But as should already be clear to anyone who knows anything about me, I am a brony, and as such am usually quickly interested in much of anything the My Little Pony franchise does. The recently released movie-length special Equestria Girls, however, is something of a minor exception as when I first heard of it, I, like so many other bronies, was not too impressed with the idea. In fact when word first got out that it was something Hasbro was apparently pursuing, I thought for sure it was going to prove fake in the end.
But it didn't, as is now obvious, and when it became clear that this was going to be a for-real production, it caused something of an uproar with the fanbase. I, personally, thought most were overreacting, and that it wouldn't at all be the total disaster that had been predicted...but at the same time I found the whole idea of Equestria Girls as silly, and showed little interest in it, even after the first official trailer of it started to circulate. My stance on this wavered little as time progressed, until a second, more comprehensive, trailer was released and I started to get a good idea of what this movie was going to be like.
And I suddenly had to recognize that the movie did have some potential.
But like so many other things in life, I was careful to be hesitant, not too quick to change my stance on the matter, and either way, I was still content to wait to catch Equestria Girls through some other venue other than the theatrical release it was getting, and could've even waited until I caught it on a DVD rental or Netflix or something like that if it came right down to it. Obviously, as I will shortly explain, that didn't happen, but that's beside the point. Recognized potential or not, I was still not regarding Equestria Girls too highly. I figured I would watch it maybe once if the chance ever came my way, but then that would be the end of it.
Funny, though. That's precisely what I figured would happen when I encountered My Little Pony in the first place. Figured I would watch a bit of it, then set it aside and never come back to it once my curiosity was filled. It should be apparent that this did not happen, though, otherwise we wouldn't be here discussing the matter. And I have to admit, the same thing has happened with Equestria Girls.
So here's the short version of what happened; the movie was released, and whatever bronies were interested went and watched it and came back, apparently to the surprise of the more doubtful, thinking that it was pretty good. This sparked the curiosity of these others who then took the time to watch it and find out if these favorable reviews were accurate for themselves, and many were surprised to find that, largely, they were. Thus enters me, who sees all of this and becomes ever increasingly curious to see find out for myself if the movie actually was any good.
Having found a good quality version of the movie that I could watch, I finally decided a couple days back that the time was now to watch it. So I did.
And was pleased with what I saw.
The plot even reminds me a little of a callback to the series's pilot, "Friendship is Magic," except with the twist of ponies-turned-humans, and much better executed I have to admit. In fact, looking back on the whole film, I have no major gripes at all about the film.
There are still a couple minor things I must quibble over though, namely with the ending:
- Sunshine Shimmer is suddenly too repentant at the end of conflict. Granted, for enemies to be suddenly repentant after their inevitable defeat is something of a tradition in MLP, so this was kind of expected, and I will say that of all the enemies-turned-suddenly-repentant, Sunshine Shimmer is the best-handled one to date (the fact that she is reduced to tears upon her defeat is actually kind of moving for me), but that change still isn't as well justified as it could've been, and call me crazy, but I kind of long for a few more instances where the villains are actually unrepentant at the end of their fight with the Mane 6, if only just to shake things up...and maybe be a bit more realistic (speaking of Sunshine Shimmer, something else I have a problem with is where exactly she fits in as Celestia's previous student, the only way I can fit her in there without there being overlap with Twilight's time as Celestia's student is if her time as Celestia's student was actually rather short. Even more problematic is the fact that no matter you cut it, this would make Sunshine Shimmer notably older than Twi when she doesn't seem to be at any time).
- I found the whole deal with the Element of Harmony giving the Human 6 (heh, I just thought of that, I'm totally calling them that from here on out) pony ears, wings, and an added ponytail unnecessary and the whole animated process taken to give them this too flashy and time wasteful. Granted, it doesn't seem to affect the overall movie in any notable way, and excluding them probably wouldn't have made much of a difference either. And I do know that such flashy montages are something of a theme in action cartoons such as this. But that doesn't change the fact that every time I see a transformation montage like that, I can't help but think in the back of my head how unnecessary it is. Yet I can't gripe too much over it, seeing that the Element was out of its normal element, and was trying to make sense of an unfamiliar world by forcing pony traits on those affected by its magic, which given the circumstances, does make some sense.
- Twilight's departure back to Equestria was somewhat rushed, and she didn't really give much in the way of goodbyes to anybody, even when it was quite likely that she wasn't going to be coming back, at least not anytime soon. She makes some goodbyes to the rest of the Human 6, but nothing heartfelt, and felt more like Twilight was just going on a quick trip and would be right back. This is not helped by the fact that Twilight got more heartfelt goodbyes from her pony friends when she left Equestria in the first place. But none of this covers my biggest gripe, which is the fact that she never, at any time, gives a proper goodbye to human Flash Sentry, which is silly after all that emphasis given on Twi having a crush on him. At least they set the scene for Twi interacting with pony Flash Sentry in the future, which does make up for it, somewhat, but still...
But even these quibbles are little in the grand scheme of things...and I seriously can't think of anything much more than this, save perhaps a really insignificant point here and there that really isn't worth mentioning. The human world is well developed, and Twilight's complete obliviousness to how it's supposed to work was perfect and well covered. Probably my greatest fear of the whole thing was that they would just stick a humanized pony in the human world and then completely overlook the fact that she was in a whole new world, but THANKFULLY that never happened, and never once was this not in the back of the minds of the characters throughout the course of the whole movie, and it seriously would NOT have worked had they done it any other way.
And then there were all of the background characters and objects alluding back to pony Equestria they stuck into the movie as well. I had known well in advance that this was going to be the case, but I had no idea it was going to be so expansive. But that's part of what made the movie so fun, because let's face it; it was the little things that really makes this movie work. It also demonstrates the true skill of the crew behind the show, and demonstrates that they DO know what they are doing. I mean, if they can make this silly idea work so well, really, why do we doubt them so much when they do things like this? This is just the latest example of a whole slew of instances where they have demonstrated that they are capable of doing things well, after all. Next time I think I'm not going to be so quick to judge next time they try something "new."
I was also quite taken with the Twilight/Flash Sentry relationship, much more than I thought I would. They're actually kind of...cute together. And there were much fewer songs than I was expecting, another plus for me (I've long said that I don't watch MLP for the songs, which I don't mind, but there have been instances where I felt too much focus was put into the songs and not the story they were trying to tell). I especially loved all the little moments they took to explore more about the characters themselves, Twilight especially on her misgivings about princessdom, and the scene-setting they've set for season four, making me all that more anxious for that upcoming season. And it was these little added "tidbits" that really separates Equestria Girls from being just a regular episode of the show, as the show, featuring far shorter episodes, rarely has the luxury to have more exposition. A pity, because Equestria Girls shows that added exposition does wonders. It also pandered to the bronies far more than I had expected, having previously predicted that it wouldn't be a movie the bronies would enjoy, but I was quite wrong about that. I can see lots of bronies enjoying this, thus accounting for the sudden shift in opinions regarding this movie.
All in all, I'm pretty pleased with Equestria Girls. I still prefer my ponies as ponies (dare I say it, I think they're cuter as ponies *blushes*), and it is by no means a blockbuster, totally-blow-your-socks-off, kind of movie, but it proved it doesn't have to be. It works just fine as is, and I love for it.