Even without the pair of stars atop this review it will probably not come as any great surprise for anyone over the age of 7 to learn that My Little Pony: The Movie is a load of old pony. Abandoning all the zeitgeist savvy and gentle morality of Friendship is Magic (and the mild creepiness of the Equestria Girls spin off) director Jayson Thiessen and his writing team have instead gone all in on a Hasbro-pleasing generic good versus evil story with mild blips of peril and great swathes of purple!

Of course this film is not intended for us. Adult cinemagoers have been spoiled in recent years by multifaceted children’s features, jam packed with references we recognise and lines which wink directly at us and acknowledge our importance. My Little Pony: The Movie doesn’t give a hoof for the grownups who have forked out on the price of entry. It speaks directly to their excited charges instead, with bright, approachable 2D animation reminiscent of TV shows past and relentlessly upbeat songs.

Representing the pastel coloured forces of good are the core pony chums who anchor the franchise aka The Mane 6: Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Applejack and Fluttershy. Princess Twilight is in a tizzy from the outset, trying her best to ensure that every detail – from the baked centrepiece to the songbird serenade – will be ready for Equestria’s upcoming festival. Songbird Serenade (Sia) is the headlining star, for pony’s sake, anything less than perfection would let her down

In the past Twilight (Tara Strong) has always got by with a little help from her friends. But just when she needs them most the pony pals lead the poor princess into an utter caketastrophe! Fortunately for Twilight Sparkle, yet not so fortunately for Equestria’s illustrious inhabitants, visitors from the darkside have other plans for the big day. The ominously named Storm King (Liev Schreiber) has sent his Alicorn representative to carry out his dastardly plan and halt the happy occasion in its sparkly tracks.

My Little Pony: The MovieTempest (Emily Blunt) is an Alicorn with a broken horn and her own score to settle. Her rage and pain lend an emotional anchor to a baffling plot and allow at least one character the semblance of a story arc. Other introductions to the MLP universe are less successful. One gathers that producers voted for a more is more approach to the species populating the world outside Equestria and thus a plethora of new characters are thrown into the mix this time around. With dubious success.

Taye Diggs gives voice to a feline wide boy (distractingly drawn in a totally different scale to the ponies) whose altruism is both too good to be true and the one attribute which redeems him in the end. He signposts The Mane 6 towards the peak of Mount Aris, where the kingdom of Hippogriffia and its Queen await. The Hippogriffs represent Equestria’s only hope of deflecting The Storm King’s attack and defeating his relentless lieutenant. Pinkie Pie’s boundless enthusiasm and a well timed pirate encounter further complicate Twilight’s mission. And just when things feel quite confusing enough…mermaids appear!

The mermaids are actually an excellent metaphor for this entire film. They make no sense (in the context of the story) and deliver a massive merchandising opportunity. As Monster High has already demonstrated, to those of us who are familiar with its intricacies, an entire range of toys can be marketed anew if you simply whack a tail beneath their belly buttons. So it follows that dunking our intrepid horse cast beneath the waves will be worth the head scratching this tangent inspires once Christmas rolls around and pester power really kicks in.

There is nothing offensive about My Little Pony: The Movie. Nothing to actively dislike. Save perhaps the desperate and comically inappropriate crowbarring in of a line from Pretty Woman. It just feels like a waste of a talented vocal cast and our nostalgic affection for the ponies themselves to seemingly assemble your film from a series of toy line ideas the marketing team scribbled on Post-Its. When your script makes Zoe Saldana (voicing pirate Captain Celaeno) forgettable you are doing something seriously wrong.

My Little Pony: The Movie opens across the UK on 20th October.

  • pmcollectorboy

    Mermaids are part human and part fish. Since this world has no people that can be possible. The “mermaids” as you call them, spoiler territory, ARE the hippogriffs, and they didn’t just “suddenly appear”, they were the crux of Twilight and friends whole journey. The fact that I personally felt their entire scene seemed shoehorned in and that the hippogriffs turned out to be completely unnecessary is a bit woeful, but it didn’t detract from the rest of the “good times and songs” movie. Twilight and co found the power within themselves and overcame their differences to save the day, which has been the central tenet of the show since day one, whether it be the slice of life style of episode or the villain focused episode. In fact the slice of life style is 99% of the show. Since you felt the movie “abandoned” the tv show, had the movie gone with that format instead of its current theme of “big bad tries to take over”, the critics would STILL be complaining but about a lack of action and excitement and wondering why it didn’t just keep to being a tv episode.
    PS. Tempest is a regular unicorn. The alicorns are ponies are the four princesses, including Twilight, two of which are quasi goddesses who are responsible for the daytime and nighttime. I felt Tempest was a very effective villain who bore some hidden depth, and even the Storm King was great to watch in what little screen time he had because he was, well, just funny. He seemed like a corporate ceo with too much time on his hands and who never really grew up but found himself in possession of great power.

  • natef

    “had the movie gone with that format instead of its current theme of “big bad tries to take over”, the critics would STILL be complaining but about a lack of action and excitement and wondering why it didn’t just keep to being a tv episode.”

    I haven’t ever known critics to complain about there being “not enough action” when it comes to kids films. But in any event, the TV series certainly has its share of adventure driven episodes and they generally have a lot more imagination put into them than this movie did.

    The biggest mistake it made was keeping all six main characters (and Spike) together for nearly the entirety. When you do that you inevitably won’t be able to give each character ample focus because you have to keep moving the story along. The diversity of the personalities is a big reason for the TV series’ success but you would barely get any sense of that if all you knew of it was this movie (even ignoring the complete absence of interesting secondary characters like Discord and the CMCs). The storyline might have been more forgivable if it had been structured differently, like maybe if three of the ponies went under water and three met up with the pirates. But as it is it’s a big missed opportunity.

  • Nightweaver20xx

    I’d actually call this review very fair. What the reviewer said is, in more blunt fashion, what I felt about a lot of the movie. Pretty much all of the self-aware cleverness of FiM was scrubbed in favor of a mindless action-adventure plot starring characters we’ll never see again and have no real reason to care about.

  • Yolanda Davis

    i’ve heard good things about this film, so i’ll be taking my niece to see it. thanks for the review.

  • Margaret Gallagher

    Magical going to be a hugh hit

  • Kim W

    Kids will love this at half term

  • kayleigh watkins

    We watched it on the weekend, my five year old daughter thoroughly enjoyed it, I found it funny too xx

  • mark bradbury

    My niece will drag me to the cinema to see this.

  • Anonymous

    From all the 48 critic reviews I’ve read about this movie, this is the ONLY ONE that dislikes it with a logical and factual reasoning (instead of just split the stigmatized, close-minded tendency of hating everything cutesy or pony-related just because “it’s for little girls” or “it’s just toy advertisement”).

    Your critique doesn’t revolves around inherent characteristics of this kind of movies (being about ponies, being light-hearted, having a simple plot adapted for kids…), but about specific things in this movie that could be handled better to make it a wonderful art piece. Also I sense that you have a previous knowledge of the series in which this movie is based on, something most of the other negative reviewers lacked of, so that’s more kudos for you.

    Though I disagree with your final overview, I deeply respect your opinion. If more critics could’ve make this you did, maybe I would take more seriously the current Rotten Tomatoes’ score. But sadly, the only thing I get from it right now, is that general public is still too prejudged to enjoy the concept of a group of pastel-colored ponies being friends and solving problems to help others.

  • Seiya Meteorite

    I’m not a fan of the sea ponies being hippogriffs though, why not just have them be a different set of equine-like species? Plus to me, it opens up too many questions: does that mean at some points, the ponies actually were griffins or something?

    I know this is a kids’/family film, but still.