Steven Universe: The Movie is directed by series creator and lyrical genius Rebecca Sugar. This movie is based off of Cartoon Network’s gem of a show, Steven Universe and it takes place two years after the events of the Season 5 finale “Change Your Mind”. Steven and the Crystal Gems are living their happily ever after but a powerful and twisted new gem will change that in an instant. The movie stars Zach Callison, Sarah Stiles, Deedee Magno Hall, Michaela Dietz and Estelle.
Steven Universe has become one of my favourite shows of all time, I love this show with all of my heart. It has helped me, inspired me and filled me with joy. While I do admit Seasons 4 and 5 had their fair share of problems with the Diamonds’ arc being cut short, a decent episode of Steven Universe is still great. This movie confused a lot of fans (myself included) because the fandom still doesn’t know whether or not a Season 6 is happening. For the sake of reviewing this movie, I’m going to act as if Season 6 is confirmed, it most likely will be but you never know.
Steven Universe: The Movie is a gorgeously animated epic musical which is a celebration of the best arcs of the show. There is so much to love about this movie whether it’s the spectacular animation, toe-tapping musical numbers or the overall energy this movie carries. Weirdly enough the movie is all about how these characters are in the future and living their happily ever after but this movie actually feels nostalgic to me. It felt like one of those movies I would watch as a child and fill my mind with endless imagination and inspiration. The kind of movie which would shape my taste in movies later on.
From the opening credits till the closing credits, this is 100% a pure musical. There are subtle homages to older musicals, from the way a song’s melody is written to the structure and grandeur of the music. While I wouldn’t say I had the same connection with these songs as the one I had with the songs from the show, the songs are still fresh, fun and full of emotion. I just can’t help but admire the musical talent behind the scenes, this cast is as full of emotion as you can get. There is so much passion put into these songs, it makes them addicting to hear. From the catchy No Matter What and the manic Other Friends to the heartbreaking Drift Away and inspiring True Kinda Love, the soundtrack has a sound for anyone.
This movie takes place two years after the Season 5 finale Change Your Mind and for the most part, it feels like it. I say for the most part because, besides the main characters, the other residents of Beach City don’t seem to age at all. Jokes aside, seeing Steven come this far and finally living peacefully felt surreal. I’ve only started watching this year but I knew of the show since it came out, there’s that connection. It feels like seeing a friend you haven’t seen in a long time and catching up. The movie does this very well with the main characters. However, I do think that using Pink Diamond again as the cause of the problem was a bit repetitive. It’s making her look like a complete monster which we know she isn’t she does change to a better diamond. This causes a lack of originality because once again it’s Steven fixing what his mother did wrong. It would’ve seemed appropriate to leave all of that behind especially after Change Your Mind.
That being said, while I am not totally on board with using Pink Diamond like this I have to say it was not only effective. Spinel is a great villain, perhaps the best the entire franchise has ever seen. I felt for her, I cared about whether or not she would get redeemed. Her origin is heartbreaking and it makes total sense for why she becomes evil. Sarah Stiles’ performance is the stand-out performance. Her manic, over-the-top energy was fresh for a villain. Her entrance is one of the best I’ve seen for a villain in some time. Her character arc is definitely a satisfying one and I hope we’ll see more of her in the future.
Visually, this is one of the most gorgeous 2D animated movies I’ve ever seen. The animation was flexible and smooth. Spinel really allowed the animators to go in all crazy ways with how they animate her movement. The fight scenes feel cinematic because of the animation. It was truly a treat for the eyes. The bright colours are great not only because they give the movie the signature look of the show but they’re also a nod to old musicals which also used a lot of bright colours. Its vibrant use of colour matches the energy of the movie which makes them a great combination. I can’t wait for the Art Book coming out next year. I also loved how sometimes the movie would be self-aware. There are two jokes which imply that the characters know they’re in a movie which made for some funny lines.
Overall Steven Universe: The Movie excels at being what it’s supposed to be, an epic animated musical which celebrates what makes the show so great. While the story that is written isn’t as strong as what the show has, the striking visuals, fluid animation, toe-tapping musical numbers and amazing performances will guarantee a great time. The introduction of Spinel makes me excited to see where the show will go beyond this movie which I hope it will. I can tell how much love and passion was put into the movie not only by Sugar but the entire cast and Crewniverse. It’s that love and passion which shines through the show and movie which make it as good as it is.