Last summer’s “Equestria Girls” received mixed reactions from critics and fans alike. The general condenses seems to be that it wasn’t as good as the show, but it wasn’t the train wreck that some were expecting either. I myself was pleasantly surprised by it, and thought it captured the magic (pun intended) and charm that the show had to offer while still being it’s own thing. Despite the better-than-expected reception, there was certainly no outcry or demand for a sequel, at least not anywhere I could see. So when Hasbro and DHX announced Rainbow Rocks, fans were worried all over again. How does it hold up? Not only do I think it’s a highly entertaining film in it’s own right, I think it exceeds it’s predecessor in nearly every way.
So what makes Rainbow Rocks the better film? I think the most important and obvious aspect is it’s story. The first movie told a fairly simplistic narrative focusing on Twilight and her friends retrieving her crown. In Rainbow Rocks however, we are given a much more layered storyline that gives each of the characters their own sub-arc. In some cases this might make the story seem a little crowded, but it all flows together nicely. Sunset Shimmer’s story arc (I’m hesitant to call it a subplot, because Sunset really does feel like the main character in this one) Is absolutely brilliant. Friendship is Magic has reformed villains before, but it’s never come off quite as believable or effective as it does here. The events that took place in the first film come back to haunt her, and it’s clear that a majority of the school has not forgiven her actions. Its wonderfully done, and makes Sunset Shimmer the most interesting character in the movie. The story also has a darker tone, thanks to the stakes being raised and the conflicts the main cast has with one another Overall The film’s story is sharply written (save for some of the dialogue) and is a marked improvement over the first film.
The antagonists (Adagio, Aria and Sonata) are good, if a little on the obvious side. There is nothing subtle about them, it’s it’s clear that they are evil just for the sake of being evil right from the start. What saves them from being generic is their backstory that ties into Equestrian lore, as well as their Fantastic vocal performances and entertaining personalities (for example, Sonata is the cutest and most adorable thing ever and I totally want one.) This movie features a lot of fan service, which consists of an endless supply of background character cameos (as well as the speaking debut of a fan favourite.) Some of the references may fly over newcomers heads, but the hardcore fans will have a field day spotting all the cameos and references in this movie. This may be the most reference filled film I’ve seen since the Lego Movie.
It probably sounds like I loved this movie, and I did. But it’s not without it’s flaws either, with Some being more major than others. Two of my biggest problems are the writing and the screen time for Spike. Let’s cover the writing first, shall we? The film was written by Meghan McCarthy. The current head of the show and the writer for many episodes (Including Party of One, Lesson Zero, A Canterlot Wedding, The Crystal Empire and more). I think that Megan is great at coming up with concepts and stories, but her dialogue writing could use a little more work. Another issue I had with the film is the lack of Screentime For Spike. As a fan of the character, I was disappointed to find that he was barely in the movie, Despite the fact that he played a prominent role in the first film. Also, Flash sentry (Sunset Shimmer’s ex-boyfriend and Twilight’s love interest.) once again has little to no impact on the plot, and if you were to remove his character entirely, hardly anything would change.
Two aspects that I need to cover is the animation and the score. The animation is, in a word, BEAUTIFUL. This is the best animation the show has seen in a while, and a major step up from the last movie. Everything from the lighting to the facial expressions shows a great attention to detail and the show has never looked better. The soundtrack is also a joy to listen to, featuring some very catchy tunes that stand alongside some of Daniel Ingram’s best work. A perfect example of how good the songs AND the animation are is the climax, which is a truly epic merge of sight and sound.
Rainbow Rocks is a highly entertaining film for all ages. Nearly Everything from the first film has been improved. It’s More engaging, darker, the animation’s better, the songs are fantastic and it has heart. Fans of the show owe it to themselves to give this one a watch, and while newcomers might not get the full experience without some knowledge of the source material, I think it will still prove to be an entertaining and enjoyable ride for them. Oh, and remember to stay after the credits! Not only is there some wickedly cool concept art, but also a extra scene that leads into the next movie. Marvel Studios Style.