Wednesday, May 16, 2018

MLEEP Reviews: The Mean 6 | #MLPSeason8

Season 8, Episode 13: The Mean 6
Written By Michael Vogel


Back in the Season 6 finale, Starlight Glimmer and her team of anti-heroes defeated Queen Chrysalis and her Changeling army resulting in Thorax assuming the throne and the Changelings being a force for good...but that didn't stop Queen Chrysalis from vowing to exact her revenge on Starlight Glimmer one day and that day is today in our next episode for Season 8, let's see what evil scheme that Chrysalis has planned in 'The Mean 6'!

Queen Chrysalis returns, ready to exact her revenge on Starlight Glimmer and the Mane 6!


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Out of all the episodes that we were going to be receiving in the first half of Season 8, this was the one that I know many Bronies and Pegasisters in the fandom were the most excited for...I mean, Queen Chrysalis is always a delight whenever she's on screen with how deceitful and manipulative she can get and the idea of her trying to reclaim her power and kingdom after everything that she worked for was taken away sounded like this would make for quite an viewing experience...but would a fan favorite return be a memorable one or would it have me seeing green?

PROS:
  • The return of Queen Chrysalis-she may have been pretty boring as a character back when she first debuted back in the Season 2 finale, but it's great to see that Chrysalis has gotten better at being a villain especially when you consider the fact that her kingdom was taken away and her subjects turned against her and the lust for revenge against Starlight Glimmer and the Mane 6 has driven Chrysalis insane...what she had for her master plan however is another story
  • The dark and creepy imagery-you thought the headturning nods to 'The Exorcist' were disturbing in the Season 6 finale, then how about seeing the Mean 6 melting like wax candles being a nod to 'Raiders Of The Lost Ark'
  • The Mane 6 treating Starlight Glimmer as part of the group-considering the fact that they seemingly had to keep her more distant for the past two seasons...and for good reason, seeing the Mane 6 making Starlight Glimmer feel like she belongs with them was a nice breath of fresh air
  • The story-before everypony starts complaining about the story being extremely ridiculous, that was the idea as this was meant to be a joke episode to call out the demise of Queen Chrysalis as a villain because you may think that this episode is about Queen Chrysalis and her revenge plan for Starlight Glimmer and the Mane 6, but...in a very clever and humorous twist, it's actually about the Mean 6 turning against their creator in order to take the Elements Of Harmony for themselves

CONS:

  • N/A

Overall if you all are willing to look at this episode for what it's trying to be rather than what is actually presented, you will find that 'The Mean 6' is a marvelous followup to what was a marvelous season finale and I'm gonna give it a 10 out of 10...but one can only wonder when Queen Chrysalis will return and what she has planned next


School Daze-9/10
Horse Play-10/10
The Parent Map-5/10
Non-Compete Clause-3/10
The Break Up Break Down-8/10
Molt Down-9.5/10
Marks For Effort-8.5/10
The Mean 6-10/10


SEASON 8 OVERALL RATING: 8.04/10

MLEEP Reviews: Marks For Effort | #MLPSeason8

Season 8, Episode 12: Marks For Effort
Written By Nicole Dubuc

When we last left the Cutie Mark Crusaders, they had helped a young hippogriff named Terramar figure out whether he belonged on Mount Aris with his father or in Seaquestria with his mother...but let's see what happens when they try to enter the School Of Friendship in today's episode, this is 'Marks For Effort'!

The Cutie Mark Crusaders try to convince Twilight Sparkle to let them into the School of Friendship, even though it's clear they've already mastered the curriculum.

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When I first heard the concept of this episode, I was immediately thinking that the show staff were retreading over old grounds with the CMC from all the way back in Season 1 when they first formed their secret society in order to get their cutie marks in the first place...but then I thought back to how great of an episode that 'Surf And/Or Turf' was and I said to myself that this episode could still be interesting.

PROS:
  • The humor-even if the episode is mostly about the CMC and their attempts to get into the School Of Friendship and even if all of the jokes didn't exactly work, I feel that everypony...or should I say 'every creature' got a chance to have a funny line of dialogue or scene all to themselves whether it be from Pinkie Pie or from the School Of Friendship students-even Spike got a couple of humorous moments with his newly developed wings
  • The story-even though it feels like that writer Nicole Dubuc was retreading old grounds with the CMC from way back in Season 1 (literally just replace 'getting their cutie marks' with 'enrolling into the School Of Friendship' and you're all set), the twist that the story takes later on with the introduction of Cozy Glow really helps to make it different from every other CMC episode
  • Foreshadowing of Cozy Glow-knowing that this character is gonna play a major part in the season finale later on, I look forward to seeing where the writers take her character from here especially with her now knowing about the Elements Of Harmony...just please don't make this character end up becoming Diamond Tiara 2.0 when we're already still waiting on that followup episode to Diamond Tiara's own redemption!
  • The first time we actually see Starlight Glimmer as a guidance counselor-seeing as we never got to see Starlight in her new role for the School Of Friendship in the season premiere, it's great to finally see her as the school's official guidance counselor when Cozy Glow comes to explain the CMC situation to her

CONS:
  •  N/A

Overall...while it does have a few flaws here and there, the effort that was put into 'Marks For Effort' really does show and I'm gonna give it an 8.5 out of 10 for that.



Horse Play-10/10
Marks For Effort-8.5/10

SEASON 8 OVERALL RATING: 7.86/10

MLEEP Reviews: Molt Down | #MLPSeason8

Season 8, Episode 11: Molt Down
Written By Josh Haber

Ever since Twilight Sparkle helped him hatch out of his egg back in Season 1, Spike really has come a long way-he's gone from being an unbelievably stupid and ignorant child that generally annoyed the fans during the early days of the series to a fully developed character who in a way has become the voice of reason for many characters such as Starlight Glimmer in the later seasons and has even officially been given the title of Friendship Embassador to the dragons.  But every now and then, every child grows up into an adult and it looks like Spike may finally be going through some changes of his own in our next episode of Season 8...this is 'Molt Down'!

Spike struggles with a series of bizarre symptoms that Smolder explains is something all dragons go through in adolescence: 'the molt.' Smolder also reveals an unfortunate 'molt side-effect' that compels a molter's family to kick them out of the house!


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Let's be honest, everypony...the Spike episodes were always hit-and-miss in the past and it wasn't until Season 6 that we started getting really great episodes as well as some awesome character development out of Spike as well...but when we received word that Spike would soon be going through his adolescent stage, this was a concept that actually had me excited in seeing where this episode was going to go.  Does Spike have enough fire power to make another awesome episode in Season 8's lineup?


PROS:
  • Continuity with 'Dragon Quest'-as much as I hated 'Dragon Quest', it was nice to at least get some continuity from Spike as to what happened to his pet phoenix Pee-Wee...as Rarity said, 'every bird must leave the nest'
  • The lore about 'the molt', rocs and phoenixes-always great to see more world building for different species of characters in the series especially when it results in one of the biggest surprises so far this season...without spoiling anything, our little dragon's growing up!
  • The story-I don't know if I'm the only one who saw this, but this is easily what Season 2's "Secret Of My Excess" should've been since I think pretty much everyone can relate to Spike when it comes to the awkward phase of puberty whether you're dealing with things like acne or deepening voices as well as children leaving their parents in order to start a new life on their own
  • The return of Zecora-it's great to see that a fan favorite character like Zecora is slowly getting more and more screen time since I don't believe that she was very well received back when she first debuted back in Season 1

CONS:
  • The humor-don't get me wrong, some of the jokes in this episode managed to get a good laugh out of me...but the constant repetition of the 'uncontrollable volume shifts' gag got old quickly

Overall if the humor is the only thing that needed to be changed, then I have nothing to complain about with 'Molt Down' as it gives us plenty of world building to expand upon and one of the biggest surprises of the season so far and I give it a rating of a 9.5 out of 10...and thus we enter the mid-season hiatus, all we can do now is play the waiting game.


Horse Play-10/10
The Parent Map-5/10
Non-Compete Clause-3/10
The Break Up Break Down-8/10
Molt Down-9.5/10

SEASON 8 OVERALL RATING: 7.8/10

MLEEP Reviews: The Break Up Break Down | #MLPSeason8

Season 8, Episode 10: The Break Up Breakdown
Written By Nick Confalone

Back in 'Hard To Say Anything', it was revealed that Big Mcintosh had his very first crush in the form of Sugar Belle resulting in him battling a pony named Feather Bangs for her heart with Big Mcintosh coming out on top by building her a new display case for her shop...but it sounds like this relationship may be over before it even started, let's find out if that's the truth in our next episode of Season 8-this is 'The Break Up Breakdown'!

It's Hearts and Hooves Day and Big Mac has romantic plans for Sugar Belle, but the day takes a turn when he overhears his special pony tell Mrs. Cake she's planning on breaking up with him!


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I'm gonna be honest...after the last two episodes gave a less than stellar performance, this was one that I was really excited for and really hoped didn't suck because...even though I wasn't a fan of the episode 'Hard To Say Anything', one of the things that I enjoyed the most about it was the newly developed relationship between Big Mcintosh and Sugar Belle-it was one of the few romantic couples that I thought was appropriate and one that I definitely wanted to see developed further, but will a broken up relationship result in another broken down episode?


PROS:
  • Continuity to 'Dungeons & Discords'-with 'Dungeons & Discords' being one of my top five favorite episodes of Season 6, it was so great to see the relationship between Big Mcintosh and his friends Spike and Discord being strengthened even when they aren't playing Ogres & Oubliettes
  • John de Lancie as Discord-I've said it before and I'll say it again, but John de Lancie always finds a way to steal the show whenever he voices Discord especially with how Discord feels about the general idea of Hearts And Hooves Day...not to mention that I love the chemistry between him and Spike throughout the episode
  • The cute subplot with the Cutie Mark Crusaders-not only does it give us some adorable humor as well as cameos of characters like Pipsqueak and Button Mash, I think this might actually be a bit of foreshadowing to a possible episode where the CMC find their 'special someponies'
  • The return of the 'Ogres & Oubliettes' game world-with this being one of the best parts about 'Dungeons & Discords', it was so cool to get to see this again even if it was for a few seconds

CONS:
  • The story-don't get me wrong, this was a great followup to 'Hard To Say Anything'...but the story suffers from recycling the predictable 'case of misunderstanding' storyline and the fact that it hits a little too close to home for me seeing as I've been through many breakups before and each one hurt worse than the last...so I identify a lot with Big Mcintosh on a personal level

Overall while predictable, 'The Break Up Breakdown' was just the pick-me-up that Season 8 needed to help get back on track and I give it a rating of an 8 out of 10.



Horse Play-10/10
The Parent Map-5/10
Non-Compete Clause-3/10
The Break Up Break Down-8/10

SEASON 8 OVERALL RATING: 7.61/10


Sunday, May 13, 2018

MLEEP Reviews: Non-Compete Clause | #MLPSeason8

Season 8, Episode 9: Non-Compete Clause
Written By Kim Beyer-Johnson

Applejack and Rainbow Dash...when it comes to episodes where you two share the leading role, you have easily had the most out of any other pairing in the Mane 6 and it seems that they always involve you two getting into a competition between each other even as far back as Season 1 in 'Fall Weather Friends'.  Will your competition get in the way of a field trip with the School Of Friendship students?  Let's find out with our next episode of Season 8, this is 'Non-Compete Clause'!

Applejack and Rainbow Dash take the friendship students on a teamwork learning field trip, and accidentally show the students how not to work together.

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After seven episodes of adventures outside of the School Of Friendship from romantic endeavors to acting lessons, it's finally time to head back to class and rejoin the students in their quest to learn more about the magic of friendship...but were Applejack and Rainbow Dash really the best ponies for the job of taking them on a field trip?



PROS:
  • The animation-not only do we get to see the beautifully designed School Of Friendship once again, but many of the montage sequences during the field trip are animated really well especially getting to see things like Ocellus as a sea pony and the introduction of the bitacuddas

CONS:
  • The story-not only did they take the concept of the competition between Applejack and Rainbow Dash and amp it up to the highest degree, but this was all because Fluttershy got 'Teacher Of The Month'...this episode basically recycles every single 'who's the teacher's pet' story you can think of such and all you can do is just sit and wait for the characters to realize their mistake and the worst part of all is that Applejack and Rainbow Dash still get what they wanted in the end!
  • The portrayal of Applejack and Rainbow Dash-when I first read the synopsis for this episode, my first reaction was 'seriously...after eight seasons, they STILL can't work together' and they really took their competition way too far this time...I mean, they nearly killed one of their own students and didn't seem to care!!!

Overall aside from the animation, I didn't crack a smile once while watching 'Non-Compete Clause'-no wonder everypony says that it was the worst of the leaked episodes since it committed the biggest crime any episode could: it made me question whether or not 'My Little Pony' is that great a show to begin with...and for that, I give it a 3 out of 10.





Horse Play-10/10
The Parent Map-5/10
Non Compete Clause-3/10

SEASON 8 OVERALL RATING: 7.56/10

Friday, May 4, 2018

MLEEP Reviews: The Parent Map | #MLPSeason8

Image result for my little pony the parent map
Season 8, Episode 8: The Parent Map
Written By Dave Rapp

Sunburst and Starlight Glimmer-ever since you two went your separate ways in foalhood, you have been through quite a lot together from Sunburst excelling in magic at Celestia's School For Gifted Unicorns to Starlight going from communist villain to heroic pupil to Twilight Sparkle herself.  But one question still remains...how are their parents been handling their children even after all of this had happened?  It's time to finally find out the truth in our next episode for Season 8, this is 'The Parent Map'!

Neither Starlight nor Sunburst have visited their parents in a long time, but when both are called by the map to their hometown, they discover their parents are at the center of the friendship problem they need to solve.

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FINALLY...we're finally getting our first look at the parents of Sunburst and Starlight Glimmer or as the shipping community calls them 'Starburst'.  I'm serious, the excitement levels I had for this episode were on the same level as when we got word of episodes about Rainbow Dash and Applejack's parents back in Season 7...but at the same time, I was really hoping that this wouldn't be another episode where Starlight Glimmer uses magic to solve her problems again considering the track record that she has had ever since she was reformed in Season 5

PROS:
  • The return of Sunburst's home-not really an important point to bring up, but I will admit that it is cool to see it again among all of the other buildings in the Crystal Empire ever since the events of the Season 6 premiere
  • Expansion on The Cutie Map to include more characters-having Starlight Glimmer and Spike be summoned by the map to solve friendship problems last season was quite an unexpected surprise and having the map being expanded to include new locations opens it up to so many more story possibilities...and this comes after we saw the Cutie Mark Crusaders called two episodes ago!
  • The highly anticipated return of Sires Hollow-we may have only gotten to see bits and pieces of Starlight and Sunburst's childhood home back in Seasons 5 through 7, but we now get to see what has become of their homes after all these years...not to mention that we finally have a name for the village
  • The introduction of Firelight and Stellar Flare-not only is it awesome to finally see the parents of Starlight and Sunburst, but you can understand where they're coming from in terms of keeping the history of the town intact for their children

CONS:
  • The humor-it mostly relied on repeating the same phrases and jokes over and over again to the point where it wasn't even funny anymore
  • The story-I had really thought from the synopsis that Starlight and Sunburst's parents were going to be the ones with the friendship problem, but the way that the story was structured quickly made me realize that Starlight and Sunburst were the real ponies with the problem and thus made the episode feel pretty predictable

Overall, 'The Parent Map' felt more like a parent trap (see what I did there?) to kill what could've been an awesome episode and I unfortunately have to give an episode as average as this a 5 out of 10.


Horse Play-10/10
The Parent Map-5/10

SEASON 8 OVERALL RATING: 8.21/10

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

MLEEP Reviews: Early Man

Image result for early man 2018
EARLY MAN
Written By Mark Burton and James Higginson
Composed By Harry-Gregson Williams and Tom Howe
Produced By Peter Lord, David Sproxton, Nick Park, Carla Shelley and Richard Beek
Edited By Sim-Evan Jones
Directed By Nick Park

Man, it has been quite a while since we last saw the team at Aardman Animations on the big screen; their last film being 'Shaun The Sheep Movie' from back in 2015...and it seems as though they've come back in a big way with both an original feature as well as the return of director Nick Park-the creator of 'Wallace & Gromit' as well as being one of the three people who helped shape Aardman to become one of the most beloved non American animation studios with famous projects like W&G, 'Creature Comforts' and their first theatrical release 'Chicken Run'...which turns out is actually going to be getting a sequel soon.  But going back to 'Early Man', will Nick Park and the team at Aardman be able to create a shining movie like the Bronze Age or has the studio finally gone extinct?  Let's find out, this is 'Early Man'!

A plucky cave man named Dug (played by Eddie Redmayne), his sidekick Hognob (played by Nick Park) and the rest of their tribe face a grave threat to their simple existence when Lord Nooth (played by Tom Hiddleston) plans to take over their land and transform it into a giant mine, forcing Dug and his clan to dig for precious metals. Not ready to go down without a fight, Dug and Hognob must unite their people in an epic quest to defeat a mighty enemy -- the Bronze Age.

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PROS:
  • The execution-despite having a rushed and predictable story, the execution makes it tolerable to sit through along with some great slapstick humor and a moral about teamwork which really helps to remove the sour taste of the story
  • The animation-with how much that CGI has dominated the animation industry, Aardman returns to give us a break with their wholesome stopmotion and I have to say that it really does stay true to the classic Nick Park look while also taking advantage of the style in a comedic way especially during the football match...also is it me or do the sets and backgrounds seem to be getting bigger and bigger with every new Aardman film?
  • Tom Hiddleston as Lord Nooth-not only is the character the only one of the bunch to not fall victim to the 'sports movie' trope, but Tom Hiddleston did a 'magnifique' job of voicing our Bronze Age ruler with a love for money more than anything else...and if you listen closely, you can hear all the Loki fangirls going wild in the stadium!

CONS:
  • The story-it sounds like an original idea about 'cavemen vs. gladiators' on the surface, but the story is actually about how they fight it out...with a football (soccer, if you're American like me) match resulting in your generic sports movie complete with every cliche you could think of from the training to the villain trying to cheat accompanied by some rushed pacing which makes it feel like time is actually speeding up-also feel free to disagree with me, but I felt that this was Aardman's take on the DreamWorks animated movie 'The Croods' ever since the film was first announced
  • The characters-I feel that the story really effected the chance of the characters being likable since they all seem to fall victim to recognizable tropes in sports movies like Dug being the optimistic protagonist who wants to save his land with Hognob as the Gromit-esque assistant to our hero and Goona being the football expert who helps the tribe win the match

Overall, 'Early Man' may not be Aardman's finest work they've ever made and I can now see why my early screening event for the movie with the Baltimare Bronies didn't go over well...but it is still an enjoyable movie full of heart and humor and I'm gonna give it an 8 out of 10.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go suit up for a movie fourteen years in the making that's sure to be 'incredible'...