Because sometimes you just can’t keep them all straight no matter what you do. Full spoilers, of course.
So recently, I rewatched the pilot episodes of MLP:FiM (side note: season one still makes me cry even when I’m just fast-forwarding through episodes) and the thought suddenly occurred to me: How did these horses end up as friends?
I mean, seriously. Twilight spends no time with Rainbow Dash or Pinkie, her time with Fluttershy consists of a high-speed interrogation of Spike, and if she spent any actual quality time getting to know AJ or Rarity, it’s never shown. We know they’re friends by the end of episode two (again, in a scene that makes me cry every time) mostly because they say so and the plot needs them to be. They even have magic rocks that demonstrate their friendship level by shooting friendship lasers at the bad guy. All the actual friend-making is carried out in future episodes of the first season; by that point, they’re really just people who are willing to band together to keep this nerd from haring off on her own and dying in the evil forest. They’re ponies who have decided they are okay being around each other.
I bring this up because it’s the answer that flashed through my head in the second half of A New Generation when I asked myself, “How are these horses friends again?” They say they are. The plot needs them to be. It’s fine, because it was fine in G4.
Like, seriously. Sunny and Hitch have known each other since they were kids, though their friendship has obviously been strained over the years. The *ipps are sisters. Izzy is the kind of bubblehead who thinks that saying, “Hi, new friend!” is all that is required to make a friend, and not only do I believe that she fully believes it, it honestly seems to work.
So it’s perfectly acceptable.
In my review, I said this was “not a story so much as a movie script”, and I don’t think that was a very clear way to express what I was trying to get at. What I really wanted to say is that it’s just a children’s movie. The plot beats are very generic, we’ve all seen them before. It’s why the existence of the third crystal is easy to figure out, among other things.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing? Like, G4 from its pilot had considerably more developed writing, this is for sure. The kind of thing that’s always touted as being enjoyable by both kids and adults. ANG isn’t talking down to its audience though, it’s just written for the age group and not really anyone else. Which is acceptable, that’s how a kid’s movie should honestly be.
Also in my review, I feel like I only mentioned negative things in relation to the humor. But the humor was actually really good? Like, every joke landed, even the ones that were obviously corporate mandates. Even the groaners. Everything that was meant to be funny was, to some degree or another.
Also, the guy on the balloons. That is how you do a running gag! He is the hero we deserve.
Perhaps ironically, I have determined that sitting down to pick apart the movie and analyze its every flaw is not the way one should engage with it. I really mean this, too.
Like, you can point out the depression in the wood thingy at the top of Sunny’s light house that not only just so happens to fit the three crystals, but also reacts when one or more of them is placed in it. What the hell is that? Why is it there? Why the hell didn’t it ultimately matter if the crystals were put into it or not? Literally why did Sunny’s dad have the Earth Pony Crystal other than for plot conveniences?
See? I just pointed out a big plot hole or something. And what did anyone get out of it? Nothing. No answers. No further thoughts about the story. I just wasted everyone’s time, most of all my own. So I’m not gonna do that. At least, not unless it leads to something worth saying.
So let’s talk about Sprout real quick.
I think using the word ‘villain’ to describe him is reeeeeally overselling his part in the film. I mean, what does he do that’s actually bad?
Gets an already fearmongered crowd to side with him? Well, they kind of were ready to leave him at the drop of a hat.
Foment racial disharmony? Only him and literally every other character in the film minus the Mane Five. Next.
Style himself Emperor of Maritime Bay? No one actually cared about that. Not even his mom. And considering it seemed like the city-state was previously ruled by a corporatocracy, I’d say that an autocrat was a step up for their political situation.
Get a bunch of goop on like, one pony? Not until Alphabittle was glued to the ground did I realize that stuff had any actual effect on anything. Next.
Make a giant robot? Well, yes. Not only is that bad for the environment and surrounding architecture, he uses it to destroy Sunny’s house, which is ultimately his greatest crime. The only other thing he did was tear some calendar pages. Which puts him, where, at the level of the Flim-Flam Brothers?
He’s an antagonist, is my point.
And what’s really interesting about that is that he’s never really defeated, per se. They wreck his robot, which stops him in his tracks. And then he… just kind of steps back into his previous role. I don’t mean that literally, but he spends the rest of the movie just following Mommy around and no one seems to object to his presence. That’s really interesting. I mean, MLP:FiM would have made a big deal about trying to reform him or something, but ANG spends zero time or effort giving a damn about what happens to him after he’s been stopped.
I wish I could come up with something this might be saying, but I can’t. We’ll have to wait and see what form the show takes. But I thought it was worth pointing out.
Izzy may be best pony, but the best character in the film is the little white fluffy bird that follows Hitch around and I will not be taking questions at this time.
First headcanon: Queen Haven and Alphabittle hook up after the film’s events. I have seen fanart postulating this already. I mean, Sunny and Izzy are easy to ship, they almost fucking kiss twice, that takes zero effort.
I also ship Zipp with Hitch. Pipp can eat a dick. :V
One thing I can say about this movie is that it does not make me want to write fanfiction.
In the past, I have said that this situation is a bad thing. But you know what else hasn’t made me want to write fanfiction?
Avatar: The Last Airbender. And that’s a good show! It wrapped up its own story perfectly well.
Also, Adventure Time. Also a good show. Doesn’t need fanfic because it has its own in-universe self-fanfiction.
So, yeah, don’t take that as a bad thing. It is allowable. I still have 150 ideas for MLP:FiM fics that I will never write, after all.
On that note, the one big question in my mind at the end of the is “What happened to Sunny?”
The crystals weren’t necessary to bring magic back to the world — which, again, I would like to emphasize, I really fucking love that they did that, it’s easily the best narrative decision of the whole movie — but they were nevertheless actually magic themselves? Is Sunny an alicorn now? Those wings and horn look like they’re just light. Do they ever go away?
I guess we’ll find out eventually.
I do love that post-credits scene that just shows us earth ponies have magic, too. I specifically love the way it’s shown, that’s great.
I can’t think of anything else I needed to say, so I just wanted to talk about the credits for a minute.
Writing credit for Gillian Berrow, who also did a background voice? Executive produced by Megan McCarthy, et. al.? Wow. Didn’t see a whole lot of other familiar names out there.
Except one: Laura Bailey. Just two background characters but heyyy! And I guess Will Friedle’s in there, too.
Point is, if not for Mark Hulmes’s Tales of Equestria one-shot, which was what got me into Critical Role in the first place, that would be the first CR/MLP connection. Well, it’s the first for her, at least, she wasn’t in the one-shot. I’m just enjoying fandom stream-crossing, sue me.
So I am still of a mind that the movie was good! It was certainly better than the last MLP movie. And that’s pretty crazy to think about.