Let me preface this review by putting on the record that I’ve always been a fan of having characters turn humanoid. It makes for a great super form since humanoid creatures are better able to fight on a high level because of how maneuverable they are. So, when the Pony franchise decided to have the main characters become humans I was excited. Finally, the Mane 6 could fight even more powerful threats. Unfortunately, I have to say that ultimately that hasn’t seemed to be the case as of yet so I’m thinking that their pony forms are the definitive versions. Still, this was a pretty fun film and definitely one that I could recommend.
The film starts with Twilight Sparkle trying to confront her insecurities about being the new princess of Equestria. She hasn’t been having an easy time of it lately because there is just too much pressure for her. This doesn’t get any easier when Celestia’s original pupil Sunset Shimmer shows up and one shots Twilight. She steals the crown and escapes into the human world. Dazed and confused, Twilight heads into the portal, but she still isn’t ready for a confrontation. Turning into a human seems to have regressed her confidence even further so now she panics and yells constantly while needing more support from her friends. Fortunately the rest of the Mane 6 have alternate versions in this world so she has to find them all and then unite to stop the powerful Sunset Shimmer. Can they really defeat this demonic pony who is bent on destroying all of reality?
It’s a pretty epic plot. Still, I do feel compelled to let you know that this film isn’t all about the action scenes. The final fight is over in around a minute if not sooner and we don’t get to see the pony versions fight either. Honestly, the TV show probably has more fights on average. So, the film took the opposite approach from what you would have expected and used the human world as a way to nerf the ponies and to treat them more like humans. We do get teased with what the fight scenes could be like though as they all get transformation scenes and prepare to fight Sunset. Perhaps in a future film we will get to see them have a real fight if they are able to access their abilities at will.
The bulk of the film is Twilight trying to get the Mane 6 to get along. See, Sunset knew that the ponies could be a threat (Even if Rainbow Dash is the only one who can realistically fight her) so she tricked them all into not being friends anymore. It was quite easy to be honest as she just spun a few lies and convinced them all not to try and talk to each other. Well, Twilight won’t let this stand. She would have solved this puzzle even sooner if not for getting dragged into a romance plot. This is the weakest part of the film. So, Twilight meets some random guy and suddenly she is acting like a random live action heroine. Twilight Sparkle doesn’t do romance. The TV show is all about how Friendship is Magic and that’s all you need. Romance is relegated to the side characters like Big Mac who don’t really have an on screen presence in the first place. The romance naturally doesn’t go anywhere so it really wasn’t needed. It also results in the guy saving Twilight 1-2 times when she should have saved herself.
The animation looks pretty good. It’s basically the TV show, but using human designs for everyone which is fun. As a big supporter of franchises getting as many spinoffs as possible I’m all for it. The Equestria Girl spinoff series has also lasted quite a while which is definitely cool. We also get a lot of songs which is nice since the show hasn’t featured too many of those lately. The songs are pretty emotional and have a lot of heart backing them up. There aren’t enough to be called a musical, but there are certainly enough for them to be noticed.
Now lets talk about the new character Sunset Shimmer. She makes for a pretty good villain and that’s something that the series has needed. A bully type character who can fight back. The character type of an original student turning evil and escaping is a classic one that works really well. Sensui from Yu Yu Hakusho was excellent since he was a look at what Yusuke could have been if he had gone down a darker path. Sunset is essentially a dark Twilight who may be even stronger than the princess. Unfortunately we don’t get to see her in action much, but she’s definitely a fun character. That’s why it’s a shame how her character arc ended here. I think keeping her around as a long running villain would have been nice. I’m sure she’ll be a good hero as well of course, but she won’t get to show off her tougher side quite as much. I’ll be interested to see if she punches someone out in the sequel though, that’d be cool.
I’ve already spoken a bit about how Twilight Sparkle is out of character here so I won’t go into too much further detail. I will say that she was just lacking in confidence too much here. This isn’t season 1 Twilight, she’s come a long way since then. Between that and the romance she just wasn’t the main character that I’ve come to root for. I want to see more of her rage mode like against Tirek. From the other members of the Mane 6 they are played pretty straight from the show. The only ones with a big role though are Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy. Fluttershy is still getting picked on and letting everyone walk all over her so she doesn’t look very good, but Rainbow Dash steals the show as always. Pretty much all of her lines are talking about how awesome she is which is excellent. I get the feeling that Sunset never tries to bully her since that wouldn’t end well. Honestly, in the end it seems like she only rules the school because the tough characters just don’t care and the rest get bullied into submission. Rainbow Dash probably would have lost in a fight since she had no powers at the time, but it would have been neat to see. The school administration is blind to the truth so the students are on their own.
I don’t think Spike needed to be brought along with Twilight and honestly she would have looked better without him since he’s just around to make her look bad. He does work well as a hostage in the climax though. Again, the climax was pretty exciting even if it did end up being rather anticlimactic at the end. I still appreciate the film giving its all in trying to get the atmosphere down just right. Now, this review may have seemed a little on the negative side as I read through it, but this was a pretty solid film. At the end of the day movies really need to fill two questions with the right answers in order to win the day.
First, “Was the film enjoyable?” This film was definitely fun. The pacing was pretty solid and you’ll be left feeling pretty good about the experience by the time it’s all over. It’s not as if this is an end of the world event. Treat the movie as a slice of life adventure with a little drama and you’re all set. Second, “Did the film make any costly mistakes?” I’m not talking about minor stuff like the Twilight romance. This is more for big things like: Did Twilight get nerfed into the ground? Was their animal violence? Bad script? Stuff like that. Equestria Girls was safe from the start for most meaningful negatives due to its rating so it was almost always guaranteed to be fairly decent. The more realistic negatives it would have to watch out for would be things like crude humor and generally bad characters. The series has always had good writing though so I had a feeling that it wouldn’t go that route. It’s a classy franchise. So, the film may have had some areas where it could have improved, but on the whole it did a good job of being quite solid.
Overall, I’m ready to see what the next film has got up its sleeve. The film did a good job of expanding on the main characters in their new world. Now that Twilight is gone we’ll see how her other self handles all of this. Will she get the memories of this latest adventure or will everyone have to clue her in? Time travel and dimension hopping are always tricky, but I’m sure that the writers have a good idea of where to go from here. I’m still waiting for a big budget crossover movie between the ponies and the humans, but we’ll see if that ever happens. It may not be necessary, but I’d like to see the two teams duke it out before eventually teaming up to take on an iconic villain from the past. We also need to see Sunset and Starlight fight since the two are both prodigies who are likely each stronger than Twilight Sparkle by a wide margin. There are a lot of good potential MLP fights come to think of it. Ah well, they’ll come in time.