I'm a 32 year old male and my tastes in animation are broad and varied but they mainly include Disney movies. However, I like watching movies and shows that are different and seem to stand out to me.
Animation, Acting, Singing, Dancing
Animation that I love:
The Fox and the Hound, Bambi, Lady and the Tramp, Avatar: The Last Airbender
In its defense, Hasbro is probably just following the marketing trends. In fact, they're rather late to the party. It has already been several years since old franchises have been given "girliness upgrades", where characters have been either modernized, "tweened up", or chibified and where characters who were formerly tomboys and confident girls suddenly became fashion models. This trend has been met with hit or miss reactions, with the new Rainbow Brite and Strawberry Shortcake being just about the worst offenders.
Seems Hasbro has been holding out for a while, but I didn't think it was possible anybody could squeeze any more cuteness out of a franchise known for its saccharine themes. Twinkle Wish Adventure proved me wrong. Be sure to pack a toothbrush.
Ultimately, I settled on "I liked it." The main plot is even more simplistic and straight-forward than previous movies, but I think Hasbro does well in this DTV format by not making everything such a big deal. The voice actors sell the characters, and the characters sell the story by making you forget just how silly it all is. There's an enchanting "sibling rivalry" element that provides for an entertaining groove not found in the previous movies, and Ponyville seems more like a natural neighborhood of childhood friends than before.
The retro animation is appealing and actually fluid, despite the whole candy-coated feel, and the flat, paper cut-out backgrounds are an interesting artistic touch.
Mark Watters and Lorraine Feather have outdone themselves in this show, and the songs are once again the star. They're likely the best group of songs you'll ever hear in kiddie entertainment. The main theme song, which previously went missing during the G3 videos, has been given a modern pop spin that makes it snappy instead of annoying, and it's refreshing that the other songs are sung by voice actors with actual talent. The highlights are Somewhere Super New, a Paul Simon-esque travelogue song, and A Wonderful Winter Song, a bonus song that's probably the grooviest the franchise has ever had.
Anyway, I digress. The more things change, the more they stay the same. The stories haven't gotten any better since the 80s. And the old school pony fans will still complain that the characters are no longer fighting villains.
You'll never get the hardcore 80s fans to admit that the villains were insufferable, but deep down everybody knew it was true. What's improved since then is that the narrative actually makes sense, the voice acting is full of top notch performers, and the song craft is actually quality stuff. The work of Mark Watters in here is positively orchestral, and he throws touches he didn't bother doing during A Very Minty Christmas.
The Princess Promenade is slightly longer than its previous counterpart and crams in a couple more songs. Trust me. This is a good thing. The songs shift away focus from the briefness of the narrative. There are several highlights, the most obvious one being "Feeling Good", which you could probably confuse for an off-Broadway tune, but Tabitha St. Germain shows off her singing prowess during a song that equates a flower to a growing friendship.
The ringing bells and Christmas tunes of A Very Minty Christmas gave the previous short an air of melodramatic "warm fuzzies". This short is more straight-forward and sticks to bouncy personality. The core of this short is Wysteria, who is sort of an anti-Minty. Wysteria is graceful, not clumsy, shy, not brash, and refined, not whimsical. However, she's not afraid to get herself dirty to do what needs to be done.
This puts her at odds with the dragon Spike, who tries to train Wysteria in acting "above her friends" like a princess should. Honestly I like this new version of Spike. Old Spike was. . . well quite dumb. This duality presents an interesting humor, and it's quite a change from other episodes of the G3 line that are often single-minded and unchallenging. This short is a standard "Team Mom" trope, i.e. "Group A's pet project threatens to go down the drain with the removal of a key character." That sort of stuff.
The Breezies are, well they're idiots, and they've got this whole Charmed "Power of Three" thing going that's quite annoying. Thankfully, they don't take up a lot of space in the story.
A Charming Birthday, the bonus episode, is a three star affair. Compared with the original tv series and the Tales series, the world's first introduction to the G3 line seemed to have found a balance between the non-sense prancing fantasy gibberish of the original series and the magicless preteen politics of Tales. It was modestly humorous, and even though the animation seems crude by the standards of the later entries, it is hands down the best of the VHS era shorts.
Well I've said it before and I'll say it again. Forty-five minutes of disposable entertainment. You really can't go wrong with this kind of nonsense.
While My Little Pony broke into the new millennium a few cartoons before this one with "A Charming Birthday" and concentrated on Kimono, a teacher type pony, and Pinkie Pie, their leader, people who dig the new style tend to fall into the camp of Minty. Minty is the unofficial second mascot of the G3 line. Pinky Pie is the head of the household, but Minty steals the show while quietly bowing from the sidelines.
Minty's very own spotlight outing is worth this trip then if you understand the Minty mantra. This video is about as Christmas authentic as a plate of tofurkey. If you want a Christmas special, go watch Rudolph. However, it should be worth noting that when the transition was made to the third generation, a playful balance was found between the magicless preteen politics of Tales and the silly prancing adventures of the original. A Charming Birthday was probably the most palatable entry of My Little Pony for its time, and what we found were funny personalities and endearing musical scores. The songs. . . not quite so much.
Minty is probably My Little Pony's first and last character with a bad case of obsessive compulsiveness. Not so much a disorder as it is a personality quirk. Minty's clumsiness and insistence on fidgeting with everything until it's "just perfect", a state of being that she never finds, gets her into hilarious situations. This makes her hands down the most charming and funniest pony character in the toy's history, and she talks like she's constantly running on one cup of coffee too many. Pinky Pie's kindness and propensity for actually thinking straight only serve to bring out the best qualities with her friend Minty.
Forty-five minutes of disposable entertainment. You really can't go wrong with this kind of nonsense.
If you've ever seen the brilliant Timon and Pumbaa tv show, you probably know what to expect from this movie humor-wise. This movie threatens to rewarm the original movie's dramatic themes and music in a rather sloppy fashion. But it only gives these scenes just enough space for you to get utterly sick of them and then BAM! Cue left-field joke. Honestly, it's fantastic. Timon is great. Pumbaa is great. Timon's mom is great. Uncle Max is really great! Some of the songs are kinda meh, but Dig A Tunnel is catchy stuff.
Of course The Lion King 1 and 1/2 begs a very peculiar question concerning the original. Is it the drama getting in the way of the humor or the humor getting in the way of the drama?
Edit: Yep. Why not? I seem to be on a spree of readjusting scores. Thank goodness for Youtubers. I actually didn't notice how fantastic the animation was compared with the Timon and Pumbaa series the first time I watched this movie. Fans of the original movie might go "Now wait a minute!" but I think wholesale massacre of the chronology and plotting of the first Lion King movie was precisely the point. There's definitely a lot of jokes for adults. Slug slurping is obviously the equivalent of a drinking game. And what other movie do you know features a bug as a bouncing ball for karaoke, which gets munched on and then placed back on the words where it goes back to business but limping along all mangled and dazed? I just about busted a gut watching that sequence.
I suppose it was inevitable. The laws of cartoons often state that a popular franchise must have a movie made and often for it to be computer generated. The Sweet Dreams Movie is often listed as an official episode, but I prefer to keep it separate. It reintroduces Strawberry's old nemesis from the 80s, the Purple Pie Man. Previous episodes have remained relatively villain free, concentrating solely on the educational content. After this movie, the quality of the writing seems to have gone downhill, with a few notable exceptions, up until the late season 4.
At a length approaching the average Disney movie, Sweet Dreams overstays its welcome, which is often the case with tv show based movies. There's very little educational value here, and the plot is just plain weird. The animation in the cartoon show somehow gives the characters life. The computer generated animation in the movie gives everything the feeling of being made of plasticine. To illustrate the point, the frequent collisions between Pupcake and Custard as the exciteable Pupcake pounces on Custard are often the highlight of animal humor in the show, as squash and stretch animation gives the act a sort of kinetic life. When the same is done in the movie, it looks about as organic as watching a couple boulders tumble down the side of a cliff.
Several characters seem to have undergone a personality change. The most drastic is Angel Cake. In the series, she's portrayed as an artistic perfectionist who occasionally acts stubborn and ill-tempered but is generally a good friend. The first few minutes of the movie paint Angel Cake as a spineless crybaby.
The best episodes in the show work when it leaves the villains out of the plot and concentrates on character interaction and "life adventures" format. In the movie, the ones who put out the most effort are the villains, the ones we're not supposed to like. While Sweet Dreams has enough charm for a rainy saturday morning, once a blue moon, it in no way should be construed as representative of the series.