Applejack, Canterlot High, Doug universe, Equestria Girls, Flash Sentry, Fluttershy, humanized, movie, My Little Pony, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Spike, Sunset Shimmer, Twilight Sparkle
(First off, I apologize if this review seems a bit more “lacking” than my others. I’m not about to buy this one on DVD to get a more accurate review.)
The newly-crowned Twilight Sparkle is still trying to adjust to her new status as well as physiology on a visit to the Crystal Empire for a royal summit with the other three princesses: Celestia, Luna, and Cadance. During the night, a hooded unicorn breaks into her room, steals her crown (also the Magic Element of Harmony), and manages to escape into what looks like a mirror. On questioning Princess Celestia about it, it turns out the mirror is a gateway to another universe that opens for only a few days every “30 moons”. Celestia also reveals that the one responsible was her former “star pupil” to Twilight Sparkle, a unicorn named Sunset Shimmer, whose lust for more magical power eventually led to a separation between her and Celestia and caused her to enter this world 30 moons ago to be free from her. As the Elements of Harmony are needed to defend Equestria from the worst evil, Twilight is commissioned by Celestia to go into that world and reclaim the element before the portal closes again in a few days. However, to keep the world from being “unbalanced”, as that world is a image of their own, she says only Twilight is allowed to go through. Nevertheless, Spike clings to her as she goes inside and transfers as well.
In the new world, Twilight Sparkle is shocked to find herself transformed into a “strange creature” (a human to the audience) and Spike has been turned into a dog. They find themselves in a world similar to Earth at a high school called Canterlot High which is populated by humanized versions of the residents of Equestria. Not long after arriving she is smitten by an attractive student named Flash Sentry, but also discovers that Sunset Shimmer has made herself the “ruler” of this “world” by becoming the most popular and dominant student in school, then maintaining herself at the top of the “pecking order” by poisoning all of the other students against each other with gossip and lies to ensure no one ever takes a stand against her. She also discovers she dropped the Magic Element of Harmony on returning to this world and (humanized) Fluttershy, noticing it looked like the crown for the “Princess of the Fall Formal”, an upcoming dance, turned it into “Principal” Celestia. But since Sunset Shimmer has won that title three years in a row, she’s a shoe-in to get it in two days. Fearing no one will believe the truth of her story, Twilight decides she needs to “beat Sunset Shimmer at her own game” and run against her.
As Twilight tries to drum up popularity for herself, she meets up with the humanized versions of the rest of the Mane Six and clears up the misunderstandings that got them to hate each other as a result of Sunset Shimmer’s lies and manipulation. In spite of Sunset’s attempts to humiliate her using Internet videos, Twilight, along with the girls, manages to rally the students in support of her and get the various cliques to start interacting again. In a more desperate attempt, Sunset Shimmer has the dance hall wrecked and tries to frame Twilight Sparkle for doing it. However, Flash Sentry, who is revealed to be her ex, bails Twilight out and the girls fix up the dance in time to stay on schedule.
The night of the dance, Twilight Sparkle is crowned, prompting Sunset Shimmer to lure Twilight back to the portal by taking Spike hostage, then threatens to smash the portal unless the Magic Element is turned over, stranding her in this world. Twilight states she’d rather remain in this world than give Sunset any more power, but thanks to her minions she is still able to steal the Magic Element anyway and puts it on. Since she’s not the true “bearer”, it transforms her into a demon, but she doesn’t seem to mind as she turns her own minions into demons as well and brainwashes the school into being her slaves. She reveals her intent all along was to become the only human in this universe capable of doing magic so she could build an army to conquer Equestria. However, as it turns out, even without the elements themselves, Twilight and the humanized girls have the power of the Elements of Harmony “within them”, and are able to call on them to transform into part-pony, part-human hybrids who blast Sunset Shimmer with their combined energy. The Magic Element is removed from Sunset and, similar to Princess Luna in the first season, her hate and greed are purged from her, causing her to become a meek and humble girl who repents of her misdeeds. With the truth now revealed to everyone about Twilight Sparkle, they enjoy the rest of the dance for the last few hours Twilight has, Sunset Shimmer is commanded to rebuild the parts of the school she wrecked, and Twilight returns home at the end.
Back home, Twilight is somewhat melancholy about leaving her new friends behind as well as Flash Sentry, only to discover that one of the guards in the Crystal Empire is his “pony” version…
Ah…the movie that bronies love to hate.
When someone first presented the concept art of the movie to me, I snickered at them and shook my head at them, asking how they could be suckered in by such bad artwork and a ridiculous concept. It couldn’t possibly be real. Unfortunately (for all of us), I was forced to eat my words. My biggest nitpick, and one that even people who liked “Equestria Girls” can claim, is that this movie is set in the “Doug Universe” in that everyone is different colors. It’s just…unsettling. So getting that elephant out of the room…let’s move onto the movie itself.
It’s got a lot wrong with it. Aside from standard complaints…such as the fact that Celestia has another “Trollestia” moment by sending Twilight instead of going after it herself, prohibiting her from bringing her friends even though her logic of “unbalancing” the universes is proven false when Spike goes with her, and not placing any sort of guard on the mirror to make sure Sunset Shimmer wouldn’t try any of this…I just plain hate the whole setup.
“My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” was a show that was geared toward the seven and younger crowd that ended up appealing to a much older fan base. Ironically, it’s not until “Equestria Girls” tries to purposely appeal to an older demographic that the material only seemed appropriate for its age level. The whole plot is basically one giant teenage popularity contest, which, as any graduate of high school will tell you, is ridiculously shallow and petty to begin with, with lots of plot devices arranged to try and give it some “real” significance. But the fact that high schoolers and schoolkids in general are already so obsessed with popularity and school “pecking orders” as if it’s the be-all, end-all to the universe (which, I admit, from their perspective it is) doesn’t need reinforcement in the form of a plot where the fate of two universes literally hinges on being crowned “homecoming queen” (yeah, I know it’s “princess of the Fall Formal”, but same differenece).
Humanized characters seem to have their personalities changed for plot convenience only to revert to their “standard” personalities for…more plot convenience. Many characters are just there to produce artwork of what the characters would look like as humans. (Should the Cutie Mark Crusaders really be in high school?) The parts where the human world starts getting the more “Equestrian influence” is really…just creepy. I mean, if I was a human who turned into a superhero and it involved growing a horse tail and ears, I wouldn’t be delighted…I’d be mortified. I don’t think any high school in the country would be that “accepting”. Nor would they join in on “doing the horse” in a dance. The plots relies on a lot of the characters just plain being “dumb”. I know that part of this movie was getting back to the evil of bullying and cyberbullying, as well as throwing in the dangers of school cliques as well, but even so there was a lot of stupidity on the part of the characters to make things work.
Last but not least, the thing that I think every fan hated about “Equestria Girls” was making Twilight Sparkle romantically attracted to a love interest. Seeing as the show is still geared for little kids, the only thing they can do is “Disney-fy” it by oversimplifying “true love”. Thankfully the plot doesn’t spend long on it, but even five minutes is five minutes too much. Part of the appeal of MLP is that it explores the diversity of girls and their personalities. The greatest irony of the show is that very few characters are “pretty little ponies sipping tea and dressing up”. They’re actually incredibly diverse and deep. To have Twilight Sparkle suddenly subscribe to “Girl Movie Cliche #3 – Head over heels about the hot guy” was practically an insult.
So, in the midst of all of this muck and grime, is there anything beautiful to be found from this 75 minute artwork disaster?
…In my opinion, yes.
As I said before, the show creators seemed to be smart enough to realize if there was any part of this film that was going to make the audience gag, it was the parts where they tried to make it more like a high school drama, and so those are…well…they’re not minimized but they’re not overdone either. The interactions with the girls are good for the most part, as they usually are. You “adjust” to the animation after about 30 minutes too.
Sunset Shimmer is actually a dynamic villain…the first we’ve really seen since Princess Luna. Most of the movie she’s superbitch, no doubts there…but, toward the end, when she’s “purged of her evil”…we really see that all she ever was beneath all of her meanness and cruelty was a shy, nervous unicorn who was afraid of everyone. She was so scared of everything she thought they only way she could feel “safe” was by becoming strong enough to grind everyone else into the ground. To be truthful…I honestly hoped she’d make some “real friends” at the end. And, in a way, that gets more into the “heart of a bully” than any other show episode has done so far…how they’re not evil “for the evils”, but rather because they don’t know any other way to “exist”. Frankly, I think she deserved more pity and forgiveness than Trixie did in “Magic Duel”.
And, in spite of all of my complaints…the movie does somehow “work”. Think of it the same way you think of the movie “Armageddon”. It’s a Michael Bay film and has all of his standard tropes and idioms. And yet, somehow, through a magic formula or combination…it works. The same thing here. I honestly was a bit entertained by it. Not the best episode ever, but not as bad as I thought either. If this actually does end up being part of the main series after all…(deep breath)…I would actually recommend it over other episodes.
I don’t have much to add here for a change. All of my “nitpicks” were back on my “Everything Wrong With” post. However…
During “Helping Twilight Win the Crown”, humanized Derpy is way in the back…eating a muffin. She also appears in the credits. This was the first “real appearance” the fans had seen of Derpy since Season Two.
3 Stars out of 5