Thursday, July 11, 2013

Equestria Girls: Second Opinions

A High School Dropout

If a speed bump is the appropriate metaphorical obstacle to describe Twilicorn, Equestria Girls would be a towering mountain. Since the initial murmurings of MLP taking an anthropomorphic turn to the duo of trailers released shortly before the film itself, fans continued to wonder whether or not Equestria Girls could prove to be anything other than a contrived, corporate-driven mess. Now that the film has been out in the wild for quite some time, I am disappointed to report that, despite being laced with entertaining moments, the film rarely manages to tell a compelling or even cohesive story. Light Spoilers Ahead!

The first thing to adress is the aesthetics of the flim. At both ends of the movie, the intro and the epilogue, there is the traditional pony art style familiar to fans of the show. In fact, DHX indulges in lighting effects never before seen in the Friendship is Magic series, a welcome treat. Unfortunately, as soon as the story makes its foreboding progression to the human world, the presentation takes a nose dive. Gone is the impressive melding of pony art style and flash animation, replaced with weak character designs, strange color palettes,  specifically the characters' multi-colored skin tone, and stiff animation that looks like it belongs in a rejected Esurance commercial. Not to mention how vapid Canterlot High feels when you see the same four-eyes, purple skin, triangle head pass the camera by too many times to count.

Triangle head films everything you do...

Another critical aspect of MLP's Disney-esque presentation are the musical numbers, which have become quite the calling card of the series. Unfortunately, Equestria Girls sports a smorgasbord of generic pop tunes that are both formulaic and forgettable, a far cry from the unique and iconic tracks of Friendship is Magic such as Smile Smile Smile and Winter Wrap Up. Perhaps one, maybe two of the songs will be ringing in your head after the credits roll, but it would be profoundly surprising to me if any of the songs even come close to a fan's top ten list of MLP musical numbers. 

Fortunately for pony fans and DHX alike, Equestria Girls does have its merits. The uncanny valley nature of Twilight's friends attending school as humans is both funny and a nice opportunity for callbacks that hardcore fans will enjoy. The innumerable references may feel intrusive for some, but most will appreciate them. The situations Twilight is thrown into prove to be entertaining and relevant to the story. The humor is top notch with characters such as Pinkie Pie and Spike who crack jokes that feel like classic FiM humor. 

Unfortunately, as you delve deeper into the narrative, problems arise, one of them being Sunset Shimmer, the villain this time around. The antagonist of the film has an interesting backstory, but as the movie drags on, she never feels threatening. It isn't until the unacceptably brief final act of the movie where her true intentions are unearthed. At this point it feels much of her actions felt trivial and somewhat annoying compared to what she is ultimately capable of, rendering much of the middle section of the film vapid and uneventful for the cream-colored antagonist. Tack on a flawed plan and a laughably cathartic resolution, Sunset Shimmer is without a doubt one of the weakest MLP antagonists to date.

lol what the fuck am I wearing

The core of Equestria Girl's narrative, Twilight having to quickly adjusting to high school life, isn't very interesting either. In the end, a high school setting full of cliches and misrepresentations is not a compelling backdrop for Twilight's quest to retrieve her crown. The agonizingly slow-paced reuniting of the six friends is all built off of misunderstandings between the characters in the past, one of the least interesting ideas in the entire movie. Other subplots such as Twilight's crush and her adjusting to princess hood are left to dry, untouched by the core of the story. 


If Equestria Girls had strived to be more than just an awkward appetizer for Season four the movie could've very well been subject to more acclaim. Instead, with so many uncompelling   elements to it, the movie becomes nothing more than a few enjoyable FiM moments drowned in mediocrity.