My Little Pony: A New Generation REVIEW

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MonocerosArts's avatar

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Okay, so a few years ago, I wrote a journal about my thoughts on what G5 of My Little Pony would be, and literally all of it was wrong, lol! That's okay, because that's what the information was at the time. I'm curious if all of that was started by a fan somewhere, or if that was a plan in the studio at one point that was scrapped in favor of the movie and characters we have now.

Anyway, so I've watched the movie on Netflix now, and I enjoyed it a lot! I can definitely see some flaws and ways it could have been stronger, but overall it was cute and makes you feel warm inside, which is what MLP is supposed to do.

The Animation

The animation is gorgeous. When I found out it would be 3-D CGI animation, I was very concerned, because all of the fan-animated 3-D ponies for G4 gave me the heebie-jeebies. 3-D animation must be detailed. You can't cut corners.

However, the animation team for this movie did a wonderful job of creating a detailed, believable world in vibrant, beautiful colors. The landscapes pull you in, the textures look like you can feel them, and the lighting is varied and provides interest.

Also, it shows dirt and ugliness when it needs to. For example, Sunny's bedhead is perfect, and the horrible tangles in Pipp's hair when she escapes the Pegasus palace after being discovered a flight fraud took me back to terrible hair days as a kid. After seeing perfect, fluffy ponies for almost the entire movie, it was raw to see a character look so beat up.

But I think my favorite part of the animation has to be the ponies' ear movements. While G4 did have the ponies droop their ears from time to time depending on how they were feeling, G5 has the ponies broadcasting their emotions through their ears just like real horses do. Their words are punctuated with ear twitches, and it makes it easier to believe that there are little ponies that could talk and have adventures.

That being said, while I love the 3-D animation in the movie, I really, really hope the following TV show will be 2-D, not 3-D. 3-D requires too much detail to be able to produce quickly and on a budget. If it's not done just right, it starts looking nightmarish. I have never seen a 3-D animated show where the animation was satisfying. Some shows, such as Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir, even had better animation in earlier seasons than later seasons because the animators were either rushed, or the budget was cut. Clone Wars was able to mo-cap some scenes which helped the animation there, but that's not an option for My Little Pony. It's easier to stylize and cut corners with 2-D animation and still make it look good.

The Characters

Another great aspect of the movie was the originality of the characters. A lot of people didn't like the idea of rebooting the Mane 6 from G4, so G5 has an entirely new cast of characters. While like all MLP series they are loosely based on previous incarnations of ponies (such as Pipp Petals being reminiscent of Melody from My Little Pony Tales,) they are overall brand new characters that the audience gets to know throughout the movie. Some of the characters have more development than others, such as Hitch learning to overcome his prejudices vs Sunny Starscout being right the entire time and not learning anything, or Pipp Petals deciding to leave behind a life of social media deception to join her sister Zipp who was also right the whole time.

The characters also have very appealing designs that translate well into either 3-D or 2-D styles. Here's again to hoping the show will be 2-D!

Connection to Friendship is Magic

Here's where I start to have issues with the movie. The story as a whole just wasn't the strongest, and most of those problems can be traced back to the fact that A New Generation is supposed to take place in the future of the same Equestria as Friendship is Magic. Yes, the world that Twilight Sparkle and her friends built around friendship, unity, and ties between different creatures was somehow torn up by its roots and replaced by tiny populations of ponies living miles apart and hating each other. A New Generation suffers from the same problem that The Rise of Skywalker does: it nullifies everything in the original series. In the original Star Wars trilogy, the characters fought to defeat the Emperor, only to have him return in Rise of Skywalker. In Friendship is Magic, the characters fight to defeat hate and prejudices and bring all creatures together through friendship, only to have everyone divided even worse than before.

What the flip happened? Also, where are the windigos? According to the Hearth's Warming Eve story, windigos attack when Earth ponies, Unicorns, and Pegasi don't get along. That's exactly what we see in A New Generation. That's the entire point of the movie. They even came back in season 9 of FIM when the three pony races temporarily separated.

The only explanation I can come up with is they didn't attack Equestria because the three pony races weren't actively fighting. Before Luna and Celestia and Hearth's Warming, the three races lived separately for a time before the windigos appeared. Perhaps their world was just about to be thrown into an eternal winter and the Mane 5 saved it in the nick of time?

I've heard the explanation that the windigos didn't show up in G5 because magic had been removed from Equestria, but magic couldn't have been entirely removed, because the ponies were still able to get cutie marks, albeit on only one side.

That's another question: why do the new ponies only have cutie marks on one side? The G4 ponies had them on both sides, and this is supposed to be the same world. Did they evolve or something?

But I think the most glaring question is this: where are the immortal alicorns? By the time FIM began, Celestia and Luna were over a thousand years old. When the series ended, Celestia and Luna retired and flew off to travel the world, leaving Twilight ruling Equestria and Cadence ruling the Crystal Empire (that's another question: with no magic crystal heart and love in the Empire, why hadn't snow and ice taken over all of Equestria?) One would think the immortal princesses with their godlike powers would have tried to stop the destruction of pony society. Why didn't they try, or why weren't they successful?

These are all questions that the following series has a responsibility to answer.

Sunny Starscout's "Activist" Identity

I'm going to be real: I hated the fact that Sunny Starscout was a straight-up activist. She even uses signs, disrupts events, and makes slogans and catch phrases like real life activists do. It was too on-the-nose. It wasn't cute or funny. While of course we all want peace with Pegasi and unity with Unicorns, couldn't we have her approach it on a more personal level, like how Spike did with Thorax in "The Times They are a Changeling"?

It was made even more uncomfortable that the very next day when I wanted to go to the park in my town, I had to leave because a bunch of pro-abortion picketers came to the park and started yelling "my body, my choice," while parading signs through the street and park. I left because I didn't want to get shot or have jars of urine and feces thrown at me on my one day off that week.

A My Little Pony movie shouldn't bring to mind thoughts of being shot or having other violent acts done against me. FIM masterfully approached political and social issues without being ugly about it.

The Music

I enjoyed some of the songs, and others I find myself skipping when I rewatch the movie.

My favorite is definitely "Fit Right In," the song about being a unicorn:

And while I personally am not a big fan of pop music, Pipp's song "Glowin' Up" worked very well for the scene. There was action happening during the scene, so it wasn't just a pop song for the sake of a pop song. (Poor Hitch at 1:07 might make some parents a bit uncomfortable here if you think too hard about it, hehe...)

Other songs, such as "Gonna Be My Day" sounded too pop in my opinion, and thus didn't look like the characters were singing them. The song "I'm Looking Out for You" had the most jarring entrance I've ever seen in a movie.

Their BLM song was pretty ballsy, you gotta admit, considering the angry mobs that burned down the country in 2020:

Sunny becoming an Alicorn

First of all, it was a little unclear if Sunny actually became an Alicorn at the end of the movie. Her horn and wings looked like holograms, completely unlike any other Alicorns we've seen. They never solidified. Something that important should not leave any questions.

But also, Sunny was not a dynamic character in the movie. She was perhaps the most static character out of all of them. Even Izzy Moonbow, who entered the movie as the new Pinkie Pie, had to get over her prejudices about Pegasi. Sunny was just right the entire time and never had to learn any lessons. G4 was never clear about what it took to become an Alicorn, but we know the pony had to achieve something monumental and develop as an individual. For a character who never changed or learned anything, how exactly did Sunny earn her horn and wings? She didn't create new magic like Twilight did, she merely re-activated magic that already existed. She didn't grow or develop in any way. She didn't discover herself. When congratulated for... being right? she responds with "no, we did it." So why didn't they all become Alicorns if it was their team effort that restored magic to Equestria? What was special about Sunny that she deserved it?

And then the movie just...ended.

Her transformation was very aesthetically pleasing, though, with the way her wings shimmered into being from the flight feathers in.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie, and it's definitely worth checking out, but I think it would have been much stronger had it been a complete reboot and was not a sequel to Friendship is Magic. I'm excited for what the series has to offer, but I really hope the writers take a look at what fans are saying and make some adjustments if they need to. I would love to have another successful series like FIM, not something that struggles for two seasons and then gets cancelled.

There's a huge amount of potential here, so many questions to be answered, and a cast of exciting new characters to do it with. Here's to hoping the new series will be a fresh new take on Equestria that lives up to our high expectations!

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Vtoony's avatar

I agree with many of your points, and I am appreciative that the film took some approach to social issues without me feeling drained and exhausted with coming up with real-world parallels. I am curious about the 'alicorn-ation' process, what with the wings and horn looking holographic as well, though I did also notice that Sunny also got a rainbow streak in her mane and tail. I have this idea where the wings/horn are actually more holographic and come out when needed, so Sunny's earth pony form is the default and the horn/wings are magically summoned, though that's just my interpretation. I just think earth ponies are a bit underrated in how their abilities are portrayed and I'm hoping that post-credit scene of earth pony magic isn't just a one-off thing and gets explored more in the show.

I can understand where you're coming from with wanting the series to be a reboot and not just a continuation. Personally, I do like that it is set in the same universe, though perhaps that's me still clinging onto the past, and there's already so much pre-established lore to go upon, though I do realize that the new series might struggle a bit to find it's own identity. Having it take place after G4 does leave so many questions, like what became of it's characters like the alicorns and just how did we get to this point where the three races are divided again. Hopefully the show can shed some light on this while still work to establish itself.

MayIPetYourDog's avatar

You took the words right out of my mouth. It definitely lacked some of the lore and aspects of G4 that I was hoping for- but it also included awesome animation, some pretty songs, and enjoyable characters for the most part. I enjoyed it a lot, just not as much as I had hoped I would.