Okay guys, you may remember some time ago that I posted my decision to not review the Equestria Girls movie. While I stand by my decision, I have, in recent weeks, been thinking that I should at least give my opinion on the film. What I liked and what I didn't, as well as some of the things other people have said about it. So rather than a review, I decided to simply give my opinions of it in a "My thoughts on" essay instead. So here we go.
As you may expect, this essay will contain spoilers for those who haven't seen the movie yet. You have been warned.
First of all, there were a couple of things about the story of this film that I'd like to discuss, first and foremost being Twilight's issues with being recently crowned a princess. As many of you know, this was an immensely controversial aspect of the season three finale, and many of the things that happen in this movie seem designed to calm people down about it. Having Twilight feel anxious and nervous about the whole thing, as well as controlling her new wings, seem like a very natural reaction for anyone in her situation, and certainly feels more like how she'd behave than the "everything's okay" way she acted in "Magical mystery cure". So on that count, the story had an element to it that I enjoyed.
However, the premise of going to the human world was a bit of a mixed bag for me. On the one hand it was certainly good to see the show trying something new. On the other hand, one of the things I liked about the show was how it did not include humans. Having this world be entirely filled with ponies or other magical creatures gave it a unique feel and helped to keep it's fantasy setting intact. By having the so-called "real world" now established as something which exists alongside the pony world, that unique element has been somewhat tarnished.
In addition to that, having this story set in a modern-era human world brings to mind many film stories that I've generally disliked. In some fantasy films, a character from a fantastical world will journey to the "real" world in order to achieve some quest or something. My issue with those stories was that they always made it so that the characters would have to awkwardly interact with things that we, the audience, would find mundane. And it's the same with this movie. Sure, from Twilight's perspective, all of these new things she comes across, not to mention having to adjust to moving as a human, would undoubtedly be difficult for her. But for the rest of us, who do those things every day, seeing her struggle with it can come off as simply boring.
Despite that though, it does have one thing that puts it above the aforementioned films. You see, in those other films, a change from a fantasy setting to a realistic one was always done primarily as a cost-cutting measure, to make it so that the film-makers could save money on sets, costumes etc. But here, that's clearly not the case. The familiar MLP images we're so often used to are replaced for new characters, new designs for old characters, and even a whole new world that had to be designed and made from scratch. So, if nothing else, this show should at least be praised for showing that they've clearly put a lot of effort into it.
As you all know, one of the most notable aspects of this movie is the "humanization" of MLP characters. I've already given my thoughts in the inclusion of humans, but the humanizing of established MLP characters seems to irk people in particular, and I think I understand why. Ever since the show started, fans have been speculating on what the characters might look like if they were human, coming up with all sorts of designs and fan-art of their individual interpretations. And now that we have a so-called "official" image of what these characters would look like as humans, that would undoubtedly upset many, with their own interpretations having been rendered, as I once put it, "officially unofficial".
While I can certainly understand being upset over that, after all my own interpretation didn't match what was on-screen, this film does not render mine or anyone else's personal vision of the humanized characters invalid, or wrong. All we're getting here is a look at what the creators themselves think the girls would look like. And that alone makes it an interesting thing as it's the idea of humanization, something we fans have been doing for a while, put in the hands of the official show staff. If anything we should be celebrating the fact that they've taken something we do and made it official, something they've been doing with their fans for a while now. Though I will admit right now that having the main six become human/pony hybrids near the end did seem a little off to me.
The inclusion of a world of humans, as well as a means to travel between it and Equestria, presents us with a number of interesting possibilities for future stories. After all, the mirror still remains at the end of the film, so there's no reason why Twilight or some other pony can't go back to it. In addition to that, we don't know if it's possible for the humans of that world to also travel to Equestria. Could the pony and human version of the same character meet each other? What disturbances could that cause? Would a human character become a pony if they came to Equestria? I don't know if they ever intend to explore such possibilities, but it's a least worth mentioning.
The characters, at least as far as the main ones are concerned, are all portrayed well here, both their pony versions and their human ones. Twilight's arc, as I said before, is one I really liked and respected, and it was interesting to see her cope in a situation where her normal strengths, like magic, were unavailable to her. The others all play to their respective strengths well, but if there was one thing I feel I need to criticise, it's that it seems just a little odd that Sunset's plan to divide the human versions worked so well. In all the time they were fighting amongst themselves, not once had it ever occurred to them to talk to each other and find out for real if they were the ones sending messages to each other. Still, I suppose having Twilight do the re-uniting does, at least, further her role as the glue with holds these five together, as has been established in many previous episodes.
And what about the new characters? Firstly, there's the villain, Sunset Shimmer. From a character standpoint, she seems interesting. After all, given how long Celestia has lived, it makes sense that Twilight would not have been the first student she'd take under her wing. So having a previous student come back to take vengeance of a sort is interesting. However, the issue with this is that Sunset never got any resolution with Celestia herself, with her main conflict being with Twilight. On top of that, I felt that her apology at the end of the film was a bit rushed. It seemed less a case of her being genuinely remorseful, and more a case of her apologising because she lost and had no other option. It's pretty much the same issue I had with Trixie back in "Magic duel", as neither apology seemed genuine to me.
However, her actions throughout the film tended to raise many questions that, admittedly, I didn't think of while I watched the film the first time around. For example, if she's been in the human world for, presumably, the entire run of the series so far, then how is it that she knew about the elements of harmony, or that Twilight was in possession of one? How would she know what it looked like in order to make a fake version of it? How could she know how to move around the crystal palace if both it and the Empire weren't even around when she first went to the human world? And how is it that she knew that Twilight and her element would be there to steal on the day she chose to return through the mirror? These questions never get answered throughout the entire run of the film and that really frustrates me.
And then we have Flash Sentry and his relationship to Twilight. This is something that, to me, seems like an interesting direction to go in. Now, for those who've read my recent fanfics, you'll know that I'm more-or-less and official shipper of these two, so I'm not exactly unbiased in this area of the film. However, even if I disliked the idea of them being together, I'd still praise it for at least trying something new. Remember, this is the first time since Rarity's crush on Prince Blueblood back in season one that a member of the main cast has been placed in a romantic relationship with another character. And while Flash wasn't really fleshed out all that much as a character, he did enough for me to like him well enough. I know it's been said that his character, at least the pony version anyway, won't be making future appearances, but I'd be keen to have him back, if only so we can see how the show handles the idea of one of it's main characters being in a long-term relationship.
One thing that did bother me about him though was that he was said to be Sunset's ex-boyfriend. This is a troublesome issue for me because, from what we've seen, Flash is a pretty decent guy, going out of his way to do the right thing whenever possible. He doesn't strike me as the kind of guy who'd willingly date Sunset, whose pretty much the opposite. I know Sunset has, on occasion, been known to pretend to be nicer than she is, but given her reputation around the entire school for cruelty and deception, it's hard to think that Flash would fall for such an act and go out with her, even once.
When it comes to the story, one of the biggest issues I have is with the resolution of the conflict with Sunset Shimmer. Firstly, while it makes sense for magic and friendship to solve the ultimate issue in Equestria, Twilight and the human versions of her friends are not in Equestria, they're meant to be in what's supposed to be the real world. And because of that, I was really looking forward to them finding a way to solve the big issue of the film without having to resort to that sort of ending. That's not to say I don't like that kind of resolution in MLP, but when I watch it here, it felt as though they only put it in because the writers couldn't think of any other way to end it.
Going back to the story, there are a couple of inconsistencies involved with the element of magic here. Firstly, Twilight's declaration near the end that Equestria would be fine without it is a complete contradiction of what was said to her at the start of the movie, that the other elements would be useless without it, and Equestria would be left defenceless. So either Twilight forgot about that or she'd choose to save the human world over her own, neither of which is something I think she'd do. Plus, it was established early on in the show that the elements only work with their assigned bearers, which is why Spike couldn't use the element of loyalty against Discord back in season two. And yet in this movie, Sunset Shimmer was able to use the element not only to transform herself, but gain control over others. I know I can't always expect complete consistency in a kids show, but little details like that have always bothered me.
The humour of the film worked very well, and all of the moments that were clearly meant to cause laughter did their job well. But again, setting it in the modern human world means the inclusion of pop-culture references, something I've often praised the show for avoiding in the past. The jokes in past episodes have, for the most part, been fairly timeless, like they could bee from any era. By having references to things like texts and YouTube, that sort of undermines the charm I found in the humour of other episodes.
However, I will concede that the YouTube reference is actually used in a rather clever way. As good as MLP is, I think there can be no denying the fact that it was via the internet, and YouTube in particular, that the show managed to reach the massive fanbase it now has. So, in a rather clever twist, the villain, Sunset Shimmer, makes a YouTube video in order to make Twilight unpopular The means by which Twilight and the other ponies became popular in the real world is here, in this fictional world, used to actually undermine her popularity. I don't know if this was an intentional move on the part of the writers, but if it was, then I salute them because that was absolute genius.
And now I feel it's time to discuss one of the more notable aspects of this film, that of the brony community's reaction to it. For almost all of the time leading up to this film's release, the internet was abuzz with discussions on how this change would "ruin MLP forever" and other such accusations. Guys, I get it. I understand where your coming from. MLP is not the first fandom I've been a part of, and I understand all to well how a big change can be feared. But there was never any reason for that kind of fear to exist, especially given how many times we've felt it in this franchise, only to be proven wrong. MLP survived having Luna's appearance changed. It survived introducing a third alicorn, who later married a previously-unknown brother of Twilight. It survived having Twilight become and alicorn herself. And it will probably survive this.
Remember. A show that's capable of making thirty-year-old men fall in love with a cartoon about ponies intended for girls is more than capable of making a film like this and not cause it's own self-destruction in the process..
However, having said that, I feel the need to make a confession. That being that, I myself was no better at one point. I too felt a deep sense of worry over how this change would affect the franchise. And it shames me to admit to that because, at the end of the day, I should have known better. This show has impressed me time and again and has always managed to reel me back whenever I've felt unsure about some new direction it's going in. So for all my talk about how bronies were silly to be worried, let it be known that, at one time, I was right there with them.
So, with all that said and done, how do I feel about the film? Honestly, I love it. While I wouldn't go so far as to say it's among my favourite MLP-related stories so far, it definitely impressed me in a lot of ways. The characters were still likeable, the songs, while not their best, still impressed me, and I do salute them for at least trying something different with the premise of the film. Do I think it stands among the best of MLP? No. But just because it doesn't get into my top ten or something like that doesn't mean there's nothing here to enjoy. And I DID enjoy this film, a lot.
Plus, I just love the symbolism of it. A feature-length MLP story in movie theatres. A few years ago, many would have mocked the idea of a return of the MLP franchise to television. Most people, myself included, thought that it wouldn't work, that no-one would like it. But then, it turned out to be a massive hit, earning scores of fans, even ones outside of it's intended audience. And now, on top of all that, it get's it's own theatrical release. That alone is proof enough of how well this show has done. This film may have many aspects to it that we fans may not like, but we cannot deny that by simply existing, Equestria Girls has shown the world just how popular, and how loved, MLP has become. And I can't think of higher praise to say than that.
Well, that's my thoughts on Equestria Girls. Hope you enjoyed reading it.