My Little Pony: Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Equestria Girls

Equestria_Girls_second_movie_posterTo celebrate the upcoming release of My Little pony Equestria girls: Rainbow Rocks, here is my review for the original film that I wrote back when I first started writing reviews.

Equestria girls is a film that many fans were dreading. The concept of taking the beloved characters from Friendship is Magic and bringing them into a teenage high school environment sounded like a recipe for disaster. Despite this negative pre-reaction, The movie did surprisingly well during it’s limited release( grossing $483,752. overall during it’s theatrical run) It didn’t make Iron Man 3 numbers or anything, but it certainly did as well as it could’ve, as well as preforming better then hasbro initially expected. So was it as bad as many were predicting? Read on to find out.

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The film’s story is presented in such a way that it actually cleverly mirrors the first episode. Some may argue that this makes the story even more unoriginal then it already is (How many times have we heard the high school drama AND the magical creatures get lost in the human world?) and while I agree that it’s not the most original idea, it’s well paced and manages to remain enjoyable thanks to the cast of characters staying true to who they are. Fans will be pleased to see that many of the side characters from the show make appearances here too. (Including one very special surprise cameo after the credits) The voice acting is also steller. It’s all the same voice cast from the show, so if you’ve seen that,you’ll more or less know what to expect.

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Some of the characters are new, like the film’s villain Sunset Shimmer, who has a really intriguing backstory, but she sadly falls into the typical ‘mean girl’ stereotype kind of villain. The two things that saves her character though,is her design, and her voice actress. She has the color scheme of some kind of phoenix pony/human,and i thought that was a neat idea. The film’s music is also very good, even though it’s drops the broadway style tunes in favor of a modern pop style, they’re still full of energy as well as very catchy.

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Now the biggest problem this movie undoubtedly has is that in more ways then one, It’s a movie that was made and even conceived to sell toys. In many ways,this film has similar motives as the recent (and not so recent) Transformers movies have. By the end of both Equestria girls and Transformers,there is a new toy line just waiting to be released by hasbro just as soon as the movie is in theaters. But that’s where the writers of FIM and the magic of DHX comes into play. They manage to find a way to take a familiar or tired storyline,and give it their own spin and make it feel fresh and new. What they’ve done here is they have taken a typical high school comedy outline,and sprinkled all the mythical elements and lore of the show to make it more compelling and interesting.

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So what’s the verdict? If you aren’t a fan of the show, then you probably won’t enjoy the movie either. But for me personally, I was pleasantly surprised with how well done this movie turned out to be. I would recommend that newcomers should steer clear and watch the show first (unless they have children that are already fans) but for fans of the show, I highly recommend you see the film at least once, and draw up your own conclusions. At it’s best, Equestria Girls is basically an hour long episode of Friendship is Magic. And that’s all I could’ve asked for. In the words of Discord: “Well played DHX. Well played.”