Lots of spoilers ahead.
I honestly did not expect a lot from Steven Universe: The Movie, and I was mildly surprised,
There was a lot I thought the movie could improve on (Like actual character development, world building and focus on non-Steven characters) but it did manage to do many things well.
With an hour and a half run-time, and improved, fluid animation, and [number] the show runners really had the opportunity to show off their true talents. The movie takes place about two years after “Change Your Mind;” Steven is 16 and beginning to age normally. He looks more his age and has a neck. His voice has cracked. The Diamonds have stopped invading and have decolonized their planets. Gems have made their home on Earth. All is well.
Until a mysterious pink gem invades and threatens to destroy all living beings on Earth. And it’s up to Steven to stop her. What is particularly unique is that the movie is a musical and for once, Steven Universe actually gives us a decent, threatening villain whose backstory and motivations actually work.
While a musical is nothing new for the crew; having an actual proper runtime, instead of 11 minutes really gives them the chance to make some AMAZING tunes. I’ll be honest I base how good a musical is, by how memorable (not catchy) its songs are. La La Land is at a solid 0. I forgot every single song from that movie the moment they ended. In this? I’ve memorized them for days.
Spinel, the movie’s villain, is nowhere near as powerful as the Diamonds or any of the other villains Steven has faced, but is a threat due to her unique power set and weapon. Her scythe allows her to ‘reset’ a gem erasing all their memories. Unfortunately, once the other gems resets, so does she after a hit from Steven.
I love her design and animation; Spinel is designed like an old-fashoned cartoon character which works well with her mischievous personality. While her design reminded a lot of people of Jenny Wakeman, after watching the film, I was reminded a lot of Harley Quinn. Unfortunately, we don’t see a whole lot of crazy Spinel. Soon after she appears and dispatches the Crystal Gems, she gets dispatched as well.
She turns sweet, innocent and goofy. The other Gems turn to their default settings: Garnet splits into Ruby and Sapphire, Pearl becomes devoted and docile and devoted to serving her “Um Greg Universe” and Amethyst becomes tiny and only able to mimic others. Most of the plot is spent trying to bring their memories back.
And while the characters are entertaining, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. We know about Pearl’s past, we’ve seen Ruby and Sapphire separated …It’s only newly formed Amethyst we don’t recognize, and she has the least amount of screen time.
The songs and visuals that accompany these transformations are all pretty amazing though. They match the characters well, and the visuals are great. While Garnet’s formation song “Isn’t it Love?” has the most interesting visuals, the best of the songs is “Independent Together.”
It’s catchy. It’s got a great message and it’s got Steg, the long awaited Steven/Greg fusion who turns out to be a very, almost uncomfortably attractive, Elvis Presley style rock star heartthrob who has the power to make others float, in a way that’s animated almost as…orgasmic?
The movie also brings up the odd fact that pretty much all the music in the universe is diegetic, meaning that when the characters perform a musical number that isn’t a performance, they’re actually singing…I guess it’s an interesting tidbit, but some of it still doesn’t make context as a whole. And it really only seems like they did, so they could have meta-textual moment.
It would have worked really well, if Spinel wasn’t cured basically via song. I thought that for sure, she was faking it and was somehow immune to the scythe. But nope, Spinel was a happy cheery gem until she was abandoned by Pink Diamond like an old toy once she got her colony. Spinel waited in a garden for 6,000 years thinking Pink would come back.
And once she saw Steven’s simulcast to the universe, she, understandably, went crazy. She wanted to destroy the planet that Pink left her for. So, unlike the Diamonds who were genocidal maniacs, Spinel was acting mainly out of jealousy. Her redemption actual made sense in context.
Though the fact that she went to the Diamonds probably means we’ll never see her again. Depending on what the Crew decides to do for Season 6, this movie might not even take place until after…Though if it focuses on the Diamonds’ redemption and growth, I wouldn’t mind.
Again, like I’ve said, it’s not like that.empathy and giving people the chance to change and be better is a bad thing. But the Diamonds haven’t really shown any meaningful growth. We’re told they have, so we have no choice to believe. Meanwhile, Rose Quartz, who did lead an army to save the Earth, but was still very flawed, but in many ways still a better person than her counterparts is slowly shown to be just…completely shitty.
And it means everyone has to be redeemed. Even My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic had a couple of irredeemable protagonists, even if some of them are just assholes. And not to mention, it’s negatively boring. There’s no tension if I know the protagonist will be redeemed, which now they HAVE to because is the Diamonds can be good, so can everyone else.
Like our only irredeemable antagonists can’t be Ronaldo and Kevin…I can’t take more Ronaldo. At least Kevin is entertaining to watch.
I just don’t know where the show can go from this point. There’s no more intergalactic threat and everybody has more or less solved their issues.The movie is very entertaining. At a surface level, it’s great and it’s a good way of introducing those unfamiliar with the series to it. It’s funny, a little bit sad, and it really shows off the talents of the crew.
But everything done in the movie has been done before. It’s just a bit better cause they had more time.
Maybe it’s time to give it up. The movie is a nice ending point to the series, that already had an ending. I don’t need Steven Universe: Shippuden.
And that’s the scoop.
Year of release: 2019
Length: 82 minutes
Executive Directors: Rebecca Sugar, Kat Morris (co), Joe Johnston (co), Alonso Ramirez Ramos (co), Ian Jones-Quartey (co), Chance the Rapper (co)
Directors: Rebecca Sugar, Kat Morris (co), Joe Johnston (co)
Story by: Ben Levin, Hilary Florido, Ian Jones-Quartey, Jack Pendarvis, Joe Johnston, Kat Morris, Matt Burnett, Rebecca Sugar
Writers: Lamar Abrams, Miki Brewster, Amber Cragg, Hilary Florido, Joe Johnston, Amish Kumar, Jeff Liu, Katie Mitroff, Kat Morris, Chris Pianka, Maddie Queripel, Rebecca Sugar, Paul Villeco*
*Maybe 13 writers is a bit much for an 82 minute production. Too many cooks spoils the broth.