Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Equestria Girls: Friendship Games: Saturday Morning sport turned into a movie?

I have had people try to say I'm a brony because of how much coverage I give the series. And while I maintain that I still come back to this series because I get requests, my counter argument includes all the Transformers coverage, Digimon Marathon and May 2015, also known as the Marvel Movie Marathon. Now giving Hasbro the lion's share of coverage, yes I am guilty of that (however that does mean you have to really convince me to consider looking at the Jem movie, seeing as the only other I.P of Hasbro's I have any knowledge of is G.I Joe thanks to those live action movies). So while I listen to Transformers Prime's soundtrack as I can't make a Transformers joke without pushing the source material for this one, sadly, let's tackle High School Musi... I mean Equestria Girls: Friendship Games...

As per usual, let's start with the plot. Canterlot High school and its sister school, Crystal Prep Academy, are competing in the Friendship games, a series of competitions that decides which of the two schools have the best students... I think. The human universe's Twilight Sparkle is trying to get into an independent study program by researching the strange energy coming from Canterlot High, or to put it more bluntly, she's researching the magic there. A machine of hers starts going haywire in the competition, absorbing the magic from the main characters and the portal and eventually causing all kinds of problems. As such it is up to the main characters to stop her and can you tell I'm trying to pad this out now? The plot is barely there, there's no substance to it... well, barely any substance, its still better then Age of Extinction but that's not saying a lot.
You see, to most people, you'd look crazy right now

The main problem I have with this is that there's no clear goal, no apparent threat. Now I know that's not really a bad thing, but when there are plots without any form of threat, there's still some sort of conflict, and I don't think Friendship Games even has that going for it. Its a High school sporting competition, you can only do so much to it to have it have some sort of threat. With the last two films, there was a clear villain. Sunset Shimmer for the first film and The Dazzlings, or rather Adagio Dazzle, as the other two are more just there, for Rainbow Rocks. Here, nothing about Crystal Prep comes off as a threat except for one character, who I'll talk about in a bit. Everyone else is just a normal student, most of them don't even get names. I genuinely cannot tell you the names of the "Not Main Six" from Crystal Prep, I think each of them get named in the movie itself once, maybe twice including the credits. At least Age of Extinction tried getting me to care about some of the characters.
When I first saw this, what came into my head was "Why do you need a voice actor?"

In terms of the characters, there's not much to say really. The Canterlot High students are just as you'd expect, there's not much to say, seeing as I've already gone into them multiple times now. Human universe Twilight is basically Twilight prior to the Pilot episode of the show so again, nothing really to talk about except for one thing. I've seen people say that she's the villain of the movie due to the finale of the film. However, to me, she's more of an anti hero. Now granted, in the climax, she does become more of a villain, which to me serves as a nice close for Sunset's main character arc, as it's basically a nice counter to what happened in the first Equestria Girls movie, however to me, that's not enough to call her a villain.
"Pose for the camera ladies"
Can you name an of these characters without going to the credits or a wiki?
 The only character I feel I should talk about is the Principle of Crystal Prep, Principal Abacus Cinch, who is more of a villain then Twilight is in this movie. Now stop me if you've herd this one before. Principle of a private school is an old, stuck up up b#*%@ of a woman who's obsessed with the reputation of the school... Just me? Regardless, I do not find her an interesting character, let alone an interesting villain. She has nothing going for her as her entire personality and design, to me, is a "been there, done that" sort of character. I've been saying to several people that the only way I'd find her at all interesting is if she was the human version of King Sombra, as everything else about Crystal Prep practically screams his name. Even Cinch's generic "evil office of evilness" to me is making her say "I was meant to be Principle Sombra". On a side note, as a fun fact. I could have sworn that they'd gotten a new voice actor for Shining Armor, but not only does it turn out I was wrong on that, as it is still Andrew Francis, but he was also the voice actor for Jaller in the Mask of Light, Vert Wheeler from the Hot Wheels movies (which I plan to cover), Megaman.EXE from Megaman NT Warrior (again, planned) and Billy from Transformers Armada. So I've found my Transformers nod... though I am glad to see he's gotten better as I personally hated Billy in that.
It also means now I have some sort of justification saying those are, from left to right
Firestar, Arcee, Sideways and... I've got nothing for the fourth one

I've got nothing really to add to the animation, as I've talked about the animation in almost every other post on this series already. It looked good in the show, it looked good in the last two films and it still looks good now, however it hasn't got anything special going for it, at least in comparison to Twilight's Kingdom from the show and Welcome to the show from Rainbow Rocks. If I have one complaint, its that the final battle does look a bit awkward.
No joke, I just think the lighting for this is good.

I do however have a fair bit to say on the music. First, I hope you like listening to Rebecca Shoichet, because you'll be listening to her singing voice a lot. Sunset and Twilight have the lion's share of the music in this, as there are only two songs on the entire soundtrack release that neither of them have a line in, those being, ironically enough two of my favorite songs from the soundtrack: Life is a Runway and the CHS Rally song (which somehow doesn't remind me of that blasted trilogy, maybe because Ashleigh Ball can actually sing). Now I should say, I do like the majority of the songs either in the movie or on the films soundtrack, however I can't really decide how good they are individually in comparison to the list I've already posted. The one song I don't like on the soundtrack is the song What More Is Out There, I just don't think its a good song, which from what I've herd of Season 5's soundtrack in doing research for this, is the same as Season 5 in that I haven't herd anything good from it in my opinion.
I will however say that this song is really well animated. Encase this doesn't work as I can't check videos before they go public, the song is called Acadeca. However, I will say, I missed it before but this song does actually suffer from the same problem as Rainbow Rocks' soundtrack, along with a new problem, or a potential one. It looks like either Mrs Shoichet forgot her line and improved, or the song was changed at some point during development.
See if you can guess the major plot thread in this movie, there's your hint

There is one other problem with the music, while it isn't a problem for me because of how I see it, people who don't like "Do, na" ect as vocals are going to HATE this soundtrack. It's all over the place. For me, I don't see it as the main vocal track, but rather an extension of the instrumental so it doesn't bother me, however there are people who really hate that so keep that in mind. However, one problem I had with the last film was the audio balance in the release of the film. That issue, while it made songs like "Let's Have a Battle" better, it made songs like "Shine Like Rainbows" much, MUCH worse in the movie. Thankfully, that problem doesn't exist in Friendship Games from what I can tell, it may still be there, but negligible to the point where I can't tell or work better in the case of the CHS Rally. Going though the music again though. The Friendship games (Song) suffers from this slightly along with Unleash the Magic. Right There in Front of me, just to close this off, is shortened, but I can live with that. If I feel the need to, and there are requests to do it, I may put up an updated version of the Top X list for the music though.

I only have one last thing to bring up with this, though it goes more back to the plot. When I do a review, sometimes there are films that stay on my mind, that make me think more about them after the review's out. One of them was Rainbow Rocks, mainly in the way it handled the magical element of the plot. One of the biggest plot holes in the film was the magic itself, how it worked in the human world. Friendship games tries to explain it in a way that anyone familiar with the show would recognize before the third use, fourth at the latest. As I've mentioned before, the main characters are bound to an element that reflects a personality trait. In this film, its that trait that explains their new powers with a name that's stupid. Could they not come up with something better then, and I kid you not, "Pony up"? Regardless, all this new explanation does is make the plot hole from the second movie worse. To me, a better way that I think they could of handled it, which would have led to a better explanation and a more interesting plot thread for this film was if it was basically an extension of an adrenaline rush. Would it explain everything? No, but it would have given more weight to the "learn how to control this" line in the movie.
I think I've mentioned it before, but encase I haven't, my one problem with the animation in these movies are these four. I don't know why, but to me, I don't think they look good with make up on.

Throughout this whole review, I've been calling this a film. However, that's using the word very loosely. Friendship games is roughly the same length as one of the show's two parter episodes, around 40 minutes (though closer to 45 in this). Now granted, its 45 ish minutes of controlled, padding free story, which I do approve of as I'd rather have a short, but controlled movie then a three hour film with enough padding for a mental asylum, but its length did lead me to asking "Where to from here?" Now I should say, at time of writing I have seen pages speaks of a confirmation of a fourth film, however I think that this would work better as the start of a spin off show, using the setting to tackle issues that the main series cannot tackle, or similar situations in a more technologically focused setting, such as Cyber bullying. To me, that's what this was building up to.
I cannot be the only one who thinks this should have been Sombra's office.

So at the end of the day, is Friendship games good? It's about as good as the last two films, though that's about all I can really say. It's the third film in this series, it follows events from the last two. If you didn't like the other two, then you're not going to like this one at all, and if you did like the first two, then chances are you've already seen this movie and will be getting a copy of the DVD/ Bluray/ legal digital release sometime later today if this Wikipedia article is accurate, I swear I did not plan that. I'm fairly certain after reviewing four seasons, two prior films, impressions on the fifth film and four comics should give you an idea as to my views on this generation as a whole... but being realistic here, that probably doesn't meant that it won't be appearing again sometime later, as I stand by what I said and will come back if I get requests to cover this franchise. I'll see you all next week for the full review of Steven Universe Season 1. But before I go, I do want to say thank you. The site just broke 20,000 pageviews two days ago. Quoting what I wrote in a recent question. "I started 2015 with just over 4000 pageviews since launch, with a goal of 10,000 since launch. I've had to double that goal and now I've succeeded it. Words genuinely fail me when I see that number." I genuinely cannot thank you all enough for just looking at this site. But again, I'll see you all next week.

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