The Blake Snyder Beat Sheet (BS2) is an easy tool for screenwriters to make sure that they hit all of the important beats. It’s become commonplace for analysts to chart out popular movies to see if they line up with Snyder’s formula.
All the best ones do.
To celebrate my oldest daughter’s 10th birthday, we went to see My Little Pony: The Movie. I had no plans to beat this movie out, or I would have brought a pad and paper with me and took notes. This is purely from memory, so it may not be perfect. I believe this movie hits every beat that it should, and this is my BS2 analysis.
SPOILERS ABOUND SO BE WARNED.
OPENING IMAGE: Canterlot, seen as if the audience is flying alongside a very fast formation of pegasus ponies.
THEME STATED: Twilight Sparkle is nervous about asking for help from her fellow alicorn princesses, and she lays out this plan to make a spectacular light show . All three refuse and tell her she already has all she needs to pull this off without a hitch.
SETUP: Twilight Sparkle has a grand festival planned in Canterlot to celebrate friendship. Though typically organized to a fault, in this case she is filled with self-doubt. Pinky Pie is coordinating the decoration. Rarity is decorating the stage for pony pop sensation Songbird Serenade to play a concert as the finale to the proceedings. Rainbow Dash is clearing the sky. Applejack is providing Apple Family Cider.
CATALYST: Storm clouds gather and airships attack Canterlot in the name of the Storm King.
DEBATE: Tempest Shadow, the captain of the Storm King’s army, issues an ultimatum to Canterlot to surrender. Unimpressed, the alicorns fight back. Tempest single-handedly defeats all of them by using a magic cube that petrifies them. Celestia orders Luna to escape and seek help from the hippogriffs to the south, but Luna is petrified before she can make it. Only Twilight escapes with the Mane 6 over a waterfall. Their only clue is to seek the hippogriffs to the south.
BREAK INTO TWO: Tempest tells the Storm King to give her 3 days to track the missing alicorn, Twilight Sparkle.
B-Story: After a close encounter with an Ursa Major, Tempest Shadow’s horn is broken and her face scarred. She is then bullied and ostracized. She realizes that she can only rely on herself and from then on refuses to trust anyone. All she wants is to have her horn restored, something that the Storm King can do if he gains the power to control the weather. Tempest vows to put all of the alicorn magic into his staff so he can.
FUN AND GAMES: The ponies slog through the desert and they meet a smooth-talking cat named Capper. He helps them escape a mob, and teaches them how to get along in this town that was supposed to be the center of the hippogriff kingdom. But can they trust him?
They set sail with a crew of pirate birds led by Captain Celaeno. Can they trust her?
After each encounter, the Mane 6 discover clues to the missing hippogriff kingdom and dodge capture by Tempest Shadow.
MIDPOINT: They find the hippogriff kingdom and are invited in by Princess Skystar.
BAD GUYS CLOSE IN: Against the wishes of her mother, Queen Novo, Skystar explains how the hippogriffs are now sea horses. Queen Novo reveals the magic pearl that can defeat the Storm King, but refuses to give it to the Mane 6. She cites the need to protect her own people.
They now have to go back to Canterlot empty handed. But wait! Twilight suggests that Pinky Pie and the others play with Skystar, who is very sad her new friends will be leaving. They do, and during the proceedings Queen Novo has a change of heart. She will give the pearl to the Mane 6, at least until Twilight is caught trying to steal the pearl.
Banished from the hippogriffs, the Mane 6 fight among themselves. Who is really to blame here? They trusted Twilight, and she betrayed them by trying to steal the pearl. Twilight justifies it by saying Canterlot is at stake, so she had to lie. That’s when the ponies realize Twilight used them to be the heroine of Canterlot.
ALL IS LOST: Twilight blames them for her failure, saying they were crappy friends anyway.
DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL: As the Mane 6 part ways, Twilight realizes her folly. She doesn’t have all the answers, and never did. She needs her friends.
Tempest finally catches up and Twilight is captured. Tempest extols the virtue of not trusting anyone, about self-sufficiency, about how friendship failed Twilight. Twilight realizes she failed friendship.
BREAK INTO THREE: The remaining ponies rally their new friends: Capper, Captain Celaeno and her crew, and Princess Skystar. Time to take back Canterlot!
FINALE: The Storm King drains Celestia, Luna, Cadence, and Twilight of their magic and gains the power to control the weather, the days, and the nights.
The ponies and pals pull a Trojan horse maneuver by sneaking in within a celebratory cake. When their cover is blown, they pop out and attack, eventually bringing the fight to Canterlot Castle.
The Storm King calls down tornadoes and hard rains to stop the ponies, but they keep fighting through the castle and face the Storm King. They knock the staff from his hands. During the fight, Tempest flies out into the funnel cloud and certain doom, but Twilight saves her. Tempest realizes for the first time that she’s met someone that cares about her.
The Mane 6 make up, but their reunion is short. The Storm King tries to regain his staff. Twilight fights him for it, and the two fall out of Canterlot Castle into a funnel cloud.
Twilight emerges victorious, staff in hoof. But the Storm King survived, too, and hurls a petrification cube at Twilight. Tempest jumps in the way, and as she’s petrified she touches the Storm King, who also falls under the spell. Both fall, but Twilight levitates Tempest as the Storm King continues his descent, breaking to pieces in the courtyard.
By inserting the staff into the center of the throne room, the alicorns receive their magic back and all of the weather damage done to Canterlot is fixed. The celebration is on!
CLOSING IMAGE: Songbird Serenade’s concert, along with the revelation of Tempest’s real name: Fizzlepop Berrytwist.
That was my first try with the BS2. Let me know how I did in the comments.