After weeks and weeks of just working on commissions, shaking the stylus left and right, and pretty much being incapable of working on this here blog I have finally gathered a few extra minutes and just sat down, put on my Brony gear again to watch “Equestria Girls”, and boy, I really don’t know how to start with this one.
I mean, oh my God. This movie might very well be the biggest pile of diarrhoea pony shit I have ever seen in my whole life.
Equestria Girls, it’s a pretty good movie, much better than I expected, I enjoyed, and I think I want to watch it again, despite some of the big flaws in it. If you want to find out why, then please keep on reading.
The story revolves around Twilight Sparkle,
now with newly obtained wings after a treatment at the M.A. Larson Academy for Wingless Ponies, coming to
the Crystal Empire along with her other five friends and trusty assistant
Spike. Why they are here it’s never explained, but then again that’s not the
focus of the movie. During the first night Twilight gets her crown stolen by
Celestia’s former student Sunset Shimmer (somebody at Hasbro was having a laugh
with this name) and thrown into a mirror that takes her to another dimension
where everyone is a human. In order to recover the crown Twilight has to get
into this world, get used to its customs, get in high school, become friends
with the alternate versions of her pony friends, and win a contest to become
Princess of the Ball. Once she does all of these things she confronts Sunset
Shimmer in a battle during which Twilight manages to summon the power of the
Elements of Harmony. She defeats Shimmer, recovers the crown, and comes back
home with the certainty that both worlds will be safe from the forces of evil.
|Or make a book bed out of it, whatever you choose is fine.|
Seems simple enough, and it is simple enough. If I was to compare this movie with something, or make a diagram to classify where each aspect of this movie belongs to, I’d say this film is one part My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, one part High School Musical, one part Sailor Moon and one part Shin Megami Tensei. I’m pretty sure more than one of you are not seeing that last one. The My Little Pony part is pretty obvious, as well as the High School Musical one (pretty much because it’s a musical that takes place in a high school), and I’m sure you can perfectly see the magical girl combined with transformation scenes and fighting demons part that belongs to Sailor Moon, but the Shin Megami Tensei part? Well, if you’ve played any of the Persona: Shin Megami Tensei games you might realise that in many (if not all) of them involve a new coming teenage student, that arrives to a new high school, and has to forge bonds of friendship with other students in order to unleash their inner power so they can defeat an all powerful demon. So, yeah, that sounds an awful lot like this movie’s plot, doesn’t it?
There are things that work really well, and
others that kind of fall flat on its nose, like every other movie of course,
but what is the balance between the good and the bad? Let’s find out.
For starters, that intro is pretty cool. I am one of those who also jokes that the music sounds like a remix made by Tombstone or Alex S, and that the animation is so hip and so cinematic that makes me forget about that nagging issue. I heard some people say that in this fandom we could’ve put that animation together in a much better way, and to those who say that I have nothing but a slap in the face. Comparing animation styles is fowl, don’t do that. It’s a good intro, and it looks really neat. It flows great and puts you in the mood for what’s about to come. It’s the perfect into for the story, and introduces the characters and what they do neatly, and artistically.
For one I think that the narrative is
brilliant. It’s not the whole “Transform
into a human when going through a mirror and recover your crown” storyline,
but more the “Character out of its
element” story. In this movie Twilight experiences a big change in her body,
and then gets into high school’s life, which is also a big step forward. Doesn’t
that sound an awful lot like puberty? When all of a sudden your body becomes
this freakish thing you don’t know how to make it work, and to top it all off
in the awkward scale you have to share your life eight hours a day with a bunch
of jerks who have no idea how to make their bodies and personalities work? I
think that’s where this movie’s narrative shines so bright. Twilight is not
only a nerdy girl, and already socially awkward on its own, but she’s also
suffering a full body alteration, not to mention the whole disaster she must
stop before it happens, so there’s a lot of pressure put on her shoulders, and
even though you don’t feel it all the time it’s still there.
The acting and the characters are all
pretty good, but then again this is kind of given. There’s not a moment where I
felt the voices were off, or that the characters that were supposed to be
likable were not. I know that pretty much everybody knows this and agrees with
this, but for the sake of clarity I’m throwing that out there. However, I have
to bring up a couple of characters that stood out for me.
|Especially artistically, with Ze Megicks!|
|I've never been attacked by the shadows so much ever since I played "Amnesia"|
Believe me or not, I think Spike was awesome in this movie. I have no strong feelings towards the little dragon in the actual show, as he has as many good moments as he has bad ones, and sometimes his obsession with Rarity makes me look humble in comparison, but in this movie he is brilliant. Cathy Weseluck’s acting does a lot for this, Spike as a dog is both adorable and makes for great comedy with some memorable expressions. The animation opens for all types of slapstick jokes. He is snarky, he is sarcastic, he is always ready with a comment, and he keeps Twilight’s spirits up. He does feel a bit useless from time to time, like when towards the end of the movie he gets kidnapped for no reason, but every other time he is as useful as a little talking dog can be.
Another character that surprised me a lot
was the human version of Fluttershy. Now, once again, those who know me know
that she is my least favourite out of the Mane Six, which is like saying that
out of the hours of the day my least favourite one is half past seven. I never
felt much for her as a pony, but she is one of those characters that when
turned into a human it works really well! She looks, acts, and feels like she
belongs into a Japanese anime. She’s cute and soft spoken, but she does have a
couple of confidence outbursts, and best of all she doesn’t rage or turns
psycho at any point in the movie. That, I can’t be more thankful for. I thought
they were going to screw it up and that they were going to have her break
something, or shout at somebody, or be nasty, or something, but they didn’t.
Thank you, that is so good of you not to keep recreating on the whole “Psycho-Shy” persona.
Twilight Sparkle’s acting when in the human
world was both quirky, and unique. I don’t think there was a point they didn’t
cover about how jarring the human world would be a to a pony trapped in a human
body. The way she starts right away not knowing how to act with her fingers, or
how her muzzle has shortened to a small, stumpy nose are adorable and kind of
terrifying too. When she starts trotting and then wobbles towards the steps is
also a memorable moment of her lack of control over her new form. Maybe the
moment where she starts “typing” on the keyboard with her fists closed is kind
of going too far and feels awkward in the wrong way, but I won’t fault it for
showing she still has a lot to learn.
|Do I put on the Pompadour, or should I put on the Captain Price?|
|This expression in particular made me pause the video in laughter.|
I was expecting to hate Sunset Shimmer, especially since I do have a story of hating villains that just pass for mere bullies. Shimmer spends the big majority of the film just trying to give Twilight a bad rep, flaming her for some vandalism she didn’t do, or downright assaulting her in the high school hallways. It’s not until the end of the movie where she turns fully evil due to the crown mixing with her own inner corrupted soul, which is more like the type of villain I like, you know like Chrysalis, or Nightmare Moon. However, Rebecca Shoichet has so much fun giving voice to this character that it’s contagious. I started hating her, but then she grew on me and now I quite enjoy how bitchy and dominant she is. She is a fun villain, and when she becomes all evil and powerful she’s even more fun, and quite creepy. Not Chrysalis-Creepy, but creepy enough to send a tingle or two down my spine.
I think the point where people seem to be
more divided on is on whether Flash Sentry is a good character or a bad
character. To be honest, he doesn’t have much going for him. He’s a nice guy,
he’s a bit clumsy, he’s a bit bland, he’s a bit of everything in the book,
except for the negative chapter, which he seems to have none of. Your opinion
of Flash Sentry is most likely going to depend on whether or not his lack of
flaws annoys you. Personally, it doesn’t annoy me, so I actually kind of like
him. I guess that’s one of the reasons why I like Princess Cadance so much too.
Also, he has a bitching Camaro guys, I swear I thought that thing was going to
turn into an actual Transformer.
|I'm gonna wreck it!!!|
As for the rest of the characters that I did enjoy I think we could count Pinkie Pie and Applejack out of the rest of the Humanized Mane Six. They seemed to be the most normal, yes even for Pinkie Pie. Applejack was direct, hard working, and pretty much her usual self, while Pinkie Pie was a complete riot. Nothing about anything seemed to phase her, and her reactions to Twilight’s behaviour had me in stitches more than once. She alone has one of the best scenes of the entire movie, which I will discuss later on. As for background characters I think it’s pretty pointless for me to gush over them, since almost half the fandom already has. It was awesome to see Vinyl Scratch hanging around with her wubs, or the Cutie Mark Crusaders watching the reactions to their YouTube video, Granny Smith being a perfect spot on lunch lady, Photo Finish with her camera, or Derpy hanging out with the credits and a muffin. While these cameos have zero weight on the story and add nothing they don’t detract nothing from it either, and I count myself amongst the fans that find them welcoming.
Besides the characters, I liked how
straight forward the movie is. It has a good rhythm and a good pacing, and that
comes thanks to the extra length given the format. It feels like the story can
breathe and develop itself naturally, and knows how much time it has to
dedicate to each part. I would say that towards the end it rushes the battle
sequence a bit too much, but for me that’s not actually that big of an issue. There
is a scene half way through that appears in every single high school drama movie,
and that is the scene where Twilight gets blamed from destroying the
decorations thanks to some altered photographs. For a moment I thought that the
movie was going to dwell on this for longer than it should, but it actually
gets resolved in like one minute. It still has some stench of bullshit around
it, but it’s so minor I barely even noticed it. I hate it when movies make you
waste time and artificially make scenes longer just to fill in for time, so to
see a movie that’s not afraid of cutting time on the typical clichés is pretty
|How many times I told you, the library's computer is not for watching "Littlest Pet Shop" episodes on YouTube!|
The writing is one thing that I also really enjoyed. It’s not that the entire movie is written so well it’s going to win awards, or even cover well enough the fact that this is a one hour long commercial for Hasbro’s New IP. Many of the scenes in this movie have “Batteries not included” written all over it, as well as “Hat goes on the head” or “More than fifty accessories!” or “Children 5 and older”. However, it doesn’t do anything to cover this either. It knows what it is, and like so Meghan McCarthy approaches it in the best way she can. I didn’t feel insulted at any moment of the film, though it takes a lot to make me feel insulted (usually “Prometheus” and “A Sound of Thunder” do the trick very well). I was concerned because I like McCarthy’s work, especially during the half way of Season 2 and her story editing work in Season 3, so I had no idea how she’d fare writing something this long, and if she could manage to throw in some of her personal touch. I am happy to say that the script does feel like her usual work, to the point that I managed to find two gems of hers in this movie’s script.
The first one I already foreshadowed, it’s
the scene where Twilight confesses to her new human friends that she is
actually a Pony Princess from another world, but before she can say a word
Pinkie Pie rushes in and reveals the whole thing by herself, and when Rainbow
Dash is about to discredit her Spike chimes in with a really snarky: “Nope, she pretty much nailed it”. This
scene is brilliant. It shows how Pinkie Pie’s human self is aware of the other
dimension, how accepting Twilight’s new friends are of her real origin, and how
the chemistry between the characters can do for such good comedy. It breaks the
so annoying and unnecessary “Liar
revealed” trope that I hate so much, something that Meghan already did with
“Sweet and Elite”.
|Only two!? Why, aren't we something picky!|
The second scene that I love comes near the end, before the final confrontation between the devil Sunset Shimmer and the Humanized Mane Six. Shimmer is holding a fucking sledgehammer and threats Twilight with destroying the mirror into pieces if she doesn’t give her the crown. So what does Twilight Sparkle do? What does she do when this villain threats with destroying her only means to go back home? She says no.
|I can't hear you over the sound of how badass I am.|
|Okay, enough of this praising, talk about the bad parts!|
For starters, I think every other character that I haven’t mentioned is not interesting enough. Rainbow Dash is as flat as some people portray her in this fandom. It is true that it takes half of the movie to arrive to her, but all there is to her character is that she is awesome and loves sports. As much as it hurts me, the same thing happens with Rarity. We know next to nothing about her but that she loves clothes and considers Spike to be really cute. I couldn’t believe they managed to make my favourite character to sound so boring, but there you have it. Sunset Shimmer’s sidekicks Snips and Snails seem uninspired and quite boring. This one wouldn’t bother me so much if it wasn’t because they had so much potential to be another couple of funny bullies, like Bulk and Skull from Power Rangers, but in the end they are more like The Nasties from Never-ending Story 3. But I think the two characters that I just find absolutely uninteresting and boring as all get out are Principal Celestia and Vice-Principal Luna. These two have no business being in this movie. They are there just to show that this High School has a Celestia and a Luna alternates, and they add nothing to the story.
The only thing they contribute to in this
movie is having some of the ugliest character designs I have seen in a while.
Don’t get me wrong, when the character design works, it really works.
Fluttershy looks great, and so do Pinkie Pie, Applejack, Sunset Shimmer, and especially
Spike, but when the designs don’t work they really don’t work. I’ve found this
issue is more present in characters that have lips instead of a line for a
mouth. It gives me a very uncanny valley feel that irks me, it feels wrong,
like they don’t belong there.
|Do you mind? I'm too busy being useless over here.|
Speaking of things that don’t belong there, another thing that disappointed me greatly are the character names. I know this is an animated movie and you want to keep it streamlined and somewhat attached to the original IP this is based on, but it sounds really weird to have humans named Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash running around. I bring this up because one of my friends commented me that the humanized versions of each pony were going to have human names, different from their pony names. So when I saw that the human ponies have the same pony names my disappointment grew tenfold. It does make for some good jokes here and there though, but still I would’ve preferred a more human focused character naming.
This next point is going to make me get
some enemies, and I am going to own for it, so I will just say that I didn’t
find the music all that inspiring. The only song that really got me is the
cafeteria song, because of how well choreographed it is, and how much of an
earworm the tune is. I swear, I will be singing and humming that song for a
long time. But the rest of the songs aren’t all that catchy, and two of them
happen within the time span of five minutes. I was getting out of one song, and
before one minute passed I got whiplashed with another one! It felt rushed, and
a bit unnecessary. Also, the soundtrack gets wat too smarty pants from the very
beginning. With this I mean that if the scene is whimsical, it goes over the
top whimsy, and if the scene is sad it goes over the top gloomy. I hate
soundtracks that force me to feel something, instead of just letting the
emotions flow naturally.
|My real maiden name is Ramona Rarita Ratona.|
Speaking of natural flow, one thing that kind of disappointed me was the animation. Like I said, there are scenes where the animation is as good as DHX has put together. The animation in Spike feels good, and it has some really neat quirks, like when he walks in a circle before going to sleep, or his endless facial expressions. But when some of the humans move they do so like they are robots, and I am going to blame the character design for this once more. The long legs and wonky arms are what look so off when the characters run. In characters that are short or stumpy this works fine, but with the elongated ones it feels problematic, at least for me.
|You know, sometimes not even then it fully works.|
But, if there is one major issue I have with this movie, that’s the issue of how I perceive what’s telling, how, and how much. Allow me to clarify.
This movie has a case of giving a lot of new information for people who aren’t fans of the franchise, and a lot of old information for people who know too much about it. A newcomer to My Little Pony, and more important a newcomer to Equestria Girls, when looking at the intro of the movie will be making a lot of legitimate questions. What is the Crystal Empire? Who are these six ponies? Why does one have wings and a horn? Why hasn’t she got used to her wings yet? Why are there other three ponies with wings and horns? Hardcore fans of the show know the answers to all these questions, but what about the new fans? Right there the movie neglects them and doesn’t explain anything to them. But when it comes to giving new things to hardcore fans it kind of falls flat as well. All that we are told is that Sunset Shimmer was Celestia’s former student, and that she is envious of Twilight Sparkle. Oh, and in the human world Twilight develops a crush on a guy called Flash Sentry that then has a pony counterpart in Equestria. What is the substance of all this? How does this carry on in the characters into the actual show? Well, according to Meghan McCarthy, this movie doesn’t have anything to do with the actual show! So what’s the point of all of it!? Well, the point is the point that it was always going to have: To sell this new IP. It can be doing it good, it can be doing it bad, but it’s doing it, and there is nothing we can do to stop it.
|Each doll sold separately, villains not included.|
|This guy alone holds more than half the movie together, that's how awesome he is.|