In my family, we’re huge fans of this Cartoon Network show. Steven Universe is heartwarming, inclusive, and a lot of fun. It’s the kind of show that’s suitable for young kids, enjoyable for adults, has surprisingly good original music, and imparts a lot more genuine wisdom than you’d ever expect from a cartoon. Steve Universe: The Movie gives us more of the same.
If you’ve never before seen Steven Universe, then hold the phone. Now, give the phone to me. Go to our previous article and read about all the reasons why you should be watching Steven Universe. The reasons are plentiful, and the show is excellent. Go watch, then come back here and read this.
Steven Universe: The Movie is a musical. Whereas a number of the show’s best episodes through the years have included many excellent songs, this movie contains more lyrics than spoken dialogue. I love it, even though I’m not generally a big fan of musicals. In my house, we’ve all been singing those songs for days.
Because the movie takes place two years after the conclusion of the fifth season, Steven is two years older—sixteen in fact—and he looks and sounds a good bit different. The other gems also sport slightly new looks: Amethyst’s new jorts and Garnet’s new shades come to mind.
Steven Universe: The Movie is a victory lap. After having heard it called that in NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, I realized how spot-on that term really is. Steven Universe has had five seasons of ten-minute episodes, and in that time they’ve introduced dozens of new characters, and the character development they’ve gone through over the years has been dramatic to say the very least. The first segment of Steven Universe: The Movie, and the first song, briefly reviews what the characters have been through over the course of five seasons, and revels in the “happily-ever-after” they’ve achieved at the apparent conclusion of the series.
Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a movie if it opened with all plot threads resolved and didn’t introduce any new conflicts. And to drop a minor spoiler, one of the movie’s bittersweet nuggets of wisdom as the movie concludes is that happily ever after doesn’t really exist. Life goes on, and its challenges always continue.
Steven Universe: The Movie has fantastic characters. Spinel, the movie’s new villain character, is very well done. She’s clearly modeled on Steamboat Willie, down to the mouse ears, tube-like arms, and the odd, bouncing animation style. My 12-year-old has told me that Spinel is her new favorite villain. (Personally, I might have gone with Scorpius, Azula, or Hans Gruber.) I understand her love for the character, whose motivations are clearly outlined, and are so relatable that my daughter got angry at the movie’s protagonists and nearly took the villain’s side. But like so many of the villains in Steven Universe, there is a redemption arc, and that makes for one heck of a story.
If you’re caught up with the show, I urge you to watch Steven Universe: The Movie on the Cartoon Network as soon as you’re able!