Cinema Dispatch: Trailer Talk (My Little Pony: The Movie)

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My Little Pony: The Movie and all the images you see in this trailer talk are owned by Lionsgate and Hasbro

Directed by Jayson Thiessen

Despite being such a popular series with a fan base that is heavily invested in the creative side of the process as much as it is in the show itself, there really hasn’t been much said about the My Little Pony movie that’s been in production.  Heck, it honestly feels like Equestria Girls, which was a spin off that only got a limited theatrical release, had MUCH more fanfare and anticipation surrounding it than something Hasbro is actually risking quite a bit of money on.  Okay, there’s no way we’re talking Transformers money here, but there’s no way a feature length animated feature with celebrity voices THIS famous was less than what they invested in freaking Jem and the Holograms which had its first trailer out five months before its release compared to four months for this film.  Still, an uneven marketing campaign doesn’t always spell doom for a film (*cough* Wonder Woman *cough*), and even if it’s a sign that the studio doesn’t have faith in the final product… well go ask Newmarket Films how that worked out with Donnie Darko.  Either way, let’s find out!!

Okay, so there’s no getting around it.  The movie looks PRETTY terrible based on this trailer.  The first thing you’ll notice is that the art style is quite different from the series which isn’t ALWAYS a bad thing (watching it for the first time, I was somewhat reminded of the changes made for the Spongebob Squarepants movie), but it doesn’t come off as an IMPROVEMENT and there are clearly areas where they were cutting corners; most notably with the copious use of CG for the buildings and backgrounds.

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WHERE THE HELL ARE ALL THE TEXTURES!?  Did they just forget to render them!?

As far as the plot itself… eh, it’s just so generic and barely even feels like a My Little Pony story.  No wait, I take that back.  It DOES feel like a My Little Pony story, but only because we’re clearly ripping off the takeover of Canterlot from all the way back in season two, only with a BRAND NEW VILLAIN that we’ve never heard of until now.  Instead of say having one of the villains they’ve already established (or even a group of them) try to take another swing at overthrowing Equestria, we’ve got this new baddy who drives the WORST LOOKING AIRSHIP I’VE EVER SEEN!  Final Fantasy VII had better graphics back in 1997!!

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You know what?  1997 is way too high a bar.  This looks like it would have been cutting edge in 1988 at best.

Okay fine.  Let’s try and think a bit more positively.  While this new villain (Commander Tempest played by Emily Blunt) feels unnecessary and further confirms just how separated everyone involved wants this to be from the main series, there is an interesting twist to her character which is that she’s a unicorn with a broken horn; something we’ve never seen in the series so far.  I’m not so sure about her having a goofy sidekick voiced by Michael Peña, but there’s a chance she’ll end up being the best part of this as is often the case with deliciously evil villains (*cough* Power Rangers *cough*).

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“You wanna know how I got this horn?”     “And after that, we can talk about how I got this Mohawk!”

So what else can we gleam about the plot from this trailer?  Well the Mane6 are gonna fail to stop her in the first act and will be sent far away; having to travel their way back to Canterlot to take another swing at her and her army of armored jerks (which includes Liev Schreiber who I THINK might be the big bad they’ll have to face after stopping Tempest).  We can also confirm that along their journey, they’ll be meeting the Sea Ponies as well as teaming up with a crew of air pirates led up by a Griffin captain played by Zoe Saldana.

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I mean… if they’re not gonna give her The Enterprise…

Jeez… I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer here, but this looks like an absolute mess.  Other than MAYBE an okay villain (which they didn’t need because they already have GREAT villains to work with), I can’t think of a single thing I liked about this trailer.  The change in the art style is off putting (does anyone else get a slight Rotoscope vibe off the character animations?), the CG graphics are ABYSMAL, and the story feels like it was ripped out of the Hack’s Guide to Shitty Adaptation.  Hell, I don’t even know if this is supposed to be in continuity with the rest of the series as Starlight Glimmer doesn’t make an appearance in this trailer (nor do important characters like Celestia, Luna, or even Discord) so what exactly am I supposed to get out of watching this?  What’s the point!?  What this feels like is the creators trying WAY too hard to justify the film’s existence and to avoid accusations of simply being a long episode of a TV show projected onto the big screen (something The Simpsons Movie leaned into).  In doing so, they’ve taken away a lot of the charm that made the series so great and what we’re getting in exchange simply doesn’t look to be worth the price.  Maybe they’ll show a lot more in the subsequent trailers that will pique my interest, but judging by how many ingrained issues I’m seeing here (animations, story, tone) it’s unlikely that we just got a crappy trailer.  Just thinking about all the great things they could have done with this (THE REFLECTIONS ARC IN THE COMIC!!) and comparing it to what we’re gonna get… sigh.  At least we’ve still got the television show, right?

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