|This scene isn't even in the finished cartoon.|
Before I say anything I want to go ahead and state that this is all opinion; if you liked the episode then great, and if you hated it then great too. Like Douglas Walker said once, there are no good movies or bad movies, there are just movies you like and movies you don’t like. Keep this in mind during my whole review. I personally was really looking forward to “Double Rainboom”, the prospect of it was very promising, probably the most ambitious project this fandom has seen besides the now re-invented “Fighting is Magic”, and it was just even more fired up by the fact that both Hasbro and The HUB had approved of it. So I really don’t know what way to put this but the direct one so let’s get this over with.
I didn’t like this cartoon.
Not at all, I think it really sucks. I actually feel insulted by it, and I still can’t believe what I watched. I know it sounds harsh, and trust me, I am holding back on the behalf of those who worked on it because I don’t want to start calling names, but I seriously didn’t enjoy this at all. You can take this paragraph as my TL; DR. If you want my opinion summarized in five lines this is it. I didn’t like it. If you want to find out why and allow me to explain myself please, keep on reading.
|Read I tell you!|
The story of “Double Rainboom” is rather simple. Twilight Sparkle is creating a potion that she’s been working on since magic kindergarten, and it turns out to be a talent enhancer potion, which grants whatever pony who drinks it to be better at what they are naturally good at. Rainbow Dash then steals the potion and drinks it, which causes her to become so fast she creates a double sonic rainboom which destroys Ponyville and opens up a portal to the Cartoon Network dimension, where the Power Puff Girls are. After fighting against a giant monster Rainbow Dash gets rescued by Pinkie Pie, who managed to break through the dimensional boundaries thanks to another potion Twilight made, and is returned to Equestria, where she learns the lesson that stealing is wrong.
That’s pretty much the story, and it sounds simple and harmless enough, although it sounds way too fanfic-y and the way it’s told is not very good. At the beginning it felt like my type of story where I didn’t really know where it was going, but it felt suspenseful and interesting enough to keep me watching. But now that I know where it was going I have no idea what to make of it. Before I start pointing out what I didn’t like allow me to start in my particular fashion and talk about the good stuff, because there are good things in this episode.
|It has ponies in it, that's good enough, right? Right?|
I think the voice acting is pretty good. Rainbow Dash and Twilight in particular sound spot on, to the point that I actually forgot it was fan voice actors that worked on this. There were several moments where I thought they had Tara Strong and Ashleigh Ball to voice these characters. Twilight and Dash are not easy to voice, as they have very distinctive voices and personalities. To impersonate and replicate a voice while keeping it unique and fresh is a hard task, and it shows the VA’s worked their flanks off with this project, from the small roles and cameos to the crossover parts with “The Power Puff Girls”, they all did a great job. I can't say the same about the audio balance though, which was a problem throughout the whole episode.
Another thing that I really liked were the segments where Twilight explains the effects the potion will have in each of the Mane Six. I don’t know how to call this style of animation, but it’s gloriously fun. It’s based on that little animation snippet we all saw in “A Canterlot Wedding”, where Twilight imagines herself playing with her brother as they both look very stylized, which really geometric body shapes and textured colour palettes. The transitions are fast and fun, it’s dynamic, it’s fun, fast and feels very in tone with the scene. It even makes a lot of sense because since it’s Twilight the one who’s explaining it then it has to look like how she sees the world. Also, it’s full of shout outs, to the costumes that Rarity makes that go from Harley Quinn and Doctor Horrible, to the Twitter Fail Whale.
And that’s the first and in my opinion biggest problem with “Double Rainboom”.
|LAUGH! LAUGH ALREADY! |
I'LL MAKE YOU LAUGH IF I HAVE TO BEAT YOU ON THE HEAD WITH TIRED MEMES!!!
The shout outs and references are annoying beyond all repair. I seriously couldn’t stand it. They get in the way, they are obnoxious, they add nothing to the story, and they are a waste of time and effort in the part of the makers. I couldn’t stand it. I seriously don’t understand why they would fill their short about ponies based on My Little Pony with references left and right. I get that just from the title alone one would expect it to be full of memes, and jokes like that, but seriously it’s stupid. It’s not all memes, thankfully, but when the potion explodes and the smoke turns into the troll face I was about to close the stream and just stop watching. I didn’t yell at the screen because that would’ve been silly, but that was stupid. I don’t care how you’d execute it, nobody should put something as unfunny and uncalled for as the troll face and expect it to be funny. It’s stupid. It’s a stupid meme. It’s a reference to the internet, and in the long run it makes no sense for the story, because it adds nothing. Sadly, it’s not the only one. It’s just the one that annoyed me the most. In one scene we see Scootaloo flying around and smashing against a bill board that says “Adopt a Chicken”. Oh, haha, adopt a chicken, because Scootaloo is an orphan and they called her a chicken, you know, like in that episode in season 1, that one joke that lasted thirty seconds and was actually funny. The afore mentioned Twitter Fail Whale appears for no good reason, and by the way, how could you put the Fail Whale instead of Cthulhu as a sea creature and for a joke? That was kind of a waste. Or seeing the Domo-Kun in the moon, I mean what the hell is the point of that!? The bit with Derpy was too long, too unfunny, and again, it add nothing to the story besides the whole “Oh look, it’s Derpy! And she’s eating a muffin! LAUGH! LAUGH I TELL YOU!” What’s the purpose of dropping three plant pots on her head!?
|Why aren't you laughing!? LAUGH NOW! DO IT! This is funny! This is comedy! This is real comedy!|
That’s exactly how the comedy feels in this cartoon, it feels forced. It feels like they are shoving it down our throats, twisting our sense of humour and forcing us to laugh, throwing memes and references with the hopes of making me chuckle. Well, I didn’t chuckle, I actually feel offended that they have to resort to this kind of comedy to try and make it funny, when it was not: Too many memes, too many references, no consistency, not funny at all.
The other thing that I didn’t like was the tone, the rhythm, and the way the story flows in general, or more like, it doesn’t flow. The story flows as fast and fluent as a river of concrete. At first it actually started fairly well and suspenseful, with Twilight mixing up her potion, Rainbow Dash showing up and then we find out what the beverage does and how Twilight found out about it.
And then it kept going.
|You know the drill.|
And so it stopped being suspenseful, and it started getting boring. And then it started getting offensive. And finally it started getting insulting, to the point that I actually got hostile towards it. By the time Rainbow Dash escapes Twilight’s basement and flies off I just wanted to punch the close button in the face and walk away. The writing is full of awkward pauses and voids and pure nothingness where the characters just walk around doing stuff that then has no impact at all or no point whatsoever. It was painful to watch. The conversation between Rainbow Dash and Twilight not only goes on forever, but it has no purpose either. Within the first minute we already know what the potion does and where it came from. We know Twilight has been working on it her whole life, we know it’s a talent enhancer, and that Rainbow Dash wants to drink it. Everything else besides that is pointless padding and it’s there for the sole purpose of showing off the animation instead of making the story flow or move forwards. It’s just there to make the episode longer. We spend ten minutes trapped in this basement, as Twilight takes notes, traps Dash in a weird “Deus Ex” machine to analyze the effects of the potion, and just walks around and does nothing magical or interesting. By this point in the original show we would’ve had a musical number and had introduced three new characters. However we are still stuck in one location with two characters we already know and none of them are doing anything we are not already familiar with. Twilight is being all nerdy and Rainbow Dash is being a jerk, which by the way I’m getting tired of seeing in fan projects. Has anybody else watched the episodes where Rainbow Dash is not a jerk? It’s like the only thing this fandom remembers is “The Mysterious Mare-do-Well”.
|There is a lot of nothing over there! I must get to it!|
But then, it gets worse.
When Rainbow Dash finally escapes the basement she flies around town and we see those snippets that I mentioned before, like the Scootaloo crashing onto a chicken banner thing, and Derpy eating a muffin and getting a plant pot crash on her head, but there were also things that are bizarrely pointless. Like Dash flies around and out of nowhere Snowflake, the super muscular pegasus from “Hurricane Fluttershy”, just pops up and goes “Yeaaaah!” and then he disappears again. Purpose? I think none, if anything. He is there for the same reason as the rest of the comedy in this cartoon. “Hey look, it’s Snowflake! Laugh! LAUGH ALREADY GODDAMNIT!” As Rainbow Dash flies around town she finally catches enough speed that she ends up breaking the sound and the spectrum barrier creating a sonic rainboom, but because she drank the potion instead of a single rainboom she creates a double rainboom, the force of which ends up destroying Ponyville. And this is where the cartoon gets weird, and that’s saying something. The double rainboom creates a portal through which Rainbow Dash slips, and then we cut to another title card!
|My God, it's full of memes and unfunny jokes.|
Yes, half way through the cartoon everything stops and we get a copyright and trademark announcement saying that the following characters are used with the permission of Cartoon Network. Why is this trademark and copyright title in the middle of the cartoon and not at the beginning? Why does it have to interrupt the action? Is it so it doesn’t get spoiled that Dash is getting thrown into the Power Puff Girls universe? If that’s why then it’s very poorly handled. And the following segment just comes out of nowhere and the only rhyme or reason I find for it is that both shows have Lauren Faust involved in them, nothing else. It would’ve made more sense if Dash had been transported into the old generations of My Little Pony, or maybe into Fosters Home for Imaginary friends, at least that one did have talking unicorns.
|Rainbow Dash mirrors my expression verbatim.|
But no, she goes into the Power Puff Girls universe, and for five minutes we are seeing a Power Puff Girls cartoon; a very slow paced, not very kinetic, not very interesting Power Puff Girls cartoon, where they just fight a giant monster and that’s it. The appeal of PPG came from the perfect blend that Craig McCracken and his team gave to the tone of the series. It was a perfect combination of cutesy stuff and day to day conflict with super natural and giant monsters. If you focus on just one aspect of those, you get half of it, and even more so, you are also getting it at half the speed. I don’t mean for them to replicate the original cartoon, but if you’re paying homage by making a crossover you have to do it right. The Power Puff Girls was kinetic, and strong, and had sharp animation and cool stuff. This segment has none of that. None. This is not how you do it. Although the moment where the Power Puff Girls are bouncing on Dash and pulling her leg and her wing is really cute, so there is that. Once the monster is defeated Rainbow Dash gets pulled out of that universe by Pinkie Pie and her fourth wall breaking powers, and we are left with the PPG who are crying and sad because the pony has left, and I am here wondering, why are we seeing this? Why are we still with the PPG? Was it really so necessary to give them closure? The scene that comes after Dash leaves ads nothing and has no purpose. How many times have I said this already? How many things in this cartoon go nowhere and feel lazy and never fully developed. Way too many, if you ask me.
|There is no time to explain, get into my dimensional rift!|
Finally we are back to Equestria, where Rainbow Dash finds out that her Double Rainboom has caused a lot of trouble and destroyed all of Ponyville. And how does she react to leaving her town like the star of Fallout: Equestria? She starts laughing. She laughs at the destruction of Ponyville. If this was the first time I was watching this I’d think that Rainbow Dash is an asshole. Not only does she steal and drink the potion, but she then laughs at the destruction she caused. Okay, yes, it’s a cartoon, and comparing this fan project to the original show is not really fair, but do you guys remember when Spike returned to his normal form in “Secret of my Excess” and looked at what his rampage had caused through the town? He was mourning; feeling crushed by guilt after all the troubles he has caused. In my opinion, they should’ve shown Dash to be a little bit more remorseful for her acts instead of having her laugh at what she had caused. It doesn’t matter how severely Twilight looks at her, it just makes the whole scene feel soulless and uncomfortable.
|I'm amazed they didn't put this in the cartoon, really.|
But then, it got worse.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any more insulting, they shove in a letter to Celestia, and what is the lesson this time? Stealing is wrong; you shouldn’t take things away from your friends. Oh yeah, of course, because stealing is obviously the cause of all this. It has nothing to do with acting without thinking beforehand, or not considering the consequences of your acts before you do them. No, we are blaming it all in that one little thing that Rainbow Dash did that we all forgot about because we just saw a pony get into the Power Puff Girls universe, right before a copyright disclaimer! Yeah, because that makes sense, that’s how narrative works, that’s how the story and tone of a cartoon should be. So remember kids, if you steal something from someone you will destroy everything around you and teleport into another dimension.
I think you’re starting to notice how I am not bringing up the point everyone talks about, the one thing people say is the absolute best of the whole cartoon, its saving grace and ultimate reason to white knight it: The animation. In my opinion, the animation is not that good as people are saying. I am not saying it’s bad, I’m saying it’s severely inconsistent. There were scenes that were amazing in terms of animation, like when Dash is covered with sensors and Twilight is analyzing her, or the beginning when Twilight is mixing the potion and looking at her books, but there were other segments where the animation’s quality decreases, like when the double rainboom explodes, or when Rainbow Dash is flying by. The funny thing is that the closer the cartoon tries to be to the original the worse it gets, while when it tries to distance itself from the original material it actually gets very interesting and better. This lack of consistency must come from the fact that the project had different animators working on it, and while I’m sure the director did his best to keep it all in tone, the seams are still clearly visible, at least for me.
|It's the Bethesda curse. It looks great in stills and captures, but it's quite mediocre in motion.|
Now, I know this has had a lot of work put into it. This project is the result of months of hard work. It has had a lot of people behind it, a lot of time and effort has been put behind this idea, and it is very ambitious for Zachary Rich to make a 22 minute long MLP fan episode for his college curriculum, but I personally don’t think that would have been the best idea. John Lasseter once said something regarding animation and hiring new people for Pixar. He said he’d rather watch a very good ten seconds piece of animation, than a very lousy ten minute long one. I agree with him. If I was to hire Zachary Rich based on this episode, first of I wouldn’t have watched all of it (which I did, painfully so, but I sat through the whole thing) and then I wouldn’t hire him. I think I’ve seen short animations from this fandom that are far superior than this one, but I won’t be the one to sit down and compare, I don’t think it’s fair for anyone involved. It’s rather sad because I really was looking forward to this one. You have no idea how much I wanted to watch it and love it! But as soon as the dialogue kept going, and going, and then the memes started to show up all my enthusiasm jumped out the window. I am repeating over myself; let’s go to the final verdict.
|I'd rather go back to the future, when we have a good fan made episode.|
Like I said at the start, this is just opinion, nothing is absolute. If you watched it and you loved it, perfect, more power to you, you are definitely getting entertainment out of something I certainly can’t, and you can let me know about it in the comments. If you agree with me and you didn’t like it, perfect as well, you can let me know as long as you don’t word your thoughts respectfully. Nobody is right or wrong here. I am not right or wrong here! I’m just stating my opinion.
|This is my opinion, it's blue and bubbly and makes noises.|
I personally think that this project was misled. The writing should have been revised; the jokes reworked, and for everything that happened this could have been at least ten minutes shorter. It’s padded beyond recognition and it shows. I won’t deny the effort and hard work that everyone put into it, but this is a huge step that takes everyone closer to work with bigger studios making bigger projects, and other critics out there are not going to be kind to you when all your effort and hard work produces a not very good product. The people behind movies like “Anastasia” and “Pocahontas” did their best and worked as hard as they were able to, but that didn’t save them from getting panned by critics left and right and worldwide. It’s a first project, there are going to be mistakes and things that are not really good in them, and I could ignore them if they were not such big deal breakers for me. Maybe for you these problems are not deal breakers, maybe they don’t annoy you or didn’t ruin it for you. (I know I find myself in an overwhelming minority here), but to me they are big deal breakers and they don’t let me enjoy the product as whole. It’s a very well acted, very ambitious, stupidly written, awkward and badly executed cartoon, even when I review it on its own without comparing it to the actual cartoon.
|Really guys? Really? Are you going there? Seriously?|
However, there is a good side for all this I just said. I see potential in what may come out of this project. I can see strokes of genius in a few scenes, and being able to pull off a project this big, reaching completion within a deadline shows responsibility. Even if what they delivered wasn’t something I liked, they delivered it on time. So despite me not liking this one I am still looking forward to what Zachary Rich and his team have to offer in the future. But you know what the funny thing is? The funny thing is that if we were to judge how well “Double Rainboom” made, I would have to judge it based on the general opinion. So allow me to take a page out of GlaDOS’s book and make a note here: Huge Success.