This one is more questionable. Do I hate it? No. I fully expected this to be off in some way do to the fact that it is essentially a movie theater production that was downgraded to a TV special. So I almost didn't have any expectations going in. I stress this, almost because I had one thing I didn't think of: I was surprised by how simple and straight forward it was. I was expecting their would be a little more in terms of what was going on. I was expecting something perhaps a little stranger do to development hell. What little we knew seemed to suggest a mystery plot of some kind, and I was expecting some type of rainbow magic to be in play (I mean, remember those Rainbow ponies they released and TS wing bling was featured pretty heavily in promos). So I will say that I am slightly disappointed. I think development hell is the most likely explanation for this though. The first 15 minutes have a bit of a spooky vibe of something amiss going on and a sense of adventure that just kind of fades into slice of life. I can't really hold it too much against'em. At least under this theory. Think about it. Early in production your budget is cut and you have to wrap it up in a timely manner. Of course you'd go with a simple stripped down plot without too much conflict. In fact, under that idea, it almost is an achievement how clean it and smooth flowing it is compared to other projects that have met such fates. But still, this certainly isn't what I'd expect from something that was intended for the big screen. I wonder what the original script was like.
Their was still a lot of elements I liked of this. The hopeless magic, the machine, even the new townsponies. But it feels those elements are undercooked. This cake was taken out of the oven too early. 6.5/10.
One other note: Is it just me? Or does the tone of this special feel... tamer than even Season 1 at times midway through. I can't even say that as a complaint on its own, just an observation.