The leap to a new generation or era for a long running franchise can be difficult. But when it’s coming from a previous generation that was so universally loved, I do not envy the people working on it.
To say the 4th generation of My little Pony was a success, is greatly under estimating how big a success it was. This was the era that found an audience with many demographics that were never intended to the extent that the term “brony” was coined. Any why shouldn’t it, it was really good. A show with loveable characters that won people’s hearts, to the point I suspect “friendship is magic” lasted so many seasons as people would be afraid to move to the next generation, but move it would have to.
I can say that going into the movie I was apprehensive, since it’s a CG film while FIM was entirely 2D animation, as well as starting out with a movie rather than a cartoon raises that further. But I’m happy to say it’s a good enjoyable movie that has many, many things that made me go “wow, this is really good”.
Set an unknown amount of time after FIM (and I’m not sure if they treat the epilogue as canon either) and after a fake out opening we learn the new status quo, the 3 types of ponies, Earth, Pegasus and Unicorns have all split apart and basically demonizing each other. Earth ponies especially who for comparison to the flying Pegasus and the magical Unicorns seemed rather downtrodden have gone full on use of fear of the others abilities, having big meetings showing off crazy stuff while riling up the populace in fear of an imagined attack to help sell very crappy defences. All three groups were basically othering the other 2 as an excuse for everything bad that has happened.
This is one of the movies great strengths, it’s dealing with some more adult and meaningful topics that when I then watch so called adult animations I find lacking (instead they are going OOOH bad word and OOOH reproductive organs), while the pony movie is talking about how the othering of people to enforce a status quo causes everything to get worse. Maybe you’re just doing it to keep yourself in a position that’s advantageous to you, but your words eventually reach the ears of someone who goes that step further.. mind you the earlier part wasn’t good either and you shouldn’t do that.
It’s in this setting we find Sunny an Earth pony whose father talked about how in the past all 3 ponies types lived together in friendship, and the stories of how Unicorns can read minds and fry brains that everyone claims is true (to the point helmets are made) is just silly. So Sunny is a friendly pony who wishes to meet the others and tries to tell her fellow Earth ponies of Maretime Bay there is nothing to fear. After failing to convince others at the annual, ‘showing off of our inventions to protect us from the scary Pegasi and Unicorns’, exhibition goes badly, A bubbly friendly Unicorn named Izzy shows up… naturally all the ponies taught all the scary things a Unicorn can do run about like headless chickens into the very traps designed to capture intruders.
The plot grows as Sunny learns that Izzy, in fact all Unicorns, can’t use magic. Izzy tells that the other Unicorns say the Pegasus stole it so the two are off to the lands of the Pegasus, followed by Hitch Trailblaze the Sheriff and friend of Sunny who has come to arrest her for letting the Unicorn go. Quite an interesting detail, one of the main characters of the new generation is a Male pony as they were just recurring or side characters in MLP. He left Sprout in charge who is a pony who has completely believed all the scary stories about other pony types thanks to his mother.
What follows is a musical tale as Sunny befriends Ponies and tries to find a way to restore magic to the land bringing the 3 types of ponies back together.
While one person I chatted with complained that it never explained in the movie WHY magic had gone away, watching the film that’s not really an issue. It’s the story of bringing these people together and exposing how damaging xenophobia is and it does that wonderfully.
The new main 5 aren’t just replacements of the previous 6 but seem like an interesting shake up and not just because one of them is now a dude. Archetypal behaviour you would think would have been used by a Pegasus or an Earth pony are being displayed by say a Unicorn. (Also, I’m fairly sure Hitch is a descendant of Fluttershy… watching the film you will see why).
If you feel there is more to the story, then that’s because there is. The film works not only as a standalone film, introducing you to the new cast and giving them this small adventure. But it’s also just the first part of the 5th generation, the post credits hinting at the next plot detail the franchise will explore.
Whether or not you’re a huge fan of MLP this is a surprisingly fun and well thought out kids’ movie, and as mentioned ends up dealing with more heavy topics than things supposedly for adults. Sure, it’s done with a laugh and a song, but it explores themes that all those shows meant to be for people my age ends up falling flat on or not even touching.