Since its announcement, I had decided to follow closely the news, updates, hype, and chatter floating around about the thing and it is a horror story. This spurred me to promise the general public I’d give the movie a review once I realized that this film needs a pair of critical eyes for the skeptic guys (and gals).
First of all, just to get clueless anons up to speed, I am reviewing My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, the Hasbro Studios film announced about 3-5 months ago that is the first feature-length film for the popular television series you should have heard about by now, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, developed for television by infamous Lauren Faust. It’s apx. 77 minutes long and written by one of the show’s recurring and reliable authors, Meghan McCarthy, among others, with the show’s regular cast of voices plus one more for the main antagonist.
Preceding the big premiere was a hurricane of disses and threats aimed at E.G., Hasbro, or its staff, and many went back time and time again to defend the currently uninvolved Faust. A number of “Bronies” tore down at the concept of E.G. by insinuating it’s a demolishment of the series they’d watched spawn from the depths of the creative abyss; arguments included, but were not limited to, the show would be ruined by becoming a high school drama; humans detract from the titular relevance of pony kind; the designs for the human characters are a mockery of what they could be and a slap in the face to anyone who wanted a human-pony story; Friendship is Magic has been reduced to another Monster High/Bratz-type of deal; Hasbro hates its fans much like Capcom; the girls should have no disempowering romantic relationships (this, for the record, is consistent with the hard work and development Faust put into the main show, which I find amply commendable); the show/movie is nothing more than a selling pitch for their new line of dolls; one oddball even commented that this production is wildly inappropriate and misleading for young children; and the list just goes anon and on. There’s more to the story, but just know this: none of these fears came to light.*
I’ll be blunt to start: much of Equestria Girls’ movie specs can be summed up by the fact that it is in effect an elongated episode of Friendship is Magic that one must finally pay an admission fee for. Everything the show has (or had, depending on your current stance for the regular show) is in place: top-notch, flawless, fluid Flash Animation, music by Daniel Ingram that is nothing to sneeze at, Twilight Sparkle is the main character with a mission, there’s a riveting plot and a lesson to be learned which includes an inescapably tacky yet cleverly not annoying over-emphasis on what “friendship” really means and is capable of, character antics it’d be a shame to exclude, some degree of new material and characters or concepts you would never think of get introduced, little to no blank space (dull moments or under-detailed scenes), and if the family sitting to my right at the theatre is any evidence, even the ability to draw in new viewers. So, at the very least, I have evidence E.G. meets the standards set by both the show and its loyal audience. I walked in there with the highest expectations of anyone around, and I was still blown away by it all. I wish I could see it again because I have a very short-term memory and it’s already been 19 hours way too long since the movie started. I think I’ll start by saying MLP, in general, is certainly worth watching in a theatre setting, and I think most loyal viewers agree with me.
As the trailers have revealed, the story starts out in the Crystal Empire, a locale introduced in Season 3 when Ganondorf’s ride decided to be his own villain, so the main cast is all there--although the expectation is that you should already be well familiar with all of them (except Cadence) as the extent of characterization for the ponies is little more than the trailers showed; the people, though, are expanded upon sufficiently. Rest assured--the “Mane Six” as you call ‘em have not been demolished in their characters; in fact, all the pony-people ring true to their Equestrian norms, and even as early as the first five minutes of the movie you already know that fans of Libman’s characters get more than enough to laugh and squeal about in the course of the film. There are also numerous miscellaneous pony-people who show up, also as the trailers have shown, like Photo Finish or the D.J.
The plot is laid out very clearly, but not particularly linear, and with suspense and surprises in abundance. The good and bad girls’ schemes keep you guessing the entire time, and they lace in lots of laughs and other strong-feeling moments (Sunset’s minions are best minions!). I heard the audience go “awwwww” around me every time Fluts was on-screen. Character reactions show just what the school’s ruling mood is. The “Hu-Mane Six” have relationships with each other quite unlike I was expecting, and each one is indubitably superhuman (except Rarity). I couldn’t help but notice one scene is a throwback to Tara’s first
As you may have guessed, the setting and characters pave the way for Twilight to get some manner of love interest. If I think too hard, I’ll wind up blowing it all and giving spoilers. Just leave it at this: Flash “Brad” Sentry doesn’t derail Twilight’s train of thought or make her obsessive to any degree. They don’t get overly intimate and she manages to behave exactly like how she’d have to if he’d never shown up. (I do like his attitude, though.)
Animation bore no real consistency or fluidity errors. Granted, the team is accustomed to making 4-legged marshmallows hop along in a retro-neurotically seductive manner...I mean, trot, so the whole two legs, hands, and fingers thing will look weird at first, but it lives up to the Equestrian standards. I did note that watching people walk in the halls left and right, the motion of their legs is often simple, characteristic of Flash Animations. (It might be because everybody is has a Mega Man-like dress code for shoes. Your call.) One oddity I did notice (which nobody will know about until it makes the Memebase at which point everyone will know and not credit me) is about the magic mirror. Twilight, going in, hurtles through a seizure-inducing tunnel; however, when coming to terms with her new form, she sticks her hand back in the mirror and sees her hoof within, without any resistance. It’s nothing to get hung up on, though; it’s technically consistent.
The song “Equestria Girls” is a parody of “California Girls” (“Gurls?”); the movie Equestria Girls is a spinoff of My Little Pony featuring a soundtrack by Daniel Ingram. That alone should tell you that the BGM will not disappoint--considering he has his career, reputation, and self-satisfaction on the line, I should see no comments declaring the staff is slacking. Sound cues for various actions and emotions aren’t slacking either, though I paid more attention to the dialogue than the miscellaneous audio. I will note that the genre of music has taken a shift in a more, er, human-teenage-contemporary direction. I’m not saying E.G. has a dubstep track or has lost quality or actually managed to become a High School Musical, but thematically the BGM fits this semi-realistic setting much more closely than the BGM used in a country of magic, flying things, and hay-stacked houses. The MLP theme song has been remixed for the opening credits, and thematic riffs, e.g., when Rainbow Dash is running and impressing people, aren’t exactly the same as they were for the ponies. If that poses a problem to you then I apologize; there is nothing more I can do. I can tell you this much, though: the songs the girls sing are way cool.
Am I done singing E.G.’s praises? Well, no, but I can’t let it go one-sided. Nothing is perfect. Though I am evidently easier to satisfy than some, I’ve got to say, not entirely pleased with the way they did up the principals--their lips are too fishy, and I don’t mean o3o. Personally I thought Rainbow Dash, though in character, said “Awwwesome!” one too many times. I recall one User saying how Season 1 was best, since it was pure in every way--writing, lessons, details, and subsequent seasons failed this User, having apparently fallen into the trap of appealing too much to “Bronies” and losing focus of what made it what it is. Watching E.G. I couldn’t help but notice this trend. While much of it is original enough, it did seem heavy in the appeals department, with Déjà vu and memorable elements from the first two seasons popping up noticeably, I wondered just who might view it as lazy writing. Not I, in any case.
Equestria Girls is fundamentally like an episode of MLP--either you have the ability to watch it again or you don’t. It still has the nuances of a feature-length film, specifically opening and end credits, but is undeniably another excellent entry into the series, even if it looks like a side-quest at first. Given its length and novelty, I could withstand seeing it once or twice more in the near future, but I seldom watch again (although I really feel about due for a super-fun Season 1 re-run! Maybe after the Incredible Hulk tonight...); and, if you must know, the movie actually does wrap up in a way not only that, as you have all hoped, ensures Season 4 is not afflicted--MMC parts 2 and 3, here we come!--and Sunset Shimmer will not show up in it, but also on a note that flawlessly sets it up for an entire E.G. side-series, which I’d hoped for, too, and at that, I still have confidence the Hub team has many more spectacular surprises in store.
I rule that if you like Friendship is Magic, you could do worse than grin and bear sitting through the show’s 66th episode: Equestria Girls.
This has been the most conflicted User in the world.
Stay horsey, my friends... --Rey_JJJ.
* Twilight was still blushing by the end of the show....