Bright, colorful, and positively breathtaking in its emotional depth, this beautiful film is a worthy expansion of the animated series. Of the many things Steven Universe: The Movie gets right, Spinel is a fantastically humanized villain. She arrives as a hurricane of fury, smashing and slashing at any Universe-ian that gets close. And in most animated series, that's how she'd stay, a one-note villain subdued by force and vanquished by the end of the show, never to be heard from again. But here, she gets an arc instead. And, just like real people in real life, Spinel's anger is just a mask for pain. Abandoned, alone, what used to be hope and love calcified into rage. As Steven soon discovers (with help from Garnet, of course, in song), empathy and friendship is the key to turning the tide.
There are other interesting things going on here, too, with emotionally intelligent ideas driven home with gorgeous visuals. Fans will already know that Garnet was created when two gems merged. When returned to their original forms by Spinel, Garnet splits into Ruby (Charlyne Yi) and Sapphire (Erica Luttrell), which eventually leads to a stunning sequence in which they dance together, their pink and blue bodies merging into purples everywhere they touch. Pearl's transformation from a robotic assistant to her old snappy self is given heartfelt imagery too, as she and Steven's dad Greg (Tom Scharpling) rise into the sky, each playing their own guitar, singing how they can be independent, together. Tweens, teens, even adults will feel the love for this surprisingly deep adventure.