REVIEW / ANIMATION
MY LITTLE PONY: THE MOVIE (G)
99 minutes/Opens tomorrow
The story: The peace in Equestria is broken by the unicorn Tempest Shadow, who is seeking to restore her broken horn. The Mane Six - Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, Rarity and Applejack - flee their imperilled land to seek help from the mysterious "queen of the hippos".
Depending on how one sees the situation, the timing of this movie's release on the cusp of the Christmas gift-buying season is either mercilessly opportunistic or thankfully fortuitous.
Some parents will bemoan the loss of hard-earned dollars to yet more My Little Pony products because of their daughters' entreaties; others will be grateful they do not have to think too hard about the perfect present to buy.
But the new Little Pony movie is more than a product-pushing work for ungodly lucre - it is the ultimate fan service.
Its primary target audience of young girls will no doubt squeal in delight to see their favourite Equestria stars cavort across the large cinema screen and in surround-sound, instead of on television sets and tablet devices, as would often be the case.
More than that, however, it is the "hippos" who represent many a little girl's dream come true - make that two dreams come true.
Those creatures are actually "hippogriffs", which are akin to seaponies (or mer-pony).
Imagine that, a creature that is both like a mermaid and a pony or unicorn. That is a young girl's heaven multiplied by two.
That is not all the fan service there is here. The hyperactive, ever-effervescent Pinkie Pie (voiced by Andrea Libman) - who is a perennial fan favourite for her bubbly ways - meets her match in the seapony Princess Skystar.
Tony Award winner Kristin Chenoweth's Skystar is a bundle of energy wrapped in a firecracker packaged in a dynamite.
The actress and singer with thunderous, show-stopping vocals attacks her lines with a manic enthusiasm that would even crack a smile on the faces of adults.
With Chenoweth as an ace in the pack - eclipsing the sullen villainy of Emily Blunt's Tempest Shadow - director Jayson Thiessen moves the plot along with minimal drag.
The magic of friendship among the Mane Six - not to mention the magical hold of My Little Pony on young girls - takes care of the rest.