Monday, July 30, 2018

MLEEP Reviews: A Matter Of Principals | #MLPSeason8

Season 8, Episode 15: A Matter Of Principals
Written By Nicole Dubuc

When we last saw Discord back in 'The Break Up Break Down', he had helped to save the lovely couple of Big McIntosh and Sugar Belle from breaking up for good on Hearts And Hooves Day...but what will happen when he tries to make Starlight Glimmer's new job a living nightmare?  Let's find out, this is 'A Matter Of Principals'!

When Twilight Sparkle leaves Starlight Glimmer in charge of the School Of Friendship while she tends to a friendship mission with her friends, Discord gets frustrated that he wasn't chosen for the job and decides to make Starlight's new role as impossible as it can possibly be.

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When this episode was announced, I was both intrigued and excited to see it at the same time not just for more of the wacky and creative comedy from Discord but to also see Starlight Glimmer really step up her role in the School Of Friendship and how she would manage her new position as well as if she is worthy of keeping said position...but can two formerly villainous characters make for an entertaining episode?

PROS:
  • The exposition and lore behind the 'Spell-venger Hunt'-from the helm of Yickslur to the crown of King Grover, it is so great getting to see the many different cultures of Equestria explored more and more throughout this season because of the development of the School Of Friendship...really hoping we get to see more of it!
  • John de Lancie as Discord-as I said in my review of 'The Break Up Break Down' and with every Discord episode I have reviewed, he always finds a way to steal the show with his brand of comedy and John de Lancie always does an amazing job with his performance of the character
  • The return of fan favorite characters-some would call it fan service and some would call it fan pandering, but it is so cool getting to see so many fan favorite characters return when Discord and Starlight hire substitute teachers like Iron Will and Trixie...even Maud and Cranky Doodle Donkey get involved as well!

CONS:

  • The story-it had a very interesting concept, but...upon further analysis, this was pretty much another rehash of Season 4's "Three's A Crowd"/Season 5's "What About Discord?" where Discord trolls the main characters of the episode in order to teach them a lesson...and some of the ways that he was making Starlight's new job as temporary headmare were a bit questionable like Trixie and the Ursa Major and the Bugbear in gym class, it even felt like his character had regressed back to his Season 3 self
  • The characters-since the story is a rehash of an episode that basically rehashed another episode, it effected the characters since all you really had to do was swap Twilight Sparkle with Starlight Glimmer and you're all set...although I will say that it was great to see the Student Six again and bonding with each other while on the 'Spell-venger hunt'

Overall...while 'A Matter Of Principals' does have its problems like a weak story and recycled characters, it is still an alright episode for what we actually managed to get and I am gonna give this a rating of a 7 out of 10


Horse Play-10/10
Yakity Sax-10/10
A Matter Of Principals-7/10


SEASON 8 OVERALL RATING: 8.1/10

Saturday, July 21, 2018

THOMASCEMBER: Big World, Big Adventures!

THOMASCEMBER: Big World, Big Adventures!

By popular demand, 'Big World, Big Adventures'!  When this special was first announced, I had never seen so much hatred among the fandom as not one single person wanted to give this movie a chance especially with all of the changes that Mattel was making to the series like Edward and Henry leaving the main cast in favor of 'girl power' and dropping the slower-pace storytelling in favor of making the show more flashy like 'Paw Patrol'-a show that has become a bigger competitor for Thomas than 'Chuggington' ever was.  The hate for this movie got so bad that fans were not only leaving the fandom at a rapid rate, but those that decided to stay were committing criminal offenses towards the brand in an attempt to say that the show needed to die...yeah, as if being a part of the fandom wasn't enough of a joke before and it resulted in the show staff calling us out on our behavior in a recent interview!  While I was not okay with some of the changes that Mattel was making, I still tried to give this movie a chance to prove itself and...was it as bad as everyone made it out to be?  Well, let's take a look!

When a racing car named Ace inspires Thomas to become the first engine to travel the world, Thomas sets off on an adventure across five continents full of deserts, jungles and dangerous mountains where he meets Nia-an engine from Kenya who teaches Thomas that everyone needs a little help from their friends.



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Much like what happened with 'Journey Beyond Sodor', 'Big World Big Adventures' marketed itself by controversy and split the fandom in half. While you could argue that the marketing campaign for 'The Great Race' was obnoxious as hell, at least there was actual content being given to us whereas 'Journey Beyond Sodor' and 'Big World Big Adventures' gave us the bare minimum: a trailer, a behind-the-scenes mini documentary, they sprinkled some trigger words in a couple of news articles and the fandom argued and argued and argued for months on end...and after a rather exhausting and stressful year, it was finally time for the movie to make its debut. But is there a light at the end of the tunnel for the future of Thomas The Tank Engine?


PROS:
  • The story-not only are we thrusted right into a story where the narrator is not existent and where the visuals do all of the talking for us...but seeing as this is the final feature length film for the 'Thomas & Friends' franchise as stated by Kidscreen, the concept of Thomas finally getting the one thing he has always dreamed of doing ever since he first arrived on the Island Of Sodor in what can easily be described as the Thomas equivalent of the classic Jules Verne novel 'Around The World In 80 Days' makes for a spectacular farewell swan song to the annual specials as Thomas moving to half-hour specials will actually help to give the show staff a chance to breathe from trying to come up with a big new adventure every year and instead make mini-movies for television
  • The animation-sure it may look like we have downgraded a bit with things like softer lighting and brighter colors...but if the goal of Thomas nowadays is to be eye-catching for the kids watching in order to compete with shows like 'Paw Patrol', then I can safely say that Jam Filled is succeeding in doing their job and any little nitpick regarding the animation can easily be forgiven due to the fact that Jam Filled only had nine months to create and render several new locations and sets for a movie that is set entirely outside of the Island Of Sodor from Africa to China and even both North and South America as well as being experimental with things like the many different fantasy sequences that Thomas has throughout the movie when imagining about the many different locations he travels to while seeing the world
  • The soundtrack-I've already reviewed the soundtrack, so I won't go too big into details on what I thought of everything...but what I can tell you is that composer Chris Renshaw went all out with the music and songs for this movie in order to make the soundtrack of each country that Thomas and Nia visit feel authentic and capture the essence of their locations from the African beating of drums in 'Wake Up' which happened to recorded with local session musicians from Kenya to the rock and roll electric guitars of 'Free and Easy' which happened to be recorded by Australian singer Peter Andre who did an absolutely radical job of voicing Ace The Rally Car; the best song of the film without a doubt in my opinion being 'Sometimes You Make A Friend'
  • The characters-not only is Thomas finally getting the one thing he has always dreamed of doing ever since he first arrived on the Island Of Sodor and not only is he as cheeky as ever especially with his clever plan of having Gordon take his fish trucks to Vicarstown with the express, but his struggle of whether he should listen to Ace and his plan of seeing the world on his own or Nia who shows him that everyone gets by with a little help from their friends (Ringo Starr reference FTW!) is quite a relatable situation for many people who end up placing their trust in people who turn out to be absolute jerks only looking out for themselves and no one else...not to mention that I absolutely love the return of characters like the Flying Scotsman and the international engines from 'The Great Race'

CONS:
  • N/A

Overall, I know I'm gonna get a ton of hate mail and a ton of people in the fandom are gonna say that I'm a 'Mattel supporter'...but I don't care, I friggin' loved 'Big World, Big Adventures' as it was in my honest opinion a faithful adaptation of a classic novel that helped give our little blue tank engine what he has always dreamed of and I'm proud to give this movie a 10 out of 10.  If this truly is the last feature-length adventure for our little blue tank engine, all I can say is...Thomas, you finally got to see the world

MLEEP Reviews: Yakity-Sax | #MLPSeason8

Image result for mlp yakity sax
Season 8, Episode 14: Yakity-Sax
Written By Michael P. Fox and Wil Fox

After a month-long hiatus, it's time to return to Equestria for the second half of Season 8 and who better to kick off the second half than our very own Element Of Laughter herself...Pinkie Pie, but will a new hobby that she has taken up be over before she even started and will it result in a less than stellar mid-season premiere?  Let's find out, this is 'Yakity-Sax'!

Pinkie Pie picks up playing a bizzare instrument called the yovidaphone as a new hobby, but it may result in her leaving Ponyville forever when her inability to play annoys her friends.

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When this episode was announced, I honestly didn't know what to think of it since I was keen on learning more about what Pinkie Pie's new hobby was as well as seeing the yaks of Yakyakistan again judging from the title and seeing what they could bring to this episode...but the idea of her leaving Ponyville forever not only sounded over-the-top (I know that Pinkie is in to extremes, but...really?!) but it had been done before in several episodes before this one came out including Season 4's 'Pinkie Pride'...did a mixed first impression result in a more painful experience than Pinkie's inability to practice her new hobby?


PROS:
  • The introduction of the yovidaphone-even though that the yovidaphone is quite clearly Scottish bagpipes, it is quite interesting to learn more about this popular musical instrument of the Yakyakistan culture...as well as reaffirming to the audience that everyone hates bagpipes and they are quite literally the worst instrument to ever exist
  • The moral of 'practice makes perfect'-even with all of the hilarious outcomes of Pinkie's inability to play the yovidapho-I mean bagpipes...especially when she plays it at Sweet Apple Acres while the family is harvesting, I love how the Mane 6 address a moral that everyone can relate to whenever they take up a new hobby whether it is learning how to cook or playing a musical instrument-'if at first you don't succeed, try again' and 'practice makes perfect'
  • Continuity to 'Horse Play'-being one of my favorite episode of Season 8 so far and even if it was just for a few seconds, I love how the situation of Princess Celestia's inability to act plays off as a parallel to Pinkie's inability to play the yovidapho-I mean, bagpipes!
  • The return of Pinkamena Diane Pie-while 'Party Of One' may not be in my Top 5 favorites list of Season 1, watching Pinkie Pie have a psychotic breakdown proved to be one of the highlights of that episode and it was so great getting to see again what Pinkie Pie may have been like without her love of making ponies smile...and it is so great to see her friends reaffirm to her what she is already good at in order to cheer her up in their own unique ways
  • The return of Maud Pie-ever since her debut back in Season 4, Maud has always managed to bring a smile to my face with her dry sense of humor and her voice actress Ingrid Nilson (who I have been friends with on Facebook for a few years now) always gives a rock solid performance with her character
  • The return of Yakyakistan-we may have only gotten to see it briefly back in the Season 8 premiere, but it's great to see Yakyakistan again in all of its snowy and rustic beauty as well as meeting another new yak character named Yigrid (played by Patricia Drake, who also happens to be the voice of Twilight Velvet from 'Once Upon A Zeppelin' back in Season 7)

CONS:
  • N/A


Overall for an episode that I was unsure about, practice truly does make perfect as 'Yakity-Sax' made for a truly perfect episode and another worthy contender for Season 8's line-up and I am proud to give a perfect performance like this a 10 out of 10


Horse Play-10/10
Yakity Sax-10/10


SEASON 8 OVERALL RATING: 8.2/10

Thursday, July 19, 2018

MLEEP Reviews: Thomas & Friends - Big World, Big Adventures OFFICIAL SOUNDTRACK

THOMAS & FRIENDS: BIG WORLD, BIG ADVENTURES
OFFICIAL SOUNDTRACK
Composed By Chris Renshaw

With the last few days winding down until the official release of 'Thomas & Friends: Big World, Big Adventures', I thought it'd be a good time for me to take a listen to the songs on the film's soundtrack while also make some predictions about what might happen in the movie itself. Bring it on, Chris Renshaw!

1.) Where In The World Is Thomas-what happens in the movie is pretty self explanatory by the lyrics as the engines and other vehicles of Sodor wonder where Thomas might have gotten to and what situation he may be in before knowing that he's gone around the world, but what I will say about the song is that I absolutely love all of the continuity nods from previous seasons and the movies and I can't wait to see all of the wacky and creative visuals that the engines come up with from the team at Jam Filled
2.) Wake Up-a bit of this song may have been spoiled via an interview video at the world premiere of the movie in London, but it's great to finally hear this song in full and I have to say that it is quite a catchy tune to jam and dance along to especially since it was recorded with local session musicians from Kenya...from what I saw with the preview clip, I don't need to predict what happens since this is when Thomas and Nia are delivering their goods train to the docks in Tanzania
3.) Enda Ulale-I'm predicting that this is when Thomas is spending his first night in Africa with Nia judging by the lyrics of the song and I have to admit that it is a very catchy tune with a very calming and beautiful melody...but why do I get the feeling that a majority of the fandom will be doing remixes of this song with 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight' with the key and tempo that the song is set in? Thomas fandom, get on that!
4.) We're Friends-remember the first time we heard 'Really Useful Engine' in The Adventure Begins and it showed Thomas constantly messing up...well judging by the orchestrations and the lyrics, this is probably when tensions between Thomas and Nia really begin to rise as they enter Brazil and I also get the feeling that this is gonna be our 'We Make A Team Together/You Can Only Be Who You Are And Go Far/The Most Important Thing Is Being Friends' of the special
5.) Free And Easy-now this song was spoiled by the Thomas UK channel on YouTube months ago before they realized their mistake and took it down, but this is easily becoming the new 'Streamlining' for this movie and it even gives off some Speed Racer vibes...although not as great or memorable as 'Streamlining', it is still a pretty damn awesome song to dance along to...go, Speed Acer!
6.) Sometimes You Make A Friend-without a doubt, this is easily the best song of the movie and I assume that this is when Thomas is in the Rainbow Mountains of China as he is regretting something that he may have said or done to Nia before going to rescue her on the snowy mountains with the help of his international friend Yong Bao...but much like 'I Want To Go Home' from Journey Beyond Sodor, why do I get the feeling that this won't be given the sing-along treatment on the DVD?
7.) We're Friends Reprise-yeah, this is easily our 'We Make A Team Together/You Can Only Be Who You Are And Go Far/The Most Important Thing Is Being Friends' of the special and this is probably when Thomas and Nia finally return to Sodor and are greeted with a big welcome by our main cast...we might even get a lead-in to what will be the twenty second season of the television series where we get to see more countries and returnees from 'The Great Race' appear

Feel free to disagree, but I still believe that 'Big World, Big Adventures' is going to be a truly amazing film especially when it has an awesome soundtrack like this...Thomas is finally getting his wish!

Friday, July 6, 2018

MLEEP Reviews: My Little Pony - Equestria Girls: Rollercoaster Of Friendship

EQUESTRIA GIRLS: ROLLERCOASTER OF FRIENDSHIP
Written By Nick Confalone

One of the most famous friendships in the entirety of the 'My Little Pony' franchise has easily got to be that of Rarity and Applejack...they may not always see eye-to-eye on things due to coming from completely different backgrounds whether they be farm life or fashion, but they always find a way to put their differences aside and come together to help their friends no matter what.  But will a day of fun at a new theme park have them both in a sticky situation?  Let's find out, this is 'Rollercoaster Of Friendship'!

Rarity's new job as fashion designer for Equestrialand's parade show jeopardizes her friendship with Applejack and they must settle their differences in order to figure out why their friends are mysteriously vanishing.

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As many of you know, we had received another hour-long Equestria Girls special back in February known as 'Forgotten Friendship' and I absolutely loved it due to not only bringing Sunset Shimmer's story arc to a close even going as far as finally making amends with her mentor Princess Celestia but for also feeling like a final goodbye for the Equestria Girls franchise in general.  But when I heard that we had one more special to get through before the franchise ends completely, I was keen on seeing what Nick Confalone could do for his second hour-long special...but was it the thrill of a lifetime or a bumpy ride?

PROS:

  • The animation-even though the story and characters are completely recycled, the animation from DHX still manages to impress and amaze me every single time...even though we're in Equestrialand for a majority of the special, the animators still captured everything about going to a theme park to a T from the many different rides and attractions to the game booths and food stalls
CONS:

  • The story-it sounds like an interesting idea on paper...but when you really get to the bare essentials in terms of its execution, 'Rollercoaster Of Friendship' is basically 'Mirror Magic' all over again and it's being told in the exact same order of events as well from the villain wanting to be popular to our heroes being trapped by the villain in 'the void'-with everything that 'Mirror Magic' was throwing at us and due to being a followup to 'Movie Magic', I honestly got more enjoyment out of that special than I did with this one since you're just spending your time waiting for our main characters to realize their mistake and get back together again anyway
  • The humor-it was very hit and miss with some of the more adult jokes getting a chuckle out of me like Vignette Valencia's seductive video on SnapGab (how the hell did they get this past the censors?!), but was groaning at a lot of the jokes due to either being predictable or dragging on for way too long like Sunset and Twilight's relentless ring trouble at Flim and Flam's booth or Rainbow Dash's fear of rollercoasters...so much for being excited to ride the Wild Blue Yonder in 'Grannies Gone Wild'!
  • The characters-due to the story being a rehash of 'Mirror Magic', the characters and their development throughout the entire special feels so recycled right down to the villain Vignette Valencia while voiced well by series newcomer Tegan Moss being just a more snobbish rehash of Juniper Montage who is so obsessed with being popular that she imprisons our heroes all because she never had any real friends...while it is a clever commentary of how social media sites like Facebook and Instagram work nowadays, it just seemed like we were retreading over old grounds again.  Also, I sense a huge amount of people in the fandom making many more shipfics of 'Rarijack'
  • The song 'Photo Booth'-it's not a bad song since it does fit the theme and moral for the special, but I don't see myself humming or singing along to this song any time soon

Overall...if you take the special 'Mirror Magic' and take away everything that made it both a fun and entertaining adventure, then you get 'Rollercoaster Of Friendship' as this was quite a bumpy ride to get through and I unfortunately have to give this special a 5.5 out of 10.