Sunday, May 29, 2016

MLEEP Reviews: Applejack's "Day" Off

Season 6, Episode 10: Applejack's "Day" Off
Written By Michael P. Fox and Wil Fox

Ah, Applejack…your hard-working and honest attitude is one of the reasons why you’re my second favorite…but have you ever considered taking a day off?  Let’s take a look at Applejack’s “Day” Off!

While Rarity struggles to get Applejack to relax at the spa, Twilight and Spike find covering her "simple" farm chores to be a more difficult job than they thought.  I’ll be honest, this was another episode that I wasn’t really looking forward to since it reminded me of a Season 1 episode that I found to be mediocre; that episode being ‘Applebuck Season’.  But I did my best to go into this episode with an open mind and to my surprise…I was totally right.

While the story did have a good moral of how getting stuck in the same routine can add extra work, it was exactly what I thought it was gonna be…a re-tread of ‘Applebuck Season’ but with Twilight and Spike in Applejack’s place and the humor was very hit-and-miss ranging from chuckle-worthy to downright cringe-worthy.  If anything, this episode reminded of the ninth season Thomas & Friends episode-Thomas' Day Off...and look how well that episode turned out!

In terms of animation, I did like how we got to see more of the Ponyville Spa and the various montages that we got throughout the episode…but it suffers from the same fate that ‘The Saddle Row Review’ did where we don’t really get to go anywhere except for the spa and Sweet Apple Acres.  But like ‘Saddle Row Review’, it still looks great for what we got for this episode.

And when it comes to the characters…while I felt that the dynamic between Applejack and Rarity wasn’t as strong as in previous episodes, the staff did their best to highlight Applejack’s best traits.  And for those of you who thought that Twilight and Spike acted like idiots, I’m happy to report that they were not-in fact, as Applejack said herself...”just because Twilight is an alicorn princess, that doesn’t make her a farmer”…also, I have to agree with everyone that Rainbow Dash’s cameo didn’t need to be in the episode.

Overall…what happened, Fox Brothers?!?  While ‘Applejack’s “Day” Off’ is not the worst episode of the entire series, it’s easily our first bad episode of Season 6 and I give this episode a rating of a 6.5 out of 10.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

MLEEP Reviews: The Saddle Row Review

Season 6, Episode 9: The Saddle Row Review
Written By Nick Confalone

So as many of us remember back in “The Gift Of The Maud Pie”, Rarity had opened up another boutique in Manehattan after the success of her shop in Canterlot…but will her new boutique be able to survive the grand opening?  Let’s find out with “The Saddle Row Review”!

When Rarity opens her flagship store in Manehattan, a tell-tale article threatens to expose how her friends almost ruined the grand opening.  I’ll be honest, this was an episode that I wasn’t looking forward to when I first heard about it since it reminded me of two episodes from Season 2 that I wasn’t particularly fond of…Sweet & Elite and Ponyville Confidential.  However, I did my best to go into this episode with an open mind and to my surprise…I was right…for the most part.

While the story was exactly what I thought it was going to be, I liked the concept of how they were presenting the episode since they were doing it in the style of mockumentary shows like “The Office” or “Modern Family” and it really does help to bring out a lot of the comedy in this episode whether it’s during the interview sequences or during moments like Twilight’s “sweeping” dance remix which I’m sure the Brony community will make even more remixes of it in the next few weeks.

In terms of the animation, the team at DHX did another great job…but there really wasn’t that much to offer in this episode since the only real locations that we go to in this episode are the Carousel Boutique, Rarity For You and the diner-that’s it.  However, for what we’re given, I still think they did great for what they were given in terms of scripts.

And when it comes to the characters, this episode really gave the Mane 6 a chance to ham out their characters when it came to the interviews and I have to congratulate the voice actresses for a great performance.  As for the new characters that we get, they sadly weren’t that memorable in my opinion…but at least they had a reason to be in the episode so that they didn’t feel useless.

Overall, “The Saddle Row Review” is a good follow-up episode…but I felt genuinely bored watching it and I think that bored is better than terrible and I give this episode a rating of an 8 out of 10.

Friday, May 20, 2016

MLEEP Reviews: Zootopia

Written By Jared Bush and Phil Johnston
Composed By Michael Giacchino
Produced By Clark Spencer
Edited By Fabienne Rawley and Jeremy Milton
Directed By Byron Howard and Rich Moore

Just finished watching "Zootopia" via a YouTube link to the entire movie and...seeing as this is the first film by Disney in a long time to feature anthropomorphic animals and after hearing/seeing so many people going ga-ga over it, could those people prove me wrong or would this end up becoming the new "Chicken Little"? The answer fanboys weren't kidding, this was awesome!!!

When it comes to the story, its message says that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover and you're still able to go far ahead regardless of your limitations...and that's honestly the best way to describe the story to this film. What seems like a buddy-cop film at first, but it manages to keep itself at a quick and steady pace packed with plenty of chase scenes to make the film entertaining and still manages to keep the story in the right place. But as the movie goes on, it suddenly becomes a very clever commentary about prejudice...pretty shocking that Disney would address this issue, but it delivers it in a way that makes it believable and relatable.

Not only did this film explore every bit of its concept with the story, they did the same thing with the animation. Starting with the production design and background animation, it's easily some of the best that I've ever seen for an animated film since they explored every bit of the world of Zootopia and what each part has to offer-not only that, but there was a ton of details that were cleverly added in. As for the character animation, they still hold the classic Disney style but their different sizes and traits helped present them in a humanized way-a fine example of how Disney is still pushing the boundaries of what they can do with animation.

And when it comes to the characters, Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde are looked into very deeply as to who they are and the problems that they have to go through. Not only that, but they have a very strong chemistry that carries the emotion and entertainment that the film has to offer-in fact, I can totally see Judy as an admirable role model to look up to with how much she wants to change how the other animals perceive bunnies and pursue her dreams. As for the other characters like Chief Bogo or Flash, the film not only presents who they are as characters...but it makes them all useful in their own way whether to supply the comedy or help our heroes on their mission...and there's one character that I won't give away spoilers for those who haven't seen this yet, but it seems to be continuing the trend of hidden villains since Wreck-It Ralph and it makes the prejudice concept all the more effective.

Overall...for a film that I didn't think much of until I finally had a chance to see it for myself, I would've never thought that Zootopia would be among Disney's greatest films ever made since it's a perfect example of how the studio has fully evolved by offering a story that is among some of their best writing ever along with some of their best CG-animation and unforgettable characters to deliver a message against prejudice...and it makes me proud to give Zootopia a rating of a 10 out of 10. What else can I say except...try everything.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

MLEEP Reviews: A Hearth's Warming Tail

Season 6, Episode 8: A Hearth's Warming Tail
Written By Michael Vogel

There’s no doubt about it, I love “A Christmas Carol”! Not only because of the story itself, but I think because we’ve all met someone like Scrooge in our lives-someone who just couldn’t get in the heart of the holidays until he sees what Christmas brings out in all mankind…and through the years, I’ve seen so many films and television shows do their own adaptation of this classic tale-even The Muppets and most recently Thomas The Tank Engine…but what about My Little Pony? What could they do with their version…let’s find out with “A Hearth’s Warming Tale”!

It's Hearth's Warming Eve and everypony is excited except for Starlight Glimmer, so Twilight decides to read her one of her favorite Hearth's Warming Eve stories, "A Hearth's Warming Tale”. I gotta tell ya, I’ve been excitedly waiting for this episode to come out for a while ever since I first heard about it because I’ve always wanted to see My Little Pony do their own version of “A Christmas Carol”…and is it a faithful adaptation of the classic tale? Yes, yes it is.

The story is a pretty by-the-numbers adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic with plenty of twists here and there to keep the story entertaining along with its great comedy and awesome songs. Speaking of songs, they actually help tell the story and move the plot forward-some of them even reminding me of tunes from other holiday specials from the likes of Sesame Street and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

In terms of animation, I can tell that the team at DHX Media really went all out with this episode considering that they were making an adaptation of a beloved holiday tale...and man, did they deliver as their passion and hard work really comes into play during the six song sequences throughout the episode like "Luna's Future" and "Pinkie's Present".

And when it comes to the characters...much like how I was with "Diesel's Ghostly Christmas" from Thomas & Friends, I was unsure if the character choices that they made to tell the story would actually work, but they actually managed to work to their advantage whether it's Starlight Glimmer as Ebenezer Scrooge, Rainbow Dash as Bob Cratchit or Applejack, Pinkie Pie and Princess Luna as the Three Ghosts...and for Twilight Sparkle to be our Charles Dickens for her favorite holiday as well as mine makes her even more of Best Pony to me than ever before-bravo to everyone on the cast for a truly awesome and memorable performance!

Remember how I said "The Mane Attraction" was my all-time favorite episode of the series? Well...MOVE OVER, RARA-I JUST FOUND A NEW NUMBER ONE! While I still prefer The Muppet Christmas Carol as my favorite version of the Charles Dickens classic, "A Hearth's Warming Tail" came pretty close to knocking it off its pedestal as my all-time favorite Christmas special...and for My Little Pony to do their own adaptation of "A Christmas Carol" and to have it be this good, that is quite an accomplishment. So for that, "A Hearth's Warming Tail" gets a rating of a 10 out of 10. Happy Hearthswarming, everypony...and as Tiny Tim would say, "God Bless Us, everyone!"

Saturday, May 7, 2016

MLEEP Reviews: Newbie Dash

Season 6, Episode 7: Newbie Dash
Written By Dave Rapp

Well, my fellow Bronies and Pegasisters, after six seasons…it finally happened: Rainbow Dash achieved her dream of becoming a Wonderbolt! But will she be able to make a good first impression? Let’s find out with “Newbie Dash”!

Rainbow Dash finally achieves her dream of becoming a Wonderbolt, but makes a disastrous first impression with the team and gets saddled with a mortifying nickname she is determined to change. Much like last week's episode, I was extremely excited to... see this week's when I saw the synopsis because...much like how Rarity got her shop in Canterlot last season, another of Lauren Faust's original visions finally came true and sure enough...this episode managed to exceed my expectations.

While some people will say that this episode sucked out all that was good about Season 3's "Wonderbolts Academy" which to many was the crowning achievement in Rainbow Dash's character development or call this a combined re-tread of "Sonic Rainboom" and "Hurricane Fluttershy", I think you all really need to lighten up and accept this episode for what it was trying to be-it was supposed to be about Rainbow Dash achieving her dream and expanding upon it while also giving a moral of how achieving your dreams can often come with consequences...and this episode did just that, at least in my opinion. Not only that, but this episode had great comedy as well with the best joke being Rainbow Dash's impressions of the other members in the Mane 6 where I swear that I was waiting for Ashleigh Ball to accidentally use her Applejack voice when Rainbow Dash was imitating her.

In terms of animation, I can tell that the team at DHX worked their flanks off to make this episode look epic and it really shows during the Flight Camp flashback and the sequence of the Wonderbolts performing their first show of the tour...but that doesn't mean they can't have fun with their work as well and that also comes into play during the sequence of Rainbow Dash's plan backfiring on her.

And when it comes to the characters, Rainbow Dash was in top form and I can definitely say that I related to her on a personal level because...when I first joined the My Little Pony community, I was very eager to make a good first impression among the analysts and the fandom-this coming from someone who isn't a Rainbow Dash fan and I have to give major kudos to Ashleigh Ball for giving an awesome performance as our fast flying pegasus! Now, I know that there's gonna be people who think that the Wonderbolts act like jerks to Rainbow Dash once again...but this episode showed that even the Wonderbolts aren't perfect and they were never trying to hurt Dash since they all have nicknames and made bad first impressions as well.

Overall, as the episode to close Rainbow Dash's story arc of joining the Wonderbolts, "Newbie Dash" has become one of my all-time favorite episodes and gets a rating of a 10 out of 10...welcome to the Wonderbolts, Rainbow Dash!