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film review

The sneering reflex is automatic (fight it)

In 2010, a bunch of the internet’s time was spent sneering at the grown men who owned their enjoyment of a show aimed at little girls – My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. I never saw it, not until my daughter was old enough to take an interest. Only then did I realise how misguided the internet’s collective disdain had been. The show is pure and joyful. It’s selling toys, yes. That doesn’t seem to ruin anyone’s enjoyment when it’s Star Wars or Avengers: Infinity War.

In 2017, they did a film version and it got middling reviews. The Guardian could barely muster the energy to notice the film, with Mike McCahill dropping tepid lines like this:

voiced by Emily Blunt, who must have really loved these toys as a child to have wound up in this vicinity.

He managed to spend three paragraphs on the film without really saying anything about it. Simran Hans, for the Observer, at least responded to the film in a meaningful way, though only through gritted teeth in a review that barely reached a paragraph:

At the chewy, candy core of this assaulting, shrill, Skittles-hued headache is a well-meaning treatise on solidarity and female friendship.

This is a peculiar failure of film criticism; it can take the MCU seriously but it can’t bring itself to engage with this as anything other than a sickly-sweet corporate product. Why? Are there more executives at Hasbro than at Disney?

There’s a character in the film, Tempest Shadow, who was injured as a child. She’s cast out, ostracised for her disability. She learns to hate the cruel and indifferent world, and does evil to obtain the power to heal herself.

By the end of the film she realises she’s being used and flips. With her help, the good guys win the day and hold the staff of ultimate power. But they don’t heal her, even though it would be trivial with the power they hold. She doesn’t even ask them to. She has realised that she doesn’t need to be fixed. She has realised that she is enough.

I think about that more than I think about anything that happened in Infinity War or Endgame.