Two years since the saga of Friendship is Magic came to its satisfying end, My Little Pony: A New Generation wipes the slate clean and lays the foundation for a new cohort of cutie-marked heroes.
Long, long after the exploits of Twilight Sparkle and the “Mane Six,” My Little Pony: A New Generation takes us to a divided Equestria, where the earth ponies, pegasi, and unicorns distrust each other and keep to themselves. Of course, there’s one young pony, Sunny Starscout (Vanessa Hudgens), who defies the status quo and longs to see Equestria reunited. Her chance comes when she meets an actual unicorn, Izzy (Kimiko Glenn), and the fast friends embark on a quest to bring back the magic of friendship.
My Little Pony: A New Generation works well as both a continuation of the nine-season series and as the launching point for the next. Newcomers and parents will have no difficulty settling into the plot, while fans will find plenty to appreciate—from Easter eggs to the near-parodical intro.
“My Little Pony: A New Generation is a solid kid’s movie. “
In fact, the basic concept is familiar fare from the Friendship is Magic series, where in almost every season the heroes reunite divided factions with the power of being decent people. The film’s tale is in keeping with that spirit without feeling 100% predictable, but does raise some questions that will desperately require answers when the follow-up series arrives—like what happened to Twilight Sparkle’s reign, what drove everybody apart, and what happened to the dozen other species.
Otherwise, My Little Pony: A New Generation is a solid kid’s movie. Raya and the Last Dragon handled these themes far better, but the message of unity is no less important. While the computer-generated graphics lack some character of the previous generation’s animation, it still looks great and has its own charm, and my daughter was completely unfazed by the change.
Similarly, the new characters stand on their own merits, though their inheritance from the Mane Six is clear. Izzy, for instance, comes across as a reincarnation of Pinkie Pie but tempered by Fluttershy’s meek side, while Sunny is a more grounded Twilight. Strong vocal performances help, like Ken Jeong as the bumbling deputy Sprout, Jane Krakowski as the vain pegasus queen, and Glenn—fresh off great turns in Centaurworld and Star Wars: Visions—as the standout of the new core cast.
Songs are used to good effect throughout and, thankfully, avoid going over-long, as many kids’ movies do. However, the ultimate conclusion felt a little quick, with the imparting of a major reward unto a new cast member feeling somewhat unearned, compared to its Friendship is Magic counterpart.
At the end, the whole thing came across as a shallower pool than I’d expected. Clearly, that was to save deeper waters for the pending special and series to explore, and the movie stands on its own without that connective tissue between generations anyway. More importantly, My Little Pony: A New Generation should delight young fans, and prompt plenty of new adventures.