My Spoiler Review for Steven Universe: The Movie
Six years and five seasons since it started, and Steven Universe is an undisputed global phenomenon. It’s easy to see ehy: great characters, catchy songs and dances, and as I said in my article on the subject, it’s done a lot to help LGBT portrayals in kids cartoons. Now it’s got a hit musical film that everyone’s been talking about.
Quick Warning: there are going to spoilers ahead. So if you haven’t seen the movie, then read my spoiler free review and go see the movie.
Last Warning. Good
Two years have passed, and life’s going great for Steven Universe. The Diamonds are learning to be nicer, the uncorrupted Gems are building a home on Earth, and peace reigns across the galaxy. It seems like Steven’s days of dealing with his mom’s (many) mistakes are done.
That’s when mysterious, yet silly, new Gem called Spinel shows up, and she’s got a grudge with Pink Diamond. Before Steven can react, this new Gem’s uses a mysterious weapon to poof the Crystal Gems. When they come back out, they have none of their memories: they’re basically reset to default mode. Worse, Steven has no control over his powers at all, and there’s a giant drill pumping death poison into the planet. Now Steven has to get his friends to remember who they are and save the world, while singing!
New Look to an Old Trope
While the amnesia story may not seem wholly original, it works well considering how it’s Steven Universe. Rebecca Sugar got the idea after she accidentally reset her smartphone back in 2015. Losing her early work for the show and the photos she took with the crew made her realize how big a role our experiences play in molding who we are. Without them, we see that the Crystal Gems have little to distinguish them from the rest of Gemkind.
Luckily, Steven realizes, with some help from a now-reset Spinel, that the key is to recreate the pivotal moments in the Gems lives. It makes the movie feel like a pseudo-microcosm of the show, reminding us of where the characters started from and just how much they’ve changed in five seasons.
At its heart, I think there are two themes at the heart of Steven Universe: love, and the many forms it takes, and change. Before Steven, Gem Society was more or less static, as unchanging as the Gems were un-aging. Steven’s a Gem that can grow and change and be who he wants, which makes him so revolutionary. He’s what drives the Crystal Gems and eventually all of Gem Society to change. The movie’s a condensed version of the impact he’s had on his friends, how they’ve impacted him , and changed for the better since the show began.
Pokes A Hole in The Show’s Idealism
Steven Universe has always portrayed change as a positive thing, something to make people better. This movie pokes a giant hole in that logic with its villain, Spinel. Once a happy-go-lucky Gem, she was Pink Diamond’s best friend and playmate. When Pink got Earth, though, she didn’t just abandon her: she lied and told her to stand still until she came back. So when she found out Pink started her new life on Earth with new friends, and now no longer existed, she’s mad. So she decides to get revenge on Pink’s other friends and her son.
The show’s made it clear that Pink Diamond/Rose Quartz made a lot of mistakes and did some bad things, but this takes the cake. Steven even admits that it’s something his mom would do. Then he ends up almost doing the exact same thing. He gets Spinel to stop the drill, but then ignores her. He’s too focused on his happily ever after, and Spinel even calls him out on his selfishness.
For all the show’s focus on change, Steven’s ironically fallen into the same trap the Diamonds were in. By the time of the film, he wants things to stay that way forever. He forgot what it means to change, and thus screws up with Spinel. That almost costs him everything.
Steven Universe: The Movie’s Lesson
That, to me, is the ultimate lesson of Steven Universe: The Movie. No matter how perfect things may get, things won’t stay the same forever. Once Steven accepts that, and that there may always new hardships on the horizon, he gets his powers back.
The movie then ends how’d you expect. Spinel’s redeemed and the Diamonds adopt her since they see so much of Pink in her, Steven and the others rebuild Beach City, and everyone accepts that there will always be more challenges ahead. And I think they’re fine with that, just like I am.
Steven Universe could’ve easily ended with A Battle of Heart and Mind with everyone getting their happily ever after. Steven Universe: The Movie shows the world, though, that Rebecca Sugar and the crew are not only willing to continue the show, but they’re willing to try new things. Rebecca Sugar has more adventures planned.
Bottom line, I loved this movie, I’d pay money to see it adapted onto Broadway, and I want to see it won an Emmy next year.