team­work, trust, re­demp­tion, self-ac­cep­tance and the magic of friend­ship, shine nicely.

If you’re a fan of the TV se­ries – what­ever gen­er­a­tion you be­long to – you will have fun be­ing com­pletely blown away by the vi­su­als, ac­tion, emo­tions, voices, char­ac­ters, “back­ground pony” and past char­ac­ter call­backs, and ref­er­ences to the cur­rent and past MLP gen­er­a­tions.

In all, this is a film meant for the whole fam­ily to en­joy to­gether, or for an adult watch­ing alone, for both fans and new­com­ers. A film of epic pony pro­por­tions, one might say.

Your faith­ful sub­ject, Ed­mund

There is no hors­ing around with this se­ri­ous bunch, is there? — Atri­naga

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