Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Sunset’s Backstage Pass Review

It’s time to look at the next big Equestria Girls special. This time Sunset takes center stage once more as she tries to enjoy a show despite Pinkie Pie’s best attempts to sabotage the whole thing. Sunset’s a very crafty character though so she definitely has some plans on how to stay ahead this time around. It’s a pretty nice homage to Groundhog Day which makes for a fun plot.

So the special starts off with Sunset and the gang waiting for the event to start. Sunset is hyped and the others are glad to be here even if they aren’t really planning on checking out the show. Only Pinkie Pie also wants to go, but she chooses Churros over everything else and a series of wacky circumstances causes Sunset to miss out. She wishes that she could try again and her wish comes true. Now she has a chance to go to the event. The problem is that the day continues to reset every night so now Sunset has to try and get out of the time loop, but is that even possible?

You definitely feel pretty bad for Sunset here since she is trying her best to accomplish her goals, but Pinkie Pie is here to stop her best attempts at every turn. That’s not the kind of friend that you want to have at your corner. You can maybe make the argument that Pinkie Pie doesn’t know better at first, but in some of the attempts Sunset really tries to explain to Pinkie Pie why she doesn’t want anything to go wrong and Pinkie doesn’t care. She even leaves Sunset alone to fight the villains while she grabs her Churros later on. It’s clear that Pinkie has got her priorities in a pretty iffy order here. She’s really a bad character in this special. Pinkie Pie has always been one of my least favorites as the series went on and she became more annoying than quirky, but this special probably takes the cake.

The rest of the Mane 6 don’t get to do a whole lot. When push comes to shove they do take Pinkie’s side over Sunset’s which is understandable since they are closer friends, but they aren’t particularly useful in this adventure. Twilight in particular may be disappointing for fans because she just restates the obvious and barely even tries to help Sunset. Sunset is truly on her own in this one, but she does a good job all things considered. She continues to learn more each time the day is started over and tries many different ways to get out. Her idea of being nice to Pinkie Pie in one timeline was good even if that surprisingly wasn’t the way out. Then she tracked down the villains who were red herrings.

Make no mistake, there are some villains in this special, but the old ones aren’t actually behind this latest series of events. They are really just around to sing songs and try to make a career. That doesn’t leave too many suspects, but I suppose I still won’t say who the villains are just in case. I didn’t mind the actual villains. They were pretty reasonable even if they didn’t get a lot of screen time. Their goals are a little weaker than the previous antagonists, but I still wouldn’t say they were terrible or anything. At the end of the day the still did manage to go pretty far.

As always the animation isn’t bad. It’s definitely not really my style, but it’s all pretty clear so you always know what is going on. That’s a good thing. There aren’t any real action scenes to test the animators this time, but you can’t win em all. Surprisingly we didn’t get a lot of songs this time. In fact, the mane 6 didn’t get to sing so it was up to the supporting characters this time. The song was actually fairly catchy though. I don’t think you’ll really remember it for very long, but just having a song can definitely go a long way.

As always there is a moral here, but how effective it is will depend on how you tolerate Pinkie Pie. The message is that even if you have to miss an event, being able to hang out with your friends is more important. That’s certainly true, but there’s also a reason why they say you never take a close friend to your favorite cafe. You want to keep your spot separate in case things don’t go well. So since Sunset was really looking forward to the play it may have been safer to go by herself, but these guys usually do everything together so it makes sense to go with Pinkie and the others. I just think that Pinkie should have been a lot more considerate all things considered.

The writing is strong and the pacing is good. I do think this special threw more twists and turns at you than some of the previous ones. At around 25 minutes in Sunset realized that her whole theory was wrong and the characters had to do some backtracking. The kept evolving with their theories and wasn’t very linear which is good. You’ll definitely be engaged with what’s going on and while it’s played for humor, you can also feel Sunset getting more and more desperate since literally re-living an entire day is definitely rough. She was here for weeks which would drive anyone crazy. Sunset managed to keep it together, but I’m sure she’ll be a lot more careful about what she wishes for going forward.

Overall, Sunset’s Backstage Pass is a fun special. It definitely delivers on the usual MLP qualities you would expect here. The characters are nice enough and it’s just a pleasant plot that you could really show anyone. It may not be ground breaking or one of the all time greats for MLP, but it was solid and a pretty good way to end the Equestria Girl movies. Of course I do hope they keep the brand going though. You never want to see something just end like that. If you haven’t checked this one out yet then I’d recommend changing that.

Overall 7/10

Animated Short Reviews, Animated Shorts, Reviews

The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas Review

Time for another Christmas special but this one is by a different crew so we’re back to traditional animation. It definitely looks pretty good and right away it’s an improvement for me at least. As for the actual story, that part is a little less engaging but I blame the main character on that one. So prepare yourself as we enter the world of the Bears!

The special starts by showing us how the Bears all work at this large honey factory. They work for most of the year and then take a break to hibernate. It’s a system that has been in place for generations and the Bears have learned to love it. After all, who wouldn’t want to sleep for a few months? That’s what they all thought until Ted showed up. He wants to stay awake for Christmas and has tried to do so for years. The problem is that every time he ends up falling asleep which certainly doesn’t play into his plans. This year he is determined to stay up and even ends up travelling to the Human World to do so. (Well, it’s the same world but they may as well be separate)

I don’t think that Ted’s plan is bad or even that selfish. If he wants to stay up then that’s fine. It won’t hurt anybody and at most he’ll just be really tired once the hibernation is over since he’ll have had less sleep. The problem is that he does end up hurting others which is certainly no good. First he forgets to turn the honey off which is pretty bad since they waste a few gallons and that ends up hurting the company’s bottom line very quick. Fortunately for Ted his boss was very understanding and told him that he could overlook this but not to let it happen again. Then Ted runs outside and does an interview where he tells the world his plans. This isn’t a good look and it reflects poorly on the job. When you’re an employee like Ted you can’t just give interviews without going through HR first.

I’m probably being a bit hard on Ted, but it’s for his own good. If he was a little more careful I think he could have been a very good main character. Most of the special is about Ted finally making it to the human world/Christmas. Once he does make it we realize that this was all part of Santa’s plan from the start. It’s all rather genius from that holiday icon’s perspective. Everyone is just another piece on the chessboard for him. The whole situation can be a little odd if you really think about it as Ted got to the human world pretty easily all things considered but when you throw magic into the equation then things start to make sense. It’s also possible that without Santa Ted would have been doomed from the start.

Overall, The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas is a pretty good special. Ted could be annoying at times but at least he had a goal and saw it through. His determination is admirable for sure and he succeeded in his goal. The ending is pretty nice and a best case scenario for all parties involved. I’m sure even his boss is happy about the whole thing since now his operation can be back on target just as he likes it. I recommend checking this special out. It’ll help remind you to look forward to Christmas since it’s always a blast and a half. You just can’t go wrong on this day.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

A Charlie Brown Christmas Review

Charlie Brown is a series that has always been pretty emotional and fun. They’ve adapted several holidays and now I got to see their Christmas special. It’s very well done and the true meaning of Christmas is not lost here. This is definitely a good film to see on Christmas or any other time as a refresher.

Charlie Brown is feeling pretty depressed even though it’s Christmas. It’s hard to blame him since all of his friends speak in monotone, but then we realize that it’s something deeper than that. His friends don’t really understand since they’re having fun getting ready for the play. Charlie Brown manages to become the director and now it’s up to him to get everyone to realize what the true meaning of Christmas is. The only problem is that he has also forgotten so one of the other kids shall have to enlighten him.

A Charlie Brown Christmas does a good job of breaking the 4th wall or at least being a social homage to how Christmas is celebrated nowadays. Snoopy is the classy next door neighbor who is always winning Christmas Celebrations, Being in the cool crowd, and basically getting to do just about everything that he wants to do. Charlie Brown is the well natured guy who likes to think about things a lot and he doesn’t care for how we have commercialized the holiday. It’s a fun contrast and I’m sure that we have all enjoyed getting presents and simply having as much of a blast as we could.

Just look at me…DReager1. I basically spent all Christmas playing video games and watching TV. It is a day to relax and just have a blast. That’s certainly okay as long as you still remember why we celebrate Christmas and giving God time as well. Christmas originated because it was the day when Jesus Christ was born and that is still one of the most monumental moments in history. It’s an event that shall never lose its importance and that is why we celebrate Christmas every year. The world may try to have you forget this by writing xmas and saying Happy Holidays, but we shall never forget what a special day it is. I was in a pretty uneventful part of 2 Chronicles at the time, but lucky Christmas gives me a reason to quickly jump into the New Testament to read how it all started. I definitely recommend doing that every Christmas and you can alternate between Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John since this is naturally portrayed with varying levels of detail depending how you read it. I believe that Luke’s account is probably the best, but I will be able to say that more confidently once I am actually up to those books and have read them completely.

This Christmas special is fairly short as it’s only about 35-40 minutes, but it’s certainly a nice experience. There isn’t really a soundtrack here so some of the scenes can be eerily quiet, but it draws more attention to the lines. I still think that everyone sounds rather emotionless and monotone, but that helps the effect that Hollywood/Society has brainwashed them into enjoying Christmas for the presents. Snoopy is naturally the most likable character in the film and you can almost start to believe that he was trying to let Charlie know about the true meaning of Christmas by being such an exaggerated character. It’s a bit of a stretch, but would Snoopy really laugh at Charlie like that? I mostly just know him from screenshots of the PSP game and pictures though so I can’t really comment on if this is his usual personality or not.

As for Charlie Brown himself…well, he would certainly be an interesting friend to have. It’s good that he’s so thoughtful, but I can’t say that I liked him as the director. He wasn’t very patient with the other kids and his demands were pretty unreasonable. It’s no surprise that they answered in kind and basically tried to humiliate him at every point. You feel bad for Charlie Brown, but he could have handled the situation a little better. An example of this is when he chose the small tree. The friend warned him that the others wouldn’t like it, but Charlie didn’t care. He thought that it was the right tree for the job. Sure enough, the tree was brought in and everyone laughed. Charlie should have just explained why it was the right tree, but instead he just agreed with them and fell back into the sadness.

The animation is pretty solid. It’s old of course, but the animation isn’t hard to look at. I don’t really care for the dust kid’s gimmick though since it’s certainly a bit much and I feel bad for the kids around him. Aside from that, everyone looks pretty true to form and you couldn’t ask for much more. It’s fitting for the Christmas special and the tree at the end looks good.

In the future, it would be fun for Snoopy to get some more screen time since he basically stole the show. He’s basically the symbol of the series at this point and you look forward to all of his scenes. Most of the friends were pretty unlikable, but the main one who made Charlie the director was pretty good. At least she was giving him a chance and her professional help did wonders for good ole Charlie. It only cost him a quarter so that was definitely a bargain.

Overall, it’s hard to see a Christmas special like this coming out nowadays. This one doesn’t mince words or beat around the bush. One of the kids clearly tells Charlie about the true origin of Christmas and it’s pretty great to see. This is a film that we can definitely be proud of and I would definitely recommend this title to anyone for Christmas. It’ll be just as relevant in 50 years as it is today since the truth never changes. I recommend this to all of my blog readers, prepare for an enlightening experience!

Overall 8/10