Wednesday, 29 October 2014

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls: "There's nothing funnier than the human animal"

Direct to DVD films are to movies what Shovelware and, specifically, movie tie in are to video games, nothing but a quick cash grab even if the final product is awful. The budget is kept as low as physically possible to make the most profit from fools who were stupid enough to buy it for either themselves or for their families... With the success of the first three seasons along with the success of the other products made based off the show, it makes sense that a movie for My Little Pony would be made. The film itself, titled My Little Pony: Equestria Girls has received mixed reactions amongst the community, there are people who will defend it and others who would destroy it. But how does it fair from someone who looks at it as a movie? Time to review My Little Pony: Equestria Girls.

The premise of the plot is pretty simple, set between the third and forth seasons of the show, Twilight Sparkle, who is now a princess (look forward to my opinions on the term when I think that I can rant about it, so not till 2015 earliest) returning to a place introduced in the third season, the Crystal Empire (...which is more like a city but I digress) for a princess summit. What is that you ask, it’s never explained, all that the viewer knows is that all the figures of royalty (and by all I mean four) are required to be there for some reason. During the first night that they’re there, Twilight’s crown, which contains her element of harmony (see previous review of the series...) is stolen by the villain of the story, Sunset Shimmer (probably the least threatening name for a villain, including the villains in the series). Upon her disappearance through a mirror that is coincidentally the gateway to the world where the majority of the plot is set in. Twilight is forced to follow Sunset Shimmer through the portal, recover her crown and return before three days are over, otherwise she’d be stuck in the other world for 30 full moons ... (I kid you not, that’s the amount of time it takes for the portal to reopen so when everyone believes it’s a long time, it’s really not in comparison. You’d be stuck for 3 years at the most which is generous considering other portals reopen once a lifetime) and without the assistance of anyone else’s help (except Spike who follows her through). 

Upon entering the world, Twilight and Spike find out that their bodies have changed shape; Spike is a dog in this world while Twilight is human. Aside from that, the plot is almost exactly the same as the Pilot episodes for Season 1 of the show. Twilight goes to a new area (Ponyville in the show, Canterlot High in the movie, again, I swear I’m not making these names up), must get the help of Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Rarity, Applejack and Pinkie Pie (who also have human forms but these are different beings compared to their horse forms(I have something to say about this one later), retrieve Element of Harmony (find it in a ruined castle in the show along with the other 5, become “Princess of the Fall Formal” in the movie, in the usual way for schools: a popularity contest) defeat bad guy (Nightmare Moon in the show, Sunset Shimmer in the movie) and the only unique things are the fact that Twilight has to return and doesn’t stay in this new world and a side plot love story that doesn’t actually go anywhere by the end of the movie.

So if the plot is recycled, then what’s new? Because of the setting for the film, and the fact that it is a film and not an episode, the writers have a lot more freedom to put in jokes that wouldn’t work in any other setting. An example of this (and a personal favourite of mine...) is a joke within the first minute of the movie, only in a Hasbro movie can you have a Transformer’s gag in whatever you want and it can make sense. 
I don't care what you say, I think its funny.

The writers also use the setting itself to make fun of transformation movies similar to Equestria Girls. It makes sense for the character, who has been raised to walk on four legs to struggle to walk on two for a long period of time (though she learns fast...), getting the wording right, eating like a human along with several others, it actually a nice piece of detailing that they did. Even in the normal world they make fun of the fact that she now has wings (if be for a minute at the most between the two of them). However the writing overall feels rushed, like it could have had a bit more time to flesh out story before putting it into production, with the main example of this being Sunset Shimmer’s evil plan, which is one of the most generic plans I've seen in a long time.

A big problem I have with the movie itself is the same problem I have with The Simpson's Movie, and that it just feels like its a drawn out and poorly padded episode of the show and not a movie. The story, as I said before, is rehashed (but compared to other cinema first films, I can cut it some slack, especially considering that its the first time this generation has tackled a film) with not a lot to it that can make me say "if you like the show, watch this" aside from a few jokes.In regards to the cinematography in Equestria Girls, it’s the same as the show which to me, it’s a hindrance rather than a benefit. Because it is a movie, direct to DVD or not, there isn’t a excuse to do more with the camera (or where it would be if it was live action). The camera work doesn’t do anything different then the show with the only exception that I can think of is the transformation at the end, being a slow pan down, showing the characters turn into their anthropomorphic forms (half human, half animal. Think of the Sonic characters as a example). This is a time when I wished the shot took more of a priority (though next week is going to be ironic in regards to that statement...).

The other big issue that I have with the movie is the needlessness of getting the five characters of that world to become friends again. She’s friends with them in the main world and seeing as they are all (for the most part) carbon copies in a new body, its wasting time in the plot that could be better used in other places, like a better plan for the villain. It would be like if I was friends with someone call Fred, moved away and became friends with a someone called Bob, who was almost exactly the same as Fred but had a moustache and wore a monocle (it’s a over exaggeration but the point still stands).One of the better points in the plot however is that it covers High School bullying, the issues of fragmenting a population, smear campaigns and other high school and electoral (basic sense of the word) ordeals which I think that they nailed quite well. It is over exaggerated but there have been interpretations that are worse (*cough Glee *cough).

The character designs for the movie, like the movie itself, have been given mixed reactions. In my opinion, considering the source material, they’re not that bad. Each of the characters, to me, would look like these designs if they were human. Each of them have been designed to reflect their personalities and have a colour pallet that works with the designs. Each of the characters still have the same hair and skin tone of their horse forms so that viewers can recognise them and as a result, the cloths had to be designed so that they mixed with the characters. Because the human form of Rainbow Dash is an athlete, it makes sense that she looked athletic, something that would be harder to do in her horse form. Aside from Rainbow Dash, not many of the characters have been given personality or role changes to make them fit in this world with the only other exceptions I can recall off the top of my head are Celestia and Luna who are now Principle and Vice Principle of the school respectively. Once again, the art style matches the animation and I actually think the face towards the camera shots actually work better here than they do in the series, though that could be because of what I'm used to. A missed opportunity with this though is the lack of characters. Some of the iconic characters from the show make cameos and are just there for crowd filler or for a joke. This could have been better executed better as there are a lot of places where these characters could have worked better then just a pointless cameo.

Overall? I you like shows like Glee or movies like High School Musical, then you’ll like this movie. If you like the pilot episode of Season 1, then you’ll like this as it is almost the same thing. My position on the movie is similar to that of the series, its fine but I’d prefer to watch something else if given the option (within reason). The movie was popular enough to warrant a sequel which has been released at time of writing, which will come in time. A new opinion piece is coming Friday and next week... Transformers (4): Age of Extinction...

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