Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Brony Tale review

By Nico Beland
Movie Review: A- (3 stars)
Applejack from My Little Pony goes on an incredible journey in A Brony Tale

            Last week, I saw and reviewed the Roger Ebert documentary, Life Itself, and I said it was one of the greatest documentary films I have ever seen. And what did I follow that film with? A documentary about My Little Pony!
            That’s right, I went to see the latest Brony documentary, A Brony Tale, directed by Brent Hodge and follows the journey of voice actress from Vancouver, Ashleigh Ball, who provided the voices of Applejack and Rainbow Dash on the cult hit cartoon series, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. What is a Brony, you may ask? Well, My Little Pony was originally intended for little girls, because of its cutesy and family friendly appearance and the main characters are all female ponies.
            It turns out it became a cult hit with men in high school, college, and beyond, you would expect men to be more interested in entertainment that is strong and loaded with action and explosions, not something cute and fluffy. But don’t worry there are female audiences out there who enjoy the show just as much as the males; their fan name is called Pegasisters.
            However this is not the first Brony documentary we’ve had, before A Brony Tale there was a 2012 documentary about the fandom titled, Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony, which I have not yet seen.
            Ashleigh invites us on an incredible journey to her very first convention dedicated to Bronies, known as BronyCon in New York City. Along the way she learns more and more about Bronies and how My Little Pony changed people’s lives, she even watches a Sparta Remix of Rainbow Dash.
            We also learn about Ashleigh’s past voice over work on cartoons like Care Bears and Warner Bros. Animation’s Coconut Fred’s Fruit Salad Island and her other passion besides voice acting; she has a deep passion in music (and she has a wonderful singing voice, by the way!).
            Besides Ashleigh’s experiences at BronyCon, there are also interviews with everyday people, who happen to be Bronies like a DJ who remixes My Little Pony songs for dances and parties, several patrons of BronyCon, even an entire charity dedicated to Bronies called Bronies for Good, and an encounter with the Manliest Brony in the World.
            The film also has brief appearances by voice actors, Andrea Libman, who provided Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy’s voices, and Nicole Oliver, who did the voice of Princess Celestia on the series, during a panel at BronyCon. Which brings me to another story occurring in the film.
            There is a young artist and fan of My Little Pony, named Bryan Mischke, a "Military Brony"who drew this wonderful picture of Princess Celestia to show Nicole Oliver at BronyCon, and what follows is an extremely uplifting and charming moment (Now I know what I should do next time at Seattle’s Emerald City ComiCon).
            Overall, I wouldn’t say A Brony Tale left as big of an impact on me as Life Itself, but from what I got, this is a well-made documentary film and it also helped me understand more about the Brony phenomenon.
            I had some personal experiences with Bronies in my life, I knew some people in high school and on Facebook who like the show and also a lot of Brony events at the Emerald City ComiCon in Seattle. Ever since the 2012 Emerald City ComiCon, people have been dressing up as their favorite ponies, lots of merchandise, and a couple of the voice actors from the show attended, Tara Strong (voice of Twilight Sparkle) and Andrea Libman.
            At first I thought Bronies was a very strange fan base because I came from a generation where boys liked action cartoons and the girls liked fluffy and cuddly cartoons. As a kid, I watched cartoons like Batman: The Animated Series, Dragonball Z, Pok√©mon, and a little bit of Transformers (Although I didn’t become a die-hard fan until the movie came out in 2007), but I also remembered watching shows like The Powerpuff Girls, Kim Possible, and a little bit of Totally Spies (Yeah, I did watch some episodes of this when I was a kid!).
            So, after remembering that I watched cartoons like The Powerpuff Girls, I started to understand the appeal of My Little Pony more. There is absolutely nothing wrong with boys and men liking a cartoon like this, you’re not creating a great tragedy or destroying media, you’re enjoying a cartoon and you’re showing how much you enjoy it with everyone.
            I’m not really a Brony, granted I have seen a few episodes of the series on a DVD, and from what I got it’s not a bad show, I like the animation and art direction, the voice acting is pretty good, and the concepts of these episodes can be very clever at times. I guess you can consider me a Rising Brony because I’m undecided whether or not to continue, right now I’m just galloping through what I like and sharing my opinions, but who knows maybe one day, I’ll sprout some wings and fly with the rest of the fellow Bronies, they’re people like you and me.

            And Ashleigh makes it perfectly clear that as long as My Little Pony is around, there will be Bronies. It’s quite a fascinating fan base and this is a wonderful film that depicts it, whether you’re a Brony or not, you may end up enjoying this film.
This blog just got 20% Cooler!

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