Saturday, November 28, 2015

MLEEP Reviews: The Cutie Re-Mark

Written By Josh Haber

Just finished watching the two-part Season 5 finale "The Cutie Re-Mark" and...before I go into the review, I need to clear something up.

Like many Bronies and Pegasisters in the community, I saw the San Diego Comic Con animatic of this episode on YouTube. Upon seeing it, I said to myself "Okay, I've got this episode figured out: Starlight Glimmer's gonna go back in time to prevent the 'Sonic Rainboom' from happening and thus Twilight Sparkle has to re-write history...blah blah blah, I hope there's some good jokes and animation". So when the finale finally premiered, I did my best to go into this episode with an open mind...but was it as predictable as I thought it would be or did they manage to end Season 5 with a bang?

Well, while the story was predictable as I thought it'd be ever since I saw the animatic, it was really cool getting to see so many different variations of what the future of Equestria would've been like had the Sonic Rainboom never happened whether it was for Queen Chrysalis (so glad to see her back after three seasons) or King Sombra...but why do all these different futures sound like fanfic fuel for the community? But aside from that, it was great getting to see so many callbacks to the early days of the series as well as a backstory for our villain Starlight Glimmer...who I will get to in a second.

The animation from DHX Media is always nice to see as it feels like they're constantly trying to improve with every episode that they produce and it really comes into play during the sequences of the alternate futures and the designs of our characters in these futures.

But as for the characters...while it was awesome getting to see so many of the fandom's favorite villains and while the Mane 6's personalities are still intact, Starlight Glimmer was another story because...they just had to go and reform her, didn't they? The most dangerous villain that the series has ever produced who managed to drive the future into the ground to the point where it becomes nothing more than a barren wasteland that looks like something out of the "Mad Max" series...and you had to reform her! I will say that this does open up some interesting dynamics for Season 6, but with how this episode was handled...this is pretty much like saying to the audience that you can make friends with your greatest enemies and manage to reform them even though they've done the nastiest things to doesn't work that way, Hasbro! It doesn't fucking work that way...but at least they didn't end the finale with a cliffhanger because I think they'd piss off a lot more people if they went that road.

Overall, while I still think that Season 4's "Twilight's Kingdom" was a much better finale and while there were some memorable things about this episode, "The Cutie Re-Mark" is probably the weakest season finale that I've seen of the series...but I'll be nice and give this episode a 7.5 out of 10. Not the strongest season finale, but not the worst either-it's alright at best.


And thus, Season 5 of "My Little Pony" has come to a, how does it hold up?

Well, ever since the Season 4 finale "Twilight's Kingdom" set a new standard for the series, I would say that Season 5 did a pretty good job in setting that standard and making many numerous changes to the status quo of the series whether it was the introduction of the Cutie Map or the reformation of some of my most hated characters in the franchise like Gilda and Diamond Tiara. Also, I can ...definitely say that this season was the most mature out of the series as they addressed subjects that I never thought a kids' show would ever tackle with things like the loss of a loved one or adjusting to a new home...hell, even communism!

Now, with that said, Season 5 was not a perfect season every season, it did have its bad episodes with examples being "Scare Master" and "The One Where Pinkie Pie Knows". But a majority of them managed to surprise me with how good they were and the mature nature of the lessons that they were giving to their audience...and don't worry, a Top 5 Episodes Of Season 5 will be made very shortly.

Overall, while I still think Season 4 was the best season of MLP, Season 5 was still pretty good and I'll give this season an overall rating of an 8 out of 10...and before I close out, I want to thank: DHX Media for delivering what could be the best animation the series has ever seen, Daniel Ingram for doing another outstanding job with the music and songs for the series, all of the voice actors and actresses for delivering another season of heartfelt performances with their characters, and finally...all of the writers for stepping up their game and taking the series to new heights-especially Amy Keating Rogers, seeing as this was her final season before she left to work for Disney.

And with that said, I will see you all for Season 6...until then, stay awesome Bronies!

Monday, November 23, 2015

MLEEP Reviews: The Mane Attraction

Written By Amy Keating Rogers

Just finished watching this week's new episode "The Mane Attraction" Amy Keating Rogers' final episode of the series that had received so much hype from Twitter posts and the San Diego Comic Con animatic, did she manage to go out with a bang? Well, I can safely say this...MOVE OVER, "CRUSADERS OF THE LOST MARK"-I JUST FOUND MY NEW FAVORITE EPISODE!!!

When it came to the story, it is so fitting for Amy's final episode to star Applejack since her first solo episode was an Applejack episode (Season 1's "Applebuck Season") and it has such a heartwarming moral of how having such an enormous amount of talent-even at a young age-often isn't enough to get you into the spotlight since you really need to create a lasting image that will stay in the public's mind far more than just putting on an entertaining performance.

The music and songs? What can I say, it's Daniel Ingram and he did a spectacular job as always. Not only that, but...sweet Celestia, does Tony Award winner Lena Hall (who voiced Countess Coloratura/Rara) have some serious singing chops-especially with the songs "Equestria, The Land I Love" and "The Magic Inside" that had me in tears since it feels like Amy's farewell swan songs to the Bronies and Pegasisters of the community for supporting her five years of writing for the series.

The animation? Man, did the team at DHX Media go all out for this episode as they are always trying to get better and better with every episode and the animation here is no exception. From the fluid movements to the lighting and especially with the sequences for the songs "The Spectacle" and "The Magic Inside", the animation in this episode was a gem to behold!

And when it comes to the characters, it was so strong in the feels when it came to dealing with the relationship between Applejack and Rara and the two play off of each other brilliantly-not to mention that I loved Rara's design both as the Equestrian version of Lady Gaga and when she reveals her true self at the end and...I really hope that we get to see Rara again in future seasons. As for Rara's manager Svengallop, he's one of those characters that you love to hate as I wanted to knock him out every time he thought of himself and not what Rara wanted to do with her career.

Overall, "The Mane Attraction" was a spectacular way for Amy Keating Rogers to end her work with "My Little Pony" on the highest note possible and I'm so proud to give this episode a rating of a 10 out of 10.

And before I close out...Amy, if you're reading this, I think I speak for all of us Bronies when I say that we thank you so much for your five year contribution to "My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic". You've made us laugh, you've made us cry, and most of've shown us all what it really means to be a true true friend. It was such an honor to meet and interact with you at this year's BronyCon and I can safely say that you're not only one of the most generous and sweetest people I have ever met, but one of the best writers the series ever had in my opinion because...even when there were obstacles in your way to bring you down, you always managed to pull through in the end and deliver a truly heartfelt episode and the lessons in those episodes have really helped to better myself as a person. I wish you the best of luck at Disney with the series "Star Darlings" and I want to let you know that I will always be there to support your work as a fan and a friend and...I can safely say that you will be greatly missed by the Brony community.

With that said, I will see you all next week for the two-part Season 5 finale. Until then, stay awesome and...fare thee well, Amy.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

MLEEP Reviews: The Hooffields And McColts

Written By Joanna Lewis and Kristine Songco
Just finished watching this week's new episode "The Hooffields And McColts" and...for an episode that I was fearing would be a rip-off of "The Great Divide"-the universally hated episode from Avatar The Last Airbender, it was actually not as bad as I thought it would be.

While the story for the most part felt like a copy of "The Great Divide", the ending was definitely an improvement from how the Avatar episode played out as we actually have a factual reason of why the Hooffields and McColts were at each other's throats to begin with and they do manage to get things resolved in the end without having Twilight or Fluttershy fabricate a story in order for things to get resolved.

When it came to the animation by DHX Media, it is still amazing as always since we got some great fast-paced comedic sequences as well as an awesome flashback sequence. Not only that, but the Hooffields and McColts have very interesting designs to them and I'm glad that they didn't end up re-using existing pony designs for their characters.

When it comes to the pair-up of Twilight and Fluttershy, I thought it was interesting since we haven't had an episode that develops their characters together ever since Season 1's "A Bird In The Hoof". While Fluttershy knew what she was doing when it came to protecting the animals, Twilight on the other hoof...while it was great to see her try to prove herself worthy of being the princess of friendship, she really needs to learn that not every friendship problem can be solved with a book.

Overall, despite its faults, I prefer "The Hooffields And McColts" over "The Great Divide" any day and I give this episode a rating of an 8 out of 10.

With that said, I will see you all next week as we say goodbye to Amy Keating Rogers with her final episode of the series simply known as "The Mane Attraction". Until then, stay awesome and "NO PUMPKINS"!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

MLEEP Reviews: Den & Dart

Written By Davey Moore

Just finished watching the new episode "Den & Dart" and...Davey Moore, I'm happy to say that you finally made a good Den and Dart episode!  When it comes to the story, it was actually an awesome dive into Den and Dart's psyches as it really showed how close they are as friends and how much they love working together side-by-side at the the point where the two reminded me of Victor and Kevin, who run the Steamworks.

When it came to the animation, the team at Arc Productions went all out once again-especially in things like the different shots of the Dieselworks in action at the beginning and the montages of Den shunting in the quarry and Dart fixing Mavis with accompanying music that reminded me a lot of the movie "Rocky".

When it came to the characters, they were all awesome in their roles-especially Den and Dart, who got a ton of character development in this episode as they start out being more fleshed out when they're separated and end up being fully developed by the end of the episode.  Not only that, but Toby was actually in character and how he helped Den manage the trucks at the quarry reminded me a lot of Season 3's "Mavis".

Overall, "Den & Dart" is easily one of Davey Moore's best episodes ever and gets a rating of a 10 out of 10 from me.

MLEEP Reviews: Salty All At Sea

Written By Lee Pressman

Just finished watching the new episode "Salty All At Sea" and...this was actually a pretty good episode. When it comes to the story, it's actually an interesting dive into Salty's psyche as it shows that even Salty can be scared by his tall tales and how he can let his imagination get the better of him. Not only that, but there were some great humor and awesome little take-that's to commonly hated episodes in the fandom like Season 16's "Percy And The Monster Of Brendam" and Season 18's "Flatbeds Of Fear". But the problem this episode has is that Lee Pressman should've given Porter the starring role instead of Salty for the type of story that it was seeing as Porter's newer, a bit spacey and has heard all of Salty's tall tales.
When it came to the, did the team at Arc go all out for this episode as I adore the 360-degree panning shots of Brendam Docks and the Sodor Suspension Bridge...not to mention that beautiful sunrise over the sea as Salty sails towards the mainland. When it came to the characters, they were all great too-especially Salty, who got a lot of development...although I wish that Porter got a speaking line and that his and Salty's roles were reversed as I said before.
Overall, as an episode that gives a "boatload" of development to our favorite dockyard diesel...despite its faults, "Salty All At Sea" gets a rating of a 8 out of 10 from me.

MLEEP Reviews: Very Important Sheep

Written By Helen Farrall

Just finished watching the new episode "Very Important Sheep" and...for an episode that we all thought would be Season 15's "Wonky Whistle" all over again, man did this episode prove us wrong! When it came to the story, it can easily be described as "Wonky Whistle" done right as I think Helen Farrall handled the situation of how the sheep escaped much better than how Neil Ben did in....that disgrace to Awdry's memory. Not only that, but I love the humor and the moral of how we all have to make sacrifices to help other people...or animals in need.
When it came to the animation, the team at Arc really knew how to make it simple and sweet for the kind of episode that it was and it really comes into play with the different transitions and the animation of the sheep. When it came to the characters, they were all awesome-especially Percy, because this episode truly showed that Percy isn't a moron like he was in episodes like Season 15's "Percy's New Friends".
Overall, "Very Important Sheep" is one of those episodes that make me fully believe that Andrew Brenner was the best thing to ever happen to Thomas as his writing team have actually found a way to make the worst Thomas episode of all time actually good. So, for that, "Very Important Sheep" gets a 10 out of 10 from me.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

MLEEP Reviews: My Little Pony - It's A Pony Kind Of Christmas

Written By Daniel Ingram and Steffan Andrews

With the release of the newest My Little Pony album being a couple days ago, I knew I had to voice my thoughts on the release. Like many Bronies, I was at first confused as to why they were labeling this as a Christmas album when our heroes celebrate Hearth's Warming Eve. But thanks to some clarification from the show's songwriter/composer Daniel Ingram, I went into this album with an open mind...but will this album make for the perfect gift this holiday season? Let's take a look!

It's A Pony Kind Of Christmas: As the first original song on the album, this was an awesome song to start us off as...the cast puts in so much heart and passion into their performances, the orchestrations are simply beautiful and it just gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling that we should all have at this time of year.

Jingle Bells: As the first traditional song on the album to be re-written, this version was simply awesome as I thought having Rainbow Dash sing a rock-and-roll version of this well-known and loved song was actually a nice way to give a breath of fresh air to the song and the re-written lyrics are actually really good. Bravo to Ashleigh Ball for another awesome performance with her character as she always knows how to make each one "20% cooler"!

Deck The Halls: As the second traditional song on the album to be re-written, this version was simply beautiful. The orchestrations matched Rarity's personality perfectly, the re-written lyrics were beautiful and...when it comes to the singing voice of Kazumi Evans, this song goes to show that she can do no wrong with her singing-no wonder Andy Price keeps her on his Ipod with "The Beatles" and "Rolling Stones"!

We Wish You A Merry Christmas: As the third traditional song on the album to be re-written, this version was awesome as the orchestrations and the re-written lyrics were simply beautiful. On top of it all, it's sung by who I consider Best Pony...Twilight Sparkle, what more could you ask for?!? Bravo to Rebecca Shoichet for another awesome performance and giving each performance that little extra "sparkle" to make each one even more magical than the last.

Silent Night: As the fourth traditional song on the album to be re-written, this version was simply beautiful as the orchestrations matched Fluttershy's gentle personality perfectly and the re-written lyrics helped add to the calm nature of the song. Also, having Fluttershy be the pony to sing this song was a seriously smart choice in my opinion as she's known for wanting things to be peaceful and calm.

Twelve Days Of Christmas: As the fifth traditional song on the album to be re-written, this version was simply hilarious as...not only is it sung by Pinkie Pie of all characters, but the orchestrations matched her comedic personality and the re-written lyrics had me laughing all the way. I mean, Pinkie being given "a big bowl of ravioli" do know that's meat, right Pinkie? Other than that, Shannon Chan-Kent really went all out in her performances and I have to give her a huge round of applause.

Last Year I Got Coal For Christmas: As the second original song on the album, this song was cute and the orchestrations were nice...but sadly it's not one that I'd consider listening to again. Also...who in the name of Equestria is Pop Fly?!? I've heard that this character is Fluttershy's brother who will be introduced in Season 6, but why would you have a song from a character that the fanbase won't even know until the next season premieres?

Jolly Ol' St. Nick: As the sixth traditional song on the album to be re-written, this song was great with the jazzy remix of this classic tune and it fits Spike's personality perfectly seeing as he's a dragon who would be greedy about presents around this time of year-but it's nice to see that he's actually thinking about gifts for his friends this time. Bravo to Cathy Weseluck for giving another awesome performance as our favorite assistant to the Princess Of Friendship! But, I've just gotta say right now: There, Bronies and Pegasisters of BronyCon-Spike got his own song! You happy?!?!?

Days Gone By (Auld Lang Syne): As the final traditional song on the album to be re-written, I think this song is on the same level of awesomeness as Fluttershy's "Silent Night" since the orchestrations matched the Apple family's personalities perfectly and...if you really take the time to listen to this song and see who's singing this, this song may actually be about Applejack's deceased parents and how they can't spend Hearthswarming with their daughter as a family. Bravo to Ashleigh Ball, Michelle Creber and Tabitha St. Germain for giving a truly heartfelt performance with their characters!

The Heart Carol: As the final original song on the album, this was a spectacular finale and a nice little callback to the series. Now, many of us Bronies have actually already heard this song before in the Season 2 episode "Hearth's Warming Eve"-one of my favorite episodes from Season 2...but this is actually an extended version of the song and to finally be able to hear the song in its entirety was simply awesome.

Overall, nine great songs and only one that wasn't good makes the "It's A Pony Kind Of Christmas" album the perfect Christmas gift for any Brony and Pegasister of the MLP community and gets an overall rating of a 9 out of 10. Hasbro, make a Christmas special of this album...PLEASE!!!

MLEEP Reviews: What About Discord?

Written By Neal Dusedau

Just finished watching this week's new episode "What About Discord?" and...for an episode that I was fearing would be Season 4's "Three's A Crowd" all over again when I first read the synopsis and after last week's horrendous Halloween special, was this episode an improvement? Eh, a little bit.

The story is pretty much what I was afraid it would be-a "Three's A Crowd" copy with puns that quicky wore off after the first one was made, but a good moral of how "you can't always be there to join in the fun times with your friends" and some great comedic references to "Back To The Future" and Bob Ross made up for that-can't wait to see cosplays of these at BronyCon next year.

The animation really shined in terms of the comedy department when it came to the comedic references and when it came to the characters...while it was nice to see progress of Discord's friendship with the Mane 6 and while it was nice to see Zecora back after so long, I have three words for Twilight: GET A LIFE!

Overall, if I had to choose between this episode and "Make New Friends But Keep Discord" for the best Discord episode from Season 5..."Make New Friends But Keep Discord" was much better, but "What About Discord?" was still an okay episode and gets an overall rating of a 6.5 out of 10 from me.