My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Reviews ~ Friends Forever #27 (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Friends Forever #27): “Pinkie Pie & Granny Smith”

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Synopsis:

It’s cider season again at Sweet Apple Acres, but on the very first day misfortune strikes when Granny Smith trips over a rake and breaks her hip. Short the family matriarch, the rest of the Apples fear about how they’re going to make it this year until Pinkie Pie pops in practically out of nowhere. As a possible-distantly-related member of the Apple family, she agrees to help out by acting as Granny’s “chauffeur”, namely by driving her around in Apple Bloom’s wagon to carry out the errands she normally has to walk to do. Granny hates the whole arrangement as much as she hates being injured, constantly berating and complaining about everything Pinkie does, to which Pinkie herself just cheerfully agrees. This goes on for weeks, until Applejack notices one day. The next day, Granny is surprised to see that Pinkie Pie is gone, at which Applejack explains since she found fault in everything she did that she thought it was best if she dismiss her. Granny realizes she misses her company, especially as she had been using the opportunity to tell Pinkie Pie (not born a Ponyville native) about the town’s history. When Applejack takes her to visit friends at the retirement village, one of the mares drops a glass. She moves to pick it up for her and gets a tongue lashing in response; making Granny realize she had been taking out her anger on being injured and unable to move freely on a pony just trying to help. Fortunately, Pinkie Pie is also at the retirement village (as she wanted to learn more about Ponyville’s early days), and she uses the opportunity to apologize. Not long after, in spite of getting a clean bill of health, Granny has Pinkie take her out for another ride around town so they can enjoy each other’s company…although she still tells her to take it slow over the bumps.

Review:

After getting one of the better “Friends Forever” storylines, now we ended up with one of the worst.

The story in and of itself isn’t that bad. Simple, but not bad. It’s a bit of a knockoff of Pony Tales #1 with Twilight Sparkle: one of the Mane Six finds themselves the caretakers of a grumpy, unhappy older pony and ends up making friends with them. It’s not quite as good as that one as Twilight was able to help Jade Singer write again, whereas in this one the two simply learn a greater appreciation for each other…and, in this case, more of it was on Granny Smith as Pinkie Pie is just her normally happy, bubbly self throughout this story. It’s nothing monumental, but nothing bad either. Unfortunately, that’s about all it is.

Nothing too remarkable happens in this story. It’s definitely more grounded in reality and common, which isn’t that good when the focus is Pinkie Pie. There’s pretty much none of her zaniness or craziness she’s infamous for, just her being normal. The art style also seems a bit more crude and juvenile at times, especially in the panels where the ponies are drawn with dots for eyes. None of that by itself is worth voting anything down for.

But…what really sinks this arc into the mud is Granny Smith.

Here’s a good old fashioned example of Flanderization. In the first season, Granny Smith was kind of a stereotype for the elderly. But in the second season and beyond, she quickly was transformed into a feisty, energetic, and take-charge family matriarch. She had stubbornness, to be sure, but the sort of stubbornness you would expect from someone who did everything by her own elbow grease for her whole life. The type of grit of the older generation that lived through the Great Depression as farmers might have.

In this story, all she is is stubborn and cranky. The story went out of its way to point out that she was unhappy about being rendered an invalid, but I think it went way too far. So much of the story is devoted to her just simply complaining and being stubborn and mean for no reason other than she’s unhappy and wants other ponies to be as unhappy as she is. It started to seem OOC pretty fairly on, especially considering she was taking it out on Pinkie Pie. As Applejack points out in this very story, following “Pinkie Apple Pie”, the Apples considered Pinkie Pie a family member…enough to spend Hearth’s Warming Eve together with her own family. After that, to have Granny Smith suddenly so paranoid that she accuses Pinkie Pie of theft? Especially since, given the basic tone of the comic, it came off as serious rather than as a silly scene? That’s too far.

To be honest, Pinkie Pie doing nothing but simply saying “Yes Granny” for the bulk of the story was equally weak. Not that I wouldn’t expect her to do something like that, especially as persistent as Pinkie can be, but that she didn’t do anything else more silly or extreme for her reactions made it seem almost just a touch out of character for her too.

In the end, it came off that the lesson only worked because one of the characters was forcibly changed to make it work. And that’s a big vote down to me.

Fun Facts:

This storyline evokes a somewhat similar vibe to “Driving Miss Daisy”.

“Hearthbreakers” had already come out when this issue debuted, long after Pinkie Pie had officially introduced herself to the Apple family and the possibility of being very distant relations was proposed. But it’s interesting that Pinkie Pie alludes to her being able to eat rocks as well, indicating that it’s a Pie family trait.

Ponyville apparently has a retirement village, although it seems more similar to a senior citizens center like my own grandmother used to go to before she passed away. At any rate, it’s shaped like a stable.

Rating:

1.5 Stars out of 5

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My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Reviews ~ Friends Forever #26 (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Friends Forever #26): “Shining Armor & Prince Blueblood”

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Synopsis:

Shining Armor is just finishing up his research for a diplomatic mission he and Princess Cadance plan to take to Yakyakistan following the events of “Party Pooped”, intending to start a new trade agreement with the nation. Unfortunately, Cadance and the rest of the alicorn princesses are called off on an emergency, so instead Princess Celestia sends Prince Blueblood along with him so that they aren’t forced to insult the Yaks by canceling the meeting. Shining Armor is immediately put off and angered by Blueblood’s conceited and self-absorbed behavior, as well as his shirking of any physical activity and constantly acting like an elitist snob, and in addition to getting angry at his behavior he fears that his attitude will ruin the trade agreement. As a result, on arriving at Yakyakistan, he tells him to sit things out while he handles everything, which he reluctantly acquiesces to. Unfortunately, everything Shining Armor does insults or angers the Yaks and the talks are soon a disaster. Feeling hopeless, he finally agrees to stand out and let Blueblood try his hand, expecting things can’t get worse, only to find that he easily wins over the Yaks and handles the trade agreements perfectly; managing to get the Crystal Empire and Yakyakistan on good terms at the end to boot. Shining Armor realizes that an individuals’ attitude or personality doesn’t mean that they aren’t specially talented at certain things, and, on the way back to the Crystal Empire, ends up asking Blueblood to teach him to be a better diplomat, which he agrees to so long as he doesn’t mind the “hard work”.

Review:

This one was quite interesting. More interesting than many of the Friends Forever issues.

Probably the only character that the IDW writers would hate to have to deal with more than the pre-“COTLM” Diamond Tiara would be Prince Blueblood. He had only a single real appearance in the main series, in which his self-centered attitude transformed him into Rarity’s date from Hell. A pretty much one-note character designed to be a snob. To be honest, he was also something of an enigma, as he is canonically Celestia’s “nephew” but it’s unclear exactly how that works out. Certainly not a character one would think to include in an arc in the comic, let alone the show.

But, ironically, pairing him with Shining Armor, the only other “Equestrian Prince”, was a move that could be more than a bit interesting. Before Shining Armor started to Flanderize in Season Six, he could be viewed as everything opposite of what Blueblood was like. Yet as both are princes, they’d be expected to interact at one point, and what better place than the Friends Forever comic?

How did it work out here?

Well, let’s start with the bad stuff. On rereading, it’s clear that Shining Armor as a diplomat was another snafu on the part of Equestrian Royalty. All he ended up doing was almost ruining everything, including by “being himself” as Cadance had suggested. The resolution to this arc figured, but it was the opposite extreme in which Shining Armor ended up being totally useless to the trade agreement.

Second…the yaks. Ugh. They were no one’s favorite characters in “Party Pooped”, and this storyline, which in many ways is “Party Pooped” all over again, did nothing to help with that. I get the sense that the yaks were meant to be a lesson in respecting other cultures no matter how strange and different and the danger of “faux pas” when interacting with another culture…but let’s be honest. The yaks are aggressive brutes. It’s not like the Equestrians aren’t constantly doing everything they can to try and be polite and respectful to them, only for the yaks to constantly find reasons to be big dumb animals. Perhaps they’re a lesson that sometimes the price of multiple nations living together in peace is having to bend over backward to keep from insulting another country, but if it is it’s going to leave the audience disliking diversity more than ever.

Now, all that out of the way…

This Friends Forever ended up having a rather surprising friendship lesson in it that most children’s orientated shows and literature aren’t realistic enough to address. Most people in my generation were brought up being taught subconsciously by everything in media that if someone is detestable as a person that also means that they are terrible at everything else. You can’t be a good politician, businessman, community organizer, lawyer, doctor, chef, or anything else unless you are also in possession of a good personality. If you’re a jerk, you no good at anything unless you’re also underhanded and shameful about it. We expect a person’s talents in life to stem from their individual personality and morality, perhaps because we’re taught to believe that people who are personally “bad” can’t ever succeed in life compared to someone who is “good”.

The reality is that’s not in the least bit true. You can be a bold-faced jackass and still be great at what you do. Steve Jobs comes to mind. He was a brilliant leader of the Apple company, but personally he was a jerk and a cutthroat. But everyone wants to focus either on one side of him or the other, because that makes him “easier to digest” and put into a box.

Shining Armor clearly thought of Prince Blueblood as a selfish snob who would ruin the trade agreement and had no love for him. The irony is that, in doing so, Shining Armor became a snob himself. He inherently thought his own more considerate nature to his subjects and “down-to-earth” roots made him naturally better at being able to connect with others and therefore he would be the better diplomat. All without knowing anything about Blueblood other than his few over-the-top mannerisms. And the fact of the matter is while Blueblood does come off as an egotistical prude more than once, he’s actually fairly mannerly and friendly to Shining Armor through all of it. It’s Shining Armor who starts giving him the cold shoulder first, and when he not-so-subtly indicates he thinks so little of him that he thinks he’s a bad diplomat, when Blueblood knows full well he’s the experienced diplomat while Shining Armor is the greenhorn, he humbly accepts it and stands aside until Shining Armor is ready to say “uncle” of his own volition.

From a personality standpoint? Honestly…Shining Armor and Prince Blueblood are pretty much morally “equal” in this one.

And at the end of it? The issue makes Blueblood look a bit better than how the show treated him, and even indicates that he and Shining Armor might indeed end up forming a bit of a friendship between them. Yet all of it’s plausible and, while surprising, rather fitting along with the unusual-yet-relevant lesson.

I…actually like that quite a bit. This is probably one of the most clever plotlines the IDW writers have come up with.

If it wasn’t for my two complaints, I’d actually be tempted to give this one a 4 out of 5. As it is, I think it’s definitely one of the better entries in the Friends Forever series.

Fun Facts:

Although he’s made a background appearance or two, this is Prince Blueblood’s only other speaking role since Season One’s “The Best Night Ever”.

This issue is a follow up to Season Five’s “Party Pooped”, and at the time was only the second appearance ever of the Yaks and Yakyakistan. While Season Seven’s “Not Asking for Trouble” would show all yaks live in yurt-inspired structures, in this issue they actually have a palace.

Blueblood makes a meta-humor joke about there being so few princes. 😛

While it has yet to be stated on the show itself, in the expanded universe novels and lore it’s canon that Cadance was originally a pegasus who was adopted by Celestia after becoming an alicorn at a young age. Blueblood refers to Shining Armor meeting Cadance while she was still an orphan and, apparently, a pegasus, but this is an error as even in IDW Comic lore Shining Armor didn’t fall for her until she was in teenage years and already an alicorn and royalty.

Shining Armor’s cold-weather attire is both a throwback to Season Three’s “The Crystal Empire” as well as a nod to Luke Skywalker’s garb in “The Empire Strikes Back”.

In a unique turn, the story ends with Shining Armor writing a letter to Celestia. Weird.

Rating:

3.5 Stars out of 5

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Reviews ~ Friends Forever #25 (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Friends Forever #25): “Rainbow Dash & Twilight Sparkle”

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Synopsis:

Rainbow Dash wakes up to a horrible surprise: her wings are missing. Using a cloud, she immediately rushes to see Twilight Sparkle about how it could have happened. By using a “Traumalocation” spell, Twilight discovers a trio of unicorns, Goldcap, Decepticolt, and Zappityhoof, stole Rainbow Dash’s wings using their magic with the intent of distilling them into a potion that will let them grow wings of their own and turn themselves into fake alicorns, or, as Twilight calls them, “pseudocorns”. The two rush off to stop them with Rainbow suggesting they switch roles with her coming in from the ground and Twilight from the air, but as both are out of their element they both fail and are captured. As the unicorns proceed to distill Rainbow’s wings into their potion, Rainbow gets an alternate idea. Rather than try to do things the opposite pony’s way, she tells Twilight to free herself and then use a special spell to put them both in control of Twilight’s alicorn body at the same time. As a result, Rainbow gets command of Twilight’s incredible magic power while Twilight gets Rainbow’s amazing flying ability, and their combined effort thrashes the unicorns with a Pseudo Sonic Rainboom and gets the potion just as it completes. Twilight punishes the unicorns for abusing their magic by temporarily removing it, and Rainbow drinks the potion herself to regain her wings. After thanking Twilight, Rainbow goes for a fast-paced fly to enjoy her restored ability, and, as soon as she’s out of eyeshot, Twilight straps on some goggles and does the same.

Review:

This one’s a bit interesting. While at it’s core it’s a Friends Forever story, with Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash getting a chance to “be each other” at the same time, it has the feel of a drama based episode. I think it pushes the envelope a bit with an act of pony mutilation, even if it was using magic, bloodless, and “off-screen”. I remember how jarring that was for the first read. And the trio of unicorns definitely have a “Dazzlings” vibe to them, especially Goldcap who, with her hair, almost looks like a clone of Adagio Dazzle. While it’s another case of simply leaving the villains behind, it still had a bit of satisfaction in them actually getting a punishment for a change; and a fitting one as they’d get to experience what it’s like to have someone take their own special talent away.

That could have fit as a nice little lesson about “do unto others”, but…this story isn’t going for that kind of vibe. It focuses more on a relationship with Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle, and…in that vein, it’s kind of different. Most of their interactions on the show are somewhat of a clash of personalities, as Twilight is the bookish nerd and Rainbow is the athletic slacker. Most of the time they’re together they act as a foil. While it wasn’t necessarily anything monumental for the normal friendship lesson episodes, it was nice that at the end they both got an appreciation for each other.

Aside from that, an entertaining storyline with nice visuals. Pretty much good all around. It may not have taught anything new or gotten too much into drama, but still a good little addition to the Friends Forever series.

Fun Facts:

Brenda Hickey, the same artist who did the almost psychadelic artwork for “Twilight Sparkle & Pinkie Pie”, does this one.

Apparently, pegasi do not need their actual wings to stand on clouds.

Spike…shares a bed with Twilight… O_o

Zappityhoof’s Cutie Mark is the Flash emblem from DC Comics. Decepticolt’s name is a parody of “Decepticon”, the name of the evil Transformers (also put out by Hasbro).

When being assisted by Rainbow Dash, Twilight Sparkle is able to approximate a Sonic Rainboom. It shows she does actually have the natural ability to be a great flier…she’s just too awkward. 😛

Rating:

3 Stars out of 5

My Little Devotional #149: “Open to Misinterpretation”

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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Fame and Misfortune”

In today’s episode, Twilight Sparkle hits on a new idea she hopes will help all ponies across Equestria with friendship problems by publishing the old friendship journal she and her friends used to keep up. Unfortunately, things soon turn disastrous as a result. It seems every pony in Equestria reads something “different” into it. One misinterprets Rarity as being completely self-centered and mean. Another misinterprets everything Pinkie Pie says as funny. Still another demands that Fluttershy justify all of her individual negative character traits. Yet another thinks Rainbow Dash is “better” than everyone else…and so on and so forth. In the course of doing so, everypony misses the point of the journal completely. It’s only a pair of small fillies who end up getting what the journal was going for out of everyone else in Ponyville.

Unlike most other Christians, I believe that our society needs some measure of “political correctness”. I feel everyone is entitled to at least some amount of respect, if for no other reason than that is the tradeoff for a polite society and obeying the Golden Rule. But political correctness has gone too far in modern times, as it’s no longer about showing respect to other people at all but a means of silencing people. In a world where everyone has grown to believe their opinion is worth more than it is, many people have reached the point where they feel they have a right not to “be offended”; as if being offended is somehow an act of external immorality on someone’s part.

It’s true that there are things that are put up with the explicit desire to offend people. Racial epitaphs or symbols, explicit imagery, or pure hate speak condemning a group of people…all of those are designed to incite anger and express hate. The problem is nowadays even the slightest thing that is unintentional can cause things to grind to a halt and demand for change. Wearing a Cat-in-the-Hat hat is suddenly racial. Game developers are suddenly offending an entire country if they use the wrong slang term on a sign in the background. Even the word “history” is suddenly gender biased because it says the word “his” in it. (Does that mean I have to say “ther” when I mean “this” now?)

As this episode illustrated, anyone can find anything wrong with what you say or do. They can always misrepresent it and claim a wrong motive. And nowadays, they can put that opinion everywhere and find like-minded individuals to say the same thing. Occasionally, it can get savage and mean. Yet the part that scares me is that, more often than not, people end up apologizing and changing to accommodate the people who complain. They catch themselves up in a never-ending cycle to “please everyone” and leave no one upset. That, unfortunately, is a dangerous precedent to follow. Yes, there are some things that genuinely do merit an apology. Yet to apologize for something that genuinely had no ill intent in it and try to change the world to accommodate the “offended” is essentially making everyone cater to their whims and, occasionally, their biases and imaginations. Especially if the person already has a mindset against something, for in that case no amount of apology or censorship will ever be sufficient. And for many people, they use that as a tool to completely silence all opposition period. After all, if “being offended” becomes an act of immorality itself, then you can shut down an opposing viewpoint for even existing.

Where does it end? At what point do we think something is so unreasonable that we tell someone, “I’m sorry, but that wasn’t my intention. You’ll just have to ignore it.”?

I don’t know if it will end any time soon, but there’s an important lesson we can learn from it right now. We should realize that someone will always, always, always see something wrong in what we say or do. If you’re a Christian witnessing the Gospel, that’s a given. We know it all too well. But they’ll do the same for everything else. Say you want to let some refugees into the country and you’ll be accused of promoting terrorism. Say you want to allow people to own guns and you’ll be accused of being a murderer. Say you’re against abortion and you’ll be accused of wanting to make women second-class citizens/slaves. Say that police acted inappropriately shooting an unarmed man to death and you’ll be accused of wanting lawlessness. Say that you voted for Donald Trump and you’ll be kicked out of your local YMCA (the last one actually did happen to my father after nearly 20 years of attendance and donations).

The important thing is not to care so much about what people say your motive is as to know what your motive is. Jesus was constantly accused of saying things that were all together untrue. “Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed. But some of them said, “By Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.”” (Luke 11:14-15) “A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man[Jesus] is a sinner.”” (John 9:24) “The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward.” (Matthew 26:59-60a) It never stopped Him because He knew exactly what He was about and His intentions. After that, He left it up to whether some people would accept what He said and some people wouldn’t; and ultimately it was all about the people who would accept it. He never changed the message for the people that needed to hear it for the people who didn’t want to hear it at all.

Whenever you find yourself speaking boldly about something important and being assaulted for the wrong motive, always remember to be respectful and calm (for by getting angry and defensive you’re merely playing right into their hands), but so long as your motives are pure and true keep on going. Remember that it is inevitable that people will assign false motives to you. That’s life. Or, as Winston Churchill once said, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” As with so many uncontrollable things in life, our response matters more than whether or not it will occur, which is why we should care more about what we say than how some people will react.

And for that reason, equally important is to also make sure our own hearts are in line at all times…both to make sure the words we speak are good as well as to avoid the sickness of distorting what we hear to suit our own agenda. As the Bible says, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6:45) Therefore, let’s all make sure our hearts stay full of good things.

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you that your Word is right and true, and contains the ways of eternal life to all who are able to hear it with a clean heart and let it “bear fruit”. Whether I am proclaiming your Word, explaining a viewpoint, sharing advice, or admonishing someone, please let my motives always be pure and in tune with your Will. And when opposition inevitably comes, let my focus always be more on quality of my message over the whims of society. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

Everything Wrong With “My Little Pony: The Movie”(2017) In the Time It Takes You to Read This

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As always, this is a shameless knockoff of “Cinema Sins” and you should check out their vast collection on Youtube. They’re hilarious if you don’t mind nitpicking.

After years of eager anticipation and months of excitement buzz from previews, stills, and the soundtrack, the bronies and pegasisters finally got the feature film they craved and declared it to be overwhelmingly and astonishingly passable. Let’s see why!

Everything.

Wrong.

With.

“MY LITTLE PONY: THE MOVIE”

In the Time It Takes You to Read This or Less.

SPOILERS!

(duh)

Movie about “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” will be surprisingly void of ponies and Equestria, so shotgun blasts your eyeballs with pastels of ALL the ponies in the first ten minutes.

SIN COUNT: 1

Movie shows how dated its script is by featuring Starlight Glimmer, the show’s deuteroagonist who single-hoofedly saved everypony else in the main cast, in a completely non-speaking background pony role with less screen time than Derpy.

SIN COUNT: 2

Seven seasons in and you can’t highlight an episode with Twilight Sparkle unless it starts with her OCDing about something.

SIN COUNT: 3

(First close-up of Twilight Sparkle)

New animation style makes Twilight look like she’s on meth in every close up, and yet heartless animators give her nothing but close ups the rest of the film.

SIN COUNT: 4

(Twilight’s long, rambling proposal to the princesses)

For fans of the show in the audience, you know this is a par-for-the-course Twilight obsessive-compulsive nerd rant. For those who aren’t fans, this is the signal for you to check your watch and groan that the movie still has an hour and a half to go.

SIN COUNT: 5

(Pinkie Pie’s Discord-shaped balloon)

For the bronies in the audience, sorry. Tiny morsels of fanservice like this is all the filmmakers have left to throw to you after things like “Slice of Life”.

SIN COUNT: 6

(Shot of Fluttershy’s bird choir)

Should we ask why Fluttershy felt the need to put Angel Bunny in a bird costume and stick him in with the choir? Of course we should. Pondering things like this keeps us from asking the real question of why they bothered putting Fluttershy in this movie.

SIN COUNT: 7

(Tempest’s Airship arrives)

Movie features the mixed-media blending of 2D style and 3D style animation in the same scene. It was jarring and odd looking back in the late ’90s and it still is in 2017.

SIN COUNT: 8

(Grubber walks out to make his announcement)

Discount Olaf…or Equivalent Value Sid.

SIN COUNT: 9

(Tempest Shadow makes her first appearance)

Darth Neigh-der.

SIN COUNT: 10

Well, out of all of the characters they left out of the film from the show, they still kept the three non-Twilight alicorn princesses, so it’ll be nice to see them get to have some action to themselves for a chan-

(Cadance gets petrified)

SIN COUNT: 11

Ok, Cadance gets a lot of screen time anyway. It’s Celestia who really needs the counterweight. So I’m sure she’ll have a big role to-

(Celestia gets petrified)

Sigh…

SIN COUNT: 12

Alright, Luna is everyone’s favorite and she’s already in the air, so we’ll get to at least see-

(Luna gets petrified)

Celestiadamnit, movie!

SIN COUNT: 13

(Cadance’s screamed line while being petrified)

And that is Britt McKillip’s second and final line of the film. She had an easier time earning a paycheck for this film than Anna Paquin for “X-Men: Days of Future Past”.

SIN COUNT: 14

(Twilight catches Luna as she’s falling)

So, what would have happened if Twilight hadn’t caught Luna? She would have shattered, and…then Tempest would be screwed, because she needs all four alicorn princesses…unless she’d go get Flurry Heart to substitute.

SIN COUNT: 15

Tempest was such a smug equine she only brought exactly how many gem bomb thingees she would need. She learned nothing from that one episode of “The Simpsons” where Homer impersonates Krusty. “I told ya’ we shoulda bought more than four Obsidian Orbs!”

SIN COUNT: 16

Sigh…ok, let’s go over a brief list of all the ways Tempest’s plan should have failed immediately. 1. Cadance could have just stopped her Obsidian Orb in midair using telekinesis rather than a shield. 2. Luna can both turn into mist as well as into multiple individuals, both which would negate an orb. 3. Celestia could have simply flown to the Queen of the Hippogriffs herself rather than spent an excessively long time standing still in one spot attempting to explain the detailed plan to Luna. 4. The girls could have evoked their Rainbow Power forms and instantly annihilated the Storm King’s army as those are more powerful than all four alicorns combined…

SIN COUNT: 17…18…19…20

Tempest disables three princesses single-hoofedly but after messing up on the fourth one lets her minions decide things.

SIN COUNT: 21

“…hungry.” “Hungry?” “Hippos?”

Hasbro’s shameless plug of their own board game is only slightly more dignified than the movie “Battleship”.

SIN COUNT: 22

PINKIE PIE: (Crazed and picking up a skull) “Maybe THIS guy knows where we are!”

Insanity.

SIN COUNT: 23

SPIKE: “…And this cactus…” (Showing his rear end)

Damnit, children’s movie. You had to put in one butt joke, didn’t you?

SIN COUNT: 24

Pinkie Pie’s scene in the market attracts all sorts of unwanted attention, and yet we’re supposed to think Twilight was in the wrong for not suggesting this first later in the film.

SIN COUNT: 25

Capper suavely befriends and charms lost ponies, takes them back to his place, and then later means to sell them to individuals who would sell ponies to the highest bidder. Replace “ponies” with “young women” and this is probably the most disturbing thing in this entire film.

SIN COUNT: 26

CAPPER: “My apologies for the state of the litterbox.”

And a fecal related joke too? Shame on you!

SIN COUNT: 27

(On learning about Mount Aris)

Ponies now know their destination, how to get there, and three of them are airborne including the only one who is actually a target, and yet continue to use the ground and transportation for locomotion the remainder of this film.

SIN COUNT: 28

Twilight attempts to get girls away from pony trafficker as quickly as possible, and yet we’re supposed to think Twilight was in the wrong for this later in the film.

SIN COUNT: 29

Capper’s life and moral outlook is changed by a unicorn putting two buttons on his jacket. Granted, if this were real life, that would actually be somewhat plausible. As this is a cartoon, that’s a sinning.

SIN COUNT: 30

5. Twilight could have instantly frozen all attackers in place like she did with the Hooffields and McColts. 6. Discord could have instantly snapped his fingers and freed the princesses while imprisoning Tempest. 7. Starlight Glimmer could have knocked several of the airships out of the sky by herself, especially since she can fly and teleport. 8. Shining Armor could have accompanied Cadance to Canterlot since “everypony” was supposed to be there and used their combined shield to blow Tempest all the way to Klugetown…

SIN COUNT: 31…32…33…34

It’s understandable that Captain Celaeno and her crew wouldn’t waste their only allowed meal break to throw ponies overboard. What’s not understandable is why they invite them to join them and feed them as well before planning to throw them overboard once finished.

SIN COUNT: 35

The Storm King forced Celaeno and her sky pirates into a life of menial servitude but not only left them all of their weapons but apparently all of their loot as well.

SIN COUNT: 36

Pirates regain their impulse to be pirates and decide to revolt against a tyrant because someone essentially says: “Why don’t you go back to being pirates?”

SIN COUNT: 37

Rainbow Dash thoughtlessly performs a Sonic Rainboom that acts as a massive signal flare to Tempest Shadow, and we’re supposed to think Twilight was in the wrong for not wanting her to perform it later in this film.

SIN COUNT: 38

When the Sonic Rainboom goes off, Tempest’s airship is close enough to actually distinguish the pirates’ airship, which means that it must have still been in visible range when they took off from Klugetown. Yet she and her minions continued to act as if they needed Capper’s directions to find the ship, which they now catch up with in less than half a minute.

SIN COUNT: 39

Movie teases Rainbow Dash learning how to fight with a sword with Celaeno and never delivers.

SIN COUNT: 40

Pirates and pirate ships are an easy way to inject fun into a film…unless you only want them for toys and have them instantly defeated as a result like this movie did.

SIN COUNT: 41

Tempest totally destroys pirate ship with Celaeno, her crew, and Capper on board and yet fails to kill anyone. That horn is busted.

SIN COUNT: 42

(Rarity’s drama queen fits)

Over-the-top Drama Queen Rarity is hilarious. Mediocre, slowly-animated, subdued Drama Queen Rarity makes non-bronies in the audience check their time and thank Celestia the movie is over half over.

SIN COUNT: 43

(Princess Skystar appears)

Discount Dory.

SIN COUNT: 44

Kingdom of Hippogriffs, who later in the film show one of them is strong enough to subdue five of the Storm King’s minions at once, transformed themselves into Kingdom of Merponies because…TOYS! I mean, REASONS!

SIN COUNT: 45

The Mane Six would still asphyxiate rather quickly from carbon dioxide poisoning in those small bubbles.

SIN COUNT: 46

Kristen Chenowith, the voice of Princess Skystar, stared alongside Idina Menzel, also known as Elsa from “Frozen”, in the original run of “Wicked” and later as Maleficent in “Descendants”, and yet filmmakers only give her half a song.

SIN COUNT: 47

9. Equestria is allies with the Yaks, who wouldn’t take kindly to the threat of invasion and would stomp on the invaders. 10. Equestria is allies with the Changelings, who wouldn’t take kindly to the threat of invasion and would devour the invaders. 11. Equestria is allies with the Dragons, who wouldn’t take kindly to the threat of invasion and would stomp, incinerate, and then devour the invaders. 12. Sunset Shimmer could have popped back into Equestria to lend a hoof…which would have been awesome…

SIN COUNT: 48…49…50…51

TWILIGHT: “We can’t just dance around with con artists, make Sonic Rainbooms in the sky, and expect everything to work out!”

Twilight points out everything wrong with film’s own resolution.

SIN COUNT: 52

(Spike escapes Storm King minion by lighting him on fire)

Apparently so long as this happens from a perspective of 100 feet away, it can stay a PG movie, because a similar shot is used later in the film when Spike is turned into an incinerator.

SIN COUNT: 53

(Twilight’s prison chamber)

Tempest Shadow is such a Darth Vader ripoff she even stole the Carbonite Freezing Chamber from “The Empire Strikes Back”.

SIN COUNT: 54

Twilight and Tempest make it back to Canterlot via an airship only about ten minutes faster than the rest of the protagonists who are ground-bound and apparently took the time to bake a gigantic Trojan Horse cake and build the wagon to put it on first.

SIN COUNT: 55

Is Songbird Serenade being impressed into singing like a real songbird? If so, why are these big white things ordering her to sing only to order her to shut up soon after?

SIN COUNT: 56

Also, Twilight, for some reason, focuses on Songbird’s misfortune although she’s surrounded by countless friends in much worse circumstances, including the CMCs.

SIN COUNT: 57

The Storm King is easily one of the most entertaining characters in the film, so naturally he only gets two scenes. …Wait, huh?

SIN COUNT: 58

Evil army of brutes that conquered hundreds of ponies in ten minutes, a third of whom could fly and use weather as a weapon and another third of whom could use magic lasers, now gets totally defeated by thirteen individuals. Equestria seriously needs a real military.

SIN COUNT: 59

Alright, which of you folks at home predicted that the Storm King would never honor his promise and would end up backstabbing Temp-alright, alright, you can all put your hands down.

SIN COUNT: 60

TWILIGHT: (On grabbing Tempest) “Hold on!”

Telling a character with hooves to hold on to something. For that matter, how is Twilight holding Tempest right now?

SIN COUNT: 61

So the ultimate reason Fluttershy and Applejack were in this film was to help form a pony-chain just long enough to get the Staff of S…S…MacGuffin, whatever.

SIN COUNT: 62

Not counting King Sombra, “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” franchise is finally ballsy enough to kill a villain on screen…and wastes it on a villain who spent so little time being malevolent and genuinely despicable that audience is fairly blase. Honestly, Tempest Shadow being killed would have left more impact.

SIN COUNT: 63

Magic MacGuffin Staff has a Comic Reset on it to nullify any of the drama that accompanied Canterlot Palace and most of Equestria being destroyed.

SIN COUNT: 64

Sia’s “Rainbow”. A song explicitly written for this movie by a singer who had a pony version of her made for the film in the single greatest act of MLP:FIM fandom that will ever be done.

SIN COUNT: 63

Tempest Shadow is worried she won’t fit in with the rest of the Equestrians at the party because she has a broken horn…instead of fact there are countless multitudes she tormented, enslaved, terrorized, and possibly killed.

SIN COUNT: 64

TEMPEST: “…Fizzlepop Berrytwist.”

No sin here. Like Pinkie Pie says, that’s awesome.

SIN COUNT: 63

(Discord appearing in foreground and background of end credits)

Don’t worry if you felt cheated by the background appearances of Starlight Glimmer, Trixie Lulamoon, and Cheese Sandwich in this movie. Feel cheated by this instead!

SIN COUNT: 64

(Credits scene where ponies are playing pinata shaped like the Storm King’s severed head)

That is quite honestly morbid.

SIN COUNT: 65

FINAL COUNT: 65

SENTENCE: MOICHANDIZING (“‘Moichandizing’? What’s that?” “Merchandising! We put the picture’s name on everything! Ha-ha! Merchandising! Merchandising! Where the real money from the movie is made!”)


 

(Scene where Tempest Shadow walks up to the open door to Capper’s house and looks in grinning)

JACK TORRENCE: Heeeeeere’s…JOHNNY!

 


 

(Scene of Pinkie Pie going crazy in the desert)

RAOUL DUKE: We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold…

 


 

(Scene where Rainbow Dash throws the Storm King Rulebook off the pirate airship)

ELIZABETH SWANN: Hang the code, and hang the rules! They’re more like guidelines anyway!

 


 

(Scene where Twilight gets the girls to distract Skystar and looks back to the Pearl)

HAL 9000: …What are you doing, Dave?

 


 

(Scene where Tempest Shadow gets in Twilight Sparkle’s face while caged)

JOKER: You want to know how I got these scars?

 


 

(Scene where Twilight unpetrifies Tempest, and she gasps and looks over to her)

OLD ANAKIN SKYWALKER: You were right… You were right about me.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Reviews ~ My Little Pony: The Movie

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(Spoilers obviously follow, so you’ve been warned.)

Synopsis:

The first Festival of Friendship, a new event proposed by Princess Twilight Sparkle, is upon Equestria, and she is heading up the festivities in Canterlot by getting pop singer Songbird Serenade to perform; but, true to her normal neurotic form, is fearful that her own “magic of friendship” isn’t good enough to highlight the event as much as it deserves. As the rest of the Mane Six and Spike try to reassure her that they’re all there to help her, a dark cloud bearing a fleet of airships descends on Canterlot. They reveal themselves to be the armies of the Storm King, a monster obsessed with world conquest, and are led by his greatest minion: a scarred unicorn with a broken horn named Commander Tempest Shadow. After Princess Celestia refuses her ultimatum for an unconditional surrender and all four princesses giving up their magic to her, she shows off her astonishing power even with a broken horn by easily defeating and imprisoning her, Luna, and Cadance with special gem bombs that immobilize the victims in crystal statues. She nearly does the same to Twilight when Rainbow Dash saves her (freezing Derpy instead), and she, Spike, and the Mane Six manage to escape in the chaos by falling into a river. On learning of this, Tempest goes off in pursuit, revealing that in exchange for giving the Storm King all the magic in Equestria she’ll get her own broken horn restored.

On reaching solid ground, Twilight directs the Mane Six follow a direction Celestia attempted to call out to Luna before she was imprisoned and find the “Queen of the Hippos” past the Badlands beyond the borders of Equestria. After crossing a barren desert and arriving in a run down city full of scavengers only interested in making money, they are nearly accosted by a group of locals wanting to capture and sell them until they are bailed out by a local anthropomorphic cat named Capper. In spite of Twilight not trusting him, the Mane Six go with him back to his place, and while inside she finds a map in his possession that indicates what they really need to find is the “Queen of the Hippogriffs”, creatures that are part eagle and part pony. They are about to leave for their kingdom on Mount Eris when debt collectors for Capper arrive, revealing he only helped them because he intended to sell them to pay a debt of his own, along with Tempest and her own minions. As a result of the confusion the Mane Six and Spike escape aboard a departing airship. Tempest demands that Capper tell her where they were headed, but Capper, on thinking of how Rarity repaired his coat and wanted nothing in return, lies about their destination; yet is dragged along by Tempest until they’re found.

On board the airship, which is crewed by anthropomorphic birds in the service of the Storm King, the girls are discovered. On being confronted, their captain, Celaeno, reveals they used to be sky pirates but were impressed into menial cargo labor by him. Rainbow Dash and the others, except Twilight who feels it is a waste of time, encourage and convince the pirates to get their old spirit back and resume their former lifestyles in rebellion against the Storm King, and in the process take them to their destination. Unfortunately, Rainbow decides to cap things off by performing a Sonic Rainboom for them, and as a result the blast leads Tempest’s own airship right to them. While Celaeno stalls, refusing to tell Tempest about the girls in spite of her threats, the rest of the Mane Six escape. In retribution, Tempest blows up their airship with the bird pirates and Capper on board, although the group manages to survive.

The girls and Spike arrive on Mount Eris only to find the kingdom long abandoned, but are attracted by a voice to a pond in the middle of the kingdom where they see a mysterious glowing figure vanish in the water. On jumping in after her, the pond sucks them into a sealed underwater cavern, but the figure rescues them from drowning and reveals herself to be Princess Skystar, seemingly a merpony. She shows the girls to the rest of their kingdom and introduces them to her mother, Queen Novo. It is revealed that the merponies were once the hippogriffs, but when the Storm King attacked them years ago they used the power of a magic pearl to transform the entire kingdom into merponies, and they made a new kingdom under the ocean. She does the same to the Mane Six and Spike, which prompts Twilight Sparkle to ask for the pearl to use it to transform the citizens of Equestria into creatures powerful enough to defeat the Storm King’s minions. Novo refuses, both due to mistrust as well as fears the pearl would be lost to the Storm King, although Skystar extends an offer to the girls to live in the safety of the kingdom instead. When they move to leave and Skystar looks unhappy that she’s lost a chance to have anyone to play with, Twilight suggests the girls have fun with her for a few minutes. As a result, Pinkie Pie and the girls end up enthusing the whole kingdom, Novo included, and persuades her to let the girls use the pearl after all–only to find out soon after that Twilight used the whole thing as a diversion to try and steal the pearl. Furious, Novo returns them to their former forms and banishes them from their kingdom. The girls angrily confront Twilight and her behavior; pointing out that since she left Equestria she’s constantly been refusing to give friendship a chance in helping them on their journey as she doesn’t believe that’s “good enough” to help them succeed/survive; and Twilight, bitter at both her failure and how she’s just ruined Equestria, ends up lashing back at the girls for not going along with her and calling them friends she doesn’t need. The rest of the Mane Six, hurt by the comments, leave Twilight and Spike on their own; and while Twilight begins to sink into depression over how she treated them on top of everything else, the Storm King’s minions come upon her and capture her.

Caged on board Tempest’s airship, the unicorn mocks Twilight at having no friends to help her now and boasting that by rejecting friendship and making herself into who she is today she’s superior to her. She reveals that as a filly her friendship with two other young unicorns caused her to get into an accident with an Ursa Minor that left her scarred and without a horn, and that they ended up abandoning her on seeing her unable to do magic; leading her to believe the only individual she could ever rely on was herself. On hearing this, Twilight realizes she’s been making the same mistakes Tempest made in not having faith in friendship with others and doing whatever she could to succeed, and, in spite of the unicorn’s heartless and self-interested demeanor, feels sympathy for her.  Meanwhile, the girls learn of Twilight’s capture but feel unable to do anything, until they’re joined by Capper, Captain Celaeno, the rest of the pirates, and even Princess Skystar (transformed back into a hippogriff), who agree to help effect a rescue.

Twilight is taken back to the Canterlot Palace, now the domain of the Storm King himself who has gone about destroying the rest of Equestria in her absence. She and the rest of the princesses have their magic forcefully removed and put into his staff. The Mane Six and their new friends attack soon after and manage to clear a path through the Storm King’s army all the way to the palace, at which point he summons a massive tornado with his new power to block them from getting any closer. Tempest tells the Storm King to honor his half of the deal and pledges to continue to serve him with her restored power, yet he simply says he has no more use for her power and never intended to give her back her horn at all. After a failed attempt to do away with her blasts the Storm King and the staff to one side while Tempest is nearly knocked into the tornado itself, Twilight ignores her chance to get the staff  and instead, much to Tempest’s own surprise, rescues her; telling her this is what friendship is really like. The Mane Six use Pinkie Pie’s massive cake cannon to fire themselves into the Storm King before he can finish both Twilight and Tempest, and with their help Twilight grabs the staff before both she and the Storm King are sucked into the tornado. Twilight is able to stop it using the staff’s magic and goes back to the others, but the Storm King also survives and has one last gem bomb to try and trap Twilight and the girls. Seeing him about to throw it, Tempest jumps into the path of the gem bomb to intercept the blast; imprisoning both her and the Storm King before they fall off a parapet. The Storm King hits the ground and shatters, but Twilight saves Tempest again before she can fall.

Using the staff, Twilight frees Tempest, the three alicorn princesses, and Derpy, and restores everything the Storm King and his army destroyed. Songbird Serenade performs as intended for the new audience, which now includes Capper, Celaeno and her pirates, Skystar, and even Queen Novo and the rest of the hippogriffs. Tempest, ashamed both of her actions as well as the fact she’s still a unicorn without a horn, attempts to leave discretely, but Twilight stops her…assuring her that her horn is just as strong as the pony who owns it and that “the party” could always use more friends. She ends up using her broken horn to make fireworks and, to her own embarrassment, gives out her real name to her new friends (Fizzlepop Berrytwist), which Pinkie Pie declares the best name ever.

Review:

Well…here it is.

After months of hype, anticipation, trailers, teasers, and waiting…we got “My Little Pony: The Movie”, an actual full length movie of the characters from Equestria rather than the Equestria Girls spinoff. For weeks the fans had poured over art, announcement of voice actors, clips in trailers, and music from the soundtrack. There were prequels, merchandise, and interviews abound, and all building to this one moment. No one knew exactly what to expect. Would this boldly go in new directions? Armed with a PG rating, would it push the content envelope? Would this be the most epic story of all time? Would it be “Hollywoodized”? Would it have some sort of major event to change the show forever?

Well, finally it came out. And what’s my own verdict?

Mmm…pretty good.

On a personal level, I was a tad disappointed. All of this hype, work, partnering with Lionsgate, and three years worth of development for a film that is, quite basically, a giant drama-based episode.  It had some things that were a little better than average but some things that were a little worse than average, and…well, let’s get into it.

Let’s start with the artwork.  It went in a slightly different direction from the show’s art. On one hand, I like a few details. The new animation of perspective of pegasi flying gives a new appreciation for it, as on the show itself they’re usually only flying at a side profile. Rainbow Dash’s Sonic Rainboom looked amazing. And the perspectives used in “Open Up Your Eyes” enhanced the presentation.

Yet…there was some bad stuff too. The “cruder” animation on the show allowed for more cartoonish rapid movement. In this movie, everyone “takes their time” moving. There’s nothing rapid and fast that happens on screen. Even the fight sequences seem to be slowed down.

Also, none of the characters move rapidly anymore as they would on the show either. Body language on the show is such a major part of actions and reactions, along with exaggerated facial expressions. In this movie, they do something bizarre for an animated film…close ups. Lots of close ups. They attempt to suddenly make the characters emote through facial reactions alone. And, to me, it doesn’t work well. Especially since it constantly happens to Twilight Sparkle, and she honestly looks tired, emaciated, and, dare I say, a bit ugly in most of the film.

The thing is most of this new animation seems designed to enhance the new characters and their own way of acting and reacting, which is at odds with the original pony characters. The end result is that they end up standing out while the ponies we know and love are boring. More on that soon…

As for the music, Sia’s “Rainbow” is, naturally, beautiful. Nothing less than I’d expect from the co-writer of Zootopia’s “Try Everything”. If the movie gets any acclaim at all, it might take home a Best Original Song Oscar. As for the rest of the music…it’s there. I think Daniel Ingram is rather talented but his songs on the show usually “average out”. I don’t feel there were any “dud” songs in this film, and I’m so grateful it didn’t include a “Twilight is Unhappy” song. But ironically, I think he shot himself in the foot. Vocals are usually the biggest part of his songs on the show. He mentioned that he was excited to get to work with a full orchestra in this movie, but that ironically drowned out some of the vocal appeal. On the high end I feel “You Need a Friend Like Me” had a quality of charm to it, while “Open Up Your Eyes”, like most of Tempest Shadow’s lines, was monotone and “disinterested-sounding”.  I was crossing my fingers for another “Luna’s Future” in this movie, but…nope.

Character-wise… One of the big problems with Megan McCarthy is that she usually tends to focus on Twilight Sparkle and ignore everypony else in the Mane Six except to be used as gags or one-liners. This movie didn’t make that mistake…kind of. Twilight is still the focus but the girls get to contribute…a little. Pinkie Pie is definitely in position number two for getting the most focus, as she easily has more stand-out screen time than any of the other girls. Almost too much. The scene with the confrontation with Twilight seems like Applejack should have been the one to deliver it, but instead it’s Pinkie Pie of all characters–one of the least confrontational out of the set. She’s highlighted with Princess Skystar to boot. Conversely, Rainbow Dash gets highlighted with Captain Celaeno, but aside from a brief cider gag at the beginning of the movie and her Sonic Rainboom she doesn’t really get much that stands out. Rarity doesn’t really get much, although her brief 15 second scene with Capper was important. Yet she suffers the worst for the animation style, because even her drama queen bits seem underplayed when that’s supposed to be over-the-top to a hilarious degree. But Applejack and Fluttershy are just along for the ride, and Fluttershy has so little to do she uses her old “yay” joke twice. Neither are really utilized or even have a reason to be in the film other than they need all six of them. Aside from that, Spike serves his usual role of letting Twilight say her emotional state rather than needing to show it or imply it, and Princess Celestia, Princess Luna, and Princess Cadance are only around to be Worf Effect #1, Worf Effect #2, and Worf Effect #3…as usual. The latter really disappoints me. I thought they would have had something for those three to do after all this time. Now…I realize we need more episodes like “A Royal Problem” and “Once Upon a Zeppelin” just to make them stand out as something besides characters to get instantly smacked down by every villain. (I feel really bad for Britt McKillip, who probably was able to come in one day for an hour to do her lines. :/)

The characters who really stand out are the ones for the movie. At first I was wondering why they got billing over the actual show cast, but…on seeing the movie, they deserved it. They had the most energy and interest, although I’m not sure if they were directed or written that way or it came off from their personalities. Taye Diggs’ Capper ended up having more charisma to him than I thought he would. Michael Cena’s Grubber was such a good Olaf imitation that the voice acting managed to make up for much of his lamer jokes. Liev Schreiber’s Storm King ended up having a delightful Adorable Psycho ring to it that reminded me of Lord Dominator from “Wander Over Yonder”. And I loved Kristen Chenowith’s Princess Skystar. She reminded me of kind of a mix of Dory from “Finding Nemo” and Pearl from “Steven Universe”.

Yet even that got ruined a bit by not making effective use of everyone. Kazumi Evans, Rarity’s singing voice, is one of the better vocal talents on the show and yet it was Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie who got songs to themselves. Likewise, Kristen Chenowith is a great singer and yet she only got “half a number”. The Storm King was probably my favorite of the new characters and his childish demeanor could have made for a lot of entertaining bits…and how many scenes did he get? TWO.

And of course the pony of the hour…Fizzlepop Berrytwist AKA Tempest Shadow.

In terms of persona, she definitely managed to pull off an aura of looking dark, cold, and merciless. She sold herself not only as being ruthless but also personally dangerous; a character who not only looked intimidating but was. She had the advantage of being a character not really used on the show yet: a dark, emotionless “dark lord” type. And in the scenes where her eyes go wide and she grins malevolently…whew.

And yet, Emily Blunt’s voice acting “killed” a lot of her persona. I don’t blame her. She tried. Tempest is mostly monotone throughout the whole film, and I know why. Her voice actor was likely trying to make her sound cold and ruthless like a Darth Vader type. The problem is…Emily Blunt’s voice is too pleasant to pull that off. Rather than sound dark, Tempest sounds bored or disinterested.

As a villainous character, I will say I like her better than Starlight Glimmer, and out of all the villains on the show who have done Heel Turn Faces she’s the most complete. Unlike Starlight, Tempest had a real tragedy happen to her. Left scarred and deformed trying to do something for her “friends”, reduced to being a “freak” of a pony, having lost the one thing that made unicorns unique… It’s understandable how she could have gone down a path where she no longer cared about what happened to the rest of Equestria so long as she got what she wanted, or even wanted them to suffer feeling she had been cast out. Furthermore, she’s clearly made a name for herself and learned to survive and even thrive in the world outside of Equestria. Therefore, the real reason she may want her horn back is because, on a deep level, she doesn’t feel like a “real unicorn” unless she has it. Perhaps a part of her emotionally scarred does still long to be accepted like everypony else. She gets a few other subtle moments too. When the Storm King starts abusing the magic he’s stolen for selfish, childish reasons, Tempest is visibly hesitant and uneasy. Earlier she chastised the citizens of Equestria for “wasting” the power on parties, but now she seems to realize the true waste is to make it the plaything of a child-like tyrant. That using this sort of power just to destroy and show yourself off really isn’t as great as she thought it was. Even before the Storm King makes it clear he never planned to live up to his end of the deal, she’s starting to wonder if giving him what he wanted was a good idea to begin with, horn or no horn. And rather than spontaneously turn around, what pushes her “back into the light” is seeing Twilight abandon her chance to save Equestria to rescue her after all of her persecution and taunting.

Finally, the main plot, and the main “lesson” of the movie. To be honest, I didn’t think much of it on the first viewing. I thought it was alright, but basic and unremarkable. Yet on seeing it a second time, as I do often with many MLP episodes, I saw a lot more to it.

The big trend of the series has been to make the villains, especially ones who will be redeemed, “alternate versions of Twilight Sparkle”. Sunset Shimmer was definitely that. Starlight Glimmer was that in a lot of ways. Even Moondancer was a “Twilight that could have been”. This movie did it a bit different. Rather than trying to juxtapose an alternate Twilight Sparkle onto Fizzlepop Berrytwist, they do something more subtle and focus that it’s the choice both of them are making that are bad.

Twilight is no stranger to being neurotic, but her problem in this movie is that once she’s moved out of her “comfort zone” she started to doubt the power of friendship. No longer in the realm of Equestria, she starts feeling like she’s in a sphere where the old rules don’t apply anymore. And, as the film goes on, it progressively gets worse. With Capper, she was just being overly cautious, and she ended up being that way with good reason as he did end up betraying them…although she didn’t have faith that friendship with the girls would win him over. With Celaeno and the pirates, she’s to the point of not even wanting to bother with their help. It’s the other girls who take all the initiative. Finally, with Queen Novo and Princess Skystar, she starts to cross the line. She does something downright dishonest and unethical, feeling it’s the only way to succeed outside of Equestria.

There’s a very interesting detail in the scene where she gets in an argument with the girls. Right when she reaches the zenith of her anger and says she doesn’t need friends like the Mane Six…her horn sparks–just like Fizzlepop Berrytwist’s.

That’s what drove the rest of the plot home for me from there. Twilight, over the course of the film, was gradually “turning into Tempest Shadow”; making the same mistakes she made. The real “punch” to the “Open Up Your Eyes” scene soon after that isn’t supposed to be Fizzlepop oozing her malevolence and power over Twilight, but Twilight realizing what she had been doing and how she was going down the same road she once went down. From that point on in the film, she starts to force herself to turn around in spite of being in the worst situation yet. In spite of the fact Fizzlepop still treats her cruelly and as a fool, she expresses her sympathy to her for what happened to her horn.

Yet the biggest movement happens several minutes later–when Twilight is given the chance to get her magic back and end the invasion of the Storm King if she’ll let Fizzlepop die.

In all honesty, it’s somewhat a condensed version of Season Four, and in particular an alternate version of “Twilight’s Kingdom”. In that one, Twilight had her “virtue” put to the test when Discord betrayed the Mane Six to help Tirek. In terms of the drama, it’s a bit weaker since the rest of the girls making friends had to be emphasized, and because the Storm King, in all honesty, is a subpar villain in terms of raw malevolence to Tirek. Yet nevertheless it still does a bit better in terms of who is redeemed. In Discord’s case, it was a sign of Twilight’s virtue that she was willing to forgive someone who honestly didn’t deserve it and who knew he didn’t deserve it. In this one…even after everything that happened and as cold and ruthless as she was, Twilight honestly felt pity for Fizzlepop–that she “deserved a true friend”. In “Twilight’s Kingdom”, you felt good for Twilight for making that choice in the end. In “My Little Pony: The Movie”, you feel good for Twilight for making that choice and a bit good for Fizzlepop for getting that act of compassion. So even though it’s a bit over old territory, like most plotlines that MLP:FIM uses that are from the old cartoon playbook, they manage to put their own little spin on it.

So to sum up, at it’s core, it had a nice lesson about holding true to your principles even when times get difficult and you’re forced out of your “comfort zone” that I felt was expressed a bit better and more mature than the season-wide moral of Season Four; but for all the colorful animation, the fact that everyone seems to move slower and be more subdued, to say nothing of the fact the villain seemed too childish to be taken too seriously, the climax lacked the dramatic punch that “Twilight’s Kingdom” did. The new characters are a lot of fun, even if they do the old deal of degenerating the rest of the Mane Six into placeholders. It almost feels like an original animated film rather than a “My Little Pony” movie with how little ponies, or even Equestria, even factors into everything. We never even see Ponyville. Nevertheless, the movie did take the bold step of actually killing a character on screen, and Sia’s original song was phenomenal. At the end of the day, you feel good that Twilight Sparkle used the staff in time to keep Fizzlepop Berrytwist from shattering; and since she was such a domineering, cold, and ruthless villain for most of it…that means the plot did its job.

I don’t think this film will end up attracting too many more to “the Herd”, but for the brony community it will be a nice bit of entertainment. Now the only question is where do things go from here. After taking three seasons off to devote himself to this movie, Jayson Theissen is back in the director’s chair for the main series on a show that has changed quite a bit from what it was when this movie began to be conceived. A feature film is normally the “kiss of death” to an animated series. Whether or not the show will continue is as up in the air as if we’ll ever see Capper, Captain Celaeno, Princess Skystar, or Fizzlepop Berrytwist ever again.

Fun Facts:

Based on the timeline of the movie’s announcement, the film began production around the end of Season Four. This is appropriate, as both Jayson Theissen, the director, and Megan McCarthy, the writer, handed over responsibilities to other newer show staff around this time. Thiessen, along with James Wootton, was the director of all MLP:FIM episodes until “The Cutie Map”, at which point Denny Lu, Tim Stuby, and Mike Myhre took over the reins. McCarthy was one of the show’s original writers and is responsible for the first two Equestria Girls movies, “A Canterlot Wedding”, and “Twilight’s Kingdom”. Considering the fact that Starlight Glimmer appears only as a background character in a few scenes, it’s fair to say that this movie was made only with up-to-Season-Four in mind.

While only a few members of the show’s regular cast have speaking roles, there are a number of odd cameos. Scootaloo and Apple Bloom are in a cage in one scene, and Apple Bloom appears very briefly in the opening. Starlight Glimmer and Trixie Lulamoon appear as background characters and even highlight one of the stills in the credits, but neither have speaking lines or any other actions in the movie. Discord fails to appear, but in the beginning Pinkie Pie makes a balloon Discord, and both his silhouette and him in the background appear in the credits. Very few of these characters get any speaking lines. Ironically, the most infamous “muted” character, Muffins/Derpy, gets both a line as well as a plot relevant device in this movie. When she takes the hit for Twilight Sparkle, she yells: “Twilight!”

Britt McKillip, voice of Princess Cadance, has a grand total of two lines in the entire film.

While never stated directly on the show, it’s canon that Cadance was adopted by Princess Celestia as a filly. Her reaction to Cadance being “crystalized” is one of the few moments that seems to punctuate that relationship.

The movie hints that the alicorns of Equestria are themselves the ultimate source of magic in Equestria. This was vaguely referenced way back in Season Three’s “Magical Mystery Cure” when part of the reason Twilight became an alicorn is because she created new magic, and the book version of “The Journal of the Two Sisters” had the unicorns of Equestria get their magic restored when Celestia and Luna (both alicorns) gained their Cutie Marks.

When Capper suggests that the “illness” the Mane Six have will cause those infected to have their extremities fall off, the fish man grabs for his nether regions off screen.

The sounds made by the spell when Fizzlepop attempts to contact the Storm King resemble old 56K dial-up modems.

In the movie’s official prequel, it is revealed that Fizzlepop Berrytwist was the one who caused Queen Novo to hide herself and her kingdom when she and Grubber first attempted to steal her pearl, by pretending to be homeless and destitute travelers in need of shelter. The queen initially thought she’d make a good playmate for Princess Skystar. The prequel, however, is somewhat at odds with the movie version as well as the show’s timeline. It hints that the reason Fizzlepop joined with the Storm King was partially because he and Grubber appreciated her power in spite of her broken horn, and there was some indication that she thought of Grubber as her only friend. In the movie, however, she treats him like a disposable lackey. On an additional note, the prequel is told entirely from Fizzlepop’s perspective, so that her real name is never mentioned.

Sia is so far the only person ever to play the pony version of themselves. Her Cutie Mark bears some resemblance to that of Countess Coloratura from ‘The Mane Attraction”, indicating extremely musical Equestrians may share similar Cutie Marks.

Fizzlepop Berrytwist shares many similarities with Darth Vader. She abandoned her own identity when she turned to evil, changing her name to Tempest Shadow and becoming “more machine than man”. She’s scarred and unable to use her full potential as a result. The area where she cages Twilight Sparkle is similar to the carbonite pit in “The Empire Strikes Back”. She uses “Force Lightning” as her primary weapon. Finally, she’s seduced by an offer of power by her master, and in the end sacrifices herself for the sake of the protagonist as part of her redemption.

Fizzlepop Berrytwist’s movements and demeanor are very similar to Maud Pie’s, including her way of walking, keeping her head still when talking, and even her Crystal-Pony-like eyelashes.

After being fired out of the Confetti Cake Cannon, when Pinkie Pie crashes into Fluttershy she emits a “squee”.

The show “killed a villain” arguably as early as Season Three with King Sombra (ignoring the IDW Comic), but he was portrayed so subsentient and as such a force of darkness rather than an individual that I don’t feel that counted. To me, the first real death on screen happened in this movie with the Storm King. Way to use the PG rating. 🙂

The actual “Queen of the Hippos” appears in the end credits.

Rating:

3.5 Stars out of 5

My Little Devotional #148: “Time’s Up”

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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “The Perfect Pear”

In one of the more sobering and emotional episodes of the entire series, we are treated to the story of Grand Pear, his daughter, Pear Butter, and her relationship and eventual marriage to Bright Macintosh. Pear Butter and Bright Mac came from opposite families on either side of a long-standing family rivalry and feud, and were forced to keep their relationship secret for years as they knew neither of their respective families would ever approve. When the secret was exposed to Grand Pear on the day of what was supposed to be a covert wedding, he demanded that his daughter choose either him and her family or that of her new husband. Forced into a position that broke her heart, Pear Butter ended up choosing to stay with Bright Mac, and as a result Grand Pear disowned her and left town without her.

Full of anger and bitterness, Grand Pear never saw Pear Butter or spoke to her again for her choice, separated both from her and his three grandchildren. One day, when he was now an old man, he learned the unfortunate news: she passed away while she was still young. And Grand Pear learned the sad truth that if he had ever wanted to see his daughter again he had lost his chance forever, and that he would live the rest of his life knowing the last things he ever said to her were words of rejection and anger.

And all because his grudge ended up being more important to him than his child.

The Bible says in Ephesians 4:26, “”In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,”. As this episode makes abundantly clear, this instruction, like all instruction in the Bible, is not merely a warning against sin that leads to death but a stark warning of one of the biggest mistakes we can make with our lives. As the infamous proverb has said: “Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

Grand Pear learned that lesson too late, and there are many people like him in the real world. I’ve known a few myself, and at times I wonder how much I emulate him.

Today’s message I feel is poignant and to the point, so I have little need to elaborate on it save to re-share this poem by Robert H. Smith.

“The clock of life is wound but once,
And no man has the power
To tell just when the hands will stop
At late or early hour.

To lose one’s wealth is sad indeed,
To lose one’s health is more,
To lose one’s soul is such a loss
That no man can restore.

The present only is our own,
So live, love, toil with a will,
Place no faith in “Tomorrow,”
For the Clock may then be still.”

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, out of all the many blessings you have given me in my life, I thank you for the most precious of all: today. If there is good I can do, a wrong I can redress, a relationship I can rebuild, a chance to say I love you, or an opportunity to decide where I will spend eternity today, please give me the strength to do it now. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Gratefully, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

My Little Devotional #147: “Down with the Sickness”

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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Discordant Harmony”

In this rather interesting episode, Discord finds himself questioning if his normal chaotic behavior and demeanor might actually be putting Fluttershy off. To that end, when he invites Fluttershy to his house for tea, he makes an effort to make both himself and his surroundings as “normal” as possible to more suit what he presumes is her tastes. Only after he goes to excessive efforts to make himself totally average does he learn that Fluttershy, far from merely accepting him out of being a gracious and kind-hearted spirit, actually likes his chaotic and boisterous nature as it’s the opposite of everything she is–namely reserved and quiet.

There are many “common sense” maxims out there, and ironically many of them are untrue. One of the more popular ones is “opposites attract”. The truth is people are more usually drawn to others who are like themselves rather than the opposite of their nature. However, as this episode illustrated in a kinder and less severe nature than reality, people do tend to gravitate toward those who are a “match” for themselves and their own natures, and that’s not always a good thing.

This is seen all the time in relationships. One can probably guess that if someone is an addict, they will gravitate toward people who are, by their nature, enablers: individuals who mistake a need to constantly save people from their own self-destructive behaviors as compassion and kindness. They pair with them because they will allow their addiction to persist. Enablers, on the other hand, could be attracted to addicts due to a past where they were forced to watch someone they cared about be victimized and been unable to do anything about it, so that now they have to “save” others to make up for that. Likewise, relationships that are abusive often involve an element of low self-esteem on the part of the victim, where they submit to their tormentors out of feeling they “deserve” their torment, as well as the offender; where they don’t feel personal value unless they can “dominate” another individual.

Yet this sort of thing can happen, and does happen, in far less severe yet unhappy relationships. I know a certain individual who always “knows” the best way to do everything and sharply criticizes anyone who does things a different way. The reason is he’s insecure about himself and fearful of personal failure, so to make himself feel good about himself he has to constantly put down others and point out what’s wrong with what they’re doing. He’s unhappily married to a woman who is rather idle and shows little initiative or motivation for anything. It frustrates him to no end, and it has ever since their marriage. He’s quick (naturally) to blame her for everything that’s wrong in their relationship, but what he’s not realizing is the reason he married her in the first place was because she was an individual who has such an apathetic nature that she would just “take the abuse” no matter what, whereas anyone else would have never made that commitment or stood up for themselves. Both have a problem, and they ended up attracted to each other to make it worse.

Usually it’s not just one side to blame for relationship problems. It’s more often a situation of two unhealthy people projecting their symptoms onto each other and making each other more unhealthy. Quite simply…if we are sick, in the mental or emotional sense, and are not actively acknowledging and trying to correct it, we will be attracted to people who “feed our sickness”.

One of the key parts of Jesus’ ministry and His focal point for why He so easily came to the aid of sinners while the self-righteous received a stern condemnation was because the former group acknowledged their flaws and sought to repent and the latter group did not. He illustrated this in the following parable:

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:10-14)

And elsewhere:

“Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.”” (John 9:40-41)

Instruction like this isn’t just to humble ourselves before God. We’re all “broken”, no matter which way you look at it. Everyone has some flaw. Yet only those who acknowledge them and seek help can correct them, and that’s important not only for miracle-working as Jesus did, but our own health and well being. Only to the degree that we are honest with ourselves can we be honest with other people. And so long as we go around not seeing what our own pasts or faults are and how they could be impacting us, we’ll continue to make bad choices based on our slanted world view–not only with who we form relationships with but with everything else.

If you want to be in a good relationship, start by becoming the sort of person you would like as a partner…not just “acting” like the sort of person you would like as a partner. For some of us, that might involve working a lot more on ourselves than on finding someone else, but the good news is to the degree that we ourselves are healthy and mature, so naturally will be the quality of our relationships–not only with others but also with God.

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you for your instruction regarding personal honesty, and your assurance that it is our true selves that you wish to hear from rather than us attempting to cover up for our faults or sins. Please grant that I will always have the courage and responsibility to examine myself from time to time and see what kind of person I am showing to the world and what I may be unknowingly attracting or gravitating to, and help me always to remember that I can’t change other people but I can always change myself and how I respond to them. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

My Little Devotional #146: “Request Error”

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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Not Asking for Trouble”

In this episode, the yaks of Yakyakistan find themselves beset by disaster in the form of an avalanche and unable to alleviate their situation on their own. But as it turns out, “Yak Culture” does not like to ask other friendly individuals or races for help. Rather, the custom is to wait for them to help on their own without prompting. Yet this caused a bit of an unnecessary delay for Pinkie Pie, who wanted to get her friends to come help clean up the mess but felt it would be improper unless the yaks asked. Not understanding that part about their culture, it led to a great deal of wasted time on both sides, and all stemming from what was considered the proper way to ask for and receive help.

I thought about this episode quite a bit, and finally it was this part that stood out to me. It got me to thinking about how Christians and other religious people do their own “special brand” of asking for help, AKA prayer. A lot of Christians may not realize it, but it’s a hotter topic than one would think.

The Bible definitely encourages prayer, no doubts there. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6); “pray continually,” (1 Thessalonians 5:17…a very short and direct Bible passage!); ““So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”” (Luke 11:9-13) Nevertheless, there is some question of what is the “right way” to pray among different denominations and even within certain churches.

On one side, some Christians will say that we should pray about absolutely everything and God, in turn, will give absolutely everything, and that if he doesn’t it’s because you don’t have enough faith or aren’t living “righteously” enough. Yet we know that’s not necessarily true. Job was the most righteous man alive in his day and yet he had everything taken from him for a time (Job 1:1-2:10). The Apostle Paul was most certainly a model of righteousness and faith and yet he suffered constant misfortune and had his own prayers outright denied in at least one instance (2 Corinthians 11:16-33; 2 Corinthians 12:7-9). If nothing else, we can see that when we ask for something in prayer we won’t always get it in “our” time but always in “God’s” time, or when we ask for something we think we need but we don’t we won’t receive it.

Of course, the other extreme is to pray but never expect anything in return. Even this has some basis in Biblical proof, such as in the case of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who knew God had the power to deliver them from the fiery furnace yet weren’t necessarily sure he would (Daniel 3:14-18); and also with Susanna, who considered herself doomed with her only hope knowing it would be better to be put to death falsely accused yet truly righteous before God than to save her life by sinning (Daniel 13:19-23). In both cases, these were individuals who entrusted their case to God but didn’t necessarily expect him to work a miracle on their behalf. Yet it’s easy to overdo this as well. If we expect God to only answer people whenever he feels like it without regard to our need or prayers, then it wouldn’t take long to get an image of a callous and uncaring God in our heads…or no God at all. David sharply reproved people who thought that way in his psalms (Psalm 14), and for good reason. If you feel your prayers are useless and unheard, then you probably won’t pray that much or often. And given what I mentioned earlier is said in the Bible about prayer, the last thing God wants us to do is pray less.

Another big question was proposed to me years ago about the power of communal prayer. The Bible encourages praying in communities and as a body of believers for individual needs, and calls special attention to those who pray for things in groups. “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:19-20) “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.” (James 5:14-15) And yet, the power of an individual’s prayer is also emphasized in the Bible (See the passages of Exodus 8:4-10; Numbers 17: 11-13; Joshua 10:12-14; 1 Kings 17:17-24; Acts 9:36-42). The question was proposed to me to consider the case of two very sick women in the hospital. One is the wife of a pastor with a large family, and both her family and the entire congregation prays for her recovery. The other is the wife of a poor, homeless man and he alone prays for her recovery. Is God any less likely to answer the latter’s prayer than the first’s?

Even Jesus’ own disciples asked Him what was the proper way to pray, which was where we received the Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:1-4).

For me personally, I think what’s important to remember is that prayer is not simply making a formal request of God. It’s not something that’s entirely “one sided” or takes the form of writing a little note wanting something, any more than the relationship with our own parents was simply trying to find the right way to say things to get stuff. Prayer often involves asking for things, yes, and God is gracious to those who call on his name. But prayer is more than that. The mere act of it is multi-faceted and builds us up spiritually as well as connects us to our Father in Heaven. To me, even the most simple prayer involves all of the following:

  1. Prayer is setting time aside for God. So is reading the Bible, going to Church, ministering, or any of our devotional life. Each of these tasks is declaring that God is more important than what is going on in our lives and he deserves greater honor even in this brief moment. That’s why the more we pray the more authority we give to God in our lives.
  2. Prayer is acknowledging the power of God. Whenever we stop to pray to ask for something great or small, we acknowledge that God has dominion over all things. No matter what it is, whether it’s walking home on a dark night, needing to find money for rent, or wanting a cancer treatment to succeed, prayer states that God has command over all things and all things must obey his Will. That’s why praying aloud over things, whether in our rooms or with someone in public, is a declaration of God’s power over all.
  3. Prayer is enjoying our relationship with God. The fact that we, still in the flesh and sinners, can come to God and ask him for whatever we desire acknowledges our role as his children and his role as our Heavenly Father. It shows that we have the freedom to approach God for whatever we need. That’s why the act of prayer also gives glory to the Sacrifice of Lord Jesus Christ and what that meant for us, and why it is so important to not just ask God for things in prayer but to cherish and recognize our relationship with him…just as we don’t come to our own parents or loved ones just for things but to enjoy their company and presence.

To these I would add a fourth thing that isn’t necessarily always in prayer but I feel should be: prayer should always involve an element of thanksgiving. Giving thanks to God for what he has done for us is an acknowledgement of answered prayer, an opportunity to glorify God’s power in our lives, a reminder of what we have to be thankful for, and lastly a chance to show our affection for God. Thanksgiving is the “other half” of prayer–once we have received something, we acknowledge it and give credit to where credit is due.

To me, acknowledging these things each time we pray makes for effective prayer, no matter in what “format” it is presented. While some people need to pray more in general, for many of us who do so regularly it’s easy for it to become as routine as brushing our teeth. My suggestion for this devotional is for both groups: to take some time to think on these things the next time you pray. It might help you realize just how meaningful even these small experiences can be.

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you for the gift of prayer, and that Lord Jesus has promised: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7) Please grant that all of my prayers will always be a sign of your importance over my life, an acknowledgement of your authority over all things, a time to build our relationship, and most of all an expression of my thanks and gratitude for all you have done and continue to do for me. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Reviews ~ Equestria Girls: Mirror Magic

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Synopsis:

Following the events of “Movie Magic”, Juniper Montage is unhappily working at a movie theater job at Canterlot Mall, growing increasingly unhinged and convinced that she could have been Daring Do in the upcoming movie and that the Rainbooms are to blame for all of her problems. While shirking work, she accidentally comes across a hand mirror that has been exposed to loose Equestrian magic, which shows her reflection as a glamorous movie star loved by all. Meanwhile, the girls are excited about the premiere of the film and their chance to see themselves on screen, but Sunset Shimmer is worried about their new powers and what it means for the future. While obsessing and writing to Twilight Sparkle, she realizes she’s almost out of space in her old journal, so Twilight writes for her to return to Equestria to pick up a new one. She does so only to find that the Mane Six have been called off on a friendship problem; leaving Starlight Glimmer behind. On seeing she is both bored and curious about the human world, Sunset decides to take Starlight back with her for a short visit. During this time, the rest of the girls stop by the movie theater as Juniper is growing increasingly obsessed with the mirror. Angry at seeing them, she accidentally says she wishes the girls would disappear; sucking them into a limbo within the mirror and trapping them there. Meanwhile, while Sunset and Starlight are looking for the girls, and Starlight ends up helping Sunset deal with her own worries about the future, they come up to the theater and spot that Juniper has Fluttershy’s hair barrette, which was dropped when she was trapped. Sunset uses her own tactile empathy to learn what happened as well as the fact Juniper wanted to be Daring Do so that people would notice her, yet her attempts to reason with her fall on deaf ears as she traps Sunset too. Unfortunately, uniting the seven geodes in the mirror causes a burst of Equestrian magic to transform Juniper into a giant humanoid monster obsessed with everyone idolizing her. Starlight confronts her and manages to get the mirror away from her, but in doing so accidentally cracks it, and as she struggles to escape Juniper’s wrath the mirror begins to fall apart; correspondingly beginning to destroy the dimension the girls are trapped in. She tries to reason with Juniper as well, saying what she really wants is a friend, causing her to confess that what she really fears is that no one will ever pardon what she’s done. When Starlight assures her the girls will forgive her, Juniper wishes “to make things right”, releasing the girls and restoring herself. Given their own pasts, Sci-Twi, Sunset, and Starlight all accept her apology along with the girls, and Starlight soon gets some good news as the first entry Twilight makes in the new journal is for her to enjoy her stay in the human world a few more days.

Review:

This was the most eagerly anticipated entry in the specials as soon as it was revealed the human version of Starlight Glimmer would be in them. I myself thought it would mean that the next villain would be the human Starlight Glimmer, and knowing how good of a villain she had been in Equestria I expected something astonishing. I eventually got that corrected when more teaser images came out, revealing that this was the Equestrian Starlight Glimmer turned into a human, but by then I was even more excited on seeing that Sunset Shimmer would return to Equestria briefly and we’d get to see her in pony form again.

So if I had to sum this special up in one word for me personally, it would be…disappointment.

I had been waiting on pins and needles ever since “Rainbow Rocks” for Sunset Shimmer to make a return to Equestria. Maybe it would be an episode where the Equestrian Mane Six would need her help. Maybe it would be when she wanted to atone for what she had done. What I was really hoping for was for her to meet up with Princess Celestia again for what I felt would be a heartwarming scene, where Sunset would finally apologize to her and Celestia would say that her original “favorite student” had finally made her proud. I even thought it would have been wild if Sunset would have returned and found herself turned into an alicorn following the events of “Friendship Games”. Heck, I was even looking forward to her reaction on meeting the Equestrian Mane Six.

And what did I end up getting? She pops into the Castle of Friendship to reenact Twilight’s schtick from the original Equestria Girls…and that’s it, mostly. By far, that was the biggest letdown of this episode. So much wasted potential and scenes…for that.

Now on to Starlight Glimmer…

As I’ll touch on when I finally get to Season Seven, when the prospect of Starlight Glimmer actually leaving the cast at the season premiere reared its head…I surprised myself when I realized I didn’t want her to go, meaning I had not only finally accepted Starlight as a cast member but actually liked having her in the cast. That said, I still would have preferred her as a villain in this one. Even if she would have been redeemed, I would have felt it was a chance to do her redemption “right”.

Instead, she comes in to save everyone again. Ok…I’ll accept it somewhat this time because that was pretty much Chekhov’s Gun. They weren’t going to bring Starlight in unless she was going to save everyone, but I’m still unhappy about how it relegates everyone else to the sideline. The one who gets the worst is Sunset Shimmer. She already has the most “useless” power. While one could plausibly make the argument Starlight overheard the few things she said after grabbing Juniper and so her power did end up helping, Starlight is also ingenious enough to deduce these things from the way Juniper was acting, so…Sunset’s already useless power served no useful purpose. Again. :/

Speaking of which, it came as little surprise that Juniper Montage did not end up being most people’s favorite villain. She wasn’t very sympathetic in the previous special, but now even less so. As I said, she got a bigger break than she deserved, yet she blames everyone else for her own bad situation she got herself into. Her job may be menial and not too glamorous but it is something she’s getting out of sympathy rather than something she’s gotten for herself, and she’s not even handling it gratefully. She spends the bulk of this special being rather vain too, obsessing over a glamorous vision of herself. She even outright says she prefers the company of the mirror to anyone else. Now, granted, the episode was trying to say that’s a bad way to live and she might have been influenced partially by the magic at that point, but it’s still pretty high marks in terms of vanity. The audience doesn’t feel quite as good as they should for her at the end as a result, in my opinion.

And, of course, there’s the usual complaint about a lot of Equestria Girls content…all of the girls are side characters to one or two leads. Only this time Sunset and Sci-Twi both end up getting upstaged by Starlight Glimmer. It’s more pronounced in this one because they only had 22 minutes to work with one of their drama based episodes, although with the other two specials taken into account it’s not so bad.

Was there anything outstanding that was good about this episode? Well…

With this episode, I realized something about Starlight Glimmer. While she’s definitely the most magically inclined and powerful out of the girls and possibly out of the characters as a whole, she never actually uses that power to resolve situations like this. Rather, her “other” power comes into play. The same ability that Starlight used to use to manipulate and control others she can use to persuade and convince others of her point of view. Whether for good or evil, Starlight is a master at manipulation and getting others to do what she wants. This helped me to realize that this is the way Starlight prefers to deal with things.

Also, on the second viewing, I realized the resolution was a bit more satisfying that I gave it credit for. As nasty and vain as Juniper was being, it turned out the real reason she wouldn’t accept that she was the one at fault all along was because she felt to admit she had done something wrong would be akin to making her unlovable…that she didn’t deserve to have anyone pay attention to her. That would have been even worse than being ignored to her, so she had to find someone else to blame and keep blaming them. The real reason she ignored Sunset was because releasing the girls would have been admitting she had done something wrong. And the reason Starlight was able to get her to stop where Sunset couldn’t, even after she went nuts, was she said something key: she told Juniper her actions would be something she’d regret forever. That made her realize her anger was really self-hate and regret for her own bad choices and now she’d be stuck with them.

One lesson the show hasn’t really touched on yet was the problem some people have (adults more than kids) in which they believe if anyone knew the truth about their pasts or who they are that they’ll be unlovable, leading them to live fake and ultimate self-destructive lives. This episode…only kind of brushed on it, but it did touch on it a little.

But even then, this special was the most “confused” of the set to me. It looked like it didn’t know if it wanted to expand the bit with Juniper Montage into another film like “Legend of Everfree” or if it wanted to serve as a way to introduce Starlight Glimmer into the Equestria Girls franchise. Aside from her serving as the deus ex machina and a couple scenes with Sunset, the latter plot doesn’t work that well. The funny thing is that Starlight Glimmer was originally accused (and still is to this day) of being the franchise’s main series’ answer to the unexpected popularity of Sunset Shimmer. The two interacting with each other was expected to be a lot wilder or more involved too, perhaps being a rivalry as both are Twilight’s “students”. Instead, the two seem to hit it off pretty readily. That could work too as they do have parallels with one another…but even that was woefully underplayed due to time constraints. There was a lot more potential for character-to-character interaction, but they had to just push it forward to get Starlight into the human world ASAP.

Ultimately I feel this episode could have been great and we ended up with “meh”. Sunset returning to Equestria is something that could have had a whole movie devoted to it. Starlight coming to the human world is something that could have had a whole movie devoted to it. Instead, Juniper, who again is not many people’s favorite Equestria Girls villain, had to take up the bulk of the screen time building to the conclusion and resolution. While I’ve rated all of these specials as average, this one was the closest to getting bumped up to 3 Stars, but it just didn’t take advantage of what it had.

Fun Facts:

Humanized Diamond Tiara and Filthy Rich are at the mall in the background at the beginning. Other humanized versions of character pop up at the mall too.

The mall is running the “Dance Magic” movie video. As near as I can tell, that’s the only real way the special ties into this.

While not a perfect likeness, the movie poster, in keeping with the fact that film is a human version of “Daring Do and the Marked Thief of Marapore”, is a bit of an adaptation of the book cover art.

Rainbow Dash has nicknamed Sunset Shimmer “Sunshim”, something that carried over from the fandom.

Hayburgers are eaten in the human world…for some reason. O_o Humans can’t even digest those. Odd when you remember “Rainbow Rocks” featured pepperoni on a pizza…which is creepy when you realize Twilight Sparkle probably ate some of that.

Sunset Shimmer’s design as a pony seems to have changed from her original appearance, but in her original brief appearance as her eyes were almost continuously narrowed and creased it’s actually hard to compare. At any rate, her own movements in Equestria are a parody of Twilight Sparkle’s own from the original movie, unable to grow accustomed to walking on for legs and not having hands. Her bag seems to “transform” into a saddlebag on crossing over into Equestria, although it could just simply be her new body anchoring it in place.

The new journal’s emblem is a combination of Sunset Shimmer’s Cutie Mark and Twilight Sparkle’s.

The fact that Starlight Glimmer says: “She wants me to learn as much as I can about friendship” indicates that this special might actually be set between Seasons Six and Seven.

Starlight Glimmer’s design is one of the more radically different from her pony version. In addition to being unusually dressed with ripped jeans and her “glimmer beanie, not to mention she gets a watch when crossing over into the human world, her hair style has a number of differences. Her eye style is rather similar to that of Aria Blaze, which might have been a hidden joke as fans were quick to pick up on the fact that Starlight Glimmer’s color palette was almost identical to hers.

There’s a meta joke in this special. At one point, Pinkie Pie grabs “the fourth wall” and says: “Nope! No wall over here!”

When Sci-Twi freezes the chocolate-covered almonds in midair, Pinkie Pie gobbles them up in a parody of Pacman.

Juniper’s transformation is figurative, similar to previous Equestria Girls villain transformations. Her desire is to be noticed, and so she turns into a giant dressed in “loud” clothing that’s impossible to not be seen. Similar to Gloriosa’s transformation, she also has sharp teeth and she becomes delusional, seeing all of the frightened mall patrons as adoring fans.

I happened to notice it didn’t take too long for Starlight to adjust to her human body, even able to perform a flip kick to knock the mirror out of Juniper’s hands. (Stifles “Pony Sue” comment…)

Pinkie Pie also addresses a leading criticism among fans: “Wow…we are a reeeeeeally forgiving group.” Nevertheless, I notice Sunset is the first to forgive Juniper, again indicating her element is Empathy.

Rating:

2.5 Stars out of 5