Saturday, August 27, 2016

MLEEP Reviews: Dungeons & Discords

Season 6, Episode 17: Dungeons & Discords
Written By Nick Confalone

Ah, Discord...with your brand of comedy, no wonder they call you the Lord of Chaos!  But what brand of chaos will you bring to Spike and Big Mac's guys night?  Let's find out with 'Dungeons & Discords'!

When the Mane 6 leave for a overnight goodwill tour of Yakyakistan, Discord joins Spike and Big Mac's secret guys night...but it turns out to be a night of fantasy roleplaying.  When I first heard about this episode, I was extremely excited to see it-not only because of the way that the show staff were going to make a parody of 'Dungeons & Dragons', but because I was excited to see what new chaotic comedy that Discord was going to provide...and considering his last appearance back in Season 5's "What About Discord?"-one of my least favorites from that season, I was hoping for a truly entertaining episode to make up for it...and man did this episode deliver!

When it comes to the story...sure, it may be a bit jumbled in certain places and that we all wish that the show staff spent more time on certain elements, the concept which was comedy gold in my opinion mixed in with the characters that they chose made me more than willing to just sit back and enjoy this episode for what it is.  Also, there's actually more of a lesson to this episode than what you might you think in terms of those people who can't stand being alone and aren't willing to put aside their pride on how others see them-even trying to drive activities to their own preferences during those opportunities of having someone to spend time with.  Personally, I think it's a relatable moral for everyone in the Brony community as we should be grateful to the show staff for creating these once in a while episodes that cater to the adult audience where they get to show what they consider creative entertainment.

As for the animation, you know you're in for a wave of creativity especially when you have a character like Discord as the star in the episode and the staff at DHX once again truly go all out with the many references that Discord makes of which you will need to spot after several viewings to truly understand them...who knew Discord was into jazz and zoot suits?

And when it comes to the characters, Discord is once again the comedic center of attention as he tries to take over the festivities since he has a fear of being alone even after all these years without friendship especially without Fluttershy-the first pony who was even willing to give him a second chance.  As for Spike and Big Mac, it say seem weird that they would fantasize about a world that is very similar to the world that they're living in already...it actually speaks a great deal about their characters with Spike going from being a knight in shining armor rescuing his fair lady Rarity to wanting to master magic after helping Twilight to do so throughout the years as well as Big Mac wishing he could have some form of his own unicorn magic despite him just swinging a sword around.  Bravo to John de Lancie, Cathy Weseluck and Peter New for delivering some awesome performances with their characters!

Overall, 'Dungeons & Discords' is a marvelously magical and comedic episode to welcome Discord back into the series and gets a rating of a 10 out of 10.  All hail the King Of Chaos!


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

THOMASCEMBER: The Great Race

THOMASCEMBER: The Great Race

By popular demand, 'The Great Race'!  Man, did this film go through a lot of shit when it was first announced.  So many news articles and soccer moms were getting furious with the special saying that 'the show staff were bowing to political correctness and the charm of the franchise would be lost forever due to the new international characters'-heck, there were even people saying that specials like 'Day Of The Diesels' were better than this ever would be!  It just seemed like no one was giving this film a chance to prove itself...while I on the other hand saw a lot of creative potential with it being the Thomas equivalent of the Olympics and the first musical special at the same time, but did it manage to go all the way and take first place?  Let's take a look!

When the best engines from around the world gather on the mainland to compete in The Great Railway Show, Thomas is determined to find a way to represent Sodor. But he’s left disappointed as Gordon is chosen to be streamlined into “The Shooting Star” for The Great Race and James and Emily to compete in the Best Decorated Parade. With Gordon and the other engines making the journey to compete, something suddenly goes terribly wrong and Gordon is in danger! Will Thomas get to the mainland in time to help him and save the day?  Well, I'll leave that for you to decide...but for now, let's talk about the film.

Like I said, there was a lot of creative potential going into this film when it came to creating a Thomas version of the Olympics and it really plays a part in the story as it is quite action-packed and intense both before and during the events of the Great Railway Show...and don't worry, there is plenty of humor scattered throughout the special to give the viewers a chance to breathe from all the thrill and spills especially in the subplot with Diesel that left me fully surprised (no pun intended) with how entertaining it was.  Not only that, but this special was extremely heartfelt as I absolutely adore the moral of how just being yourself can help you to go far in life even when you're in doubt-one that I can certainly relate to.  To be honest, my heart was not ready for how emotionally heartfelt this film was...but I'll explain why later.

When it comes to the songs, I really have to give the show staff including newcomer Chris Renshaw (Robert and Peter Hartshorne's replacement) credit for attempting to create their first musical special for Thomas seeing as music and songs have played an important part in the show's history and they wanted to use the songs to help tell the story in the traditional musical way.  'Will You, Won't You' is an awesome opening number to get the audience hooked for what's to come for the rest of the movie and 'I'm Full Of Surprises' is enjoyably silly and fun, but my two favorite songs of The Great Race are without a doubt 'You Can Only Be You/Be Who You Are & Go Far' since I think it's where the moral of the film really shines through and 'Streamlining' since it reminds me and a majority of the Thomas community of the song 'Greased Lightning' from Grease.

As for the animation, the team at Arc are always getting better and better with their work for Thomas...but they really amped up their game when it came to this special seeing as they tried to animate as wide of a range and variety of engines from different countries like India and China as well as the entire grounds for the Great Railway Show and giving us fans our first ever glimpse of the mainland-something that we have wanted to see happen for years, so I have to congratulate Arc on once again doing a spectacular job!

And when it comes to the characters, never before have they been so relatable in the eyes of this Thomas fan-especially Thomas, because his struggle of trying endlessly to find a way to go to the Great Railway Show whether it's being streamlined or repainted like Ashima really reminds me of how I was trying endlessly to be up there with some of the bigger names in the online Thomas and My Little Pony communities by pushing myself to do better with each video that I produced.  As for the international engines, there really aren't that many to talk about since a majority of them don't say or do anything except for maybe a few lines...that is except for Ashima and Vinnie.  Ashima serves as a great role model for Thomas much like how Gator was for Percy as she shows Thomas that all he really needs to do to be a part of the Great Railway Show is just to be himself-in fact, I see Ashima as one of the best role models to those who have low self esteem and I have to give major kudos to Tina Desai for her beautiful voicework.  As for Vinnie, he made for quite the antagonist in this special especially when it came to nearly making Philip suffer the same fate as Oliver did back in Season 3...but did they really have to make the American competitor the asshole?!?  But the biggest surprise of the characters is without a doubt the highly anticipated return of the Flying Scotsman because not only does he get a proper appearance in the series ever since his rather harsh treatment back in Season 3's 'Tender Engines', but they make him an actual character and give him a personality-something that both the Railway Series and the TV Series never did.

Overall, my heart was not ready for 'The Great Race' as it felt like I was sent on a roller coaster ride of musical and emotional awesomeness and...while 'The Adventure Begins' is still in first place of my favorite Thomas specials, 'The Great Race comes in at a close second'.  What more can I say except...you can only be you, there's nothing else you can possibly do.  Be who you are and go far...

Sunday, August 21, 2016

MLEEP Reviews: The Times They Are A Changeling

Season 6, Episode 16: The Times They Are A Changeling
Written By Kevin Burke and Chris Wyatt

Wow, Spike...you've been on a roll this season in terms of your character portrayal-seriously, this could be your best season to date!  But now, it's time for you to be put to the ultimate test when an old rival comes to visit...let's take a look at 'The Times They Are A Changeling'!

When Spike travels to The Crystal Empire with Starlight and Twilight to visit Flurry Heart, they discover the empire in a state of panic due to the presence of a Changeling spy.  When I first heard about this episode and saw the synopsis, I knew that a follow-up episode was gonna happen sooner or later due to the Changeling that we saw in the final scene of the season premiere and that it would hopefully lead to something epic in the season finale...and just when I thought that I had seen the best Spike episode ever, this episode just knocked it out of the park.

When it comes to the story...not only do we get a good amount of exposition as well as a backstory on Changelings, but I think this episode tackled the subject of prejudice and how it can effect everyday people or ponies far better here than how they handled it in Season 1 with Zecora in 'Bridle Gossip'.  As for the song 'A Changeling Can Change'...not only is it beautifully composed and sung, but Spike finally gets to have his own song-something that the community has wanted for years.

As for the animation, the team at DHX always gives us reason to love their work with MLP and it really comes into play during Thorax's backstory including a first look inside the Changeling hive as well as the underground cavern where Spike and Thorax first meet.

And when it comes to the characters...just when I thought Spike couldn't be any better portrayed, this episode proved me wrong as Spike had to choose between being the hero that everypony had built him up to be and the hero that he realized that he needed to be-bravo to Cathy Weseluck for giving an awesome performance as our favorite dragon.  As for Thorax, he made for an awesome character to balance off of Spike seeing as he's the outsider of his species and is more than willing to offer something that his species lacks.

Overall, 'The Times They Are A Changeling' shows that Spike's episodes just keeping better and better and this episode gets a rating of a 10 out of 10...but I can only hope that the writers are planning for a possible return of Chrysalis and her Changeling army as well as further addressing what happened in this episode in the season finale.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

MLEEP Reviews: 28 Pranks Later

Season 6, Episode 15: 28 Pranks Later
Written By F.M. De Marco

Ah, Rainbow Dash…while I like you for your loyalty and athleticism, your massive ego can really get in the way sometimes and it has ended up giving us the worst episode of the entire series…but let’s see how your ego handles a zombie attack! Let’s take a look at ’28 Pranks Later’!

When Rainbow Dash's pranking gets out of hand, the ponies decide to give her a taste of her own medicine – zom-pony style. If I can be completely honest, I was dreading this episode so much when I first read the synopsis and my first reaction was ‘SERIOUSLY…WE’RE LITERALLY DOING “MYSTERIOUS MARE DO WELL” AGAIN?!?!?’ because ‘The Mysterious Mare Do Well’ is considered by many Bronies including myself to be the worst episode in the entirety of Friendship Is Magic. But at the same time, I was saying to myself ‘Hey, maybe the writers have learned from their mistakes and this episode could be “Mysterious Mare Do Well” done correctly’ and…to my surprise, they improved big time!

When it comes to the story, I kept saying to myself 'Holy Celestia, this is what "The Mysterious Mare Do Well" should've been!' as they was that Rainbow Dash got her literal 'just desserts' without insulting her character or the audience's intelligence was done so much better here than back in Season 2 due to Rainbow Dash's friends actually trying to talk to her about what her doing being wrong and her not listening especially when you consider the fact that Rainbow Dash is a very thick-headed and stubborn character and getting her to learn a lesson isn't easy.  Not only that, but this episode was packed with humor like Spike sending multiple scrolls to Princess Celestia-a nice little bit of sweet revenge for what she did to him in 'The Return Of Harmony' if you ask me.

As for the animation, the team at DHX always does a fantastic job...but here, they really push the boundaries in terms of the fast-paced imagery and it really comes into play during the sequence of Rainbow Dash pranking everyone in Ponyville or during the entire 'zom-pony attack' sequence.

And when it comes to the characters...due to this episode being 'The Mysterious Mare Do Well' done right, the entire Mane 6 are portrayed much better here than in the former episode because they did try to talk to Rainbow Dash about her constant pranking instead of doing it behind her back and being mean-spirited to her about it and the fact that Rainbow Dash's friends were able to get the whole town involved in the prank also brought back a lot of fan favorites and I'm just gonna say that I'd rather have a Rainbow Dash that's loyal to her friends and her town than one whose ego gets annoying or puts her friends' lives in danger...although I have to ask if Starlight Glimmer knew anything about this prank or was even a part of it, but I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Overall, I was left shocked as I went in thinking that this was gonna be one of the worst episodes of Season 6 as well as the entire series...but '28 Pranks Later' managed to surprise me since they have officially made the most hated episode by everypony in the community actually good and gets a rating of a 10 out of 10.  Although I must ask...WHY NO 'THRILLER' REFERENCE?!?!?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

MLEEP Reviews: Sausage Party

SAUSAGE PARTY
Written By Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Kyle Hunter and Ariel Shaffir
Composed By Christopher Lennertz and Alan Menken
Produced By Megan Ellison, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Conrad Vernon
Edited By Kevin Pavlovic
Directed By Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon

Just got back from seeing 'Sausage Party' with my family and...for a film that I was really excited to see upon viewing the trailer, it turned out to be a complete disappointment.

When it comes to the story...while I can appreciate this film for the moral of thinking/acting for yourself and encouraging different cultures to work together, this film goes so far to show that it is definitely not a comedy for kids as it goes from being your typical raunchy R-rated movie for the first two thirds with things like the extreme use of language and sex jokes to becoming a full-on violent and graphic sexual porno in the last third...to the point where I was questioning how the hell this film didn't get an NC-17 rating since all that this film really did in my opinion was promote the drugs and homosexuality agendas.

As for the animation, it should be interesting to note that this was animated by Nitrogen Studios-the same people who originally animated the CGI Series of 'Thomas & Friends' and...as someone who enjoyed the animation rather than the stories under their reign, I was curious to see how they were going to go about animating this movie and I can say right now that it looks good for the most part.  What we are given in terms of sentient food (the character animation) in the supermarket world (the background animation) was actually pretty creative and the innocent colors provided a great contrast to the horror that the various food products would soon face...but it just didn't have that high quality of animation that we got from them back when they were animating for our little blue tank engine.

And when it comes to the characters...due to how raunchy that the film can get throughout the duration, it really effects how I feel about the characters since all they really wanted to do was just make sexual innuendo/acts or swear at each other and the only three characters I actually liked in this movie were Frank, Barry and Brenda as they tied into the movie's moral of thinking/acting for yourself.  But it's not only the characters I'm put off by, it's also the voice cast.  Now don't get me wrong, the voice cast does an amazing job...but I felt sorry for a select group of voice actors that they had to put their talents into this movie and those are the actors who also work on 'My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic' ranging from Kelly Sheridan and Nicole Oliver to Michael Dobson and Vincent Tong.  I know that they need to lend their talents to things other than our Equestrian ponies, but this was not the film to do it for in my opinion,

Overall...I wanted to love this movie and I had thought that this was going to be Nitrogen Studios' big improvement after their reign on 'Thomas & Friends', but 'Sausage Party' certainly didn't live up to the expected hype I had and gets an overall rating of a 3 out of 10.  But speaking of Thomas The Tank Engine...PLEASE SAVE ME, 'THE GREAT RACE'!!!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

MLEEP Reviews: The Cart Before The Ponies

Season 6, Episode 14: The Cart Before The Ponies
Written By Ed Valentine

You know...I love My Little Pony, who doesn't-it's funny, it's clever, it's unique, it's absolutely wonderful.  And you want to know what else...I love racing, who doesn't-it's fun, it's intense, it gives you a rush of energy, it's also absolutely wonderful...but never had we had an example of racing in My Little Pony quite like this.  Let's live life in the fast lane with 'The Cart Before The Ponies'!

The Cutie Mark Crusaders are excited for the chance to race in the annual Applewood Derby until their teammates Rarity, Applejack and Rainbow Dash take over the competition.  When I first heard about this episode, I honestly wasn't invested in it since I could already tell where it was heading without even watching and sure enough...I was totally right.

While I can appreciate this episode for the moral of how sometimes competition can bring out the worst in us as well as some great references and humor, the majority of this episode felt extremely predictable and boring and it reminded me a lot of Season 1's 'The Show Stoppers'-one of my least favorites from that season...even the song 'Derby Racers' is easily one of the most forgettable songs ever put in MLP history.  If anything, it reminded me more of an old movie that I saw back when I was in Cub Scouts called 'Down & Derby' which dealt with the exact same thing but on a smaller scale.

In terms of the animation, the team at DHX never fails to amaze me with what they're capable of doing especially when it came to the flashback and racing sequences as well as the designs of the carts...but other than that, there really isn't that much to talk about without repeating myself.

And when it comes to the characters, I appreciate the Cutie Mark Crusaders for wanting to make carts against what we had expected them to do...but the way that Rainbow Dash, Rarity and Applejack were portrayed felt extremely forced in order to keep the conflict in the plot going and they honestly shouldn't have been this oblivious in not listening to the CMC.

Overall, I didn't think anything was going to top 'Applejack's "Day" Off' for the worst episode of Season 6...but I guess I was wrong as I unfortunately have to give 'The Cart Before The Ponies' a 5.5 out of 10.