on 20 July 2015
(This is a repost from July 2015; 12 of 15 people found the following review helpful.)
Before I begin, I just want to answer the question that's probably on everyone's mind: Yes, I am a Brony. I'm in my early 20s, I'm a guy, and I do watch 'My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic'. Some people today would still consider that odd - including my mum. But I really support the older fans of the show - Bronies and Pegasisters alike.
What people don't seem to understand is how 'My Little Pony' appeals differently to audiences today than it did back in the 80s. I've seen what 'My Little Pony' was like before 'Friendship is Magic' and it was pretty obvious back then it was only meant for little girls - seriously, even Rainbow Dash was feminine in older generations. But today, 'My Little Pony' isn't all "Happy Rainbow Butterfly Pony Flowers" (Mat Brunet). The 'Friendship is Magic' series doesn't try to be majorly girly in order to attract its target audience; the morals it teaches are something everybody can relate to and learn from. It's not just lessons in friendship, you know. Some episodes teach us about the joys of reading ('Read It and Weep'), being responsible ('Baby Cakes'), anti-racism ('Bridle Gossip') and more. That's why you see so many older audiences watching the show - even teenage boys and grown men. I'm not denying 'Friendship is Magic' is a series for little girls, because that's what it is - as well as a marketing tool for Hasbro to sell their toys. But just because something is aimed at a certain target audience, doesn't mean it's illegal for anyone not in that age group to enjoy it. It's not like in movies where a 6-year-old is banned from watching R-rated movies to keep them safe - what harm can come from a 40-year-old man or woman learning about friendship? Why should anyone not be allowed to enjoy something because of who they are?
I will say that 'Friendship is Magic' isn't perfect: I did find the character portrayal of Derpy ('The Last Roundup') to be a tiny bit offensive to people with disabilities (especially since I have Autism); the episode 'Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000' seems to encourage underage drinking, and there's even an episode where Applejack says "Ass" ('Look Before You Sleep'). But overall the show is something I think everybody should enjoy.
If anyone still has a problem with me and other Bronies, let me just say this: 'My Little Pony' didn't start as a girl toy. In fact, the man who first created them intended the toys to be for his son and other young boys. Seriously, look it up.
But enough about that. What is my opinion of the movie "My Little Pony: Equestrian Girls"? Well, it's kind of hard for me to review this since I've already seen someone else do it (Mat Brunet) and I do agree a lot with what he's saying. But I'm going to review it anyway with some of my own opinions.
Set between Seasons 3 and 4, the story begins with the newly-crowned, Princess Twilight visiting the Crystal Empire to attend a princess summit with her friends: Applejack, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy and Spike. Twilight feels uncertain about being a princess, because she doubts whether she can really fulfil her new royal duties. That night, however, a mysterious pony named Sunset Shimmer steals Twilight's crown and escapes through a portal to an alternate world. Since Twilight's crown is essential to the 'Elements of Harmony', which protect all of Equestria, her mentor, Princess Celestia, sends her on a mission to retrieve the crown and return home before the gateway closes. Twilight enters the portal with Spike and suddenly finds herself in the human world where she's become a teenage girl! Posing as a new student at Canterlot High, she learns that her crown has become first prize in a princess election at the upcoming Fall formal dance. Now with the help of some new friends - who bare uncanny resemblances to her friends back home - Twilight must beat Sunset Shimmer to win the crown and return to Equestria.
Before I go further I just want to mention a couple of things about the opening. First of all, the title sequence is absolutely amazing. The remix of the classic 'My Little Pony' theme sounds really catchy, and the animations accompanying it let the audience know they're in for a good movie. Also, I think Twilight's personality in the first act of the movie dispels any concerns fans might've had about her becoming a princess. You see, many fans were worried that Twilight would become more feminine after her coronation, making her less relatable to fans who shared her nerdy, book-loving traits. In other words, Bronies thought this was the moment 'Friendship is Magic' "jumped the shark" and would resort back to the 'girly' generation of 'My Little Pony'. However, the movie shows that Twilight hasn't changed at all. In fact she's questioning her own future and feeling self-conscious about wearing her crown. This all emphasises that Twilight only has wings and additional responsibilities in the series - her character is the same as it always has been and will be.
But back onto the movie. It's obvious that the plot was written to be reminiscent of a typical high school girl movie. Twilight, for instance, is the new girl trying to win the respect of everybody in school by winning a contest. Flash Century is her love interest, and Sunset Shimmer is the popular/mean girl who tries to frame and humiliate her. However, the twist is that everything is based around 'My Little Pony'. Because we know where Twilight comes from and what the crown really is, it gives her a deeper reason for wanting to win it. The same can be said for Sunset Shimmer; one girl wants to use the crown to protect Equestria, the other wants it's power to rule. This ultimately makes a bland, predictable plot more interesting.
Another thing that makes the movie interesting is how it constantly references the 'Friendship is Magic' series. Every character you see is just a human version of a pony seen in the show (e.g. the Cutie Mark Crusaders, Big Macintosh, Diamond Tiara, etc). Heck, this film even has its own version of Derpy, who appears in both the cafeteria scene and end credits. It's fun spotting all the different characters like a 'Where's Wally' game. However, the side characters don't contribute anything to the main plot. They're mostly just there to make references like "the Grand Galloping Gala", "the Great and Powerful Trixie" and the 'Cutie Mark Crusaders Song'. The only downside to having all these references is that you actually have to be a fan of 'Friendship is Magic' to understand them all. The movie is more for the fans than anyone else.
'Equestria Girls' also follows similar traits to the series. It's funny seeing Twilight getting used to her new body and forgetting how different the human world is. Plus, her trying to fit in at school seems almost reminiscent of when she first arrived in Ponyville - 'Friendship is Magic' (Ep.1, S1). Most of all, though, the film teaches the value of friendship.
When Twilight first arrives at Canterlot High, it's clear all the students have their own little groups and don't interact with each other. Even her human friends seem to be on the fence. Twilight helps the girls to make up and thinks of a plan to unite the whole student body. This leads to my favourite scene in the whole movie: 'The Cafeteria Song' (or 'Equestria Girls'). In the song - with each of Twilight's friends representing a different group - they sing about how they thought they were different "as the night is from the day", but that they're really all the same on the inside and their differences are what make them good friends. This encourages all the groups to interact with each other. If I had to describe the song, I'd say it was 'High School Musical', but better. It's catchy and teaches a universal moral about having a variety of friends. It's good to be friends with people from different classes, years and societies, because you can achieve so much by working off each others differences. This is represented in the movie by all the groups coming together as friends and helping Twilight solve a crisis. Her lessons of friendship are just as influential in the human world as they are in Equestria.
Now let's talk about the other central characters.
Twilight's human friends are mostly the same as their Ponyville counterparts, e.g. Fluttershy is the animal-loving shy one, Rarity is the fashion designer, Rainbow Dash is the cool tomboy, etc. But the movie also gives them some backstory, which makes them feel less one dimensional and more...well, human. They're suitable replacements for Twilight's pony friends back in Equestria, and they show understanding when they first learn Twilight's secret. However, there is just one issue I have with the human friends. Why do they have the same names as the ponies? I mean, I'd be fine if they were just nicknames, but who in their right mind would name their daughter, Pinkie Pie or Applejack?
Then there's Sunset Shimmer - who's best described as the 'My Little Pony' version of Sharpay from 'High School Musical'. As the popular/mean girl, she's pretty generic in how she tries to ruin Twilight. Her actions are predictable and easily thwarted, and she often leaves things up to her cronies (Snails and Snips) rather than doing things herself. So as a high school bully, she's nothing unique. What makes her stand out is how she is as a 'My Little Pony' villain. Like Trixie in Season 3, she plans to rule the world and make everyone her slaves. However, the scale she aims for is much greater and her threats are more intimidating. This leads to a climatic final battle, where Twilight and her friends have to harness the true magic of friendship in order to defeat her. Some would say the third act of the movie is out of place with rest of it - since it's like 'Mean Girls' meeting 'Narnia' (Mat Brunet) - but I think it's a good way to make the story feel the same but different. It's also a brilliant way to emphasis the power of friendship and how it really can overcome anything.
I will admit that 'Equestria Girls' (like the series) isn't perfect. There's a major plot-hole where Twilight could've just asked the principle for her crown back and her excuse for not doing so makes no sense. Also, if Canterlot High has human versions of all the characters in Equestria then why weren't there already versions of Sunset, Twilight and Spike there? Although, Pinkie Pie does hint that there may be another version of Twilight and Spike in the human world who just don't attend Canterlot High. This also seems to reference the first episode of 'Friendship is Magic' (Season 1) where Twilight lived in Canterot, while her friends all lived in Ponyville.
In conclusion, 'Equestria Girls' blends an extremely popular franchise with a well-known movie concept to create something both new and familiar. The morals it teaches are just as meaningful as they are in 'Friendship is Magic', and the different setting helps to explore new themes, while showing audiences the series is for older viewers, too. Some Bronies still debate whether this movie is good for adding a new spin to the 'My Little Pony' fourth generation, or whether it's terrible for being too girly. As for me, I found it enjoyable to watch and didn't find anything too feminine - trust me, I've seen worse in the third generation.
I'd recommend this movie to both males and females in all age groups. However, if you're a newcomer to 'Friendship is Magic', then this film probably isn't the best introduction to the series for you. Since the events do take place between Seasons 3 and 4, it can be a bit confusing if you don't know the characters or what's going on. It's best to wait until you've watched the first 65 episodes.
Nonetheless, 'Equestria Girls' is a great film to watch and many people agree with me. It was popular enough to get a sequel ('Rainbow Rocks') just a year later, and, in 2017, there's apparently going to be another 'My Little Pony' movie called 'Friendship Games'. Maybe I'll review those in the future. Stay tuned to find out.
Also, if you liked this review, check out Matt Brunet's/Animat's version on YouTube, and tell him Geostar7/George Harvey/The Autistic Blogger sent you.