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Steven Universe: The Movie (2019)

A few years after his climatic conflict with the Diamond Authority, the life of Steven Universe has turned a corner. Coordinating with his extended family to dismantle the Gem Empire and inspiring peace between Gem kind and organic life. In spite of everything against them, Steven and his friends have found their happily every after they fought so hard for. Reality comes crashing down on all of them in the form of a giant injector drill and a manic pink gem named Spinel. Who seems to hold a steep grudge against Steven's mother and his friends. When Spinel threatens all life of earth, the Gems will have to pull themselves together to get to the heart of the problem. Who exactly is Spinel? Will Steven be able to stop her and regain his happy ending?

It is no secret that I've been a fan of Steven Universe for a while. Maybe not as long as those who have been there since the beginning but this series and its heartfelt stories and characters have become something very special to me. Helped by the fact that during its run, my family (and extended family) would gather round and watch each episode together. Much like some of the best cartoons in recent years (Gravity Falls and Adventure Time) the highlight of this show has been learning about the main cast members and watching them change over the course of the show.

This film is acts as cap for Steven's journey thus far, with quite a few nods to classic animation it takes inspiration from.

Right from the get go, the film opens like a classic Disney Princess film (Like Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty) complete with a story book and a short little song sung by Christine Ebersole, Patti LuPone and Lisa Hannigan (White, Yellow and Blue Diamond). After a brief recap of the series thus far, we are reintroduced to Steven and how his world has changed since the last season finale. Quickly setting up the stakes that will soon be put in jeopardy with the arrival of Spinel.

Steven Universe has always gone the extra mile to make sure most of the characters introduced (antagonistic or otherwise) are in some way relatable. Or at the very least audiences can sympathize with their motivations. Spinel is no exception, and is arguably the secondary main character of the film (sharing most of the screen time alongside Steven himself).  Her wild and crazy design is heavily inspired by classic cartoons of the 1920-30s and is utilized to full effect in her animation. Moving in ways that no Gem ever has on screen. This design choice subtle clues the audience in on Spinel's past and the film's theme of the power of changing (how it can be both good and bad).

Part of my fear going into this film is that I would find it somewhat predictable. Sure, if there is the possibility of future seasons, Steven and his friends would find a way to overcome their new foe. But even so, Steven's first film outing was still an emotional roller coaster for those who have come to know and love the characters. There were plenty of surprises and turns that had both my and my brother at the edge of our seat and eager to see what would happen next.

Music has always played big part in this series, but the Movie marks the first time for ever being called a straight up musical. It takes full advantage of this with including 16 new vocal tracks that all hit their mark. Special marks go to Spinel's voice actress, Sarah Stiles (who is known on and off Broadway), for getting some of, what I consider to be, the two hardest hitting pieces of the movie (and my vote for best villain song of 2019). Everyone gets their time in the spotlight and even long after the film was over, my brother and I are still humming the tunes, and putting them on in the car from time to time.

It has been a joy to watch Steven grow and face new challenges over the years. While this film hints at more to come, for the moment I stand as a fan satisfied. Though there is no word on when future seasons will come, the movie has given fans enough to chew on in the mean time.

If you are a fan of Steven Universe, and you haven't already seen it, I implore you to watch it as soon as you are able. If your new, you may not be as fully invested in the overall story, since it pretty much expects you to have seen most of the show. But the curious may be rewarded with getting and idea of what the show is about. Either way, you'll have a great time!

IN A NUTSHELL: Growing up is more than simply reaching Happily Ever After.

FORMAT: Streaming  FROM: Cartoon Network RATING: PG [US]  RUNNING TIME : 1 hr 22 minutes